The Psalm sung today is one of the seven penitential psalms. The penitential psalms are great to pray and meditate upon especially during Lent as throughout this period of the liturgical year we particularly strive to call to mind our sinfulness and seek God’s forgiveness and mercy.
Psalm 51 is my favorite because despite its penitential spirit, it has a very hopeful tone.
The psalmist reminds us that our God is a God of steadfast love and abundant mercy. No matter how hard you fall, nothing can rupture that steadfast love He has for each one of us. Although you often fall short of the mark, His mercy is abundant and always there for you when you turn to Him.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy steadfast love; according to thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
No matter how grievous your sinfulness, no matter how frequently you fall into the same sin over and over again, nothing pleases God more than to wipe the slate clean. He will fully cleanse your heart until not a spot of sin remains.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
Even when you fall into mortal sin, He is always willing to restore His Spirit within you once you turn to Him with a contrite heart. He will come to dwell once more within your heart after a good Confession.
Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of thy salvation . . . .
The gift of a firm resolve comes with each good Confession. You gain strength in fighting the battle against the particular sins you struggle with every time you confess them.
. . . and uphold me with a willing spirit.
After having filled you with His forgiveness and grace, you will stand as an example to others of His steadfast love and abundant mercy. Others will witness the transformation in you and be inspired to call upon His mercy themselves.
Then I will teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners will return to thee.
Do not be afraid to turn to Him. He loves you more than you will ever know. No matter what you have done, there is nothing He wants more than to wrap you in His loving arms and offer you His forgiveness.
Listen to this hauntingly beautiful rendition of Psalm 51, the Miserere by Allegri while meditating upon and offering it to God in prayer yourself.
Laurel Muff is a creator and appreciator of beautiful things. She resides with her husband and daughters in Northern California. You can find more about her here.