Psalm 51 wasn’t written for any special religious observance. It is thought that David probably wrote the Psalm when he was confronted by Nathan with his sins of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. Just as we are to see ourselves for who we are and who we are not during Lent, David realized that his powerful reign as king had been blemished by sin. He was humbled. He was broken. He turned to God.
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love, according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you…have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge…
“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
“…Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” (Psalm 51:1-17, NIV)
We don’t have to be adulterers or murderers to pray this prayer, but we must acknowledge our brokenness. Only then can we hope for cleansing from our sins and the creation of pure hearts. So let us bring our brokenness to God for healing, renewal, joy, and salvation. Let us approach God and partake of his mercy, compassion, and unfailing love.
We repent, our God. Please forgive us, O Lord, we humbly pray.