Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
— Psalm 51:1–2
We could look at the first five words of the beginning of verse 2 and break each of them down as we think of where David’s heart was when he wrote this Psalm, but the word iniquity stands out to me because it is not a word I use often. The definition of iniquity is a sin or wrongdoing, but it is more than just doing the wrong thing. It is doing the wrong thing intentionally. An example of iniquity is someone running into another person with their car on purpose, not due to an accident.
David is asking God to wash away his intentional wrongdoing. Remember David got himself in this mess by being home in the palace during a time of war when he should have been at war with his armies. He sees Bathsheba taking a bath on the palace roof and chooses not to look away. He then acts upon his lust, and she ends up getting pregnant. After that, he tries to cover it up by bringing her husband, Uriah, home from war, but Uriah honors his duties to his troops, who are still in battle and does not take the opportunity to sleep with his wife. Ultimately, David orders Uriah into a dangerous battle where he is killed, which David believes will solve the problem.
This story is a perfect example of how sin progresses. David was in the wrong place (sin, but not with evil intent), chose to watch something inappropriate, took action on that lust, and eventually committed iniquity (sin with evil intent) by having a man killed.
“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay!”
— Ravi Zaccharias
So how do we work on our hearts and our iniquity? First, we acknowledge it! We have to confess and repent. There is an old saying, “If you can’t name the enemy, you can’t defeat it!” The evil intent in our hearts is something we all have, but it is not something we have to continue to live with.
I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.
— Psalm 32:5