Friday: Feb. 24                                                                  

Psalm 51.1-17:

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.

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            What an awesome penitential psalm!  Although I often find myself somewhat flippantly saying “Lord, have mercy,” the psalmist is being anything but flippant as he acknowledges his sin and guilt and calls upon God for mercy.  One senses a feeling of near desperation as he humbly begs God for forgiveness. His denial is at its end.  He is, once and for all, facing the truth of his sinful humanity. 

            These days of Lent are the perfect time for donning a cloak of humility as we cease the denial, acknowledge our sin, come before God with  “… broken spirit; and a broken and contrite heart…”   Then we can honestly offer to God our confession.  Then with gratitude, as we receive the undeserved yet certain mercy that God constantly provides, with the psalmist our tongues can sing aloud of God’s deliverance, and praise his name for all to hear.

God of mercy and love, wash me, cleanse me, and restore to me

 the joy of your salvation, so that I may praise your name in all that I do.

Rev. Judy Bennett

Island Christian Church, Wheeling

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