How The Guilty Can Sing

Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
 -Psalm 51:14

It’s Sunday morning and you feel rotten. The worship band plays one of your favorite hymns but all you can do is heartlessly hum-a-long. You can’t forget the night before. The harsh words you spoke. The forbidden links you clicked. The besetting sins that, once again, got the best of you.

Standing there in your Sunday best, you couldn’t feel worse. You feel like a fraud, a fake, a phony. You’re not even sure why you showed up. Singing about the glory of God which you see and feel nothing of only seems to add to the guilt that grips your heart. The question paralyzes you. How can you sing after what you’ve done?

Enter King David. Guilty of adultery, murder, and a grand conspiracy to cover it all up, David must’ve wrestled with the same question of how such a sinner could ever sing with joy to God again. Faced withhis sin, he had to wonder if his song would forever be silenced by shame and repressed by regret. No doubt he felt the gnawing sting of being unworthy in the house of worship. But in Psalm 51:14, as David cries out to God for mercy, he shows us how to deal with our guilt and how the guilty might sing again.

“Deliver me from blood-guiltiness”

David names his sin for what is really is- Blood-guiltiness. No excuses. No justifications. No exploring the technicalities. Just a raw and blunt confession that, in the eyes of God, he is indeed a guilty man. He feels the full weight of what he’s done and sees it in all its ugly reality. He doesn’t ignore or run from his guilt, but lets himself be laid bare by it.

But David doesn’t just sit in his guilt. He takes it to God with a daring confidence that the God against whom he has sinned will be the God of his salvation. He knows his only hope to be delivered from his guilt before God is God himself. There’s no where else to go. Only God can cleanse him and wash white his deep crimson stains. Only God can deliver him from the wrath he knows his guilt deserves. Only God can forgive him for the great evil he has done. And he throws himself -with the full weight of his guiltiness- on the steadfast love and abundant mercy of God.

“And my mouth will sing aloud of your righteousness”

David pleads his cause with a vow that he will sing of the righteousness that has saved him. Not his own righteousness, but the righteousness of God that would take all of his blood-guiltiness and lay it upon the promised Savior. The righteousness of God that would display itself not in wrath, but in the free forgiveness flowing from the blood of Christ. The righteousness of God that God would count to him, completely covering all his iniquity and sin.

For such great mercy, David will sing. Indeed, he must. For as he writes elsewhere, “Happy is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity.” The free pardon of God produces such an overwhelming joy in the heart of the forgiven that it can’t help but break out in song. It’s a song filled with wonder, awe, and astonishment that God should so freely forgive our greatest sins and deliver us from our deepest guilt.

So how can you sing after what you’ve done? Embrace your guilt. Don’t view your sin lightly, but labor to see it as God sees it. And then take it to God. Don’t listen to the lie that you’re too guilty to go to God. Boldly bring your guilt before him.

And then cast yourself on God’s free grace that flows from the cross. Labor to see Jesus taking on himself all of your guilt and bearing all the wrath your worst sins deserve. He was delivered up for your transgressions that you might be delivered. Whether you’re blood-guilty, lust-guilty, anger-guilty, or greed-guilty, trust that Jesus’ blood is enough to wash you completely clean. Run to that fountain and drink deep of the sweet waters of forgiveness. It won’t run dry.

And finally, pray that God would grant you the joy-filled song of the freely pardoned. Plead that your song might be “to the praise of the glory of his grace.” Rejoice in the righteousness that no longer condemns you, but through the finished work of Christ, secures your forgiveness- “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins” (1 John 1:9). Join the song of the redeemed who forever sing “to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood.” (Rev. 1:5). And sing loud of the forgiving love you’ve received. For he who is forgiven much, not only loves much, but sings much too.


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