385.) Psalm 51

Psalm 51 (New International Version)

For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

Detail of “David’s Punishment” by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld (German artist, 1794-1872), woodcut illustration

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Music:

“Miserere,” by Italian composer Gregorio Allegri (1582-1652), is a setting of Psalm 51 composed during the reign of Pope Urban VIII, probably during the 1630s, for use in the Sistine Chapel as part of the Tenebrae service on Wednesday and Friday of Holy Week.

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1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.

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Romans 3:1-4 (Contemporary English Version)

What good is it to be a Jew? What good is it to be circumcised? It is good in a lot of ways! First of all, God’s messages were spoken to the Jews. It is true that some of them did not believe the message. But does this mean that God cannot be trusted, just because they did not have faith? No, indeed! God tells the truth, even if everyone else is a liar. The Scriptures say about God,

“Your words

will be proven true,

and in court

you will win your case.”

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5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

whiter than snow

8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you.

14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God,
the God who saves me,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.

16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

Wait — but God had instructed the Israelites to bring him sacrifices and burnt offerings!  So if that type of offering no longer works, then what?  What can we bring to God as a sacrifice, which the Lord will deem acceptable and excellent?  What does God want from us?

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.

God asks that I bring him a broken heart, broken by my sorrowful awareness of my own sins and the sins of the world.

18 In your good pleasure make Zion prosper;
build up the walls of Jerusalem.

19 Then there will be righteous sacrifices,
whole burnt offerings to delight you;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

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Music:

“Have mercy on me, O God . . .”  David begins his confession.  In doing so, he teaches us how to confess our own sins to the Lord.  And the Lord has promised that our repentance will be met by his mercy.

“Thy Mercy”  sung here by Sandra McCracken.  Lyrics follow.

Thy mercy my God is the theme of my song,
The joy of my heart, and the boast of my tongue.
Thy free grace alone, from the first to the last,
Hath won my affection and bound my soul fast.
Without Thy sweet mercy, I could not live here.
Sin would reduce me to utter despair,
But through Thy free goodness, my spirit’s revived
And He that first made me still keeps me alive.
Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart,
Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart.
Dissolved by Thy goodness, I fall to the ground
And weep for the praise of the mercy I’ve found.
(Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah)
Hallelujah
(Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah)
Great Father of mercies, Thy goodness I own
In the covenant love of Thy crucified Son.
All praise to the Spirit, Whose whisper divine
Seals mercy and pardon and righteousness mine.
All praise to the Spirit, Whose whisper divine
Seals mercy and pardon and righteousness mine.
Well, Hallelujah
Hallelujah (Hallelujah)
Well, Hallelujah

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New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Have mercy tulips.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/havemercyonmeogodaccordingtoyoursteadfastlove.jpg
Carolsfeld.    http://www.jesuswalk.com/greatprayers/images/carolsfeld_davids_punishment420x376.gif
whiter than snow.    http://crystallewis.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/img_0446.jpg
Create in me a clean heart.    http://bibledaily.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/psalm51c.jpg
Restore to me the joy and rainbow.    http://oneyearbibleimages.com/psalm51_12ljm.jpg
Man with a broken heart.    http://bayareabaptistchurch.info/dpw/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Brokenness.jpg


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