# Read Psalm 51:1-19
~ 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. … Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:4, 10
I do not like it when someone points out my mistakes. It’s worse when my sins are exposed. My first reaction is to hide in shame and guilt. And yet, what is needed is to face myself. What have I done? Whom am I responsible to? Where do I go from here? Psalm 51 gives us the prayer language and the process leading from repentance to restoration.
The psalmist starts with the truth of the matter – ‘I have sinned and I am a sinner’ (vs 1-6). Adultery and murder are not small matters. So often, we rush through our repentance and want our forgiveness quickly. But if the cleansing is going to be thorough and in depth, and most importantly, from God (vs 7-12), we are to be naked and transparent before God – our Creator. There’s nothing we can hide from Him. He knows everything, anyway. So, long-term restoration begins with authentic repentance and honest acknowledgement, hiding nothing – especially denying nothing – so that we will not be deceiving ourselves. Restoration not only leads us back into a relationship with our Lord, but we are also plugged back into the life of the worshipping community (vs 13-19).
It is not popular to talk about sin these days (most of us would prefer to share our ‘success stories’). The word ‘sin’ in Mandarin is translated ‘crime’. So, I may assume that if I didn’t commit a crime then I have not sinned. But, deep down, we know we have acted in ways that have broken relationships and promises, and hurt ourselves and others. Our comfort is that Jesus calls ‘sinners’ to come to Him. He is waiting for ‘broken’ people, not those who think that they are whole. His specialty is to take us beyond forgiveness to transformation.
+ Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love Thee and worthily magnify Thy holy name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
– Book of Common Prayer –