Ash Wednesday Devotional

What To Do When You’ve Blown It

Psalm 51

Ash Wednesday Devotion

WPGBC - February 22, 2023

The background to Psalm 51 is found in 2 Samuel 12 -13. It's a tragic story of failure The failure was David’s adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah one of his faithful men. And it wasn’t one of those cases where he accidentally sinned before he realized what was going on. No, he put a great deal of thought and effort into committing his sin, and then he went to even greater trouble to cover his sin. In fact, the events in his life read more like a soap opera than a Bible story. When the smoke finally cleared, two people were dead and two families were destroyed. In a mess as great as this, you’d think that nothing is salvageable. Humanly speaking, nothing should have been but God is greater than man and the good news is that even in a mess such as this, God is still able to restore and heal.

Sometimes people make big mistakes in their lives. Mistakes that cost them jobs, families, friends and even self-esteem. And David has made a big one... he seduced the wife of a faithful servant and after that, he plotted the murder of that servant to hide his wrongdoing.

The Lord was very displeased with what David had done. (2 Samuel 11:27)

David did face the music. He had to make things right with God and get his life back on track. It is understood by some that at some point during this time of repentance, David wrote Psalm 51. This Psalm is all about “What To Do When You’ve Blown It.” David has blown it big time. It doesn’t get any worst than the sexual sin of adultery and murder. From all kinds of perspectives, David is a cheat, a thief, a murderer, and an irredeemable worm. The list of names one can call David is long.

And yet, David discovers that even as far as he has departed from God and as deep in sin as he has fallen, God has not given up on him. Though it will be difficult, he can still recover and return to the life God wants for him. Yes, the consequences of his sin will continue to haunt him but God will still receive him. This is good news for all of us to know that no matter how we have messed up, there is still a way to make it right.

Let me suggest three lessons we can learn from David’s experience. To get our lifeon track we have blown it will take:

1. Change of Heart

In the first two verses of Psalm 51, David begs forgiveness, then says...(v. 3-4) For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.

David was guilty and he knew it. He couldn’t deny his wrongdoing any longer. He could only confess to God and ask for forgiveness.

Secondly, getting back on track requires a...

2. Change of Mind

(v. 4) Against you, you only have I sinned...You are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. I have been a sinner from birth.

David was saying, “I am responsible for my actions. I can’t blame anyone but myself.” Getting back on track requires a change of heart, a change of mind, ..

The principle here is that we must change our mind about who controls our lives. We cannot blame our sin on anyone else. We are responsible for our own lives. It does no good to say, “I am a victim of my environment, or a victim of my circumstances, or a victim of genealogy, or a victim of bad luck.” David could have said, “It was Bethsheba’s fault—look what she was wearing at the time.” Or he could have blamed God. Or he could have blamed his other wives (yes, wives— he had hundreds of them) for not being sensitive to his needs. He could have placed the blame in several different areas, but he realized that it was now time to take responsibility for his actions and take back control of his life.


3. Change of Direction

David’s life got off track because he started doing things his way and going in his own direction. Suddenly, he recognized that things had skidded out of control and that he needed to make things right. He also realized that he couldn’t do it without God’s help. Listen to his words...

(v. 7-12) Cleanse me...wash me...blot out all my iniquity...create in me a clean heart...renew a steadfast spirit within me.

We can mess things up on our own without anyone’s help, but it takes an act of God to get us back on track. We must depend on Him to cleanse us, and wash us, and forgive us. Too often we are guilty of trying to clean ourselves up and make ourselves “good” so that we will be acceptable to God—and that is simply not acceptable to God! There is only way I can come to God—“Just As I Am.” When we come to Him this way, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1John 1:9)

Getting back on track requires a change of direction—where we stop going our way and start going His way. And what does it mean to “go God’s way”? It means that we...

a. Spend time alone with God on a consistent basis. David said, “Do not cast me from your presence” because he recognized that spending time is what gives our lives direction.

b. Be filled with the Holy Spirit. David said, “Do not take your Holy Spirit from me,” because he recognized that we need the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives to overcome the power of sin.

c. Ask God to give us a sense of joy. David said, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation,” because he recognized that a relationship with God is supposed to make you happy, not miserable. We can’t get back on track if we think that serving God is torture.

d. Ask for the power to be consistent. David said, “Grant me a willing spirit to sustain me,” because he recognized that we can’t be changed if we’re not willing to be changed on an ongoing basis.

e. Look for the chance to help others. David said, “Then I will teach transgressors your ways and sinners will turn back to you” because he recognized the Good News is worth sharing with others.


A change of heart. A change of mind. A change of direction. Do you know what all of this adds up to? Repentance. When we blow it, we need to repent. Some people think that repentance is feeling guilty, but I’ve got “bad news” for those people: feeling guilty isn’t enough. There’s more to repentance than just feeling bad. Of course, when we sin we do feel guilty. That’s natural. But if you feel guilty too long, you haven’t really repented. Repentance removes guilt. When David asked for God’s forgiveness he also asked God to restore the joy of salvation. Repentance results in joy. If you’ve blown it, you need to get past feeling guilty and get back on track. Ask God to help you change your heart, and change your mind, and change your direction.


1. In what ways does this Psalm speak to your life?

2. Is there a verse or a word from this psalm that really resonated with you? Could you share why?

3. Has there been a time when you’ve really blown it? How did that incident or incidents change you?

4. Are there regrets in your life that you would like to make right?

5. If you could change one thing in your life, what would that be? How might this Psalm inform you how to move forward?

6. In what ways does our past direct the decisions and choices we make today? How does one determine which voice one listens to when making a decision?

7. If possible, share one that you’ve learned from this psalm that you will put into practice.