Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Lent, day 24: Psalm 51...misere mei, Deus


Today thinking of Psalm 51, the classic penitential psalm.  
Ascribed to David, and written in the aftermath of his adultery with Bathsheba, 
and the sanctioning of Uriah's death.  It is very much a raw cry of the heart, 
but a heart that is desperately seeking God's mercy.  
Can God extend mercy - can God forgive even to this extreme?
David discovers that the astonishing answer is 'yes'.
Hope, then, for all of us.

'O, Lord, in your mercy,'
the heart cries out.
When there is nothing left,
when the mind, and heart,
and soul align
and come to their senses,
always, always,
there is mercy mingled with love.
It is a strong love, this,
that looks beyond the mirk,
to see the worth,
and comfort and restore.

'O, Lord, in your mercy,'
and in that mercy,
the freedom of forgiveness;
the freedom to move away
from raking over old sins.
Forgive us when we fear
that forward movement of the soul;
when we choose instead to stay stuck fast
to old patterns,
old ways;
when we continue to lick old wounds
rather than to fall upon your
liberating mercy.
Teach us to accept your love
so graciously given.
Help us, in turn,
to love
and choose the way of mercy -
for ourselves
and towards others,
for only with mercy can there be abundant life -
life worth living.

'O, Lord, in your mercy,'
O, Lord, whose property is always to have mercy,
in your great mercy,
you hear our prayer.
Thanks be.

Psalm 51, a psalm of David: 

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 judgement.
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.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodshed, O God, O God of my salvation,
 and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you have no delight in sacrifice;
 if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
 a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, then you will delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

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