I personally love to read the Psalms during Lent. They are comforting in so many ways. I’m reminded that I’m not alone in my sinful existence. From the time Eve took the bite of the apple, man knew that we were sinful creatures. Since we ourselves are not God, and because God gave to us free will, we will continue to sin.
But, one of the things I like about this particular Psalm is that David, who has just committed adultery and is seeking God’s forgiveness, does not wallow in his misery over being sinful. Instead, he asks God to clean his heart so that he can fulfill what God would have him achieve – “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.”
It would be very easy (and very human) for us to believe that we are without cause. Why even bother to live the life God would have us live? We will always fail since we are human? But, as we know, time after time in the Bible, and even time after time in our own lives, God teaches us to pick ourselves up and learn from our sins. “Go and sin no more” is what we are taught. To ignore this instruction would be turning our own backs on God and the life He would have us live.
But this passage also teaches us about hope. The security of God’s love that David asks for in his repentance is the same blanket of grace that God offers to us day after day, and time after time. “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” The hope of restoration is a constant reminder to us that God will never leave our side. The only abandonment that ever could occur would be on our part – not God’s.
God knows us better than we know ourselves. His plan for us already includes the allowances we need to succeed based not only on our shortcomings but also on our capabilities, many of which we may not even know fully.
So, my take away from Psalm 51 is to trudge along, with faith and hope, and the certain knowledge that God is with me and will help me succeed.