|"David Asking Forgiveness" by Julius Schnorr Von Carolsfeld (1851-60)|
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 51:1-19
TO CHEW ON: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:17
Psalm 51 is David's eloquent prayer of repentance, prayed after the prophet Nathan confronted him with God's reaction to his role in the Bathsheba affair. I wonder, had he been avoiding God in the interim? Or had he carried on as usual, pretending everything was fine between them? Now that he knew things weren't fine, a lot of seemingly pent-up realizations came bubbling to the surface:
- He's been feeling dirty: "wash me thoroughly ... purge me with hyssop ... wash me..." (Psalm 51:2, 7, 10). My Bible's footnotes explain, "The Hebrew word for wash (vs. 10) is not the one used for the simple cleansing of a dish in water but rather the washing of clothes by beating and pounding them" - New Spirit-Filled Life Bible p. 727.
- His sin has been bothering him—even if he squelched it down pretending it was no big deal: "...my sin is always before me..." (Psalm 51:3,4).
- He admits that he deceived himself and needs God's help for that not to happen again: "Behold You desire truth in the inward parts / And in the hidden part you will make me know wisdom" (Psalm 51:6).
- His sin has sucked the joy out of life: "Make me hear joy and gladness .... Restore to me the joy of Your salvation" (Psalm 51:8,12).
- It has silenced his praise: "O Lord, open my lips / And my mouth shall sing aloud of Your righteousness" (Psalm 51:15).
- He fears God's Spirit has left or will leave him: "Do not cast me away from Your presence / And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me" (Psalm 51:11).
- He has a renewed realization that God is holy and not someone with whom to toy: "Have mercy upon me, O God ... Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed" (Psalm 51:1, 14).
- No bargaining, he gives God carte blanche to deal with him over this sin: "Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion" (Psalm 51:18).
I would suggest that David's reactions to his uncovered sin are frequently ours as well. That's why Psalm 51 is often our destination when we've sinned and we're needing to confess and repent.
May our words be as sincere, our spirits as broken, our hearts as contrite as David's appear to be when we read or recite this sacrifice of confession and repentance.
PRAYER: Dear God, You know how easily and often I sin and feel the same emotions as David expresses here. Help me to be as repentant as he was. May I learn from these times so that "truth in the inner parts" and wisdom in the "hidden part" become my lifestyle. Amen.
MORE: Ash Wednesday
Today the church commemorates Ash Wednesday. Here is the Collect that begins the Ash Wednesday liturgy:
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.