You Can Come Back To God (Psalm 51)


1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin [is] always before me. 4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done [this] evil in Your sight–That You may be found just when You speak, [And] blameless when You judge. 5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. 6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden [part] You will make me to know wisdom. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Make me hear joy and gladness, [That] the bones You have broken may rejoice. 9 Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me [by Your] generous Spirit. 13 [Then] I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You.

PSALM 51:1-13


David did a terrible thing. It was horrible. He abused his power as king to force Bathsheba into an adulterous relationship with him and then he had her husband killed. There is no way around this. David, the man after God’s own heart, had done some really terrible things. This wasn’t a mere wayward glance or an abrupt, tired, and ill timed remark. This was life altering sin that had sever consequences for Uriah (the man he had killed) and his family. David destroyed lives with his sin. It was no small matter.

But no matter how bad David’s sin was, there was still a way back to God. I think sometimes we take this for granted that God forgives. We fail to take into account how profound that really is. Apart from the grace of God, we can’t forgive one another when we are sinned against in such violent ways. Apart from God’s grace, how do you forgive a cheating spouse? How do you forgive a person who you believed in, were supposed to be able to trust, and they commit violent acts to destroy you and your family? How does God forgive such heinous sinners? And if we just so happen to be that sinner, how do we even imagine being able to ask God for the forgiveness and grace we so desperately need?

Enter Psalm 51, David shares his prayer. He mourns his sin. It’s not something he can just wash off on his own. The dirt on his soul is so putrid, so foul, and so deep in his heart that there is no way to cleanse it with soap and a rag. No matter how hot the water and no matter how much he scrubs, his deeds are out there forever to make ripples in the lives of those he has betrayed.

David is a man’s man, he is independent. He is the guy who trusted the Lord to kill the giant. He is the one who has lead his nation into battle time and time again. He has fought on the front lines. You won’t find many things that David can’t do…. but David readily admits that he can’t wash his soul of these horrific sins… but God can.

This confession, this dependence, this poverty of spirit before almighty God is perhaps why David is a man after God’s own heart. He has no problem recognizing his sin and that God is the only one who can forgive him and that God will forgive when he boldly approaches seeking his forgiveness.

This is great news for both the sinner and the one’s wrestling with how to forgive sin. The good news for sinners is that you can come home to God through repentance. It’s not an easy grace, it’s costly. Jesus went to the cross so that you could come to God. A sacrifice had to be made on David’s behalf and fortunetly for David, God was willing to pay it. Like the prodigal son, he can come home.

And for those wrestling with how to forgive. We offer forgiveness not in our strength or our power, but through trusting God to render everyone their just due. Those who have betrayed us will answer for their sins, either through Christ who payed their sin debt or their souls forever in a place called Hell.


Father, I am overwhelmed by your mercy. I know people who have hurt others like David. If I’m really honest before you, I know sin plagues my soul to the same depth that it touched David’s. I may not have acted in out in the ways that he did, but my heart has been deceptive and wicked. I need you to forgive and cleanse me from unrighteous deeds, thoughts, and desires. I want only what is pure, lovely, and holy to remain. I am grateful we can come to you for forgiveness of our sins and restoration of our relationship, no matter how far we have run from you. I am grateful that we can trust you to deal with the sins of others. Thank you father for your grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.

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