The Practice of Confession
"…According to the greatness of Thy compassion, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin."Psalms 51:1-2
Psalm 51 is the greatest of the penitential psalms, and it contains what I believe is the most dramatic and passionate prayer in all the Old Testament. I used to think that these three words for sin: transgressions, iniquities, and sin – were basically all saying the same thing. But David is asking for three different things. In the first, when David asks God to “blot out” his transgressions, he is asking Him to scrape off the lies and deceit in his life in the same way people scraped copy off a sheet of papyrus so they could use it again. Secondly, David says, “Wash me.” David knows he needs God to wash him both inside and out and remove the stain from his heart and life. And the third request, “cleanse me,” refers to what priests did when they declared someone clean and restored from the disease of leprosy.
David knew the seriousness of sin, didn’t he? But he also knew that God specializes in forgiveness, in mercy – and in cleansing and restoration.