A Psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came to him, after he had gone in 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 judgment. 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. ~ Psalm 51:1-10
This is the Psalm we say each Ash Wednesday: a Psalm of repentance and penitence.
King David sings these words out of deep regret for his sin with Bathsheba. That was a pretty big one: raping her and then having her husband put into a dangerous part of the battle where he'd be killed.
But these words seemed to come so easy for him...
Are they easy for you?
I think of some of the biggest arguments I've had with family members over the years. Some of them just happened because of the neglect of someone (sometimes me, sometimes not) to just say the words, "I'm sorry."
Or, along with that...sometimes the words "I'm sorry" can get thrown out so easily that they don't always mean something. Sometimes we need other words. Deeper words.
It's hard to be penitent. It's hard to admit we are wrong. We live in an age where I think there is so much judgment against those who admit to wrongdoing.
We just want to be right.
But when we aren't - because face it, we're human, so we are going to be wrong sometimes - maybe we need to find hard words that come from the heart to show how true our repentance is.
Lord God, help me to admit when I am wrong, and give me the words I need to truly tell you and others how deep my regret is. Amen