Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin! PSALM 51:2 (ESV)
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin. PSALM 51:2 (NIV)
Read Full Passage HERE
In Psalm 51:1-2, we have already come across three terms that you may have heard often, but like me, you may not have a true understanding of. To better understand this passage and prayer, I think it’s important to spend some time defining the difference between transgression, iniquity, and sin.
Sin is defined as “missing the mark.” Ever since the fall of humanity, it has been our nature and presupposition to miss the mark. We are, by nature, sinful. We sin too often to even count or realize; it may even stain good things, causing us to want to be seen in generosity, taking more than we give in friendship or even pride in “humble” actions. The effects of sin are inescapable and are the reason why we need the blood of Christ. We need Christ to grant us healing and the fruit of the spirit to overcome the sin in our lives.
Transgression is knowing we shouldn’t do something but continuing and doing it anyway. Choosing instant gratification that the world has to offer, thinking it will be more fulfilling than the joy, satisfaction, and peace found in Christ.
Iniquity can be thought of as sin that is premeditated. So when you and I transgress in disobedience to God’s perfect will and design for our lives and how we ought to live, we not only are missing the mark, but we are intentionally choosing to be a god over our own lives. We are, in a sense, putting God on the back burner because we believe our desires are more important or appealing than His. This is purely short-sighted and prideful, as our desires are often sinful and lack the full picture of what is best and life-giving in our lives. Furthermore, iniquity is when we do all of this without repentance; entering a cycle of repeated sin or committing iniquity in order to cover up our transgressions.
To put it simply, sin is in our nature and is often committed unconsciously. Transgression is intentionally and willfully disobeying God's commands, choosing instant gratification over the things of Christ, and iniquity is premeditated evil, dwelling on a plan of disobedience and carrying it out.
When we look at David’s story, we see him sin when he looks lustfully upon Bathsheba from his balcony, which he may have done once or even more. He transgressed when he took her into his bed and committed adultery. Ultimately leading Him to commit iniquity when she became pregnant, and David, in his efforts to cover his transgression, ordered for her husband to be killed in battle. A great downward spiral of evil.
From David’s mistakes, Psalm 51:1-2 could maybe be thought of as the following,
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my adultery.
Wash me thoroughly from my murder,
and cleanse me from my lust and pride!
What sins, transgressions, or iniquities do you need to replace these words with today? I encourage you to take some time writing out a prayer like this; use Psalm 51:1-2 but replace the words “sin”, “transgression”, or “iniquity” with those specific to you.