Scripture Reading: “For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.” (Psalm 51:16)
In the Old Testament, certain sacrifices were prescribed for certain sins. The graver sins requiring the more costly sacrifices and the lesser sins requiring the less expensive sacrifices. However, when it came to David’s sins—adultery and murder—there were no atoning sacrifices to be made. Instead, the perpetrator of these sins was to be put to death, being under divine condemnation for having committed such egregious crimes against God.
David knew that there was nothing he could do or offer to God to secure for himself a divine pardon for his capital offenses. God neither desired nor took delight in any sacrifice offered to Him by a sinner like David. How hopeless and helpless the defenseless David stood before the heavenly bar.
It is the dire and desperate straits of the sinner’s lost condition that drives him, as it did David, to plead for mercy before the heavenly bar. Only those assured of their inability to do anything or to offer God anything that He desires or delights in will ever understand their desperate need of a divine pardon. Under the justifiable sentence of death for our egregious sins against God (Romans 6:23), we, like David, stand before the heavenly bar completely incapable of doing or offering to God anything that will merit His absolution or acceptance.
“Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.” (Augustus M. Toplady)