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Praying Through Lent: Psalm 51

Mar 25, 2017 by

Psalm 51 is the famous psalm of King David that he composed with a contrite heart after being rebuked by the prophet Nathan for his adultery with Bathsheba, and the murder of her husband to cover it up. This psalm is a lament, that is, "a passionate expression of grief," and is the most well-known of the seven penitential psalms found in the Bible.

Psalm 51 is prayed by the faithful as a powerful expression of sorrow and repentance for personal sin. As such it is a traditional prayer of penance for the Lenten season which was first modeled for us by King David, "a man after God's own heart." The below translation is taken from the Revised Standard Version - Catholic Edition.

Ash Wednesday


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.

Praying Through Lent: Psalm 51

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.

Ash Wednesday

Psalm 51 is the famous psalm of King David and is one of the 7 penitential Psalms traditionally prayed during Lent