the Prayer of the Contrite Heart Psa 51:1-10
This psalm is a ladder which climbs from the horrible pit, with its miry clay, into the heights of sunny joy, where the song breaks from the forgiven penitent. Here is the cry of the lost sheep which has been torn by briers, harried by wild dogs, drenched in the morass, but which the shepherd has found and brought home rejoicing. This path has been worn by myriads of penitents. Psa 51:17 was written on the wall of St. Augustine’s cell.
There is no doubt as to the occasion or the authorship of this psalm. It abounds in references to 2Sa 11:1-27 ; 2Sa 12:1-31 . It is remarkable that such a confession should have been handed to the chief musician; but the publicity thus given has made it a means of grace to myriads. Note the epithets for sin: transgression, “the violation of law;” iniquity, “crookedness from the straight line of rectitude;” sin , “missing the mark.” However much God longs to forgive, He cannot, until confession is made. We must acknowledge our lapse from virtue! Blot out, as from a record; wash, as foul stains from linen; cleanse, as a leper by the touch of Christ. Our only plea is the multitude of God’s tender mercies.