Just arrived back from a walk with our dog. It has been unseasonably cold in Belfast this week. We woke this morning to a blanket of snow. So I headed out with my son, who has just returned from Uni, to enjoy the falling, fluffy, flakes.
As the clouds cleared away, sunlight began to sparkle and twinkle its refracted light on fields and woods: everything was irradiated, and lit up almost-magically, as my heart was full of gladness in this winter wonderland. All green grass concealed. All brown branches covered. Glistening, glinting snow had hidden everything from view.
We continued down the field, at times entering into forest – till I bumped into a lad from Hong Kong who I’d talked to at length, on one previous occasion.
A Vital Question
The question that I posed to him was this: ‘What is whiter than the snow?’
Since he didn’t appear to know how to respond, I gently mentioned Psalm 51, and the covering it speaks of, when God forgives our sins.
In this prayer, conniving, murdering, adulterous David had now come clean with God, as the superscription informs us. He begs the LORD for mercy! His only hope is God’s compassionate, covenantally-faithful character!
The God “who forgives all your iniquity” as Psalm 103.3 describes Him – this is Your God! This same LORD who declared His Glorious Name to Moses, in Exodus 33.19, is the never-changing Redeemer, who is ready to pardon His pleading, broken-hearted, people. After all, this was His great, over-arching eternal purpose – to purchase our pardon in the person of His Beloved, our Kinsman-Redeemer, Jesus.
The King then laments his guilt and enumerates his sins – both original and actual – from conception to recent crimes: the son of Jesse confesses that he knows, all too well, that he, like us, by nature and practice, but for God’s grace, is evil through and through. He is painfully aware that God demands the highest standards of rectitude and truth in the inner, concealed, parts – now casting himself on the LORD, as if to the Great High Priest, he cries for complete purging in a heartbroken plea for purification, Psalm 51.7.
Hyssop is that little herbaceous plant that grows in cracks in walls or rocks in the arid, hot, dusty Middle-East. It is ideal for dipping in and sprinkling any fluid or liquid. Hyssop is the ‘Sinai Sprinkler’ that Moses used to soak the Blood of the Covenant on Book, Priests and Israel; hyssop is also the ‘Purifying Parsley’ that the priests in the Temple used to pronounce the leper clean; hyssop is finally the ‘Holiness Herb’ used to scatter sacrificial blood to set apart anything or anyone as the exclusive property of God.
There is no doubt that David believes his sin has made him as unclean as a leper – unfit to enter God’s presence and an outcast from God’s people. ‘Unclean, unclean’ is the plague and plight he feels. His prayer, therefore, seeks full purgation of his sinful ‘leprosy’, on the basis of Covenant promises, in order, once again, to be set apart from Kingdom service!
“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean, wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.”
Confident of Cleansing
He speaks with assurance, yet without any hint of presumption. Resting on God’s promises he anticipates forgiveness. All breaches of the Law will be, like an upturned bowl, wiped clean, v1; all inner crookedness and twists will be straightened out; guilt’s penalty will be given an all-over lavage, v2a; every offense and falling short will be made an unearthly, brilliant, white, v2b; it will be utterly blotted out and hidden from God’s face, v9; David will be delivered from bloodguilt, v14; the King will be reckoned free and cleared from every charge.
“What can wash away my stain? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
Oh, precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow…….
No other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus!”
Brother, sisters, sinners, saints – rejoice in the whiter-than-snow blanket of the covering merit of Christ’s Cross!
Lucy, our Bernese Mountain Dog, seems to loves the snow – whether she is rolling, running or rearing up to catch snowballs, when she gets out in the white stuff she is really in her element…
As pardoned, redeemed, washed, purified, more than snow-white saints, have we not infinitely more abundant and spiritual reasons to celebrate God’s grace to us, who are covered, through faith, in the imputed Gospel righteousness of Christ?