Psalm 51

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
    sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
    you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
Cleanse 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 you have crushed rejoice.
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,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
    you who are God my Saviour,
    and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
    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.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is   a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.
18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
    to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
    in burnt offerings offered whole;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar. 

I hate that feeling of knowing that I have stuffed up royally! That knotted, pit of the stomach sensation; the dread that nothing will ever be quite the same again. David had really messed up - we’re talking adultery and soliciting a murder - not to mention the endless web of deceit he’s created to try and cover things up. David must’ve known how catastrophically he had sinned, but it wasn’t until the prophet Nathan came to him and the consequences of his sin started to play out in the death of the child Bathsheba had born to him that he makes this full confession of his wrongdoing. And God is gracious: David is forgiven but he still has to live with and watch the consequences unfold. Where do you connect with David’s story?

Questions for thought and discussion 

  • Ask God to highlight a phrase of this psalm to you, write it down and carry it with you this week, using it as a constant prayer.
  • How can we help out young people in the moments when they know they have got it really wrong?