In his message at TGC Chicago’s 2022 Regional Conference, H. B. Charles explains what happens in David’s heart during his prayer of confession in Psalm 51. Through this psalm, we learn that confession and repentance can lead us to joy as we follow David’s example.
First, David prays, “Forgive me,” which is essential to moving forward in our relationship with God once we’ve sinned against him. He prays based on God’s character—knowing God is full of abundant mercy. This confession allows David to take full responsibility for his sin and frees us to do the same when we’ve sinned.
Second, David prays for a “clean heart,” asking God to change him. This is a divine miracle of spiritual transformation, which is impossible without prayer and trust in the Holy Spirit’s power.
Last, David asks to be used for God’s glory. Grace and the power of forgiveness should be what motivates us to evangelism and care for others.
“The prayer of confession is intricately tied to the prayer of intercession,” says Charles. Closing with this challenge, he says, “Godliness is characterized by joy, but joy and sin cannot coexist.” If we’ve lost our joy, let us confess our sins and run to God in repentance and belief in the gospel of Jesus that saves us.
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
H. B. Charles
Grace and peace be multiplied to each of you this evening in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. Let me begin by expressing my gratitude publicly to the steering committee and everyone responsible for me having the opportunity to be here with you this weekend. grateful and thankful for Colin blessing us richly tonight. Bye, a fresh reading of the Lord’s Prayer. Grateful for kind words of introduction by Oscar, and several other reasons. I am glad to be here excited about our time. I’m grateful and thankful for the ministry of TGC and to participate in any way is always a wonderful privilege. Secondly, I am always grateful to talk about the subject of prayer.
Prayer advertises our dependence upon God until the day As we trust God with a revealed by the things we pray about. And the things we fail to pray about really expose us to things that we foolishly think we can handle on our own. And so this is a vital subject for the Christian life. I’m grateful to share on this. And I’m also grateful for the specific assignment I’ve been given from the Psalms, it’s always a blessing to spend time in the Psalms, which is not just Israel’s hymn book, though it was that it was also their prayer book. And I want us to consider my assignment tonight for Psalm 51. Let me briefly ask God’s blessings on our time. And then I want you to hear the reading of God’s word and then we’ll consider tonight what God will say to us out of what he has already said to us in His Holy Word.
Father in heaven, we thank You for the privilege of prayer. Because of our Great High Priest, we may draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, obtain mercy and find grace to help us in the time of need. We confess our need now as we turn our attention again to the study of Your Word. We cannot comprehend biblical truth with our finite minds without divine help. Please open our eyes that we may have a whole wondrous things from your word. Give us an understanding and we will obey your word and keep it with our whole heart in Jesus name. Amen. Psalm 51. To the choir master A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him after he had gone into Bathsheba. 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. against you, you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. They hold I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me? Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Hurts me with hyssop and I shall be clean. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness. Let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my inequities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit, then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from blood guiltiness Oh God, oh God of my salvation, and my tongue will single out of your righteousness. Oh, Lord, opened my lips and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice or I would give it you will not be pleased with a burn offering the sacrifices of God or a broken spirit a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Do good to Zion in Your good pleasure. Build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then will you delight in right sacrifices and burnt offerings and whole burn offerings. Then bowls will be offered on your altar. A man the sinners prayer according to second Samuel, chapter 11. It was the time of year when kings wage war David sent his troops into battle while he remained home. From his balcony he spied a woman bathing on her rooftop. David committed adultery with Bathsheba. It did not matter that her husband Uriah was off fighting David’s battles. Until the Sheba became pregnant. David gave Uriah a furlough, expecting him to go home to Bathsheba that would cover David’s tracks. But Uriah refuse to enjoy his wife, while his comrades in arms remained in harm’s way. So David finally sent Uriah back to war with instructions to give Uriah an impossible mission.
After Uriah is death David married the Shiva no one was supposed to know about David’s adultery Bathsheba has pregnancy or your is murder. Someone new when they the prophet Nathan visited David and gave him a report of local news. A rich man with many sheep lived near a poor man with one lamb. And when guests visited the rich man, he stole and killed his neighbor’s beloved lamb to serve his guests. Outraged, David demanded that the culprit be brought to justice and put to death. Nathan said you are the man. Second Samuel chapter 12 Verse 13. Records, David’s confession, I have sinned against the Lord. Psalm 51 is the full statement of David’s confession. It is the fourth of seven penitential Psalms The others being Psalms 630 to 102 130 143. Psalm 51 is without a doubt the Chief among these prayers of repentance. I suggest to you tonight it is the greatest prayer of repentance, confession and forgiveness in the sacred scriptures.
The heading the title The description of Psalm 51 above verse one reads, interestingly to the choir master A Psalm of David. When Nathan the prophet went to him after he had gone in to Shiva. This Psalm is David’s prayer after Nathan exposed his sin. Yet David addressed this song to the choir master for its use in corporate worship. This deeply personal Psalm is for everyone. Including me and you. Repentance is arguably the most neglected area of prayer. And yet it is arguably the most essential element of prayer. There are some prayers God will not answer. Period. God will not answer prayers until you repent. But God always answers the prayer of repent Since that’s the good news of this sad song, God always answers the sinners prayer of repentance.
Recently, I was throwing things in a bag to prepare for a flight home early the next morning. And as I was throwing these things in the bag, the TV was on in the background and I I don’t even remember what was playing news or sports. But a commercial caught my attention. I didn’t look, I recognize the voice. It was an evangelistic commercial.
The presentation of the need was stated. Jesus was presented as the answer. And then the brother said, if you need this, pray this prayer with me. And he prayed a few lines starting with asking Jesus to come into my heart, and then finished the prayer and began to tell how if you wanted a free Bible, you could write in and receive one and it just stuck with me the rest of the evening what I had heard, not so much what I had heard but what I did not hear nowhere in this sinners prayer was sin ever mentioned. You can never embrace the good news of salvation until you first embrace the bad news have said.
The sentence prayers more than coming to my heart, fix things and make life better. How should sinners pray? Psalm 51 teaches us three answers that I would offer from Psalm 51. How should centers pray? Here’s the first thing sinners should pray. Forgive me. Forgive me. Some some prayers. Sometimes in prayer, we ramble before we get to the point.
Not so with Psalm 51. David gets to the point. Right up front. He begins with a plea for mercy and a confession of sin. Note the plea I need mercy versus wanting to reveal David’s three fold problem transgression, iniquity and sin. Transgression is rebellious disobedience. Iniquity if inward perversion. Sin is spiritual failure. David says I’m guilty of it all. He doesn’t talk about these matters in a theoretical or hypothetical way. Note the personal pronouns my transgressions, my iniquity, my sin. David begins by confessing his guilt and yet acknowledging his guilt he makes a bold request. Have mercy on me. Blot out my transgressions watch me thoroughly of my iniquity cleanse me from my sin. This is a strange way for a guilty party to pray. The defendant agrees with the prosecution. He offers no defense and appeals for clemency. David does not pray this way because he disregards the law he prays this way because he knows the judge. He pleads for mercy based upon God’s character. He prays based upon God’s steadfast love and his abundant mercy steadfast love is covenant keeping love off, which remains loyal when we are not. abundant mercy is compassionate love, like a mother who loves her rebellious child unconditionally. David begins by declaring, I need mercy and then he prays a prayer of confession I have sinned. Back here he shows us how to truly confess our sins. Several points to be made. First, in confession, you must take responsibility. Verse three says, I know my transgressions before Nathan’s rebuke. David pretended like he did not know his transgressions. But now he confesses. my sin is ever before me. This is the spiritual paranoia of unconfessed sin who has called it the problem of a present past. Every where David turned his sin stared him in the face.
A bath were reminded him of the first time he saw Bathsheba, a glass of wine reminded him of his attempts to get Uriah drunk. A letter reminded him of his conspiracy to kill an innocent man. Guilt would not leave David alone until he took responsibility for his sin. But also we must confess our guilt. You have to take responsibility but also confess your guilt.
David sinned against many people. And yet he dares to say in verse four against you, you only have a sin and done what is evil in your sight. This is not an attempt to dodge responsibility for how his sins have damaged others. The people he hurt work collateral damage, he is saying God is the ultimate target of our sin. Maybe when powder for his wife attempted to seduce Joseph. In Genesis chapter 39, verse nine. He responds by saying How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God not against Potiphar. God Satan is primarily, ultimately essentially a theological issue, not merely an ethical one. All sin is against God. David confesses this guilt for a reason that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Again, David wouldn’t make a good good defendant. He’s saying upfront Lord, I want to be honest with you in my guilt, not merely for my benefit. But that you might be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. He is acknowledging God has the right to say or do what he wants to us in judgment because of our sins. To judge us God does us no wrong because what our sins deserve
I have some books in my library that I’ve bought over the years just for the title. I bought a book of sermons many years ago. I haven’t read any of it but I cherished that book for the title. The the title of the book is Lord I have seen Subtitle but I have several good excuses. I think about that title often because that’s how we pray and in the process. We nullify our confession
confession with excuses is hypocrisy. Make no excuses. Verse five says, Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me. And unlike modern day psychology, David here is not blaming his parents for his wrong. market down friends, my past may explain me but it does not excuse me. He is not blaming his parents. He is again confessing in a way that that leaves no reasonable doubt of his guilt. He is saying that his adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah were not out of the ordinary mistakes. They were the result of deep rooted sin. David did what he did because he was who he was.
No child was born in the innocence of the Garden of Eden. Every child is born in a fallen world with a sinful nature. Famously, the London Times did an essay contest asking what’s wrong with the world? GK Chesterton responded, dear editor, what’s wrong with the world? I am faithfully yours GK Chesterton. That’s the spirit in which we must confess our sins. We have no one else to blame for our sins we sin because we are sinners. The other lesson here is simply tell the truth. Verse six says, Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being. Can you teach me wisdom in the secret heart? This statement draws a contrast between David’s sin and God’s standard. God delights in truth in the inward being. But for months, David lied about his sin. But God would not permit David to hide in his hypocrisy. When Nathan confronted him, God was teaching David wisdom in a secret heart and when David confess God forgave him and God will do the same for you. Proverbs 28, verse 13, whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper. He who confesses and forsakes them will find mercy. How should sinners pray? First of all, the sinner should pray. Forgive me. Secondly, as sinners we should pray not only forgive me, but secondly, change me. Change me. David prayed for sparing mercy, not cheap grace. cheap grace seeks forgiveness without conversion. James Montgomery Boice wrote, pardon and purity. These are the two great needs of every human being since we are all sinners, by deed and by nature just as David was. We need pardon and purity. The good news we see in this sentence prayer is that God cleanses sin and God changes sinners. One hand the tech shows us that God cleanses sin. How does he do it? Well, the text says God washes sin. Verse seven, Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean. Purge me means to unsend or d sin He is saying clean me up as if I had never done the wrong hyssop was a spongy plant you Used as a small brush it was used by the children of Israel to put blood on the doorpost during the Passover. In Egypt, it was also used to ceremonially cleanse lepers or those who had touched dead bodies. But David uses the term here to declare, literally that God can cleanse the worst of sins. First John chapter one, verse seven, but if we walk him the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. David says, Purge me and then he prays. Wash me it is the washing of filthy gunk filthy garments. What he is praying for here is no gentle wipe with a damp cloth. It is a thorough scrubbing, of stubborn stains. Divine washing is spiritually painful. But it’s worth it. Because if you let the Lord wash you whatever that requires, however painful it is in the process. The result is that you will be whiter than snow. What a glorious hyperbole in David’s world nothing was whiter than snow. He says God can watch black sin and red blood and make it Snow White.
Isaiah 118 Come now let us reason together since the Lord though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, they shall be like whoa. God washes sin, God heals sin. Verse eight praise let me hear joy and gladness. Note this petition friends, this petition confronts us with the ironic cost of sin we often fall into sin, looking for joy and gladness only to discover that sin brings sorrow not joy. Sin brings grief not darkness
Yeah, I don’t want to chase down this stuff. But here we are reminded that may many emotional and even psychological problems are guilt induced.
David is clearly telling us the guilt can affect you emotionally and not just emotionally. He says he can affect you physically. Let the bones that you have broken rejoice. This is again the unacknowledged effect of unresolved guilt. David will speak of this more in Psalm 32. Specifically in verses three through five. He says When I kept silent my bones wasted away with my groaning all the day long for night and day Your hand was heavy upon me and my strength was drying up as by the heat of summer. But then I acknowledged my sin to You and I did not cover my iniquity. I love this part, verse five, Psalm 32. I said, I will confess my transgressions to the Lord and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. He says that I was trying to hide from God only to discover that God is so eager to forgive the penitent that he didn’t wait to forgive when I confessed when I said I will confess. You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Oh hallelujah friends the blood of Jesus can heal all of our souls diseases. God washes since God heals sin and God clears sin verse nine the Psalms often speak of God. Hi hiding his face and for morphic language there. The Psalms speak of God hiding his face in the sense that God withdraws his favor. But using the image differently, verse nine praise hide your face from my sins. In the Psalms is not a good thing when God hides his face the psalmist usually doesn’t want God to do that. But here David says, Please hide your face from my sins. Proverbs 15 Verse three says, The eyes of the Lord are in every place keeping watch on the evil and the good. are omniscient God sees everything. And yet David is right God hides his face from the sins of the penitent.
How was he able to do that? Because verse nine says he blots out iniquity.
We all have bad credit with God. God has on hackable files. But if you repent, God deletes the record. How does he do that? Colossians 213 and 14 explains the you who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him having forgiven all your trespasses. by canceling the record of Dell debt that stood against us with its legal demands. These he set aside, nailing them to the cross. God cleanses sins. But not only does God cleanse sin, God changes sinners.
When I was a boy growing up in Sunday school, there was a long Sunday school text every week. But there was always the golden verse of the lesson that suggested if you don’t get the rest of the text, this is the verse to remember. May I dare to suggest that verse 10, is the golden verse of Psalm 51. Create in me, a clean heart, O God, renew a right spirit within me. Hold on to your seats, friends. Create there is the same word used in Genesis one and one. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, God created the world out of nothing. And this is how God changes sinners, who are dead in trespasses and sins. It’s a divine miracle of spiritual transformation. Second Corinthians 517 describes it this way, therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he has a what? new creation. The old has passed away and behold, the new has come God can create within us clean hearts. God can renew within us the right spirit. Verse 11, then praise Cast me not away from your presence. This is also an important note in the prayer of confession. Cast me not away from your presence. David was not primarily concerned about being cut off from divine blessings. He was more concerned about being cut off from Divine communion
Too often in our prayers of confession, where we’re too concerned about the circumstantial consequences of our sin. David says I don’t want. My concern is I don’t want you to cast me away from your presence. If I have your presence, the rest will take care of itself. Take not your Holy Spirit for me. Literally David is saying here, Lord, don’t treat me like Saul. First Samuel chapter 16, verse 14 says, Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul. Then a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him. David says, Lord, do not let your spirit Depart from me. And here’s the glory of the gospel in Christ Jesus. The Christian does not need to pray that prayer. When you are saved, God, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in your heart immediately, completely and permanently. Ephesians 430 says, Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God that’s a that’s graphic language. It’s the grief is the word for grief, the death of a loved one. God the Holy Spirit lives within the believers heart and when we sin, it grieves the Spirit of God.
But Ephesians 430 does not indicate that aggrieved spirit forsakes us because it is by him we were sealed for the day of redemption. Thank God he does not move out and thank God, the evidence of his presence is that he will not let you be content in your sin. Verse 12 says Restore to me the joy of your salvation, restored to me the joy of your salvation, says to us that godliness is characterized by joy. Psalm 16 Verse 11. You make known to me the past of life. In your presence is the fullness of joy. Hey, your right hand are pleasures forevermore. I repeat godliness is characterized by joy, but joy and sin cannot coexist.
The church I grew up in. We were often warned don’t let the devil steal your joy. David says if you have lost your joy, don’t blame the devil. Don’t blame people don’t blame circumstances. Check your heart for sin.
God will restore you if you repent. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit. Risk restore me and uphold me. David not just asked for restoration, but he also prays that God would keep him in a posture of willful submission. He prays this way acknowledging that left to ourselves. We will keep going back to the same sins but future Grace sustains us for the long obedience in the same direction.
How should send us pray? First, we should pray. Forgive me. Second, we should pray change me. Thirdly, we should pray. Use me use me I remember Isaiah saw a vision of God he thought he was going to die. God mercifully spared and graciously forgave Isaiah. And then he overhears a heavenly conversation and buts into a divine conversation
and declares, in Isaiah six and eight volunteering for service, here I am, send me this is the response of gratitude by the recipients of grace, to pray for forgiveness is to pray for conversion and to pray for conversion is to pray for usefulness. Just pray for God exalting service, verse 13, then I will teach transgressors your way and sinners will return to you. Here we are reminded that grace is motivation for evangelism. Robert Davidson wrote, the students in the school of faith become the teachers who share not textbook theology, but personal experience with God. Having received forgiveness and cleansing David vow to teach transgressors the ways of God so that sinners might turn to God. I believe David kept that vow in Psalm 32. He says in verse 14, deliver me from blood guiltiness Oh God of my salvation, and my tongue will single out of your righteousness. God forgave David immediately and completely. But will you note here that David seems to continue to struggle with the with this, the cold blooded murder of Uriah?
In way to, on him the blood guiltiness but he brought that struggle to God with confidence he says that you are the God of my salvation. Ultimately, there was nothing he could do to make amends to fix what he had done wrong. His only hope of deliverance from blood guiltiness is that God is a God of salvation. That’s the message of the Bible. If I have to give an elevator answer for the message of the Bible, I will just simply quote Jonah to a nine Salvation belongs to the Lord
David says if you deliver me from blood guiltiness our singing of your righteousness this psalm is addressed to the choir master. So David apparently believed in choirs and but he did not believe in proxy worship. Where people on stage do the worshipping on the behalf of those in the congregation. He says the delivered should sing He didn’t say delivered the delivered needs to know how to sing
but the delivered have a song which is sing have the righteous character of God. We should sing. Because first John one nine says If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness verse 15. Dan goes on to say, Oh Lord, open my lips in my mouth will declare your praises This is still in the prayer of confession. Opened my lips so that my mouth can declare your praises. Note these three words saints guilt, mutes praise. Guilt, mutes praise. Warn worst we wrote nothing shuts a Christian mouth like unconfessed sin but God who washes guilt and blast out iniquity and gives a clean heart can open your lips to declare His praises. Psalm 100 verses four and five Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and bless his name for the Lord is good. His steadfast love endures forever and his faithfulness to all generations is a prayer for God exhausting service but also God pleasing sacrifice for verse 16, you will not delight in sacrifice or I will give it you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. What you have here is not a repudiation of the sacrificial system, but it is an acknowledgement that God cannot be bribed or bought off with offerings. Psalm 50, verses nine and 10. I will not accept the bull from your house or goats from your foes, for every beast of the force is mine and the cattle on 1000 hills. In essence, David is acknowledging religious activities do not impress God
when move’s God, verse 17, The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Ultimately, David says, God does not want your offerings. God wants you. He says a broken spirit is more important than a burn offering. sacrificial offerings do not matter if the heart is not right. Thus Romans 12 One says I appeal to you, therefore brothers by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
The sacrifice that pleases God is you. And then finally, he prays for God honoring success verses 18 and 19. Do good design and you’re good pleasure. Build up the walls of Jerusalem, then you will delight and write sacrifices in burn offerings and whole burn offerings, then bills will be offered on your offer. In the coals of this David shifts from personal to corporate petition. He in so dueling acknowledges that sin affects others. This is not what the world will acknowledge. The world claims you can do what you want to do as long as you don’t hurt anyone else. Sin inevitably hurts others. Does not until after David got right with God that he asked God’s blessings on others. And so just note, as we close the prayer of confession is intricately tied to the prayer of intercession.
He couldn’t pray right for others until he first got right with God. But you have here is the king’s prayer for his nation. It should be the prayer of the godly for whatever community you live in.
We need God to show us good pleasure and keep us secure and when God’s people get right it blesses blesses others right people offer right sacrifices he’s closing words, David Focus Home The altar in the temple but we read these words on the other side of Christmas, Good Friday and Easter Sunday morning. So we do not pray these words, as David did focusing on an altar in the temple in Jerusalem. We pray these words looking to the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. Hebrews 1315 says Jesus paid at all but God still wants the sacrifice through him Jesus, our Redeemer, our great high priests who died on the cross and rose from the dead through him, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God that paid for your sins, the least you can do is praise me for it that is the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name blessed assurance Jesus is mine. Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine air of salvation purchased of God, born of his Spirit, washed in his blood. This is my story. This is my song, praising my Savior, all the day long.
Let’s pray. Our Father in heaven, we thank You for Your Word. We thank You for Your Word that reveals your character. We acknowledge you are holy and we are not we have fallen short of your glory by our sinful nature, ways, choices, desires and behavior. There is no good thing within us to commend to you. All of our righteous deeds are as polluted garments. We praise you as we read these words, and recognize our own guilt and sinfulness and transgression, we praise you that you have made Him who knew no sin to become sin for us. that in him we might become the righteousness of God. In our new righteous life, teach us to pray. Teach us to be honest with you about our sins. Teacher us to trust your promise in Christ to forgive us of our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness for the praise of your glory, amen.