and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit."
That David’s personal confession of adultery and murder could be turned into a divinely inspired congregational hymn proves that “whoever comes” to Christ will never be “cast out” (John 6:37). After Nathan’s rebuke, David went straight to the Lord, who had revealed himself as “merciful” and “abounding in steadfast love” (Ex. 34:6; cf. Ps. 51:1). David’s psalm is no proposal for rehabilitation, only a plea for cleansing (Ps. 51:2, 7; Titus 3:5).
There is no self-justification, only affirmation of God’s justice (Ps. 51:3–6; cf. 1 John 1:9). David does not blame his upbringing; he was a sinner before he was born (Ps. 51:5; Rom. 3:4). He does not claim mitigating circumstances; these were “sins” and “iniquities” (Ps. 51:9; 1 Cor. 6:9, 10). Only God can qualify a sinner to stand in his presence (Ps. 51:11). As a priest, God cleanses the confessing sinner (Ps. 51:2, 7, 17; Num. 19:6). As a judge, he blots out his guilty record (Ps. 51:9, 14). As the Creator, he remakes his heart (Ps. 51:10).
But the gore of the sacrificial system hinted to David that supplying these needed graces would cost God personally (Ps. 51:1, 4, 9, 12, 14). Only Christ’s innocent blood could ultimately erase human guilt (Heb. 9:14, 22). Only Christ’s perfect record of “righteousness” can substitute for iniquities (cf. Ps. 51:14). And only Christ’s Spirit can regenerate wills (Ps. 51:12, 19; Titus 3:8). Christ’s is the only sacrifice God has permanently delighted in (Ps. 51:16; Heb. 10:5–10). Salvation is a gift granted by God’s “good pleasure,” never in response to merit or desert (Ps. 51:18; Phil. 2:13). Joyful obedience—never pride—is the response to grace (Ps. 51:12, 15).
This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible.