“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew in me a clean and right spirit.” Psalm 51:10
The Psalms express all sorts of feelings. Luther once said that if he could have only one book of the Bible on a deserted island that he wood choose the Psalms. These songs and poems of the Jewish people touch our hearts and express our thoughts in deep and powerful ways.
Many of the Psalms are attributed to King David. A musician, David was one who expressed his deepest thoughts and ideas in lyrics and melodies. While we don’t have the original tunes to which these were sung, we do have the words. We can imagine some of the events in David’s life that may have spawned the various words. Psalms of triumph and victory when he thinks of the battles he won or the defeat of Goliath. Psalms of safety and protection when he found himself in danger.
The words of this Psalm are some of the most famous of any of the Psalms. This plea for renewal and forgiveness may have come from David’s guilt over the death of Uriah and his subsequent marriage to Bathsheba. Confronted with the fact that he had sent Uriah to his death in order to marry his beautiful wife, David also had to contend with the eventual guilt that would haunt him for the rest of his life.
Perhaps you have things from your past that continue to haunt you or at least come to mind more than you’d like. While most of us experience guilt about many things, it is still hard for us to let them go. Our minds have the events etched in them and even time won’t erase them completely. Here our plea is for God’s grace to wash us, refresh us and release us from our pain. Hopefully that allows us to restore relationships with those who have harmed us or who we have harmed.
This verse is often sung in our worship as the offertory – our last song before we receive communion. The sharing of Christ’s presence reminds us that in our brokenness, while we are yet sinners, Christ still comes to us. He comes to us not because we have our act together. Rather, he comes to offer healing, hope and new life.