Think About It: A Clean Heart

Psalm 51:1-12

Have mercy on me, O 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!

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
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.
Behold, 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.

Purge 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 iniquities.

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.

Lately, I have been listening to Jon Foreman’s solo albums: Fall, Spring, Summer & Winter. For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Foreman, you may know him better as the lead singer/songwriter for Switchfoot.

Initially, before I even listened to this song, I looked at it with interest. I had a strong feeling that it had to do with God cleansing ones self from sin. The title, “White As Snow,” seemed self-explanatory to me. I love this idea, as it is a constant process, and something that I pray is instilled in my own heart daily.

“White As Snow” is basically the Psalm 51 verses I quoted above. Take a quick read of the Psalm passage and then scroll down and read Foreman’s lyrics.

Have mercy on me, oh God
According to Your unfailing love
According to Your great compassion
Blot out my transgressions

The sacrifices of our God are a broken and a contrite heart
Against You and You alone have I sinned

Wash me white as snow
And I will be made whole
Wash me white as snow
And I will be made whole

Would you create in me a clean heart, oh God
Restore in me the joy of Your salvation

For those of you who didn’t grow up going to a traditional Lutheran church, the Psalm 51 passage and the “White As Snow” lyrics probably don’t seem all that familiar. Let me enlighten you.

In the Lutheran church, or I should say, in the Lutheran church I grew up going to — Holy Cross Lutheran Church — there is a song/prayer that happens before communion. It’s called the offertory. It is there to prepare the hearts of the congregation both individually, as well as corporately, for the receiving of communion. It literally is verses 10-12.

Besides bringing back great memories of growing up in a very churched home, and those verses really soothing my heart, I realized something: this passage is one of the anthems of our faith as Christians.

Psalm 51 talks about God’s characteristics in very real terms. It seems like such a happy passage, because at the end we feel like God renews David’s heart and he is washed whiter than snow.

But read it again carefully. David fears God.

David knows that God is 100 percent just in condemning him and casting him away from His presence. He knows — without knowing it — that he needs Jesus. (Jesus hadn’t come to this earth to die for our sins yet). He needs Christ’s sacrifice to cover his own sins because he’s unable to present himself before God blameless, and “white as snow.”

Take some time these next few weeks to read over Psalm 51. Memorize it. Seriously. Memorizing scripture draws us nearer to God and strengthens our relationship with Him.

This passage is also the cry of our hearts, and knowing it beyond where it is in the Bible. Truly knowing it will help us to see our own sin, which will help us to be cleansed from all unrighteousness, and truly become white as snow.

Think about it.

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