“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” Psalm 51:1-2
Steadfast love and abundant mercy are available to those who acknowledge and repent of their sin. God will cleanse from iniquity. Loss is a potent period to search your soul and respond in honesty. We are fully aware of our transgressions. We must recognize that while our sin affects us and those impacted by our sin, it is ultimately against God that we transgress. God is justified and blameless; we are guilty of iniquity.
“Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.” Psalm 51:6
God’s steadfast love and abundant mercy are aimed at our inward, secret heart. He purges, cleans, and washes us pure as driven snow. When we agree and embrace his redemption, then joy, gladness, and healing result. He turns his face from our iniquity and blots the stains clean.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Psalm 51:10-12
Our merciful and loving God creates a clean heart and right spirit. He pulls us up close into his presence. He gives the Holy Spirit to us. Reconciliation gives birth to joy.
Once only a recipient of God’s cleansing, now we pursue transgressors to teach the ways of our Redeemer. Our desire is to take sinners into the presence of our reconciling God. Our once guilty tongue shouts of his righteousness. We open our mouths and declare his praise.
“For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:16-17
Again, times of brokenness and loss are ripe with opportunities for self-reflection. We turn inward and assess our hearts. We see our pain, but we also see more clearly where work is needed in our lives. We’re honest. Sanctification is a process and God does a work when the veneer of self-sufficiency is stripped away. God is going for the heart. We long for a clean heart.
“…and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12
When we turn to him with a broken heart—broken over our own sinfulness—he does not despise us. He embraces us. He welcomes us. We’re coming to him on his terms. All self-sufficiency and self-righteousness is revealed and addressed honestly.
He meets us with his steadfast love and abundant mercy. Embraced. Forgiven. Accepted.
“Name any affliction that is upon you, there is a sea of mercy to swallow it up.” Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment
He is not satisfied with simple sacrifice, burnt offerings, or verbal promises. The sacrifices God approves of are a broken spirit, broken heart, and humble remorse. God aims at a renewed spirit and a clean heart. Nothing less will suffice.
He intends to do good to Zion in his good pleasure. He rebuilds Jerusalem. He aims at our complete renewal. Our sinfulness is no match for his steadfast love and abundant mercy.
Once our hearts are overwhelmed and cleansed by his love and mercy, then we are ready to walk with him, serve him, and sacrifice to see his name known.
“…then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.” Psalm 51:19