Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. (Psalm 51:1)
Have you ever committed a sin you thought was too big for God to forgive? How about adultery, murder, and deceit? For the whole story about David and Bathsheba, and why He wrote this Psalm, read 2 Samuel 11:1-12:20
Because of the magnitude of these offenses, David appealed to the LORD’s nature; and there are three characteristics and one action to which David pleads:
Be gracious. It means take pity, have mercy, and show favor. David asking for a change in attitude—the Lord who was angry, may He now be moved by pity.
Lovingkindness. This too is translated as mercy, goodness and kindness. The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:21-23)
Compassion. Not just compassion, but the greatness of Your compassion. Other definitions are: to love deeply, to have tender affections, and mercy. Psalm 131:2 reveals how we respond to the depth of the LORD’s compassion: Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me.
Three words, and in their meanings, you find mercy. David asks God to be merciful; he knows it is in His nature to be merciful. The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. (Psalm 103:8-10)
David is pleading for God to act according to His nature. These attributes, grace, mercy, lovingkindness, and compassion are all characteristics which are aimed at another; toward David, and toward you and me.
Why plead for mercy? Here’s the one action: so his transgressions would be blotted out, wiped out, obliterated, and exterminated. David is seeking is for God to destroy his transgressions, his rebellion.
Strong words, but God is merciful. What do you need blotted out?