If you’ve read here for even a short while, you likely know how much I love the Psalms. It’s a book I turn to time and time again. The Psalms mirror my heart in so many ways. They remind me of who God is and what he has done. They remind me where to turn when I need refuge. They remind me that God listens to and hears the deepest cries of my heart. And ultimately, they remind me of Jesus, the One who fulfills each of its 150 songs.
One favorite is David’s psalm where he confesses his sin to the Lord. I’ve learned much from David about confession from this and other psalms. He wrote Psalm 51 after the prophet, Nathan, confronted him for his sin with Bathsheba. The psalm is actually a lament, where David cried out to the Lord for forgiveness. He felt conviction for his sin, so much so, if felt to him like that of broken bones (Psalm 51:8).
David identified that his sin with Bathsheba was ultimately a sin against God (v. 4). He turned to the only One who could provide salvation. “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow… Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities… Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation” (vv. 7,9,14). He confessed his sin and sought the Lord’s forgiveness.
Whenever we identify sin in our lives, we need to confess it and receive God’s forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Confession involves honesty. We are honest with ourselves and with God. We freely admit what we’ve done. We don’t excuse it or blame others for it. We don’t call it less than it is. We also don’t merely confess our sin in broad strokes as in “Forgive me of all my sins.” We need to be specific about the sins we’ve committed, both those of commission and omission. In Psalm 32, David wrote, “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin” (v.5).
Such confession of sin requires humility. We have to humble ourselves before the Lord. We have to recognize that God is God and we are not. We have to rest and rely on his mercy and grace for us in Christ. God poured out his wrath on Christ, the wrath we deserved for sin. In Christ, we are forgiven, justified, and made righteous. In Christ, we know David’s cry has ultimately been fulfilled: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions” (Psalm 51:1).
David’s prayer of confession can shape our own prayers. May we too come before God in honesty and humility, resting in his love and mercy for us in Christ.
A Prayer of Confession
I come before you grieved and broken by conviction of sin. I feel the weight of that conviction pressing down on me. I agree with the psalmist that it feels like my bones have been crushed. I feel far from you and desire to return to the joy of in being in your presence.
Against you have I sinned. Every sin is a rejection of you as God. It is treason against the King of the universe. Forgive me for my wayward heart. Forgive me for turning to false loves and for seeking life apart from you. Forgive me for not loving others the way that you have loved me. Forgive me for violating your commands. Forgive me for pride and self-righteousness. Forgive me for not loving you with all my heart, mind, and soul.
Through the blood of Christ shed for me, I ask for forgiveness. I thank you that because of Christ, you look at me and see his blood covering my sin. You also see his righteousness; you see his holy life and credit it to me. And because of Jesus, I am united to his Spirit and he is at work in me. Holy Spirit, help me to turn from my sin. Help me to love you with all of my heart. I pray with the psalmist, “Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). Cleanse me and make me new. Conform me to your will. Help me to image Christ.
Because of your forgiveness and grace for me in Christ, I pray that I would do as David wrote, “…my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise” (Psalm 51:14-15). May your grace for me compel me to sing your praises and testify of your grace to others.
In Jesus’ name, amen.