Psalm 51: Coming back to God after sin

How do we come back to God after sin? How do we return to God when we have sinned in a big way, or as a leader, or done a sin again that we committed not to do? One of the most visited portions in my bible, a portion I have wept over more than any other is Psalm 51. It gives me great comfort to know that a man like David who had a heart after God’s own heart, had feet of clay. And that the Holy Spirit inspired him to write a psalm of penitence that shows us how we can return to God after sin, even big sin. Repentance is something that we do not do well at. Because we sin so often we get disheartened and fail to repent well, we can become hardened to our sin and so fail to repent properly, we can confess without feeling our sins, we can proclaim forgiveness without putting away our sins, we can just stop coming to God after sin altogether. We need regular lessons and reminders in how to repent. Psalm 51 is one of the lessons God has given us through the experiences of David.

David had committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of one of his dedicated soldiers. He got her pregnant and tried to connive to get Uriah to come home so that he would think that the baby was his own. This did not work so David orchestrated events whereby Uriah was deliberately killed in battle. David literally broke all 10 of God’s commandments. On top of this he justified himself and refused to repent for a whole year. Psalm 32 reveals to us that that year was one of emotional and spiritual depression and torture. The prophet Nathan used a parable to trap David in his own words, and confronted him about his sin. Psalm 51 is part of David’s repentance as he came back to God after a terrible time in sin.

Where are you at today? Are you stuck in a cycle of sinning and half-hearted repentance? Or maybe it is worse you are just hard and stuck in your sin. Have you lost your horror of sin and its effects upon your relationship with God, its impact on your heart, and the dishonour it brings upon God’s name? Maybe you just need a fresh sight of God’s grace to reinvigorate your walk with Him. If this is you today then Psalm 51 is exactly what you need. We will look at it under four headings. V1-2 are David’s opening pleas of washing from sin; v3-6 are David’s confession of his sin and sinfulness; v7-12 are David’s requests for restoration from the negative effects of sin; and 13-19 are David’s recommitments to services that sin has silenced.