Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Psalm 51: 1
Forgiveness. We know that God in “His mercy will blot out our transgressions”, and we recognize that we often struggle with forgiving others. But do we even realize how difficult it is sometimes to forgive ourselves?
I am sure we all have done things that we regret and can’t forget, and many live with a much deeper condemnation for themselves. And I am sure we all know, or have known, someone who just can’t seem to forgive themselves for past mistakes or transgressions.
What a burden of shame, guilt, and regret we can carry around. No matter how many times we are reminded of God’s forgiveness and how we need to forgive ourselves, we just can’t seem to find the strength or will to do so. It is almost as if we feel the need to pay the price by punishing ourselves. We just can’t accept that Christ has already done so for us, and all we have to do is accept His grace.
We may be individuals who live godly lives and are faithful to Him in every way, but yet, we carry this burden deep inside. If only we could let it go, how different our lives could be. What freedom and confidence we could feel as we face each day, and what contentment we could experience.
I remember one of the greatest mysteries to me as a child was how God could love a man like David and call Him “a man after his own heart” after all the terrible deeds he had committed in his life time – lying, deceit, adultery, and even murder. We know his life was far from perfect, but yet, he kept his eyes on God, was much loved by Him, and could boldly walk in His presence. Doesn’t that bring us much hope and comfort, for if God can forgive a man like David, see his goodness, and love Him, surely He will have mercy on the rest of us – if we too keep our eyes on Him.
We know the story of the young shepherd boy who slay the giant, Goliath, and who grew to become the renowned King of Israel. Yet, his life is probably most marked by his adulterous relationship with the beautiful Bathsheba; the subsequent murder of her husband, Uriah, the Hittite, to remove him from her life; and the death of their child who was conceived during this indiscretion. He was fully aware of his need for repentance. He knew that admitting his sin and asking for God’s forgiveness was only half the equation. His heart needed to be changed and transformed. And once it was, David knew God had forgiven him and he could then forgive himself.
Psalm 51 is a beautiful reminder of his trust in Him, as he cries out to God for His mercy, compassion, and unfailing love to blot out his many sins. He realized from an early age that God was to be trusted and obeyed, and he was truly grateful for all God had done throughout his life, and he never failed to offer Him his praise and honor. He was aware that God cared about his life and he had absolute faith that He would see him through any and all situations.
There is much we can learn from the life of David, this “man after God’s own heart”, and one of them is that we can love, forgive, and accept ourselves and be the person God made us to be. Yes, we are weak and broken at times, but through His Spirit in us, God will help us to stand ready to receive the forgiveness and grace He has to give, and we can go forward in following Him.
Our heavenly Father, thank you for your holy Word and its stories of your everlasting love. Help us to release our hearts from unforgiveness and begin the process of healing with your love and grace. Help us that we too, like David, will keep our eyes and our hearts focused on you. Amen.