Start afresh - 25 May 2020
By Xanthe Hancox
Psalm 51 is one of seven penitential psalms, or psalms that show great sorrow for sins. The superscription on this psalm indicates that this is the prayer of David after the prophet Nathan came to talk with him about his sin with Bathsheba (you can read the whole story in 2 Samuel 11 and 12).
After hearing about this, Nathan, a prophet of God, visits David and tells him a story about a rich man who steals a poor man’s favorite lamb. David becomes angry, calling for punishment for the rich man. Nathan tells David that hei s that rich man, which shocks David into the realization of what he has done. David is contrite, and he says plainly that he has sinned against the Lord. He doesn’t try to explain away his sin or make excuses. He simply turns his heart to God and confesses.
We read David’s confession in Psalm 51. In this psalm, David begins with a prayer for himself (verses 1 and 2) and ends with a prayer for Zion. In between there is a clear confession of sin (verses 3-6), a call for cleansing (verses 7-9), a request for God to make him pure (verses 10-12), and a vow to praise God (verses 13-17).
David does not spend the entire psalm laying out his sin. He does that clearly in the beginning, but then he moves on. He asks God to work inside him to create a clean heart, and then he turns to praise. How wonderful that we serve a God who is truly able to forgive!
Prayer: I don’t do the things I am supposed to do. I do things I know I shouldn’t do. Forgive me. I know I have sinned. Please wash me, cleanse me, give me a new heart. Thank you for loving me, even when I fail. I know that you can make me whole again. Amen.