God’s mercy is there for us in our hour of need.
“You can’t conceive, my child, nor can I or anyone, the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God.” Graham Greene
For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
Surely, I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Saviour,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
REFLECT ON THE PSALM
Which part speaks to you the most?
How would you define God’s mercy?
How do you know if repentance is real?
What is the result of genuine repentance?
Which request of David’s do you identify with the most? Why?
Do you struggle to believe that God can fully and completely forgive your sin and remove your guilt? Why?
Is there a past relationship or incident that might be keeping you from experiencing the forgiveness of God?
Read Oscar Wilde’s Fifth Part of “The Ballad of Reading Gaol.”
THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
…And thus, we rust Life’s iron chain
Degraded and alone;
And some men curse and some men weep,
And some men make no moan:
But God’s eternal laws are kind
And break the heart of stone.
And every human heat that breaks,
In prison cell or yard,
Is as that broken box that gave
Its treasure to the Lord,
And filled the unclean leper’s house,
With the scent of costliest nard.
Ah, happy those whose hearts can break
And peace of pardon win!
How else may man make straight his path
And cleanse his soul from Sin?
How else but through a broken heart
May Lord Christ enter in?
What truths do you think are found in this poem that resonate with Scripture?
Dear Lord and Father of mankind
Use this hymn as a prayer
REST IN THE SILENCE
As we receive forgiveness and mercy, we are encouraged to offer it to others…
Thank you for your gift of forgiveness. Your only Son loved me enough to come to earth and experience the worst pain imaginable so I could be forgiven. Your mercy flows to me in spite of my faults and failures. Your Word says to “clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Help me demonstrate unconditional love today, even to those who hurt me. Amen