Solely by God's Mercy (Psalm 51:1–2) - Radical

Solely by God’s Mercy (Psalm 51:1–2)

“Have mercy on me, oh God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”
-Psalm 51:1–2

This psalm is one of the most well-known songs for a reason because we can all identify with the prayer that we read in the psalm. And the psalm is a prayer to God from the very beginning for mercy from God, for mercy omits sin. “Have mercy on me, oh God.” And I love this language, “According to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy.” The psalmist knows he has no merit before God by which to approach Him and ask for forgiveness of sin. The only way he can be forgiven of sin before God, that you or I could be forgiven of sin before God, is according to God and His steadfast love and His abundant mercy. Let’s never forget that we are not children of God by any merit in us, but solely 100% by mercy in Him.

We are not children of God by any merit in us, but solely by mercy in Him.

The only reason we have eternal life, that we have forgiveness of our sins, that we have a relationship with God is because of the steadfast love of God. It’s because of the abundant mercy. Don’t those words seem so inadequate to describe what God has done for us? Yes, His steadfast love. Yes, abundant mercy. And we just want to think of more adjectives for His mercy than abundant or more adjectives for His love than steadfast. He is so loving. He is so merciful that He blots out our transgressions. Blots them out, that He washes us thoroughly from our iniquity.

Think of all our iniquity. He washes it all. He cleanses us from our sin when we call out to Him. We know this is just where the Christian life begins with confessing your sinfulness before God, my sinfulness before God, believing that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave in victory over sin to make a way for us to be forgiven of sin. That his blood has covered over our sin. That’s the only way this forgiveness, this cleansing, this washing is possible, by the blood of Jesus shed on a cross for us. So we come to God every day in prayer based on the blood of Jesus, and we cry out continually, “God have mercy on me.”

We confess our sin. This is a regular part of the Christian life to confess our need for His mercy and His steadfast love on a daily basis. Then, as you read on in Psalm 51 to get to a point in verse 13, where he says, “Then I will teach transgressors your ways and sinners will return to you.” So the whole picture is not just our forgiveness, but it’s the spread of God’s forgiveness through our lives.

God, we pray even in this moment, maybe in moments after this podcast is over, as we reflect on our tendencies to sin in each of our lives and ways that we have gone or prone to go against your will to do things our own way. Still God, please, please, please cleanse us from all of our sin. God, wash away our inequity by the blood of Jesus. We praise you for your abundant mercy and your steadfast love in our lives. Help us to be quick to confess sin and quick to be reminded that we are cleansed of it through faith in Jesus.

That you do not hold our sin against us, all glory be to your name, oh God. And we pray, we pray help us to teach transgressors your ways. Lord, we pray that today you would help us to lead other people to return to you. God, we pray that today you would help us to lead sinners to return to you, to use language from verse 13 in the psalm. God, we pray that coworkers, neighbors, friends, family members, people around us that we just happen to meet today, God, we pray that you would use this to point them to you, Jesus, and the forgiveness that’s found in you and the life that’s found in. God, we pray that you would help us to do this right around us and far from us. God, we pray today for the Northern Yemeni Arabs in Yemen, 13 million of them. Most of them, almost all of them, never having heard the good news of your forgiveness through Jesus. They’ve never even heard God.

We pray. We pray right now, you will unite our hearts together. We pray, we plead, for the spread of the gospel in Yemen. God, we pray for the spread of the gospel among Northern Yemeni Arabs. Please, God, amidst war, amidst suffering that they’re experiencing right now. We plead, God, cause your grace and your abundant mercy to be made known among them. Your mercy to be made known through Jesus. God, I pray for the few believers who are there. We pray that you would strengthen them, that you would cause the gospel hope to spread through them, God, that your steadfast love and abundant mercy would spread to men and women and children all across Yemen. God, we pray for that.

We praise you for your abundant mercy and your steadfast love. We pray that you would spend our lives, use our lives today and every day for the spread of this mercy near us and far from us that others might know this abundant mercy and steadfast love that we enjoy in this moment, and we will enjoy forever. That they might enjoy it forever, enjoy you forever, God. We pray in Jesus’ name who makes all this possible. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

View the 2021 McLean Bible Church Reading Plan here.

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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