Psalm 51:1-10

“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.” Psalm 51:1-10

Transgressions. Iniquity. Sin. There are several words in the Bible that describe what happens when our attitudes, our thoughts, and our behaviors flood our lives, and the lives of others, with destructive consequences.

Transgressions are actions that cross boundaries of relationships, that break rules, that break laws. Like cheating at school or lying about your taxes or stealing what isn’t yours.

Iniquities are moral violations like cheating on your wife, or looking at pornography on the Internet, or sexting with other kids at school. Racism and bigotry are attitudes that begin as iniquities and spill over to actions that are transgressions.

Sin is the overarching word that captures all of this. Sin with a capital “S” is best understood as an incurable disease that we are all born into – Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me – and sins with a small “s” are the symptoms of that disease that erupt through our attitudes, thoughts, and actions – Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

We all know what it feels like when we have sinned. We know the feelings of guilt and shame that we feel. We see the consequences of our actions, often in the eyes of the people we love the most. The psalmist wants us to realize that our sin runs much deeper than doing something naughty, and that the reason why it weighs so heavily on us is that God has created us for so much better. And that all of our sin, ultimately, is sin against God and God’s will for our lives. 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.

So what are we to do with our sin? Our natural tendency is to lie, to hide, to pretend, to keep secrets, to justify ourselves. Why? Because we are afraid. We are afraid of being rejected, or being outed, ridiculed, humiliated. We want to escape the consequences. Our ego doesn’t want to admit to our brokenness and our limitations. So we hold it in…but it can’t and it spills over and it recycles and we dig ourselves into an even deeper hole.

What does the psalmist encourage us to do with our sin? Confess it. Speak the truth. Ask for forgiveness. All of this with the hope and promise that God can do major heart surgery on us and put us back in a better place – Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, we hear every day about the big problems in the world “out there”, far beyond us, but the truth is that the most troubling parts of our lives are right here in front of our faces. Our sins separate us from you and from one another. They weigh us down, limit our lives, and fester deep within us. Forgive us for what we have done and left undone. Create in us clean hearts, and put a new and right spirit within us,that we might be freed to live lives that are truly alive. In Jesus’ name.

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One Response to “Psalm 51:1-10”

  1. Dave Aemstrong Says:

    Comforting thoughts today and much needed. Thank You!

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