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]


unrepentant sin compounds.


this psalm is a result of david’s compounding unrepentant sin. 2 samuel details the timeline, but simply put:

david stays home when he was supposed to lead his army →

david lusts over his neighbor (bathsheba) →

david has sexual relations with bathsheba →

david tries to cover up his sin by having her husband killed.


david’s sin revealed where his heart allegiance laid… in his comfort, instant gratification, and reputation. david’s sin basically told God that God wasn’t worth david’s obedience. there was something else that, in that moment, felt ultimately more satisfying, therefore worthy of david’s obedience: his flesh.

remember, this was the man after God’s own heart (1 samuel 13:14).


nathan the prophet corrects david, and david directly repents before God.

the definition of repentance in the bible is “to change one’s mind.”

in this psalm, we see david’s shift in perspective. he is finally calling out to God in repentance, “have mercy on me, O God!” he acknowledges that God has rightful authority over david.

david’s repentance does not focus on himself. david doesn’t consider how many times he needs to apologize. he does not analyze the depth of his sorrow to see if it is convincing enough. david doesn’t draft an attack plan on how to conquer his sin devoid of God’s help.


david goes to God, crying out to him and trusting that God will hear him. he remembers God’s character:

  • steadfast lover
  • provider of abundant amounts of mercy
  • complete cleanser

that’s the key. we cannot repent and have a changed mind if we don’t go to God first. if we don’t sit at God’s feet, all we are doing is mere behavior modification, which will lead to us chasing after different idols. then like adam and eve, we hide from God. or we become much too invested in the world, like the israelites.

church, God wants us to come to him. soak in God’s words from psalm 81, as he speaks about his people:

“but my people did not listen to my voice;

    israel would not submit to me.

so I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,

    to follow their own counsels.

oh, that my people would listen to me,

    that israel would walk in my ways!

i would soon subdue their enemies

    and turn my hand against their foes.

those who hate the Lord would cringe toward him,

    and their fate would last forever.

but he would feed you  with the finest of the wheat,

    and with honey from the rock i would satisfy you.”

[psalm 81:11-16]


since we are his people, God wants the same for us. the God of the universe desires our freedom from the world and from our flesh. he wants to satisfy our ravenous hunger. go before him now, and ask him to blot out your transgressions, satisfy your hunger, and turn your heart to his heart.

Lord, hear our prayers…


~ jm