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Short Reflection On Psalm 51

By 18th May 2020December 10th, 2020Reflections

‘Create in me a pure heart, O God…’ (Psalm 51:10)

Read Psalm 51

Only a few words into Psalm 51 and we know at once that what we have here is a Psalm that clearly speaks of Divine mercy for those with penitent hearts. This is the fourth of seven Penitential Psalms in the Bible and like Psalm 32 scholars believe it speaks of David’s sin in relation to Bathsheba. It is effectively split into three parts which speak of the need of God’s mercy, the expression of God’s mercy and the results of God’s mercy. The passion expressed in the words is so intense and palpable that we can almost visualise David emotionally and spiritually drained as he pours his heart out to God. And perhaps there is a challenge there for us – when did we last pour our hearts out to God in this way?

We might of course contend that we have never committed such a sin as David whereby we need to pour our heart out to God in this way – and maybe that’s true. Yet whatever our sins may be or how serious we consider them to be, we still need to confess them before God and repent – no matter how bad we believe them to be or not. And in a way this is highlighted in the opening verses of the Psalm where three separate words are used to describe the nature of David’s shortcomings, namely his transgressions, his iniquity and his sin.

No matter where we might view our faults and failings and into which of these ‘categories’ we might choose to place them, whilst we need to seek the forgiveness of those whom we have wronged, ultimately what this Psalm teaches us that any sinful actions represent a rebellion against the Lord and for that we need that forgiveness that only He can offer. But God not only forgives our sin, He not only blots them out, He cleanses us afresh that we may be at one with Him once again. And look what happens when David repents of his action and receives this mercy from God, he declares his praise for the Lord. God has given David a clean conscience and a clean heart and the sorrow that his sin had caused is now turned into joy and gladness.

Whatever our faults and failings may be this Psalm teaches us that if we come to God with penitent hearts, genuinely and faithfully seeking His forgiveness, He will cleanse us and restore us to Himself once again and of course we know today that He will do that through His Son and our Lord Jesus Christ….Amen

Lord, we thank you for the forgiveness You offer us through Your Son. Help us to come to You each day acknowledging our faults and failings safe it that knowledge, that once again we may walk with You. And all this we ask in Jesus name. Amen


Question Of The Day : What are the seven penitential Psalms?