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<< Discover the Book, with Dr. John Barnett

Discover the Book - July 8, 2007

  • 2007 Jul 08

David: Cleanse Me

PSALM 51:1-7

Part 2 continued from July 7th





What Sin is David talking about?


Sin is such an offense to God that He has to use 15 different words in the Hebrew Old Testament just to describe it. When David’s adultery stole his neighbor Uriah’s little ewe lamb for his already overflowing banqueting table he defied the rules God had laid down.


There are three major Hebrew word groups that communicate the concept of sin in the Old Testament. Each of them is used in David’s prayer of confession, Psalm 51.


David now sees his life as God saw him. God had to deal with these areas of sin in his life.


1.      First David says, I am guilty of resisting or defying God’s rule in my life, and that is sin. v. 1b “Blot out my transgressions”.


God has put up certain boundaries in this life: God has certain physical laws, He has certain moral laws, He has certain spiritual laws. And anytime we attempt to step over them, we suffer the consequences. That kind of sin is always called transgression.


The word the Holy Spirit guided David to use is such a powerful picture of how God looked upon David’s sin. It was a transgression [Hebrew peshah]: 'a going away', 'a departure', ‘a passing over a boundary’, ‘doing what is prohibited’, or 'a rebellion' against God and his authority. This is a picture of how our actions are in direct affront against the Lord Himself. That is why David starts by saying, it was against You and You alone, I have sinned!  


So each day in our lives we transgress against the Lord when ‘stepping over the boundaries that God has established’; or ‘defying God by crossing over the line God has drawn’. With David we need to say to God, I have gone over the line. You had a fence up and I climbed right over it. That’s the first word he uses. David first called his sin “transgression” and so should we.


All our transgressions need to be removed, and only God can do that. God can pull them off of us who lie beneath a load of sin that crushes us. When Nathan had told David that he would not die, but rather that his sins would be forgiven (2 Samuel 1213; Psalm 31:1)—he used the word which literally means having our sin lifted off or carried away. This can only happen in God’s Holy justice by Christ's vicarious (or substitutionary) sacrifice.


We are being crushed by any transgressions we keep around (Ezekiel 33:10). They suffocate, smother and squish the very life of our soul. But there is a Redeemer who can set us free.


And to his only hope, David fled. God cleansed David’s sin that was smothering him; he was forgiven. That was the theme of the song he already sang for us in Psalm 32, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven”. David couldn’t help but break into song when he knew that powerful redemptive work of God his Savior.


So, God lifted up and off of David his sin that has smothered him. Complete forgiveness means that my sins no longer smother me. If you feel buried, smothered by sin—cry out to God, say I am guilty, you are holy. I have sinned, help me now. Save me from my sins—and He will!


If you know this moment that all your sins have been lifted off by the One who took your place on the Cross; the One who died the death you deserved; the One who was not guilty yet bore each and every one of ours sins forever away—then allow the Spirit of God to energize a song in your heart back to Him.


For just a moment, let’s not just hear this truth, let’s respond. Grab your hymnbooks and turn to #206 and sing with me to the One who has delivered each of us from being smothered by our transgressions.


There is a Redeemer (Keith Green, 1982)


There is a redeemer,

Jesus, God’s own Son,

Precious Lamb of God, Messiah,

Holy one,


* Thank you oh my father,

For giving us your son,

And leaving your spirit,

’til the work on earth is done.


Jesus my redeemer,

Name above all names,

Precious lamb of god, messiah,

Oh, for sinners slain. *


When I stand in glory,

I will see his face,

And there I’ll serve my king forever,

In that holy place. *


2.      Secondly David says, I am guilty of twisting, or warping, or defacing, or distorting God's image in my life, and that is sin. v. 2a “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity”.


My iniquity is my wicked internal filth. He says I am iniquitous on the inside. Iniquity means inward crookedness, perversity; that which is altogether wrong. You can’t excuse it; you can’t offer some sort of apology; you can’t in any way condone it. Iniquity [Hebrew hawon] means 'corrupt' or 'twisted', “twisted out of shape”, or 'crooked'. This word pictures what sin does to us inside as it warps and ruins us.


The only remedy as we saw earlier is in God’s Hands. He has the precious blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses us, washing us whiter than snow. That word wash we saw means thoroughly wash like they did in Jerusalem 3,000 years ago in cold water, beating the clothes against rocks and bleaching them in the sun.


Have you allowed the Lord to take you to the cleaners? Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing His blood provides?


That is the question of Elisha Hoffman’s hymn # 190 in our hymnbooks.


Are You Washed in the Blood? (Elisha Hoffman, 1878)


Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?


*Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?


Are you walking daily by the Savior’s side?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Do you rest each moment in the Crucified?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? *


When the Bridegroom cometh will your robes be white?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Will your soul be ready for the mansions bright,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb? *


Lay aside the garments that are stained with sin,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb;
There’s a fountain flowing for the soul unclean,
O be washed in the blood of the Lamb! *


3.      Thirdly David says, I am guilty of falling short of God’s perfection and missing God's mark in my life, and that is also sin. v. 2b “And cleanse me from my sin”.


Sin means missing the mark. David says I have missed the mark. And God says we all fall short of His glory. God is perfect and holy--and no matter how hard we try, we just can’t get up to Him. We fall short of Him.


There is a divine standard which, for some reason, a person does not live up to. That’s all—just to miss the mark. You don’t come up to God’s standard. It’s in that sense that all of us today are sinners. None of us come up to the standard of God. All come short of the glory of God.


This word for sin [Hebrew chattath] is same as hamartia in Greek 'coming short' or 'falling short' as in an arrow falling short. The target is God's law and sin is missing the mark on the target. This is a picture of failing to measure up to God's Divine Law.


Sin must be cleansed, removed from God’s sight. It is odious and abominable, and must be put out of sight. David’s song in Psalm 32 also describes this cleansing as the blessing of one ‘whose sin is covered’. The word David uses in Psalm 32 for sin being ‘covered by God’ is the same word that is used for the ark of the covenant in the Tabernacle, covered by the mercy-seat. It is also used for the earth covered by the flood, and the Egyptians were covered by the depths of the sea.


When God takes our sins they are buried and unable to return. As Spurgeon said at this point in Psalm 51, what a cover must that be which hides away forever from the sight of the all-seeing God all the filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit!”


Our sins washed, cleansed, and covered also speaks of the strong imagery in the events of the day of atonement. On that day the High priest took the blood of an animal and sprinkled it onto the mercy seat. Above the mercy seat was the presence of God portrayed by the outstretched arms of the cherubim. Beneath the lid of the ark were the tablets portraying God's divine law.


In essence, the blood on the mercy seat stood between a holy God and the sinners who broke His law, averting His wrath. David cried for joy when the wrath of God was turned away from him. So our sins are covered away by the blood of Jesus shed for us! God cleansed David’s Sin that soils: now they were covered by the cleansing blood.


I sometimes have to just borrow the poets and one put it this way-Horatio G. Spafford once penned these blessed words:


My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought—

my sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!


So David says

  • Blot out my transgressions--I have crossed the line. You said don’t go over that and I went over that.
  • Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity--I am dirty inside and I can’t make it to You.
  • And cleanse me from my sin--I’ve missed the mark so I ask You to cleanse me.





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