October 11, 2021

Psalm 51:1-2
Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.

This week in our teaching series called “The Sacred Way,” we are focusing on confession. For our reflections, we will look at several verses from Psalm 51.  It’s a psalm of confession by King David who was described as a man after God’s own heart. Watching how a person like that engages with confession is a great starting place for you and I as we try to draw closer to God. First, let’s remember that there is some significant backstory here. King David blew it in the most dramatic way possible. This psalm was written after he had shirked his duty as a king, committed adultery, murder, and tried to lie his way through it at every turn.
Ironically, the gravity of David’s sin is the most helpful starting point as we consider confession in our own lives. David was acutely aware of his own inability to right the wrongs he had done. Lies cannot be untold. Murder and adultery cannot be taken back. Their memory and effects are permanent. So he begins his confession by throwing himself at God’s feet. He’s begging for mercy and help. He needs God to do what he (David) cannot.
Do you bring that same attitude toward confessing your sins? I know that for me, many of my sins don’t seem like they require such a dramatic posture. I was rude to my wife. I phoned in an important project at work. I overate. I chose to be selfish instead of generous. Do those transgressions really require the unfailing love of God to be blotted out? They all seem relatively fixable with a little bit of effort and explanation.
But that is the key benefit in the seriousness of David’s sins. It’s impossible to ignore the motives that drove them. Greed, lust, selfishness, and fear all manifested themselves in his abhorrent behavior. For you and I, it’s important to acknowledge that those same motives are behind our “less serious” sins. Confession isn’t only about the deeds we’ve done—it’s about laying bare the sinful drivers that result in our behavior. Staring my ugly and selfish motives squarely in the face, regardless of how small my actual behavior might be, does drive me to my knees.
As you pursue confession this week, don’t merely look at what you’ve done. Look past your actions and confess the ways you are driven by anger, fear, jealousy, and sloth. Seeing transformation in those areas does indeed require the unfailing love of God.
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