Ugly truth; glorious hope
Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognise my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. | Psalm 51:2-3
O what painful words. On their own, these are not easy verses to bring encouragement from.
The shame of acknowledging that I do actually recognise rebellion in my heart.
If you are like me there are different kinds of sin. I sin most frequently in how I speak to people. My words are not always a source of life but a weapon that wounds, or tears down or discourages. There are times I have hurt someone with sharp, impatient words, or acted wrongly and I am truly sorry and want to be right and put things right, and at least I know my heart wants to follow my Saviour.
There are other times, though, when I feel kind of justified in my sin. Like when the other person "deserved" what was said, maybe it even needed to be said. Yet, I know in the end I was a weapon of the Accuser, not a minister of the gospel. But, even knowing this, repentance doesn't want to come because I am still hurt or angry.
Rebellion also rises in me when God's gentleness has revealed a way of being, such as not giving respect but being more right in my own eyes than remembering the person in front of me is a treasure of Christ, and He is calling me to be different in a way that admits years of wrongdoing. Then shame and pride don't want me to admit I've been so wrong, and I don't even know if I can change. This is hardest to admit when I know my actions and words have contributed to another person's long term limp and lack of flourishing, but to admit that is too painful.
Then again I recognise my rebellion and yes it causes nothing but trouble for me and those around. Change is too hard, too humiliating and too scary.
What comes next in the psalm brings hope for me even in my rebellion, and is there for you in yours. After all, these words were written after David committed intentional adultery and murder and there was no lack of innocent casualties. Verses 7-12 say:
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.
Let us learn to cry to God in our rebellion, like David. See how all this is asking God to do because in our rebellion we are not able. We can cry this prayer and then when God has done HIs work the amazing truth....
Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. (verse 13)
O joy. Not only can he change my rebellious heart but he can use me to teach other rebels and lead them to Him.
Join me, fellow rebel. Be honest with the rebellion that battles for your heart, but don't lose hope. You can lead other rebels to hope and, like David, be remembered for being a man or woman after God's own heart. Our merciful God delights to have mercy, and his mercies are new every morning!