David’s Repentance (Psalm 51)

How is a disciple of the Lord Jesus to rid himself of besetting sin?

As a disciple grows in their walk with the Lord, it is certain that sin will emerge from the murky depths of the soul. The pure milk of the Word begins to soak into the recesses of the mind and into the closets of the past, and loathsome sins well up from the depths. Until we come to faith in the Lord Jesus and come face to face with His holiness, we have no concept of the ugliness of our sin. If Isaiah the prophet felt himself ruined when he saw the thrice holy Lord, lofty and exalted, and declared himself a man of unclean lips (Isaiah 6), how much more should we expect to need to dredge the black mold of sin out our lives!

But once the sin is uncovered and identified, how do we get rid of it?

Before we get too far along this article, I need to make clear that, in this article, I am not talking about the way for sin to be forgiven. No amount of confession or repentance will ever result in one sin being forgiven. Offering “thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of oil (Micah 6:7)” will give the Lord no delight and will leave you exactly where you were before the offering. There has always been only one way for any sin to ever be forgiven. “In Him (Jesus), we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses (Ephesians 1:7).” It is the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ that is the only means of forgiveness of sins. Do you want to be forgiven of your sins? “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved (Acts 16:31).” If you have placed your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and are following Him in faith, all your sins are forgiven. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has the LORD removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12).” “The blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).”

But for the disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ who has come to faith in Christ and has thus had his sins forgiven, there arises the matter of practical righteousness. Through faith, my sins are forgiven, but the ugly effects remain. As the Holy Spirit reveals sin in my life, and as I begin to recognize and identify and confess my sins before the Lord, the question becomes, “How do I remove the remaining sin?” This is what repentance is for. Repentance is the most powerful weapon in the disciple’s arsenal for removing the filthy remains of sin, but for repentance to be effective, it must be genuine. How do I know if my repentance is genuine? You know you have truly repented when the sin ceases. True repentance results in victory over sin. Colossians 3:5 tells me to “put to death whatever is in the earth of your members: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed.” How do you know if you have put sin to death? It is no longer active. It no longer moves. There are no signs of life. Repentance is the blade that puts sin to death. If the sin remains active, you have not yet truly raised the blade of repentance.

King David was a man after God’s own heart. His passion and zeal for the LORD explode from the psalms which he wrote. The LORD was with David and he rose in power and conquered all the neighboring kingdoms. There seemed to be nothing that David would not accomplish. But David was also very human, and he had some prominent areas of weakness. David was a man who seemed to have a weakness for the fair sex. When he was king in Hebron, he had six sons by six different wives. Then when he moved to Jerusalem, David added more wives and concubines. And finally, there was the disastrous one-night stand with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. Through the prophet Nathan, the LORD confronted David and told him that there would be consequences for his sin and his rebellion against the LORD, but more than that, the LORD made clear that if David did not repent of his sin and once again draw near to the LORD, or the LORD would bring more disaster upon David until he was destroyed. David immediately confessed his sin (2 Samuel 12:13) and went into the temple to pray for sin’s consequences to be taken away. But most of all, David repented.

How do we know David repented? First, as a result of his sin, David wrote Psalm 51, his powerful psalm of repentance. In none of the 19 verses of Psalm 51 does David ask the LORD for forgiveness (because David is already forgiven – see above), but he does long to be purified with hyssop, to have the joy of salvation restored, to be washed whiter than snow, and to have the LORD blot out his transgressions and his sins. As a result of David’s sin with Bathsheba, we have this powerful psalm of repentance that can serve as a model for how we can repent of our sins. But second, we know David repented because, when he came back to Jerusalem after the defeat of Absalom, he refused to be intimate with his concubines. Remember that genuine repentance vanquishes sin. David had repented of his sexual sin and so he refused to indulge in any more sexual sin with his concubines. His repentance bore the fruit of repentance. The third piece of evidence of genuine repentance involved Abishag the Shunammite. She was a beautiful young virgin who served the king and kept him warm in his old age (1 Kings 1:1-4), but the Scripture makes explicitly clear that “the king did not know her.” David refuses to violate his repentance from sexual sin by “knowing” this beautiful young woman.

REFLECTIONS

  • Repentance is the most powerful weapon in the disciple’s arsenal to defeat active, remaining sin in their life.
  • True repentance results in the vanquishing of sin. If the sin is not vanquished, then the repentance is not genuine. You must hate the sin to put it to death. If you don’t yet hate the sin, then you will not hire the assassin of repentance.
  • Psalm 51 is an excellent Scripture to use for repentance.

SDG                rmb                8/18/2020