Purge Me With Hyssop
by Brittany Velasquez
What is it about the coming of Spring that makes us throw open all the windows in the house and commence to scrubbing everything from the ceiling down? We become invigorated by the notion of a spotless house and we're spurred on by the warm scented breezes flowing through the trees. We can't wait to purge our belongings to eliminate unwanted or unused junk. Cabinets get organized, the windows are washed sparkling clean, and the refrigerator no longer has science experiments lurking in the depths. We collapse onto the sofa, clutching our favorite coffee drink, and we breathe a deep sigh of relief and contentment. Finally, our home is purified. We can relax and enjoy life.
Do we have the same attitude towards our spiritual house? Our hearts are the throne rooms for the presence of the King of Kings, Jesus Christ Himself. When was the last time we purged His room? Are there cobwebs to knock from the corners and secret sins shoved into the back of the closet that must be thrown in the trash?
King David is one of my favorite examples of someone who actively cleaned his spiritual throne room. After he sinned with Bathsheba, David recognized that he needed a cleansing from the Lord. He implored, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalms 51:7.
What is hyssop and what is significant about it?
Hyssop is a bitter plant from the mint family. It is believed that this plant has antibacterial properties, which is probably why it is associated with cleansing in the Bible.
In the Old Testament hyssop was used in conjunction with cedar wood, scarlet, and a living bird to cleanse from leprosy. These items were dipped in the blood of a sacrificed bird, then that blood was sprinkled seven times over the person with the leprosy. (Leviticus 14) In the book of Numbers the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron to burn a red heifer with cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet as a purification for sin. (Numbers 19)
The children of Israel were commanded to take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in blood, then strike the lintel and doorposts of their homes. When the Lord passed over Egypt to destroy the Egyptians, He would not suffer the destroyer to come into their homes. (Exodus 12:22-23)
When Jesus hung on the cross He was given a vinegar-soaked sponge placed upon hyssop. Isn’t it interesting that just as hyssop was used in the Old Testament for purification sacrifices it was also used when Jesus became the ultimate Sacrifice?
Let’s go back to our throne rooms. Do they need some spring cleaning? Are there things that need to be organized and put away? Where in the world do we start?
We understand that to become a Christian means that we confess our sins and turn away from our sinful lifestyle by allowing Jesus to wash us clean with His blood. We also recognize that this initial cleansing does not give us liberty to continue doing whatever we want. There will be times where we yield to temptation and we will have to seek forgiveness for our sin yet again. But there are other times when we become complacent. Life is treating us well and while we may not be blatantly choosing to sin, there are still things in our throne room that don’t need to be there.
I think it is important for us to take inventory of our lives every now and then. Why do we do what we do? What are our goals? How is our thought life? What about our attitudes to those around us? Perhaps there is something in the back closet of our hearts that we know needs to be thrown away, but we’re not quite ready to give it up yet. So instead we keep shoving it to the back of the shelf.
It is during these moments that I believe it is so important to pray what David prayed. “Purge me with hyssop.” How often do we ask God to reveal secret sins or attitudes that we have been ignoring or perhaps were truly blinded by? Praying such a prayer is not easy. In fact, it can be quite frightening. Having sins revealed is painful. It hurts to have the Lord of the universe show us how small and helpless we are without His guiding presence.
Recently I felt a need to take inventory of my spiritual house. I didn’t necessarily feel convicted about anything in particular, but I wanted to do some cleaning up. I asked Jesus to open the eyes of my heart so that I could see what needed to be thrown away. I was afraid to pray such a prayer because I didn’t want to feel that burden of guilt and I especially didn’t want to have to confess something to anyone.
Jesus did indeed show me a few things. He didn’t beat me over the head with a two by four, but rather He gently led me to the closet and showed me what I already knew was hidden. I just hadn’t felt like dealing with it. He showed me that over the last few weeks I had been disrespectful and unkind to my husband. I manifested this attitude to him multiple times by rolling my eyes or sighing heavily when he asked me to do things. I knew I had a problem. I had even prayed many times that the Lord would forgive my disrespect once again and that He would give me strength to be a better person. The problem was that I did not make a valiant effort to make choices that were kind and respectful. Instead, I responded with the first words or attitude that entered my heart, which were not of God.
I repented of my sorry attitude, and prayed with my husband, confessing my disrespect and unkindness. I don’t think Jesus is done showing me things yet. But I do believe He knows the desire of my heart and He will continue to hear and answer my prayers. After all, He delights in setting His children free from the mess that they build in His throne room. He wants to help us throw away the trash and sweep the floor and knock the cobwebs down.
It is important to be intentional about this process. In Psalm 51 David entreats the Lord several times concerning his sin. In verse seven he asks to be purged with hyssop, in verse ten he requests a clean heart, and in verse fourteen he seeks to be delivered from bloodguiltiness. David was very specific about his requests, and he was also very serious. I have a feeling that this Psalm was the result of hours of entreaty. I don’t think it’s necessary to spend hours and hours seeking the Lord, but I do believe that setting aside time for more then just a passing prayer is important.
There will be times when the Lord does not show you anything. This is not the time to breathe a sigh of relief and become complacent, but rather rejoice and continue to walk in victory. Revel in the peace that only comes from Jesus Christ and also be on your guard because these are just the kind of moments that Satan loves to attack.
In closing, don’t be afraid to do some spring cleaning once in a while. Take time to sit and seek God’s face. He may not reveal everything at once, but He will show you what you need to know when the time is right. When the moment comes that the throne room is clean, sit quietly at Jesus’ feet and bask in His presence. I can guarantee that you will be filled with a sense of peace and quietness that comes directly from Jesus.
Brittany lives in central Virginia with her husband of three years. She is not a coffee drinker, but prefers a glass of sweet iced tea. She loves to read a good book as well as make delicious messes in her kitchen. Recently she joined the bookstagram community on Instagram where she shares favorite books and recipes. You can follow along @the.wordchef.