Psalm 51

The one who voices Psalm 51 is on the floor before God, utterly ashamed and as dust before glory: “My sin is ever before me.” The symptoms of sin are gradually displaced by the greater reality of God: “Against you, you alone, have I sinned.” The speaker does not look outside for an oppressor to blame, but inside, to the “inward being,” for a heart to be renewed. The speaker gradually receives the commission of the penitent: “I will teach transgressors your ways.” There is a deep awareness of the consequences of wrongdoing (“deliver me from bloodshed”) and of the rewards of reconciliation (“the joy of your salvation”). And finally there is hope, in a shared plan of regeneration: “Rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.” The psalm ends with the community gathered in worship. The welfare of the people is assured by their peace with God.


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