Daily Dose, Feb. 21 — Holiness & Lent

  To the leader. A Psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 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 judgement. Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me. You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodshed, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt-offering, you would not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, then you will delight in right sacrifices, in burnt-offerings and whole burnt-offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar. (Psalm 51) I have a confession to make: I am a man of unclean lips and heart! There are days where I can slip into a certain self-righteousness, thinking (subconsciously) that I’m living a fairly faultless life. But it only takes a moment -- a thought or an impulse -- to remind me that I’m not as good as I sometimes like to think I am. Part of a lyric to a song I like captures it: “I’m a whole lot better and a whole lot worse than what you think I am.” On the one hand, it’s painful to admit that I’m not pure, righteous and holy. I WANT to be, but so often I fall short of that ideal. On the other hand, it’s a relief to admit that I’m broken and fallible. It takes some pressure off to simply admit that I make mistakes, that I am sinful. The Bible is literally filled with fallibility. The history of God’s work with humans is peppered with characters who fell far short of the moral and ethical mark! King David is a wonderful example of this. He’s described as being a man after God’s own heart. But he’s ALSO a person who sought out an adulterous relationship, ordered a murder and then tried to cover it up. Ouch! That makes my failings seem pretty tame in comparison. David composed Psalm 51 as a response to God after he is confronted with his sin. David recognizes that he is a man of unclean lips and heart, and he calls out to God for restoration and renewal. David sees the need for a change of heart, and he asks God to intervene. The season of Lent is a wonderful time for us to do the same thing. David had a sinful urge, and he allowed it to linger. He entertained it. And eventually, he acted on it. Are there urges and desires that you allow to linger, that you entertain? Maybe this season is a time for you to echo David’s words: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite hear, O God, you will not despise.” -- Rev. Brad Greene