Pay attention to the tension in your body. Let go of it and any expectations to do anything, but God’s will today. Prepare yourself to hear God’s word.
Psalm 51 (NRSV)
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgment.
Indeed, I was born guilty,
a sinner when my mother conceived me.
You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you have no delight in sacrifice;
if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
then you will delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
This psalm is subtitled “Prayer for Cleansing and Pardon.” It is a prayer from David after he was confronted by the prophet Nathan about his sin with Bathsheba.
This isn’t a prayer for the nations or a group of people. This prayer is so personal, so poignant. Note the number of times David uses the word “my”—my transgressions, my sins, my secret heart.
David realized the sacrifice God desired was a broken and contrite heart. This is why we so often have been taught that God loved David because of his heart.
Loving God, please help us to have a heart like David’s. Break our stubbornness and self-centeredness. Guide us to be the people you long for us to be. Amen.
Go with God!