51:1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
51:2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
51:3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
51:4 Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment.
51:5 Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.
51:6 You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
51:8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
51:9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
51:11 Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.
51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.
51:13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.
51:14 Deliver me from bloodshed, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.
51:15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
51:16 For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
51:17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10
5:20b We entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
6:1 As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain.
6:2 For he says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.” See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!
6:3 We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry,
6:4 but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities,
6:5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labours, sleepless nights, hunger;
6:6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love,
6:7 truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left;
6:8 in honour and dishonour, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true;
6:9 as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see–we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed;
6:10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
6:1 “Beware of practising your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
6:2 “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.
6:3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
6:4 so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
6:5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.
6:6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
6:16 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.
6:17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,
6:18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal;
6:20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.
6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
In Psalm 51, written by King David, having sinned terribly, the king throws himself on the mercy of God. Conscious of his own unworthiness before God, and realising that he is entirely undeserving of and powerless to earn any grace from God, he comes to God with a broken and contrite heart. This is what God desires for those who have fallen away from him. In his deep love God mercifully forgives David, who is then restored into relationship with God. May we, who fall short of God’s glory, know the depth of his love, grace and mercy in our own lives.