Read Psalm 50-51
Radio personality Paul Harvey tells the story of how an Eskimo kills a wolf. The account is grisly, yet it offers fresh insight into the consuming, self-destructive nature of sin. "First, the Eskimo coats his knife blade with animal blood and allows it to freeze. Then he adds another layer of blood, and another, until the blade is completely concealed by frozen blood. "Next, the hunter fixes his knife in the ground with the blade up. When a wolf follows his sensitive nose to the source of the scent and discovers the bait, he licks it, tasting the fresh frozen blood. He begins to lick faster, more and more vigorously, lapping the blade until the keen edge is bare. Feverishly now, harder and harder the wolf licks the blade in the arctic night. So great becomes his craving for blood that the wolf does not notice the razor-sharp sting of the naked blade on his own tongue, nor does he recognize the instant at which his insatiable thirst is being satisfied by his own warm blood. His carnivorous appetite just craves more until the dawn finds him dead in the snow!"
The Eskimo's strategy for killing a wolf is the strategy Satan wants to use to bring down Christians. Tempt them with a sin that seems so good but in reality it takes them down a road of destruction. It's been said that sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay. Our two psalms for today are a reminder of the power of sin. But it also reveals the power of repentance.
The author of Psalm 50 is Asaph. He was a Levite who King David assigned as a worship leader in the tabernacle choir. He was a skilled singer and poet. His psalm is a reminder that you can go through the religious motions but still have a heart far from God. The sacrifice God is looking for is a life fully devoted to Him. Psalm 51 was written by David after he repented of his sin with Bathsheba. David saw Bathsheba bathing and he lusted for her and slept with her even though she was a married woman. When she got pregnant David brought her husband back from battle so that he would sleep with her and everyone would think she was pregnant with his child. When Uriah refused to sleep with his wife while his fellow soldiers fought in battle, David had Uriah killed on the battleground. David committed adultery, he lied, and he murdered. And for a whole year he refused to repent of his sin. The full story can be read in 2 Samuel 11.
In Samuel 12 it says that Nathan showed up and rebuked David and he finally repented of his sin. Psalm 51, along with Psalm 32, are psalms written expressing David's confession of sin. They are two of the most powerful psalms in the Book of Psalms. Verse 10 should be all of our prayers: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." Because of the work of Christ, that prayer is a possibility for all of us. Perhaps that's where you are today. There is sin that needs to be repented of. I find such great comfort in v. 7: "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter then snow."
Hyssop was important in Israel's history. When they received the Ten Commandments, Moses sprinkled them with the blood of calves and goats with a hyssop branch. He sprinkled the Tabernacle and worship vessels with it. When God was leading the people out of Egypt, the people spread the Passover lamb's blood over the door with a hyssop branch. And when Jesus was hanging on the cross they offered Him wine on a hyssop branch.
Hyssop branches don't make us clean before God. It's the blood on the hyssop that does. As Hebrews 9:22 puts it, "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." Psalm 51 is a prophetic psalm that reminds us that the shed blood of Jesus allows our sins to be forgiven. His death and resurrection cleanses us of sin.
Is there sin to confess today? If so, re-read Psalm 51 as a prayer of repentance to God.
Do you have someone close to you who is giving in to sin? Will you be a Nathan in their life?
Prayer for the day: "Precious Savior, thank you for your forgiveness. Make me holy as you are holy. I can't thank you enough for sending your Son to the cross. I praise you God for being a merciful Father. I praise you for raising Jesus from the dead. I am humbled to be your child. In Jesus' name, amen."