As I sat there, I noticed the song leader look over to his left as the married couple came forward in response to the Lord’s invitation. The couple seemed deeply humbled and somber as they were seated on the front pew. The preacher and one of our elders began to minister with the husband, meanwhile one of the elders wives came down to provide comfort and support to the wife. As the congregation completed the invitation song, the preacher asked everyone to please be seated and he began to read from a prewritten letter which was compiled by the husband. As I sat there and listened to this letter being read; I was strongly impacted by the clarity and heart of the letter. The husband was specific as he shared his faults, oversights, negligence, and consequences of some of his sinful actions and behaviors. He continued to share the impact that his sin have caused to his wife and children. But as the letter continued, this husband and father was crystal clear in stating his needs and desires his church family.
I can recall numerous times in my personal life in which a fellow saint would go forward asking for the church family to aid them in a time of dark despair. However; as I reflected back on this event over the following days, I must admit that I am hard-pressed to recall a situation which was as clearly defined as this one. I am not saying that when a brother or sister in Christ go forward, that they must share every little detail of the situation. All I am stating was that in this case, I knew what had happened, the results, the desire for the church’s forgiveness, and my role in aiding this hurting couple. I personally found this to be beneficial as I continue to pray for them.
As I was doing some reading and studying this week, I came across some notes that I had scribbled down on a piece of paper several years ago from a class taught by brother Jeff A Jenkins at our annual Preachers Training Camp entitled, “Snowflakes from Psalms”.
In the 51st Psalm we read a psalm of David, written during a time in which he appealed to God’s love and compassion as he petitioned the Lord to forgive him by grace and cleanse him from sin. As we examine this psalm we find a formula which is beneficial for us today in order to better grasp true Biblical repentance.
Real Biblical Repentance involves…
An Appeal to a Loving God
Psalm 51:1-2 states, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!”
God’s attributes of unfailing love (hesed) for His servant and His compassion for the helpless, were the basis for David’s appeal for mercy. Even the verb “have mercy” was a prayer for God to act in accord with His nature. It is also a recognition that David did not deserve forgiveness. God’s forgiveness is by His grace alone. In these verses, the three verbs David employed here are figurative. Blot out implies a comparison with human records that can be erased; wash away (kābas) compares forgiveness with washing clothing (often viewed as an extension of a person), and cleanse is drawn from the liturgical ceremonial law in which one might be purified for temple participation. These requests (cf. vv. 7, 9) stressed David’s desire for God’s total forgiveness of his transgressions … iniquity, and sin.” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary)
An Admission of Wrong/Sin
Psalm 51:3-6 declares, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.”
David confessed that he had sinned against the Lord (vs. 3-4), and then lamented over his moral decline (vv. 5-6). When he said that his sin was constantly before him, it must be remembered that his confession came about a year after he had sinned (the young child died a week after the confession; (2 Sam. 12:13-18). Perhaps David had so rationalized his actions that he did not sense his guilt until Nathan approached him. At any rate, he confessed that he had sinned against the Lord. And he submitted to the Lord’s will, acknowledging that anything God decided about him would be just. From his early days he faced inner tension, knowing that God desires truth and wisdom, that is, reliable and productive living.
A Plan of Action
Psalm 51:7-12 continues, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. 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.”
In his prayer for forgiveness the psalmist made the same requests as before (vs. 1b-2) but in reverse order: cleanse … wash, and blot out. When David spoke of God’s cleansing him with hyssop, he was alluding to the use of hyssop at the religious ceremonies to sprinkle sacrificial blood on the altar. This represented the removal of sin through the shedding of blood (cf. Heb. 9:22). David then asked God to let him once again rejoice in the knowledge of being right with God.
As a corrective for his sin; David petitioned God to cleanse his heart (v. 10), to allow him to abide in His presence (v. 11), and restoration of joy (v. 12). He was aware that he had become indifferent in his attitudes so he needed to experience restoration and inner spiritual renewal.
A Commitment of Obedience
Psalm 51:13-19 concludes, “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.”
“David promised God that if He forgave him he would participate fully in His service. The requests in these verses are for things that result from forgiveness, and so they form indirect requests for forgiveness. First, David said that if God forgave him, he would teach … sinners God’s ways (i.e., how He deals with penitent sinners). Naturally, to be able to teach this he himself must first experience forgiveness. Second, David said if God forgave him, he would sing and praise God. Only when delivered from his bloodguiltiness could he join in praising God. Third, David promised that if God forgave his sins he would sacrifice to God. He knew that God did not desire simply an animal sacrifice from him (vs. 40:6). He needed to find forgiveness before he could sacrifice a peace offering to God. The sacrifice he had to bring was a broken and contrite (crushed) heart—a humbled spirit fully penitent for sin. That is what God desires and will receive”. 
Through deeper examination of this psalm we can easily see the pattern David displayed for spiritual renewal and repentance within his personal life. Although, this event occurred thousands of years ago, today we can examine ourselves and come before God as penitent, broken, and humble servants petitioning God for His forgiveness and healing by appealing to our loving God, admitting our sins, having an action plan for change, and committing to obedience.
As the church service drew to a close, the couple who came down humbled and somber felt the church body, embrace them and reaffirm their love for them. It was a wonderful sight to see the hugging and warm embrance that they were able to receive from a warm, loving, and caring church. May God bless us as we strive to live for Him!
 Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (Ps 51:10–17). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.