3056. The Guilt And The Cleansing

by Charles H. Spurgeon on August 26, 2020

No. 3056-53:433. A Sermon Delivered On Lord's Day Evening, January 8, 1865, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, September 5, 1907.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. {Ps 51:7} {a}

For other sermons on this text:

   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1937, “Mingled Strain, A” 1938}

   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3056, “Guilt and the Cleansing, The” 3057}

   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3278, “Wordless Book, The” 3280}

   Exposition on Nu 19 Ps 51 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2495, “Defiled and Defiling” 2496 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Ps 51 Ro 7:7-25 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3374, “Sin’s True Quality” 3376 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Ps 51 Zec 12:10-13:6 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2431, “Double Cleansing, The” 2432 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Ps 51; 119:145-168 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3470, “Earnest Entreaty, An” 3472 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Ps 51; 142 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2934, “Great Changes” 2935 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Ps 51 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2419, “Repentance After Conversion” 2420 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Ps 51 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2510, “Apart” 2511 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Ps 51 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2588, “Perfect Restoration” 2589 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Ps 51 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2903, “Sleepers Aroused” 2904 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Ps 51 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3009, “Our Champion” 3010 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Ps 51 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3056, “Guilt and the Cleansing, The” 3057 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Ps 51 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3278, “Wordless Book, The” 3280 @@ "Exposition"}

1. You know how David had sinned; to the sin of adultery he had added that of murder. David felt like one who was shut out from God, and was unworthy to approach him. He could not be content to remain in such a condition. He longed to be reconciled to God; and he remembered that he had sometimes seen a man, who had leprosy, put out of the city as an unclean person; or he had seen one, who had defiled himself by touching a corpse, shut out for a time from all communion with those who drew near to worship God. “Ah!” he thought, “that is just as I am; — I am unworthy to appear before God, for I am spiritually unclean.”

2. But David had also seen the priest take a basin full of blood, and dip hyssop in it, and when the bunch of hyssop had soaked up the blood, he had seen the priest sprinkle the unclean person with it, and then say to him, “You are clean; you have admittance now to the worship of God; you can mix with the great congregation; I pronounce you clean through the sprinkled blood”; and David’s faith, acting on the telescopic principle, looked far down the ages, and he saw the great atoning sacrifice offered on Calvary, and as he saw the Son of God bleeding for sins which were not his own, he desired that the blood of Christ might be applied to his conscience, feeling that it would take away his defilement, and admit him into the courts of God’s house, and into the love of God’s heart; and so he prayed this prayer, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean.”

3. He felt, too, that sin was a very great defilement, — that he was black and filthy; but he knew how he himself had often, when hunted like a wild goat among the mountains, stooped down to a cooling brook, and washed away the dust and stain of travel in the running water, and his face and hands had been clean again; and so, bowing down before God, he sees in the sacrifice of Christ a cleansing flood, and his desire is expressed in these words, “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” The words do not require any exposition; they require application. They do not need to be explained; they need to be offered up to God in prayer by broken-hearted supplicants.

4. There are two things I shall try to talk about, as God shall help me. The one is, that sin is a very foul thing: David says, “Purge me,” “Wash me.” The other is, that the cleansing must be very great: this process of hyssop sprinkling and of washing must be very potent, for he says, “I shall be clean.” “I shall be whiter than snow.”

5. I. First, then, a little about THE DEFILEMENT.

6. Sometimes, it has been asked by unconverted men, “Why do you talk so much about atonement? Why could not God be generous, and forgive sin outright? Why should he require the shedding of blood, and the endurance of great suffering?” Sinner, if you had a right sense of sin, you would never ask such a question. In asking that question, you speak on the supposition that God is such a one as yourself; but he hates sin, he sees in sin such loathsomeness as you have never dreamed of; there is, to him, such horrible abomination, such a heinousness, such a detestableness and uncleanness about sin, that he could not pass it by. If he did, he would bring on his own character the suspicion that he was not holy. Had God passed by human sin without a subtitutionary sacrifice, the seraphim must have suspended their song, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts.” The Judge, who winks at sin, is the abettor of sin. If the supreme Ruler does not punish sin, he becomes himself the patron of all guilt, and sin my take its rest beneath the shadow of his wings. But it is not so; and, sinner, God would have you know, and have angels know, and have demons know, that, however lightly any of his creatures may think of sin, and however foolishly simple man may toy with it, he knows what a vile thing it is, and he will have no patience with it. “He will by no means spare the guilty.”

7. I have heard it said, by people looking at the subject from another point of view, that the preaching of full forgiveness, through the Saviour’s blood, to the very chief of sinners, is apt to make men think lightly of sin; — that, when we tell them — 

   There is life for a look at the Crucified One,

      There is life at this moment — 

for every soul that looks at Christ, we do, in effect, find a plaster for men’s wounded consciences, which, when healed, will only aid and abet them in going to sin again. A moment’s reflection will show you how untrue this is. We tell the sinner that God never does gratuitously pass by a single sin, and that pardon never could have come to one man of Adam’s race had it not been procured by the tremendous griefs of the Saviour, who stood in man’s place. Our own belief is that all the proclamations of the law, and all the threatenings of judgment that ever were thundered out by the most Boanerges-like of ministers, never did show man so much the vileness of sin as the preaching of this one great truth, “The Lord has caused to meet on him the iniquity of us all. Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement for our peace was on him; and with his stripes we are healed.” That is the great condemnation of sin, — the Saviour’s death. Never is God dressed in such resplendent robes of glorious holiness as when he is striking sin, as it is laid on his only-begotten Son. Having lifted it from sinners, and laid it on Christ, he does not spare it because of the worthiness of the Person to whom it is imputed. He strikes and crushes it with his full force and fury, until the oppressed Victim cries out, “Behold, and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which is done to me, when Jehovah has afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.”

8. Let us now think this subject over a little, — the guilt of sin. We think that the atonement illustrates that guilt most thoroughly; let this truth reach the ear of every unpardoned man and woman here. It appears that there is nothing but blood that will ever wash your sin away, — the blood of Christ, the blood of God’s dear Son; this cleanses us from all sin, but nothing else can. The blackness of your sin will appear, then, if you remember that all the creatures in the universe could not have taken away one of your sins. If all the holy angels in heaven had performed the best service that they could render, they could not have taken away even one of your sins. If the great archangel had left his position near the throne of God’s glory, and had been led into a deep abyss of suffering, all that he could have done would not have been a drop in the bucket compared with what would be required to take away one single sin, for sin is such an enormous evil that no created being could remove it; and even if all the saints on earth could have ceased to sin, and could unceasingly have praised God day and night, yet there is not enough merit in all their songs to blot out one single offence of one single sinner. No, let me go further. Could your tears, and the tears of all created intelligences, “no respite know”; could the briny drops — 

         For ever flow;

   All for sin could not atone.

No, I will go a step lower. The pains of the damned in hell are no atonement for sin. They suffer in consequence of sin, but no atonement has been made by them, for all they have suffered has not lessened what they have to suffer; and when ten thousand times ten thousand years shall have rolled over their poor accursed heads, they will be just as far off from having satisfied divine justice as they are now, for sin is such a dreadful thing that even Tophet cannot burn it up, though “its pile is fire and much wood,” and though “the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, kindles it.” Sin is cast into its flames, and men suffer there; but all the burnings of Gehenna never did consume a single sin, and never could. Think of that! Earth, and heaven, and hell, could never take away a single sin from a single soul.

9. No one but Christ could do it, and even Christ himself could not do it unless he became a man. It was absolutely necessary that the substitute for human sin should be of the same nature as the offender. Christ must therefore be born of Mary so that he might become man. Man must suffer, for man had sinned. Just as in Adam all died, so in another Adam all must be made alive if they were ever to be made alive at all. They fell by one man; so they must rise by another Man, or else never rise.

10. But even the man Christ Jesus, in association with the Godhead, could not have taken away your sins unless he had died. I never read in Scripture that all that he did in his life could take away sin. The Saviour’s life is the robe of righteousness with which his people are covered, but that is not the bath in which they are washed. The whole life of Christ, all his preachings on the mountains, all his fastings in the wilderness, all his travail in birth for souls, yes, all his bloody sweat, all his scourgings, all the shame and the spitting that he endured, could not have saved your soul, or take away one sin, for it is written, “Without shedding of blood is no remission” of sin. Think of this, sinner! To take out that one sin of yours, if you had only one sin, the Infinite must become an infant, and the Immortal must yoke himself with mortality; and then, in that position, and in that condition, he must become “obedient to death,” or else not one sin on your part could ever be removed from your soul.

11. But I want you to go with me further than this. Christ himself, in his death, could not have taken away one sin if it had not been for the particular form of death which he endured. He had to be crucified, and then Paul could write, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.’” Christ must, therefore, hang on a tree that he might be cursed, and there is no man who ever lived who can tell what is meant by that expression — that Christ was cursed. If all the mighty orators who have moved the Christian Church at once to tears and to joy, could stand here, I would defy them to weigh this burden of the Lord, or estimate its tremendous meaning, “Christ was made a curse for us.” Christ a curse! Jehovah-Tsidkenu a curse! Jesus, the darling of the Father, made a curse! He, who “considered it not robbery to be equal with God,” a curse! Oh angels, you may well marvel at this mystery, for you cannot fathom its astounding depths! Yet it is so. “He has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

12. And this leads me to mention what I think is surely the climax here, that, although Christ died the death of the cross, even then he could not have taken any sin away unless it had been expressly ordained and settled that by this he himself took our sin as well as our curse, and by this stood before God, though in himself personally innocent, as if he had been a sinner, and there suffer, “the Just for the unjust, so that he might bring us to God.” There is that black, that hideous, that damning, that everlasting soul-destroying thing called sin; Jehovah-Jesus sees it on his people; he knows that they can never be with him where he is while that sin rests on them, and he also knows that there is no way by which they can be freed from it except by his taking it. Can you picture the scene? He takes that terrible, that cursed, that hell-kindling, that hell-feeding thing, that fuel of the eternal pit, that object of eternal wrath; he takes that sin upon himself, and now what does sin seem to say? It is imputed to Christ, and it seems to hide itself behind Christ, and it says to God, “Oh God, you hate me, but you cannot reach me here. Here I am; I am your enemy; but there is between us an impassable barrier.” Now, what will become of sin? Hear this, you sinners who still have your sins resting on you! What will become of sin? God says, “‘Awake, oh sword, against my shepherd, and against the man who is my fellow,’ says the Lord of hosts: ‘strike the shepherd.’” And the sword did strike him, so that Christ could cry out, “All your waves and your billows are gone over me”; and he uttered that dreadful shriek, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” in unutterable depths of anguish, because God had turned away his face, and struck him in his fierce anger, pounded him as in a mortar, trampled on him as in the wine-press, crushed him as in the olive press, broken him between the upper and the nether millstones of his awful wrath, made him to drink the whole cup dry, and caused him to suffer — 

   All that incarnate God could bear,

   With strength enough, but none to spare.

13. So, you see that, before even one sin can be pardoned, Christ must suffer what that sin deserves, or something tantamount to it, by which divine holiness shall be cleared of all stain. Then, what an awfully evil thing sin must be! Yet you will see her standing at the corner of the street, with a smiling face, trying to allure you; but shake your head at her, and say, “No, no; the Saviour bled because of you.” And you will see sin sparkling in the wine cup, but do not look at it when it is red, and swirls around smoothly; but, say to it, “Oh sin, I loathe you, for you opened my Saviour’s veins, and caused his precious blood to flow.” It is easy to get black by sin, but remember that it is so hard to get clean that only God’s omnipotence, in the person of Christ, could provide a Cleanser for your sins.

14. And now, sinner, I say this word to you: yet some will go and mock it. I cannot make you see the filthiness of sin; you think it a mere trifling thing. God Almighty, you say, is very merciful, forgetting how tremendously just he is. But though I cannot make you see sin, yet I can leave this truth with you, — you will one day feel what sin means, unless you repent of it, for he who did not spare his own Son will not spare you. If the Judge on the throne struck Christ, who had no sin of his own, — struck him so sternly for other men’s sins, — what will he do with you? If he did not spare his beloved Son, what will he do with his enemies? If the fire burned up Christ, how will it burn up you? Oh you who are outside of Christ, without God and without hope, what will you do, what will you do, when God shall put on his robe of thunder, and come out to deal with you in his wrath? Beware, beware, you who forget God, lest he tears you in pieces, and there is no one to deliver you! “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled only a little.”

15. I want you to take this prayer now. I have tried to bring out the meaning of it. You are so black, so pray to God, “Purge me with blood: apply it by your Holy Spirit, as the priest applied to the leper the blood on the bunch of hyssop. ‘Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.’”

16. II. And now we shall have a few words on THE POWER OF THE CLEANSING.

17. Who can it cleanse? That is the first question. David answers it, for he says, “It can cleanse me.” He meant himself. I would not exaggerate David’s sin, but it was a very frightful one. What could be more dreadful than for a man so highly-favoured, who had so much light, so much communion with God, and who stood so high as a light in the midst of the nation, to commit two crimes so accursed as those which we must lay at his door, — adultery and murder? While my blood runs cold at the very thought of his having committed them, yet in my soul I am glad that the Holy Spirit ever permitted such a black case to stand on record. What an encouragement to seek pardon it has been to many who have sinned as foully as David did! If you can bend your knee, and pray David’s prayer, you shall get David’s answer, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean.” What if you have even defiled your neighbour’s wife? What if you have even struck your neighbour to his heart, and left him dead on the earth? These two crimes will damn you for all eternity unless you shall find pardon for them through the blood of Jesus; but there is pardon for them there. If you look up to where that blood is streaming from the hands and feet and side of Jesus; if you trust your broken spirit in his hands, there is pardon for your crimson sins to be had just now. Is there a prostitute here? Oh poor fallen woman, I pray that Christ may forgive you so that you will wash his feet with your tears, and wipe them with the hairs of your head! Is there a thief here? Men say that you will never be reclaimed, but I pray the eternal mercy, which saved the dying thief, to save the living thief. Have I here one who has cursed God to his face a thousand times? Return to your God, for he comes to meet you; say to him, “Father, I have sinned.” Bury your head in his bosom; receive his kiss of forgiveness, for God delights to pardon, and to blot out transgression. Now that he has struck Christ, he will not strike any sinner who comes to him through Christ. His wrath is gone, and he can now say, “Fury is not in me.” Here, then, is a great wonder, — that Christ’s precious blood can cleanse the vilest of the vile, and you may now pray the prayer of the text, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean.”

18. From what can it cleanse? I dare not mention every kind of sin, but there is no sin from which it cannot cleanse. What a precious truth that is, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.” During this last week, I have been with Brother Offord, conducting prayer meetings, and one evening he told a story which I made him tell every evening afterwards, for I thought it was so good. He said there was a poor man, living on Dartmoor, who had been employed during the summer in looking after horses, and cows, and so on, that were turned out on the moor. He was a perfect heathen, and never went to a place of worship, perhaps, since he was a child. For him there was no Sabbath. After a time, he grew very ill. He was over sixty years of age, and having nothing to live on, he went into the workhouse. While he was there, it pleased the mysterious Spirit to make him uneasy concerning his soul; he felt that he must die, and the old man had just enough light to let him see that, if he did die, all was wrong with regard to a future state. He had a little grandchild, who lived in a neighbouring town, — Plymouth, I think it was, — and he asked permission for his grandchild to come in everyday to see him. Since he was very ill, and near death, that was allowed. She came in, and he said to her, “Read the Bible to me, dear.” She complied; and the more she read, the more wretched the old man grew. “Read again,” he said. The more she read, the more dark his mind seemed to be with a sense of guilt. At last, one day, she came to that passage in the first Epistle of John, — you know it, — “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.” “Is that there?” he asked. “Yes, grandfather,” replied the little girl, “that is there.” “Is that there?” “Oh, yes, grandfather, it is there.” “Then read it again! Read it again!” She again read, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.” “My dear, are you sure it is just like that?” “Yes, grandfather.” “Then read it again, dear.” “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.” “Then,” he said, “take my finger, and put it on that verse. Is it on that text, child? — is my finger on that blessed text?” “Yes, grandfather.” “Then,” he said, “tell them,” (alluding to his friends) “that I die in the faith of that!” — and he closed his eyes, and doubtless entered into eternal rest. And I will die in the faith of that truth, by the grace of God; and so will you, I trust, brothers and sisters, die with your finger on that text, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.” Oh, it is sweet living, and it is sweet dying, if you can rest there! Now we see, then, that, whatever your sins may have been, they are all included in those little words, “all sin”; therefore be of good comfort, poor sinner, if you believe in Jesus Christ, you are born by God, and his blood cleanses you from all sin.

19. Another question is, When will it cleanse? It will cleanse now. It will cleanse at this moment. You remember that it is in the present tense, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses” — that is to say, just at this particular moment, some three or four minutes to eight o’clock, — there is efficacy in the precious blood of Jesus to cleanse now. You need not wait until you get home to pray. He who trusts Christ is saved the moment that he trusts; his sin is blotted out the instant that he accepts Christ as his Substitute, and justifies God in striking sin in the person of the Saviour. There is efficacy in the blood now. Perhaps there has strayed in here one who says, “It is too late.” Who told you that? Sir, it was the devil, and he was a liar from the beginning. “Ah!” says another, “but you do not know that I have sinned against light and knowledge.” My dear friend, I do not know how much you have sinned, but I do know that it is written, “He is able also to save to the uttermost those who come to God by him,” and I know that you have not gone beyond the uttermost, so I conclude that he is able to save you, — just now, just as you are, standing in that crowd, or sitting here in these pews.

20. Once more, — In what way is Christ able to cleanse? I answer, — In a perfect and complete way. David says, “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” We do not see snow very often now, but when we did see it last time, what a dazzling whiteness there was on it! You took a sheet of paper, and laid it on the snow, and you were perfectly surprised to see the clean, white paper turned yellow or brown, in comparison with the snow’s dazzling whiteness; but David says, “I shall be whiter than snow.” You see, snow is only earthly whiteness, only created whiteness, but the whiteness which Christ gives us, when he washes us in his blood, is divine whiteness; the whiteness is the righteousness of God himself. Besides, snow soon melts; and then, where is the whiteness? The snow and the whiteness run away together; but there is no power in temptation, no power in sin, which is able to stain the whiteness which God gives to a pardoned sinner. And then snow, especially here in this smoky city of ours, soon gets brown or black; but this righteousness never will.

   No age can change its glorious hue;

   The robe of Christ is ever new.

21. “And is this perfect whiteness for me?” one says. Yes, for you, if you believe in Jesus. If you were as black as the devil himself, if you only believed in Jesus, you should be as white as an angel in a moment, because, by believing, you accept God’s way of saving souls, and to do this is the greatest thing that can be done. The Pharisees came to Christ, and they said, making a great fuss about their zeal, “Here is our money; here is our talent; here is our time: ‘what shall we do, that we might work the works of God?’” They opened their ears for his answer, and they thought he would say, “Give tithing of mint, and anise, and cummin. Be careful to wash your hands every time you eat; give your money to the poor; endow a row of almshouses; become monks; lacerate your backs; tear your flesh,” and so on; but Jesus said nothing of the kind. They wondered, I have no doubt, what he was going to say, and they seemed to be all on tiptoe. “Now he is going to tell us the greatest work that a creature can do.” “What shall we do that we might work the works of God.” He tells them this: “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” Ah, then they immediately went away; for no such simple thing, no such humbling thing as this would they do. Perhaps there are some of you who say, “Why do not you preach morality?” “Talk of morality!” says Cowper, — 

      Oh thou bleeding Lamb,

   The best morality is love of thee; — 

and so indeed it is. If I were to tell you that I was commissioned by God to say that, if you walked from here to John-o’-Groat’s House {b} in the cold and wet, bare-footed, and ate nothing on the way but dry bread and drank nothing but water, you should inherit eternal life, you would all be on the road tomorrow morning, if not tonight; but when I say just this, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved,” what do you do then? Are you such a fool as to be damned because the way to be saved is too simple? I am angry with you that you should play the fool with your own soul, and be damned because it is too easy. Think of a man who has a disease that is killing him, and he will not take the medicine because it is too simple; he will not apply to the physician because his terms are too cheap; he will not apply such and such a remedy because it is too simple! Then, when that man dies, who can pity him? Did he not reject the remedy from the worst and emptiest of all motives?

22. “Oh!” one says, “but, simple as it is, it seems too hard for me; I cannot believe.” Sinner, what can you not believe? Can you not believe that, if Jesus Christ took human sin, and was punished for it, God can be just in forgiving it? Why, you can surely believe that! You say that you cannot believe, that is, you cannot trust Christ. Why, poor soul, I should find it the hardest work in the world if I were to try not to trust him, for he is such a precious Saviour, such a mighty Saviour, that I can say, with John Hyatt, that I would not only trust him with my one soul, but with a million souls if I had them. Yet it may be that you do not understand what believing is. It is not doing anything; it is never doing; it is just believing that Christ did it all.

   Nothing, either great or small,

      Nothing, sinner, no;

   Jesus did it, did it all,

      Long, long ago.

Christ is worthy of being trusted. Rely on him; May God give you the grace to do so, and you are saved. Remember what we said the other night; there is all the difference in the world between the religion that is made up of “D-o, do,” and that other religion that is spelled “D-o-n-e, done.” He who has the religion of “It is all done,” loves God from gratitude, and he serves him because he is saved; but he who has the religion of “Do” is always a slave, never gets salvation, but perishes in his doings, as they deserve to do who will look to themselves instead of looking to Christ. May the Lord now command his own blessing, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

{a} See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1937, “A Mingled Strain” 1938
{b} John-o’-Groat’s: Located in Scotland. Its claim to fame: Not the most northern village … but the northerly end of the longest distance between two points on the British mainland. Land’s End being the other. See Explorer "http://www.madbookings.com/john-o-groats-scotland.htm"

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ps 51}

May God graciously grant to all of us the grace which shall enable us to enter into the penitential spirit which is so remarkable in this Psalm!

1. Have mercy on me, oh God, — 

He breaks the silence at last, and he does so by crying to God for mercy. Before he says anything else, he appeals to this attribute of mercy, which is so glorious a trait in the character of Jehovah; and he casts himself, all guilty as he is, on the absolute mercy of God: “Have mercy on me, oh God,” — 

1. According to your lovingkindness: according to the multitude of your tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

David talks as if the Lord had said to him, “What is the measure of the mercy that you want?” and he knows of nothing by which he can measure it except the boundless and infinite lovingkindness of the Lord. “Oh God!” he seems to say, “deal out mercy to me according to the measure of your own boundless nature. Let your mercy be the only judge of the mercy that I need.”

2. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,

The forgiveness of sin is not enough for the true penitent; he wants the defilement, which he has incurred through sin, also to be removed. If washing will not suffice, he asks the Lord to try any other method that will accomplish the desired end.

2. And cleanse me from my sin.

“If fire is needed to purify me, use fire, oh Lord, only ‘cleanse me from my sin.’”

3. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is always before me.

David felt that there was a multitude of transgressions recorded against him in God’s unerring register, yet he especially realized the guilt of that one sin which Master Trapp calls the devil’s nest-egg, to which so many other sins were added. That first sin was a particularly foul one, but he added lying, deception, and murder to it, in order to try to cover it, and so he made it even greater than it was at first. It was good that he confessed that great sin, which was always before him.

4. Against you, you only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight: that you might be justified when you speak, and be clear when you judge.

“The essence, the virus, the climax of my sin consists in its assault on you, my God; therefore, oh God, if you condemn me, you will be just! There is nothing that can be said against the most severe verdict of your infallible justice; yet, oh God, I still appeal to your mercy, and pray you to forgive me, and to put away all my sin!”

5. Behold,

David is full of astonishment and amazement; his one great sin has opened his eyes to see the sinfulness of his whole nature.

5. I was formed in iniquity; and in sin my mother conceived me.

“I was ‘formed in iniquity’ when I was formed, and conceived in sin when I was conceived.” He sees that the sin is in himself, and that it does not happen to him as an accident, but flows from him as naturally as foul water runs from a polluted spring.

6. Behold,

Here are more wonders.

6. You desire truth in the inward parts: — 

First he wondered when he saw how sinful he was; now he wonders as he sees the purity which God demands: “You desire truth in the inward parts”: — 

6, 7. And in the hidden part you shall make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, — 

“Oh Lord, you have ordained means by which leprous sinners may be cleansed; the outward sign is the bunch of hyssop dipped in sacrificial blood. Oh Lord, give me in very deed what that sign means! Give me the cleansing influence of the blood of the great sacrifice: ‘Purge me with hyssop,’” — 

7. And I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

I cannot help once more remarking, though I have often before made the same observation, that we have here the evidence of wonderful faith on David’s part. He has a very real consciousness of the blackness of his sin, yet he also has a triumphant conviction that God can put that sin away, and can make even his defiled nature to become clean and pure: “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

8. Make me to hear joy and gladness; — 

How late in the psalm that prayer comes! He writes seven verses before he dares to pray for joy and gladness; and those seven verses are all either confessions of sin or petitions for deliverance from sin; and, my sinful friend, you must not first seek to get rid of your sorrow; but, rather, be thankful for your sorrow for sin, and pray that you may never lose that sorrow until you lose the sin that causes it: “Make me to hear joy and gladness”; — 

8. That the bones which you have broken may rejoice.

If God’s children fall into sin, the Lord does not wink at their sin, but he chastises them so severely that he sometimes even breaks their bones; but God’s pardoning mercy can set those bones, and make each broken and mended bone to become a mouth for holy song: “that the bones which you have broken may rejoice.”

9. Hide your face from my sins,

“Do not look at them, oh Lord! Even take pains to put them out of your sight.”

9. And blot out all my iniquities.

“Obliterate them; as though they had been written on tablets of wax, and you, with a hot iron, wiped away the whole record of them: ‘blot out all my iniquities.’”

10. Create in me a clean heart, oh God;

He feels that he needs his Creator to again perform his great creating work. David knows that he needs a clean heart, but he does not ask the Lord to make his heart clean, he knows better than to present that request. “What is born by the flesh is flesh,” so David’s cry to God is, “‘Create in me a clean heart,’ — let it be a new creation; give me a new heart, and a clean heart.”

10. And renew a right spirit within me.

There was once a right spirit in man; but, through sin, it has lost its beauty, its tenderness, its delicacy, its sensitivity, its holiness; so each one of us needs to pray, “Oh God, renew a right spirit within me!”

11. Do not cast me away from your presence;

“I cannot bear to be away from your presence; I must see your face, or I cannot live.”

11-13. And do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation; and uphold me with your free spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways; and sinners shall be converted to you.

One of our proverbs says, “A fellow feeling makes us wondrous kind”; and he who knows by bitter experience what sin is, speaks tenderly and sympathetically to his fellow sinners; and God is sure to bless such earnest personal testimony, and so sinners will be constrained to turn to him.

14. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, oh God, you God of my salvation:

He called his sin by its right name. He knew that he had really been the murderer of Uriah, so he confesses his guilt in all its hideousness: “Deliver me from bloods (see marginal reading), oh God, you God of my salvation.” It is remarkable that, when David confesses his sin in the strongest language that he can use, he at the same time lays hold on God with the boldest faith that he can exercise. So, the deeper the sense of sin in us is, the stronger can the grace of God make our faith to be.

14. And my tongue shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

Should not David have said, “My tongue shall sing aloud of your mercy”? That would have been quite right, yet David knew that God had a way of bestowing his mercy in complete consistency with his righteousness; and this being the more exceptional part of divine forgiveness, the most astonishing wonder of all, he selects that, and says, “My tongue shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

15. Oh Lord, open my lips; — 

In the eighth verse, he had prayed, “Make me to hear”; and now he as good as says, “Make me to speak.” Sin puts all the organs of the human body out of order, and grace is needed to put them all right again: “Oh Lord, open my lips”; — 

15, 16. And my mouth shall proclaim your praise. For you do not desire sacrifice; — 

The offering of young bulls, and lambs, and rams amid the pomp of priestly ritual: “You do not desire sacrifice”; — 

16, 17. Otherwise I would give it: you do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit:

This is all sacrifices put into one, and the man who brings a bleeding heart to God is accepted when the one who brings a bleeding bull is rejected; and he who brings a bleeding Saviour brings the best sacrifice of all.

17, 18. A broken and a contrite heart, oh God, you will not despise. Do good in your good pleasure to Zion:

David seems to say, “Whatever you do with me, oh God, bless your people!”

18. Build the walls of Jerusalem.

“My sin has helped to pull them down, and so has done great mischief; but, oh Lord, will you not undo the mischief that I have done, and build again the walls of your Zion?”

19. Then you shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering; then they shall offer young bulls on your altar.

Never do men give so freely to the cause of God as when they are rejoicing over pardoned sin. Keep a deep sense of your indebtedness to God alive in your soul, and you will feel that you can never do enough for him who has forgiven you so much.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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