Today’s Scripture: Psalm 51:1-12

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
   and put a new and right spirit within me. 
11 Do not cast me away from your presence,
   and do not take your holy spirit from me. 
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
   and sustain in me a willing spirit.  (NRSV)

In a devotional study of the Psalms titled Exploring the Psalms, British minister Erik Routely has described Psalm 51 as “the highest moral peak in the Psalter.”

King David, in a twisted scheme of sex and murder worthy of Frank Underwood in House of Cards, has conspired to achieve the death of lovely Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, and has taken her for himself.  But David, who in his better moments possessed a sensitive heart, had his sin exposed by the prophet Nathan.  To refresh your memory of this story see 2 Samuel 11-12.

David, his sin exposed, grasps that his maneuvering is more than a mistake.  It is an affront to God and violation against human beings and society.  In the Psalm David cries out for mercy and forgiveness.  It is painful to read so honest a confession and plea for freedom from sin’s burden.

Eugene H. Peterson, writing about Psalm 51 in his book Praying With the Psalms, reminds us that human sin and guilt finds a remedy in the forgiveness of God:  “If sin brings us to our knees, where God can forgive us, mercy puts us on our feet again so that we can praise God and witness to his ways.  Guilt brings us low, but forgiveness lifts us high.”

May this Lenten season be a spiritual journey in which you find, through the grace of Christ, “a clean heart,” “a new and right spirit,” and “the joy of your salvation.”