Purify me from my sins,and I will be clean; wash me,and I will be whiter than snow. (NLT)
These words were written by a man who had committed adultery with another man’s wife,had tried to deceitfully cover it up,and when that failed had been complicit in the man’s death. They were written also by the man acknowledged to be the greatest king of Israel and a man after God’s heart.
Unless we face both these realities we can’t grasp the good news of grace offered to mixed-up humanity. David was both a sadly flawed sinner and a deeply devoted follower of God. It is not only possible to be both; it is inevitable we will be both.
What resolves this tension is that grace and mercy are offered to those who truly regret and seek to turn from their flawed way of life. David knew full well his shortcomings. He also trusted that they could be dealt with. Though only those of us in the post-Jesus era understand how sin was dealt with.
It is important to note here that David seems to believe total cleansing is possible. It is not as if some sins are so bad they disqualify us from forgiveness. God’s mercy covers the lot: no fine print or exclusion clauses. When we see TV commercials telling us some stain removers will get rid of all stains we rightly think to ourselves that there are some stains that just won’t be removed despite the claims of the product.
No such misgivings with our God. His pardon covers all sins. His goodness is greater than our badness.