In this Psalm of penitence David pleads for forgiveness and cleansing. He fears what life would be like without the presence of God. The distress causing David to pray this way is the very real understanding of how his life had failed to please God. His sin was ever in his face. Was he not forgiven?
The Bible tells us that all children of God are saints. The word “saint” comes from the Greek word hagios, which means “consecrated to God, holy, sacred, pious.” So who is a saint today? Paul talks about equipping the saints (KJV) [‘God’s people’ NIV] for works of service, for the purpose of maturing His Church (Ephesians 4:12). However the saints need prayer (Ephesians 6:18) Why?
Paul answers this question. In the passage where he addresses the equipment needed by children of God to fight the enemy of our souls (Ephesians 6:11), Paul warns the church at Ephesus to always keep on praying for the saints; in other words for one another, even for him (6:18-19a). Isn’t it comforting to know that the Holy Spirit intercedes for the saints (Romans 8:27). We also read that God guards the feet of His saints (1 Samuel 2:9).
Both Old Testament and New tell us about saints who sing God’s praises (Psalm 30:4), who love and fear the Lord. In a triumphant song of praise the Psalmist writes “The Lord takes delight in His people; He crowns the humble with salvation. Let the saints rejoice in this honour!” (Psalm 149:5). They “will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever – yes! Forever and ever” (Daniel 7:18). In the end saints will be given the privilege of judging (1 Corinthians 6:2). With all of this in mind, let’s not be deceived. Sainthood is not for a special few. Neither do we pray to saints for their support – there is nothing in scripture about that. Jesus is the one and only intercessor when we sin, with whom we share our joys and sorrows (Hebrews 7:25).
So, just as David struggled with the memory of his sin, do we also? Yes. The Apostle Paul did; he describes the struggle in Romans 6. However, there is something protective about remembering the awfulness of our sins. If we forget that taking another drink will put us over the edge, that just an innocent flirtation endangers our sexual purity, that overeating is hard on the body, that gossip ruins another’s reputation, may we not yield to temptation more easily?
Psalm 51 is a cry for mercy according to God’s unfailing love! (:1) As much as our sins impact the lives of others, it is against God alone that we have truly sinned (:4). God desires truth – and the truth is I am vulnerable to attack from within and without….but God! He is the source of wisdom and allows us to distinguish between our sinfulness and His holiness. He is the only One who can wash away all my iniquity (:2), who longs to create a new heart in each of us (:10), who saves me from guilt (:14), who knows if my repentance is genuine (:17).
Have you ever done anything that you hate with a passion? How did you deal with it? Are you forgiven? Do you remember it? How does that memory protect you from a repeat performance? Do you come before God with a broken spirit and a contrite heart? How does God promise to receive you in that attitude? Are you a saint or a sinner? Isn’t the answer “both”?
by Marilyn Daniels