Psalm 51 has been turned into a song many times over. Part of the reason is because of the structure of the Psalm itself. It has a great chorus which goes like this, “create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” This chorus is an expression of David’s honest desire to honor God and live in his presence. It is a deeply personal and open expression of love for God that I hope we desire to make every day. That God would take our sin-entangled hearts and re-create them clean and new. That He would take our spirits, burdened by that same sin, and renew them to their right standing. But like any truly great song, the verses before and after the chorus are where you find the chorus fleshed out in more detail.
Verse 1 says, “have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgression.” Our ability to plead with God for a clean heart and a right spirit is only possible due to God’s great mercy. We, post-Easter Christians, should know this mercy well. Because of God’s great mercy He sent Christ. And because He sent Christ we have salvation, and because we have salvation we are able to live in relationship with God every day and say, along with David, ‘create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me O God.’
Later in Psalm 51, after the chorus, David goes on to say, ‘then I will teach transgressors yours ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.” David vows, because of the great mercy God has shown him, to teach sinners the ways of God, to proclaim the righteousness of God and ultimately, to praise him. David understands that God’s mercy is not meant to be shown only to him, but to all mankind. It is a cure for the disease every human has and it is meant to be shared. Spreading the Good News is a direct result of having a clean heart and a right spirit.
May we, as individual people, see the great mercies God has bestowed upon each of us and share that mercy and love with the people we come into contact with every day. And may we, as a community of believers, spread the great news of Jesus to the greater community in which we live.
We are blessed to be known and loved by God. May we treat each and every day as a chance to know him more fully, with clean hearts, and as a chance to introduce those around us to Him.