Seeking God’s Mercy Through Psalm 51
by Kim Padan
[For the choirmaster Of David When the prophet Nathan had come to him because he had gone to Bathsheba] Have mercy on me, O God, in your faithful love, in your great tenderness wipe away my offences;
2 wash me clean from my guilt, purify me from my sin.
3 For I am well aware of my offences, my sin is constantly in mind.
4 Against you, you alone, I have sinned, I have done what you see to be wrong, that you may show your saving justice when you pass sentence, and your victory may appear when you give judgement,
5 remember, I was born guilty, a sinner from the moment of conception.
6 But you delight in sincerity of heart, and in secret you teach me wisdom.
7 Purify me with hyssop till I am clean, wash me till I am whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear the sound of joy and gladness, and the bones you have crushed will dance.
9 Turn away your face from my sins, and wipe away all my guilt.
10 God, create in me a clean heart, renew within me a resolute spirit,
11 do not thrust me away from your presence, do not take away from me your spirit of holiness.
12 Give me back the joy of your salvation, sustain in me a generous spirit.
13 I shall teach the wicked your paths, and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodshed, God, God of my salvation, and my tongue will acclaim your saving justice.
15 Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will speak out your praise.
16 Sacrifice gives you no pleasure, burnt offering you do not desire.
17 Sacrifice to God is a broken spirit, a broken, contrite heart you never scorn.
18 In your graciousness do good to Zion, rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in upright sacrifices,-burnt offerings and whole oblations — and young bulls will be offered on your altar.
- Consider choosing a line out of Psalm 51 to memorize and repeat every day throughout Lent or through this Year of Mercy. Ask God to work through that portion of the Psalm, so that your heart may be transformed. If there’s a line in Psalm 51 that is something you particularly struggle with, choose that line, and ask God to make it true within you.
- Ask yourself whether there’s a temptation you have a particularly hard time overcoming. And then, choose a portion of Psalm 51 to repeat to yourself whenever you’re being tempted. Ask God to strengthen you and help you overcome that temptation through His mercy and through this psalm.
- Consider going to confession and receiving Penance more often, because this sacrament will help you overcome those temptations and habitual sin.
- Remember that God’s mercy is brand new for you every single day.
- Are you joyful, or could you be joyful more often? Curtis Martin wrote it is essential for us as Catholics to be joyful, especially if we wish to evangelize. He said, “If the people we seek to evangelize see us as angry, pessimistic, and unduly aggravated by problems within and without the Church, why should they want to become Catholic? No. We must show those around us that, because of Christ, we are joyful, undaunted, and hopeful, in spite of the problems and obstacles that may surround us.” If you’re struggling to be joyful, ask God to give you your joy back, and reflect on what He has already given you — each day, as you wake up.
Kim Padan grew up in a small town in northern Illinois with her parents, 2 older brothers, and 1 younger sister. Life was pretty “normal” with school and church activities. Part of that “normal” life was growing up with Dejerine-Sottas, a progressive neuro-muscular disorder that impacted her muscle strength and balance. Despite various challenges, Kim always had a sense of her real dignity as a unique person in the eyes of God. Kim’s parents expected much of her, just like her siblings, and always shared their love for her. That foundation of faith and family helped Kim grow into adulthood to have a family of her own. In 1993, she married Bruce, and in 1994 she conceived her only biological child. A routine ultrasound at 14 weeks detected serious anomalies, and Kim was advised to abort. Knowing that all life is precious in the eyes of God, including people with disabilities, Kim & Bruce rejected abortion. The months that followed were filled with brief moments of joy and many tears. Despite the tears, Kim’s testimony is filled with hope and peace as she shares how she learned to cling to Christ in all things.
After her experiences, Kim felt compelled to get involved in the prolife movement. She joined the Board of Directors at HELP Ministries, INC (now doing business as Women’s Care Clinic) and after 7 years on the board became Executive Director. Under her 11 year leadership the ministry grew and added services, including ultrasound, allowing the ministry team to save more babies. Now, God has called Kim out to a broader audience to speak about the blessings He has in store for each of us when we step out of our own plans and into His! Kim currently serves as the Chair of Evangelization for the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women, and has been published in the diocesan paper on both prolife and evangelization themes. When Kim is not speaking or writing about faith (http://gabrielsmom.com), she enjoys singing in the church choir, rubber stamping greeting cards, reading, and watching classic movies with Bruce. She also recently made her temporary profession as a Lay Dominic.
Hey everyone, it’s Kim from Illinois once again. So glad that you came back, for
another video episode of this virtual prayer conference. I hope the conference has
been a blessing to you and I hope that you will continue to participate.
As I have been discussing the Psalms, I thought to myself “Maybe I should focus
specifically on Psalm 51”. Why is that? Psalm 51 is often known as the Psalm of
penance. It is a beautiful Psalm which is actually included every Friday morning in
the Liturgy of the Hours. That’s how special and beautiful this Psalm is!
You may recognize it, not by the number but by a few phrases which are often used
as the response during Sunday mass. “Create in me a clean heart and renew a
steadfast spirit within me”. That probably sounds familiar. Or perhaps, “Have
mercy on me God in your kindness”. Sound familiar? I hope so!
This is a beautiful psalm where David just dug deep and he acknowledged that he
had sinned against God and he was begging God to forgive him, to not turn away
from him. It is heart wrenching when you look at the Psalm in it’s entirety. As we
are in the season of Lent, we need to dig deep. We need to look at ourselves
honestly, completely and fully. After all, God already knows what we’ve done, what
we haven’t done that we should have done. God already knows what we hold in our
hearts and the thoughts that we have and that we act on. Maybe no one else does
but God does. Even though He already knows it, He wants us to speak with our
mouth what we’ve done and to ask Him for forgiveness.
So, I thought I would talk a little bit about that and share with you some music
which I learned for Psalm 51 a long time ago. I have a CD recording with John
Michael Talbot, one of my favorite Catholic songwriters and performers and just a
wonderful, prayerful man. And I have a recording of a lot of different songs and
some of his preaching that he shares with his community in Arkansas. The music is
sung with a whole community and it’s kinda between a chant and a contemporary
hymn. There’s just something very powerful and peaceful in it.
How long have I known this? Well I bought this CD before I met my husband. So,
it’s been a long time! And I encourage you whether you sing the Psalm, as I’m
about to do, or if you get a book like this, or pull out your bible with the entire
book of Psalms; put a bookmark in Psalm 51. And pray that on Friday with the
whole Church. Pray that anytime that you feel that you need to look deeper at
yourself. I know it really helps me.
So, here is the music that I want to share with you. Oh I thought I could get away
without having my glasses on because I sing it so often but I’m a little nervous that
I’m gonna get the lines messed up [puts on glasses]. So, here we go. Oh, I should
mention as a little side note, the way he does the, “glory be to God” at the end, the
text is a little bit different to fit the tune. So, hang in there.
“Have mercy on me God in Your kindness,
in Your compassion blot out my offense.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.
My offenses truly I know them,
my sin is always before me.
Against You, You alone have I sinned,
what is evil in Your sight I have done.
That You may be justified when You give sentence
and be without reproach when You judge.
O see in guilt I was born,
a sinner was I conceived.
Indeed Your love truth in the heart,
then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom.
O purify me that I shall be clean,
O wash me I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear rejoicing and gladness,
that the bones You have crushed may revive.
From my sins turn away Your face,
and blot out all my guilt.
A pure heart create for me O God,
put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence,
nor deprive me of Your Holy Spirit.
Give me again the joy of Your help,
with a spirit of fervor sustain me.
That I may teach transgressors Your ways,
and sinners may return to You.
O rescue me God my helper,
and my tongue shall ring out Your goodness.
O Lord open my lips and my mouth shall declare your praise. For in sacrifice You
take no delight,
burnt offering from me You would refuse.
My sacrifice a contrite spirit,
a humble contrite spirit You would not spurn.
In Your goodness show favor to Zion,
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then You will be pleased with lawful sacrifice,
holocaust offered on Your altar.
Glory to the Father Almighty,
to His Son Jesus Christ our Lord,
to the Spirit that dwells in our hearts,
both now and forever.
Amen.” [Singing ends].
I don’t know about you, maybe it’s because I’m so familiar with the setting, but that
really touches my heart. I think about a lot of the phrases in this Psalm. When we
pray, “A pure heart, a clean heart create in me”, “A steadfast spirit”. We need to be
steadfast in following Christ. There will be a lot of temptations in the world every
single day. Temptations to skip prayer time, temptations to yell or get in an
argument with a loved one, temptations to well… Just a lot of different temptations!
We all have our different temptations but we need to have God give us that
“Give me again the joy of Your help”. The joy, we think about that, when God
helps us we can feel joy; we can feel like “Yes! I’m not alone!” He’s carrying me
through this. He’s lifting me up. He’s giving me guidance. I feel joy in knowing that
the Lord is with me.
One of my favorite phrases, “O lord open my lips and my mouth shall declare your
praise”. This is actually something that often is said before Morning Prayer. But, as
a speaker, I will say it before a presentation at a podium somewhere because I do
want whatever I say out of my mouth to proclaim the praise of God. Ultimately,
that is my greatest vocation.
So, again, whether you recite Psalm 51 from your prayer book, from a bible,
whether you find a hymnal that you want to sing from, reflect on it during this
Lenten season. Reflect on it during this Year of Mercy. Realize that mercy is
something that God showers upon us and gives us each and every day. “Your
mercies are new everyday” is a phrase from Lamentations.
So if we rejoice in that, if we seek God’s mercy, pray for God’s mercy, repent of
our sins; then mercy, grace will be ours. Thanks be to God!
Thank you for joining me again! God bless you! I’ll see you soon!