Psalm 51:1-17 (NRSV)
Verse 1Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Verse 2Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
Verse 3For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Verse 4Against 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.
Verse 5Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.
Verse 6You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Verse 7Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Verse 8Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
Verse 9Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
Verse 10Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
Verse 11Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Verse 12Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.
Verse 13Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.
Verse 14Deliver me from bloodshed, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.
Verse 15O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
Verse 16For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
Verse 17The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.” “You shall not commit adultery.” “You shall not murder.” King David—the shepherd boy anointed as king of Israel—broke many, many commandments and God’s heart in his sins against Bathsheba and Uriah and all the others who were wounded by his lustful and murderous indiscretions. Nathan confronted David with the parable of the evil king and the neighbor’s beloved lamb that was stolen and slaughtered. David proclaims his own judgment—this man deserves death! Nathan proclaims to David, “You are the man!” The one who crafted “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…” is found wanting and called out through a parable describing a lousy ruler and his self-serving sin.
We break God’s heart when we violate the commandments. We are given so much, yet seek to take even more from others. Our hearts cave in under the weight of our own sinfulness. We have wrong spirits within us. We need God’s restoration.
Create in us clean hearts, O God, and renew in us right spirits. In your mercy restore us. Amen.