“Create in me a clean heart”

Experiencing God’s forgiving grace

I pray that you will experience the depth of his love and grace today as we spend time in his presence.


As we wrap up our week looking at what it means to turn away from sin and toward God, today we’re going to look at the depth of God’s love and mercy. Few stories of sin and failure are more dramatic than David’s. Yet David also understood the cleansing power of the grace of God. I pray that you too will experience the depth of his love and grace today as we spend time in his presence.


“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.”

Psalm 51:1 ESV


In 2 Samuel 11, King David has a scandalous affair with a woman named Bathsheba. She was the wife of Uriah, one of David’s elite military commanders. When she became pregnant, David attempted a cover-up by having Uriah killed and taking the widowed Bathsheba as his wife.

So why would someone God calls “a man after my heart” in Acts 13:22 commit such heinous sins? For the same reasons we do: we have inherited a sin nature and face the temptations and deceptions of Satan. And on top of that, according to James 1:14–15, we also choose to sin of our own free will.

What separates David from most of us is not the reality of his sin but the faith of his response.

After Nathan exposed David’s immorality in 2 Samuel 12:1–12, David responded, “I have sinned against the Lᴏʀᴅ” (v. 13). Then he wrote Psalm 51 to express his contrition to God.

Rather than shutting God out, he turned to the Lord, seeking his “mercy” and appealing to his “steadfast love” (v. 1). He prayed in Psalm 51:1–2 that God would “blot out my transgressions,” “wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,” and “cleanse me from my sin!”

Later he prayed that the Lord would “purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (v. 7). He believed that God could “let me hear joy and gladness” and “let the bones that you have broken rejoice” (v. 8). Then he prayed that God would “hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities,” “create in me a clean heart,” and “renew a right spirit within me” (vv. 9–10).

David believed that, in answer to his repentance, God would restore the joy of his salvation and uphold him with a willing spirit (v. 12). In fact, he was confident that he would be restored so fully that he would then teach other sinners to return to God (v. 13).

We have focused this week on God’s call to his people to “turn from their wicked ways” in 2 Chronicles 7:14. Let’s finish the week by claiming his amazing grace when we do. Let’s believe with David that, no matter the depth and depravity of our failures, God’s love and mercy are deeper and stronger still. Let’s confess our sins in full faith that God will “cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, my emphasis) and “remember [our] sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).

The great preacher John Claypool told of a priest who committed a terrible sin in seminary. Though he had confessed his failure to the Lord, he lived for years with the aftermath of guilt.

One day a member of his church came to him with the startling news that the Lord had begun speaking audibly to her in prayer. The priest was dubious and said to her, “The next time the Lord speaks to you, ask him what sin your priest committed in seminary.” She said she would.

She came back a few days later and the priest asked if she had done what he suggested. She said she had in fact asked the Lord what sin he had committed when he was in seminary. He asked if the Lord responded to her. She said that he did.

“What did he say?” the priest asked.

She replied, “He said, ‘I don’t remember.’”

How amazing is it that God extends his cleansing grace to us today? Let’s reflect on this truth as we enter a time of guided prayer.

today’s devotional is written by Jim Denison


1. Reflect on the story of David, Bathsheba, and Uriah. Feel the weight of David’s horrible sins. Then ask the Holy Spirit to help you respond to the biblical question, “Have you not sins of your own against the Lᴏʀᴅ your God?” (2 Chronicles 28:10).

“Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17).

2. Confess the sins the Spirit shows you and claim God’s cleansing love.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).

3. Thank God for his restoring grace in your life.

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).


“Create in me a clean heart”


Cancer survivors can encourage cancer patients in ways no one else can. Those who have lost a loved one can uniquely help those who are grieving.

In the same way, forgiven sinners can especially help other sinners find forgiveness. After David confessed his sin and experienced God’s grace, he wanted to share with others the gift he had received. His example asks the question: Is repentance truly sincere if the repentant person does not then seek to help others experience repentance?

Who will be drawn closer to our Father’s forgiving love through you today?

Extended reading: Psalm 51

Who will be drawn closer to our Father’s forgiving love through you today?


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