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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, September 16, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | 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. (NRSV)

Reflection
Despite our numerous differences, one thing we all have in common is sin. Every one of us commits sin. The startling fact remains that sin is not a one-time occurrence but, unfortunately, happens a lot in everyday life. Examples of sin may include greed, anger, lying, racism, sexism, and adultery. Regardless of how you define sin, it is something everyone has to face at one time or another. In instances of sin, there is a residual feeling of profound guilt, conviction, and condemnation. We blow it and try to cover it up or ignore the failure—just like an unsightly stain on a spotless shirt. But the truth of the matter is we are well aware of our transgressions.

Before he wrote this psalm, David committed adultery, which resulted in a pregnancy. David tried to cover up his transgression by enticing Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, to sleep with her. When that scheme proved unsuccessful, David sent Uriah to the front lines of battle, where he was killed. Following Uriah’s death, David married Bathsheba, but the stain of his sin lingered. Psalm 51 is a prayer David wrote asking God for forgiveness.

Before one can fully realize mercy, confession is necessary. Confession is recognition that one “missed the mark” in some way. David’s eagerness to plead guilty to his wrongdoing ultimately endeared him to God.

The treasure in this story is that God offers the same forgiveness to each one of us. Because God has such an enormous love for us there is nothing we can’t bring before God.

It is pointless to make an attempt to cover up our blemishes when there is tremendous opportunity to receive God’s forgiveness and cleansing. God’s love toward us is always great, and there is absolutely nothing we can do to change God’s affection for us.

What a loving God we have.

Prayer
God of mercy, we don’t always do what we should and often do things we shouldn’t. In these times please forgive us. Thank you for loving us even in our failures and accepting us just as we are. We experience peace knowing that nothing can separate us from your eternal love. Amen.

Written by Robert Crouch, Director of Volunteer Ministry

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