Season After Pentecost (Proper 13[18]) – The Psalms Passage: Asking for forgiveness for the small and big sins in life

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.” ( (Psalm 51:1 – 5)

I can’t say that I agree with everything the psalmist says here. Actually it is only one thing that I disagree with – that when a child is born it is already guilty of sin. Sin means deciding against God and belief in Jesus Christ, and deliberately choosing to not follow the law of love. Infants and small children have no concept of choosing for or against God. And no concept of the consequences. I firmly belief that the mercy and compassion of God covers children until that point in their lives comes when they realize there is a choice, and that they showed chose. I was about twelve years old when I came to that point. There is no one preset age. But I digress. I guess what I mean is that this psalm is for the adults in the crowd who have come to the place in their lives when they have decided.

“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.” (Verses 6 – 8)

Here again the psalmist and I diverge slightly. Verse 8 implies that it is good that the Lord has disciplined us and we should be glad of it. Coming to see and realize one’s sins and ask/receive forgiveness is a good thing. I just don’t think has to be or necessarily is “bone crushing” but I allow the psalmist poetic license. But you know, if the psalmist is King David and he was seeing the magnitude of the sins he committed, maybe he did feel that his bones needed to be crushed a little bit!

“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.” (Verses 9 – 12)

This week our theme has been small and large things, minor and major issues and consequences. There is no greater issue than the committing of sin, and no larger need than forgiveness. And actually in the Divine’s sight there is no such thing as small and large sins, no matter how much we may like to categorize levels of “being bad” and assessing people according to the mistakes and missteps they make. If God’s compassion, grace, mercy, salvation, and redemption (to include all the aspects of forgiveness) is sufficient – then we should not give into temptation to judge. That would be sin!

Yet he commanded the skies above, and opened the doors of heaven;
he rained down on them manna to eat, and gave them the grain of heaven.
Mortals ate of the bread of angels; he sent them food in abundance.
He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens, and by his power he led out the south wind;
he rained flesh upon them like dust, winged birds like the sand of the seas;
he let them fall within their camp, all around their dwellings.
And they ate and were well filled, for he gave them what they craved.” (Psalm 78:23-29)

The Divine knew that his creation humanity would need forgiveness. If the Divine who created Adam and Eve was/is as knowledgeable as believers believe, then the Divine knew that the Tree of Knowledge would be their downfall. And yet it was created. So the need for forgiveness (and all that it entails) was pretty much brought into being at the same time. The Lord God provided food for the Hebrews in the desert, and Jesus said that was a lessor thing than the Bread of Life that the Divine Lord God established.

The Hebrews asked for sustenance in the desert and it was given. It is the next logical step to ask for something more lasting. Do not be afraid to ask, beloved reader. Ask for what you need, in small or large measure. If it is necessary to your continuing to be a child of God, it will be given. Selah!

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