“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.  For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.”  Psalm 51:1–3

Forgiveness is the best gift a person can ever get. 

Of course to truly appreciate the gift of forgiveness you must first be genuinely repentant. What is repentance?  Repentance is the humble and honest acknowledging of the wrong that you’ve done combined with the sincere desire and decision to never do that kind of thing again. Another way of saying it is, repentance is turning your life from the direction you’ve been going,  because you realize you’ve been doing wrong, and choosing to go in the direction you know to be right. 

Psalm fifty-one is a psalm of repentance. David has finally stopped running from his guilt after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba and murderer her husband Uriah so that he could marry her and hide the fact that she’d become pregnant by him while her husband was away at war.  In Psalm thirty-two David talks about how tormented his conscience had been but still he had sought to hide his sin rather than admit it, face the consequences of his guilt, and pursue repentance and forgiveness. 

Like many of us when we’ve done wrong, David required help in getting to the point of confession. Someone had to point out what he had done. In David’s case God sent the prophet Nathan to confront him, and when David realized that his sin was no longer hidden that realization opened the door for unreserved and sincere repentance. 

“Of course,” some of you may be saying, “repentance is easy when your secrets already been exposed.”

For a ordinarily good person that’s somehow found himself pursuing a course of sin you may be right. But for a person in the habit of sinning and hiding or excusing his actions it takes more than having his sins revealed to inspire genuine repentance. David is a man who usually pursues righteousness. He didn’t want to just look righteous he want to be righteous. His sin with Uriah and Bathsheba, while horrible and inexcusable, was completely contrary to what he would have ordinarily done. So having someone reveal that they knew about his sin was enough to open the flood gates of confession. 

But whether confession comes quickly and easily, or whether it takes more effort on God’s part to get us to it, God is willing to do whatever it takes to lead us to repentance. In Romans chapter two verse four the apostle Paul tells us that it’s God’s goodness that leads us to repentance, and God’s goodness knows no limitation and his loving kindness will cause him to take whatever measure needed to lead us to the point of freely choosing to forsake our sin and return to him. 

David chose repentance and his Heavenly Father. Won’t you make that choice too?

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