This past Sunday evening at Trinity CRC, I spoke on Psalm 51 and the events in King David’s life that precipitated him writing it. Among one of the penitential psalms, Psalm 51 is a deep expression of sorrow over one’s sin and the havoc it created. As the notes in my new NLT Parallel Study Bible explain, “This psalm expresses one of the clearest examples of repentance in all of Scripture. Countless broken sinners have found in these words an exquisite expression of their deeply felt need for God’s mercy and forgiveness.”
In many of our prayers, we ask God to change a situation or to change a problem: We pray for favorable weather and bountiful crops. We pray for restoration for a relationship that is at (or past) the breaking point. We pray for peace in places in the world where there is violence. And these are good prayers; indeed, other psalms ask for a change in the poet’s situation.
But I think Psalm 51 is so powerful because it acknowledges how my biggest problems are not external but rather internal: Don’t change my circumstances, Lord. I’m the problem. Change me.
When I make the words of Psalm 51 my own, I’m inviting God to do something new in my life. And, in Jesus Christ, that is the one thing our loving heavenly Father loves doing most.