PARDON, PURITY, PRESENCE
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (10).
Read Psalm 51
For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
a Psalm 51:1 In Hebrew texts 51:1-19 is numbered 51:3-21.
b Psalm 51:17 Or The sacrifices of God are
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhen was the last time you truly sought God’s forgiveness?
David, author of this heartrending, heartfelt song, had failed God and been publicly exposed for adultery and murder (2 Sam. 11,12). How do we know he has moved from remorse to repentance (1–4)? The rawness of the ramifications of personal sin leads to David’s confession (1–6). The text lists three specific failures: conscious rebellion, error, and going astray. What does David ask for (1–10)? Ceremonial cleansing, yes; but also “wash,” the Hebrew word for scrubbing the laundry! David knew he needed a thorough cleansing of his heart, using hyssop, a healing, fragrant herb.
The word for “create” in verse 10 is the same used in Genesis 1 for God creating from nothing. So David wanted not just a change of heart, but a freshly made heart. He wanted to know joy again (12) and the presence of God; to consecrate himself afresh to God (12–19).
Which “C” most resonates with you—confession, cleansing, or consecrate?
Many people have found this Miserere (a cry for mercy) helpful as they journey from the despondency of sin to the profound joy of forgiveness. Maybe you’ve heard Allegri’s beautiful musical setting, supposedly transcribed by a young Mozart, and felt your spirit lift with the ethereal high notes.
Write a song, or prayer, of confession for your biggest failure, to give to God. Describe your feelings, as you cry out to him; thank him for his cleansing and forgiveness.
“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart You, God, will not despise” (17).