Reflection March 8


Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    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.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    and sinners will return to you. Psalm 51:9-13

 When I reflect on these words of the psalmist, which most biblical scholars attribute to King David, we find in the beginning of the psalm that he cries out for God’s mercy.  He pleads for God’s tender mercies.   He seeks for God’s deliverance and forgiveness.

As we reflect on our text, we find that there is a three-fold response from God.  God washes, renews, and restore us.

First, God washes us.  The psalmist writes “he blots out all my iniquity.”  Up to this point King David has been pleading for forgiveness again and again.  He has used the words “wash,” “cleanse,” “purge,” and “hide your face.”  This repetition emphasizes the depth of David’s grief and his deep longing for forgiveness.

As we move on to verses 10 and 11, we see that God “renews” us.  The psalmist prays that God will “create in me a clean heart,” and “renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Here we have a parallelism.  A parallelism is often found in the book of psalms.  A parallelism is basically saying the same thing in two different ways as a means of emphasis.

The Hebrew verb here is “bara.”  It is the same word that is found in Genesis 1:1 where we find this phrase “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”   What the psalmist desires than is a new beginning.  He desires a new heart and a fresh spirit.

Finally, in verses 12 and 13, the psalmist prays for “restoration.”   Here again we have another parallelism.  He prays that God will “restore to me the joy of Your salvation” and “uphold me by your generous spirit.”  The word “salvation” here includes deliverance from the penalty and power of sin.  It is a gift from God, it is not our salvation, but His.

As God brings this deliverance the result is one of joy.   By the word’s “generous spirit” the psalmist implies one who is willing to do the Lord’s bidding.  The result is one of worship, service and witness.

During this season of Lent, as we reflect upon our sinfulness and upon the finished work of Jesus Christ, may our constant prayer be one of crying out to God for His mercy forgiveness.  May our prayer be that we may be washed, renewed, and restored.


Dan Ramaker