What does a clean heart and a spirit of justice require of me?
1 Have mercy on me, God, according to your faithful love! Wipe away my wrongdoings according to your great compassion! 2 Wash me completely clean of my guilt; purify me from my sin! 3 Because I know my wrongdoings, my sin is always right in front of me. 4 I’ve sinned against you—you alone. I’ve committed evil in your sight. That’s why you are justified when you render your verdict, completely correct when you issue your judgment. 5 Yes, I was born in guilt, in sin, from the moment my mother conceived me. 6 And yes, you want truth in the most hidden places; you teach me wisdom in the most secret space. 7 Purify me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and celebration again; let the bones you crushed rejoice once more. 9 Hide your face from my sins; wipe away all my guilty deeds! 10 Create a clean heart for me, God, a new, faithful spirit deep inside me! 11 Please don’t throw me out of your presence; please don’t take your holy spirit away from me. 12 Return the joy of your salvation to me and sustain me with a willing spirit. (CEB)
[Scripture taken from the Common English Bible®, CEB® Copyright © 2010, 2011 by Common English Bible.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.]
Psalm 51 in Other Words
What I want from God is mercy and compassion. I want history to forget my shortcomings, wrongdoings, and moral tarnish. Actually, I would like to develop amnesia about the dark side of my being. I can’t forget. That part of me is so deeply a part of me, It haunts me day and night. When I am aware of an insistence in the name of God (perhaps), I know that I am called to something better. I want to be honest with myself and with the world around me. I want the secrets of my heart (both the light and the dark) to be harnessed for the Commonwealth of Peace and Justice.
The word I hear in church is that my sins are forgiven — the slate is wiped clean. When I say that I want mercy and compassion from Godis. I am declaring that I need to show mercy and compassion to myself (and to the others around me). That mercy will open the door for a new and right spirit to take root in me. To find a third way — beyond the struggle of denying the dark so as to bask in the light — to find a way that affirms the fullness of who I am (darkness and light) and mobilizes renewed energy for mercy and compassion restores me to the joy of salvation (the well-being of all in society).
May I be a willing spirit sustained in mercy and active for the justice of all.