Psalm 51. Busted by God.


Today’s Lectio Divina: Excerpts from Psalm 51. (MsgB)

A David psalm, after he was confronted by Nathan about the affair with Bathsheba.

Scrub away my guilt, soak out my sins in Your laundry. I know how bad I’ve been; my sins are staring me down.

Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean, scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.
Tune me in to foot-tapping songs, set these once-broken bones to dancing.
Don’t look too close for blemishes, give me a clean bill of health.
God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don’t throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails!
Give me a job teaching rebels your ways so the lost can find their way home.
Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God, and I’ll sing anthems to Your life-giving ways. Unbutton my lips, dear God; I’ll let loose with your praise.

Ever been busted?

Caught red-handed with your grubby little hand in the cookie jar, with your other grubby little hand stuffing yet another cookie in your mouth?

Ouch. The jig is up. The curtain raised. The charade is over.

Here I was, just a moment ago, enjoying sweet cookies in my secret place and then, whammo. Mom barges in, turns on the kitchen light, and there I am, standing there with no excuses. No yeah buts. Just one red face with telltale cookie crumbs dropping from my lying lips.

Cookies? What cookies?

If you do a bit of reading in the Old Testament, you’ll find that King David, a man after God’s own heart, had a few of those ‘busted’ moments in his life as well. But let’s get totally honest here. King David didn’t just steal a cookie or two from mommy’s cookie jar. King David had one pregnant girl friend, one dead husband, and one very big cover-up story to explain to his good friend, Nathan. One very ashamed King of Israel who had done some pretty bad stuff that resulted in some pretty horrendous consequences.

(Note that we discussed a lot of these juicy details back in our blog on Psalm 38.)

2nd Samuel 11 spells out for us one ugly situation for ole’ King David. And isn’t it just like God to send a spy like David’s best friend, Nathan, to pull the covers off of his secret sins, revealing one very embarrassed King of Israel? And there we have it. King Davey, standing there with his proverbial pants down, if you know what I mean.

So I find it interesting that when the stuff hits the fan for King David and all of his sin is finally laid out there in front of God; the King of Israel starts singing a song!

And one beautiful song it is.

As I see it, Psalm 51 is not some sad song of a jailbird looking for a quick write-off from his friend. Nor is this some flowery poetry that hopes to find a sympathetic audience. But one true confession by one sorry man who simply spills his guts out to his God, knowing that this same God of judgment is also a God of great mercy.

You see, that’s the difference between an earthly judge who catches us with our hands in the cookie jar and our High King in Heaven who knows we just can’t keep our pants on when given the opportunity to sin. King David’s song seems to indicate to me that David knew full well that once he was found out by God, his very best move was to simply fall on his knees, stop with the excuses, and just calls ‘em as he sees ‘em.

I’m one big sinner, God, in need of some big, big help!

I remember my mentor, John Wimber, told the story of the time he found himself immersed in a multitude of his own mistakes. As he was diligently praying his flowery prayers of repentance to God, asking for forgiveness from his trespasses, grace for his goofa’s, and a release from his errors; God suddenly interrupted him and said gently, “John, why don’t you just call it what it actually is?”

“Call it sin, son! Just call it sin.”

John said that once he could get gut honest with himself, calling his sin a sin, the God of Mercy came to him and began, like He does here with David, to begin His restoration process. As a matter of fact, God is so amazing in His grace, even as I’m still removing my hand from His cookie jar, He has already begun to look for creative ways to help me to never have to sneak into His kitchen ever again, looking for cookies on my own.

So let’s get honest, my friends. Let’s just begin calling our sin for what it actually is! And like King David here in Psalm 51, let’s begin asking our Loving Father to release a fresh start in us, shaping a Genesis week from the chaos of our sinful lives. For His Name’s sake.

My prayer: Father, plain and simple, I can so easily be a big sinner with my grubby little hands caught in Your cookie jar. Like David, I ask that You scrub away my guilt, soak out my sins in Your laundry. I know how bad I’ve been; my sins are staring me down. Thank You, my Loving Father, that You begin the restoration process the moment I get honest with You. For Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: Why must I be one who needs to be ‘busted’ by God rather than coming to Him on my own accord, honestly stating my inner wants and needs to Him in the first place? What might it look like for God to make a fresh start in me, shaping a Genesis week from the chaos of my life? What new works of God might begin inside of me as I learn the fine art of honest repentance as modeled here in Psalm 51 by King David?

So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?


Over a 50-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Sustainable Faith-Heartland network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.

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