Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
15 O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
18 Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.
Psalm 51 contains a verse that is integral to my personal love relationship with Christ as well as one of the most hopeful in the Bible. It acknowledges the true human condition, one that God is willing to transcend with our permission. I prayed “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10) late one night when I didn’t even know where it was in the Bible, or why it was written.
As in the Alcoholics Anonymous steps, I admitted I was powerless and that my life had become unmanageable. I came to believe that a power greater than me could restore me to sanity. David knew this, and that is why he was called “a man after God’s own heart”---not because he was so inherently good but because when he drifted into sin through his human pride, he was willing to repent. It broke his heart to hurt God.
I can see now that both David and I had pride and personal ego in the place of God. Since my prayer, God is cleansing and healing me. Reading David’s words of remorse and repentance gives me hope that I too may be called “a child after God’s own heart.”
Pioneer Memorial Church, Berrien Springs, MI USA