"Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow."
In my Bible, page 717 is dog-eared and dirty from years of use. That's because Psalm 51 is on that page, and I often flip to this beautiful passage to wrap words around my pain and remorse over sin.
I used to think that the intense and constant pain I felt over sin was a kind of punishment from God, a display of His wrath. But not so. Remorse over personal sin is the sign of a softened conscience. A conscience that is sensitive -- sometimes hypersensitive -- to evil. Such pain is a prologue to God's favor.
So when I feel the sting of remorse, I rush to Psalm 51 and find comfort. Especially verse 7 where it says, "Cleanse me with hyssop." Why is that so comforting? Hyssop, I've heard, was used by the Hebrews during the first Passover when they dipped the branch in blood and spread it on the doorposts. But the significance of hyssop doesn't stop there. For when you flail hyssop and strike it on a hard surface, it releases a fragrant perfume.
I invite the Lord to cleanse me with hyssop because when He flails His Word against my hardened conscience, a fragrant perfume of repentance rises to His throne. To me, that is a comfort. A prologue to God's favor.
Sin is anything that does not express, or that is contrary to, the holy character of God. Sin then is not merely what we do, but what we are. Praise God He has dealt with our sin finally and completely on the cross -- that's why nothing will soften a conscience more than a lively and buoyant love for the Savior.
Lord, according to Your great compassion, blot out my transgression and wash away all of my iniquity. Make me clean, O God!