“For my transgressions I know,
and my sin is continually before me.”
(Psalm 51:5 [Psalm 51:3 in English Bibles])
David switches gear from using the emphatic chiastic structure to a simple parallel structure—even so, we will not lose the clear emphasis of what he is communicating. Here he is, staring at his own transgressions and recognizing that there is nothing he can do on his own about his sin, for it stands continually before him as an accuser. Beloved, never lose sight of your own inability to atone for your own sins—it simply cannot be done. How often we like to do this or to do that, thinking that we might earn God’s favor in light of our sin; loved ones, it cannot be done. We stand helpless before God’s throne of judgment if we are trusting in anything short of Jesus Christ for our salvation. No amount of works can get you there, no amount of deeds can earn your place; no matter how bright you are, how well versed you are in scripture, how many people you have helped—all of this will avail you nothing before God’s throne. It is only by clinging desperately to Christ that you will be saved. And though David did not know the name of Christ, he trusted in the promise of Christ given in Genesis 3:15 and he clung to that promise of a coming redeemer, and he recognized that even he, the anointed king of God’s people, Israel, stood guilty and condemned as a result of sin, and he threw himself at God’s feet seeking mercy. Oh, how we need to learn from King David.
There is something more that is very important for us to note. David says that he “knows” his transgressions. Do not neglect to note that “knowing” in the Hebrew mindset reflects far more than an intellectual recognition, but it reflects a relational understanding. David is not simply assenting to the fact that he has sins, but he is saying that he recognizes that he has sins and he does so because he knows his sin intimately and deeply. Beloved, do not miss the importance of this imagery. Before you can truly repent of your sins, you need to have an understanding of what those sins are and why those sins are so grievous to God. You need to dig deeply into your soul and grieve over those sins yourself. You need to see the sins for what they are: rebellion against a living and holy God.
Beloved, all too often we do not recognize sin for what it is—an outward rebellion and offense against God. In turn, we often are very casual when it comes to repentance. David is saying here that he has searched his heart and has found it wanting and deeply sinful before God, and it is in that stance that he comes before God pleading for his mercy. Friends, as you search your own hearts and seek to know yourself deeply, recognize your sin for what it is, and in knowing that, lay it before God’s throne in the name of Jesus Christ seeking God’s forgiveness.
Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, joined with power:
He is able, he is able, he is able,
He is willing; doubt no more;
He is willing; doubt no more.