Silence for 2-5 minutes:
If your mind wanders, silently pray a simple prayer again and again, such as, "I surrender to your love" or "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me" until the Holy Spirit gives you a sense of peace and focus.
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[b] 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.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.
David promises God that when he is cleansed of his great sin and God renews him by the Holy Spirit that he will teach transgressors the ways of the Lord. In other words, David is saying that he is not going to waste this calamity but instead help others who have sinned find forgiveness and restoration. I believe that it is in our failures that we are most able to relate to and minister to others.
I have had the privilege of working with and being a part of various recovery groups. It is a beautiful and yet tragic thing to hear the stories of those who struggle with addiction. I have known mothers who lost their children because they would rather have a drink than take care of an infant. I have known men who had wonderful careers but are reduced to working minimum wage jobs because they could not keep their sobriety. I met one man who had been in rehab thirty-eight times before grace finally took hold, and he became sober. This man decided to enter the ministry and live a life where he would “teach transgressors” the ways of the Lord.
We tend to hide our failures and parade our strengths. David writes this “Psalm of Psalms” about his greatest failure. David realizes that everyone is a sinner and needs exposure in order to receive forgiveness. David is willing to let his failure become a song, for all ruined sinners to sing through the ages.
Paul the Apostle writes:
12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
1 Timothy 1:12-17
The Greek word, translated, foremost is protos from which we get the word prototype. Paul is saying that God saved and commissioned the prototype sinner so that the whole world might know that there was grace for them through Jesus Christ. Paul used his colossal blindness and sin as the means of teaching transgressors the ways of Jesus. Paul was following the counsel of another prototype sinner, King David, a man after God’s own heart.
Do you hide your sins but parade your strengths? How might your greatest failures in life be a way to teach other sinners the ways of the Lord?
O Lord, your greatest followers were those who acknowledge their sin and brokenness. Help me to come out of hiding to teach others the ways of Christ. O Jesus, you shower grace and restoration on all of those who come out of the shadows into your glorious light! Amen.