Bible Studies for Life

with Rick Henson

Sunday,  November 18

A Prayer of Confession

Matthew 6:12-13; Psalm 51:1-7, 10-12

King David was a man after God’s own heart, according to Acts 13:22b, which reads, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will,” (KJV). David served the Lord. He also was a sinner, like all of us. We owe a debt to God we cannot pay. Jesus paid for us a debt He did not owe. When the prophet Nathan confronted King David with his sins, he repented and asked the Lord for forgiveness.

The heart of David’s regret is revealed in Psalm 51, confessing his sin and asking for restoration. This universal human condition of sin is addressed in the Model Prayer: Matthew 6:12-13 “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen,” (KJV). We injure each other and destroy ourselves with sinful desires and actions. Just like King David, everybody needs forgiveness and deliverance from evil.

Last week we studied praying for others. This week we focus on forgiveness, both received from God and given to others. Jesus tied the two together in the Lord’s prayer. The two verses immediately following the model prayer read, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses,” Matthew 6:14-15 (KJV).

Like King David, each person needs forgiveness for sins, and must forgive the sins committed against him or her. Jesus taught here that the two are inseparable. A difficulty with forgiveness is that people continue to sin against us. The Apostle Peter asked Jesus a common question: how much shall I forgive others? Matthew 18:21-22 reads, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?  Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven,” (KJV). As we are forgiven by God, we must forgive those who sin against us. The original New Testament Greek of Matthew 6:12 (Byzantine Text) states that “forgive our debtors,” is in present tense, meaning that forgiveness of others is ongoing. As the Father continually forgives us our sins, so we are to continually forgive those who wrong us.

Someone said that holding a grudge and not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and hoping the other person becomes ill. Unforgiveness poisons our souls. Jesus knew this and addressed it strongly in the Lord’s prayer. God forgives us when we come to Him in repentance. This experience changes us and is called being born again in John 3:3 (KJV). When we are forgiven by God, we in turn become forgiving people. Ephesians 4:32 teaches, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you,” (KJV).

In Psalm 51, King David’s prayer to God asking forgiveness for his sins, he begins by asking for God’s mercy. Psalm 51:1 reads, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions,” (KJV). David acknowledged his sins and asked the Lord to wash him and purge him with hyssop. Hyssop is a mint herb that grows in the middle east. As David asked to be cleansed with hyssop, this foreshadowed the death of Christ. In John 19:29, just before Jesus cried, “It is finished!”, the Roman soldiers put vinegar on a branch of hyssop and let Him drink of it. This means that David asked God to cleanse him spiritually, not just cleansing his body, but his soul, (1 Peter 3:21 KJV).

After his confession, David pleaded with God to restore him. Psalm 51:10 reads, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me,” (KJV). As Jesus taught us to pray, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” our continuing prayer should be that God helps and teaches us to overcome sin. When our hearts are right with God, we do not cease to sin, but we do cease to desire to sin. God forgives and restores us in Jesus, then we imitate Christ by forgiving others (1 Thessalonians 2:14). To God be the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever, amen.

Henson is a member of Meadow Grove Church, Brandon.