Appealing to God for Mercy (Psalm 51:1) - Radical

Appealing to God for Mercy (Psalm 51:1)

“Have mercy on me, oh God, according to your steadfast love. According to your abundant mercy, blot out my transgressions.”
– Psalm 51:1

Thus begins one of the most beautiful chapters in the Bible. In a sense, Psalms 51:1, this picture of confession, this prayer before God that David prays after his sin with Bathsheba. He starts off from the very beginning, just pleading for God’s mercy, appealing to God’s steadfast love. He says it three times, “Have mercy on me, oh God, according to your steadfast love, according to your abundant mercy.”

God’s Invitation to Mercy

We are sinners who defy God, yet He invites us to appeal for mercy because of His steadfast love.

The only way David in his sin can come before God in his holiness, he knows the only way this is possible, is because of mercy from God, because of steadfast love in God. According to abundant mercy, he cries out for God to show him that mercy and to blot out his transgressions. The beautiful truth of Psalms 51, the beautiful truth of the entire Bible is that God answers that prayer. God, the holy God of the universe against whom we have sinned.

You saw in 2 Samuel 11, whom we have displeased. Who we have dishonored. Who we have rebelled against, and who we have defied. As a result of our defiance of him, we deserve judgment from him. The clear truth that we see from cover to cover in scripture is that sinners deserve judgment before a holy God, and yet God in his justice and his holy wrath due sinners shows abundant mercy for sinners. This is breathtaking, and it’s possible for you and I, and our sin, to come before God in his holiness, to appeal for mercy, and God answers according to his steadfast love, according to his abundant mercy.

Psalm 51:1 Thanks God for His Invitation of Mercy

I want you to see that and feel that in that fresh way today. Right now, wherever you’re sitting, if you’re driving in a car, or you’re walking or running, or if you’re alone or if you’re with a group of people, whatever it is, just think right now. You can appeal to God for mercy in your life. According to his steadfast love for you, he will give it. This is an open invitation to receive the mercy of God. I exhort you to take it, to pray. Oh, let’s pray.

God, we are sinful. We do defy you. We rebel against your ways. It is in our nature, and we deserve judgment before you, and yet we praise you. We praise you for the privilege right now of coming before you and appealing for your mercy, and to know that because of your steadfast love, because of your faithful love, because of your never-ending love, because of your abundant mercy that we don’t deserve, that you pour down on us so we receive it.

God, I just pray Psalms 51:1 over my own life, and over all kinds of sinners who are listening to this right now. God, we pray for your mercy in our lives. We pray for your forgiveness. Jesus, we praise you for making this mercy, making this love, this forgiveness possible for us. We know that it’s only possible because of your bloodshed for our sins, because of your death on the cross for us. So, we praise you for your mercy for making this kind of love available to us to receive at every moment.

Psalm 51:1 Prays for Those Who Do Not Know God’s Mercy

Oh God, we pray. We pray for people around us who don’t know this mercy, who don’t know this love. Use this today to share the good news of this mercy and love with them, that they might your steadfast love and abundant mercy. God, we pray for people around us. God, we pray for the Mali in India. On hundreds of thousands of people, no known followers among them. They’re in central India. Muslim people group, God we pray that the Mali in India, God, that they would know your grace and your mercy, and your love that is available to them.

Send missionaries. Send followers of Jesus. Cause your church near people from this people group to make the gospel known among them so that the Mali might cry out, “Have mercy on me, oh God, according to your steadfast love, according to your abundant mercy.” Blot out my transgressions. You’ve got to blot out the transgressions of Mali men, women, and children as they cry out for your mercy.

God, we praise you for your steadfast love and abundant mercy. We rested it today, and we pray that you help us to do what we say David say later in Psalms 51, to teach transgressors your ways, to proclaim this good news to others right around us, and far from us. We pray for the spread of this mercy through our lives.

In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.

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