Turn Back oh Man

I am sorry that I have been more or less absent for the past few months. I am still working on settling into my new life and getting into a pattern and habit that I’m comfortable with. This past Saturday I had the privilege of presenting the meditation for the North Arizona Prayer Network. As Lent is about the be upon us, I thought that Psalm 51 would be fitting. I figured I would share this with all of you as well.

A Meditation on Psalm 51

February 3, 2018 – Northern Arizona Prayer Network

Prescott, AZ

Text: Psalm 51

The Psalms provide for us a valuable tool. When we lack the words to lament or praise the Lord because of the emotions they are there to give us the words we need. I have always found a richness in praying the psalms both privately and publically. In fact, last night our organist couldn’t make it to our service, and in place of the Hymns originally denoted we read Psalms. There was an incredibly beautiful poetry reading these ancient words.

In Psalm 51 we are reminded first of David’s sin, his cruelty to a citizen of his kingdom, but we too see that we are condemned by the law, that our hearts corrupted by the original sin of our first Father Adam and our heart’s wanderings. We are reminded of our need for repentance and contrition.

In liturgical churches Lent will soon be upon us. On February 14th, we observe Ash Wednesday and then we’ll be in a season of fasting, repentance, and introspection. The overall goal of Lent isn’t to put on our sack clothes and draw attention to ourselves that life is hard, or how we are terrible sinners, but instead to call to mind how we have failed to trust our Lord, and learn how to lean upon him more deeply.

I thought it would be good to think about Psalm 51 because on occasion it is a good thing to look in our hearts and see where God is working, where the “wounded surgeon”[1] needs to remove sin from our lives and then flee from those.

The Psalm calls us to run to God’s mercy, to and to dwell richly in that. If we do not understand our sin, we cannot understand God’s mercy. However, when we see God’s mercy considering our wickedness, how happy are our hearts? It is from our “inward parts” that this repentance comes. From broken hearts made whole by the mercy of God.

When we see this sin we call out with David: make me a clean heart O God: and renew a right spirit within me. Through Christ, he is faithful in that.

Altogether too often, we want to pay God off, and not go through the pain of repentance. Ignoring the dark trouble of the heart and hoping to do good works will appease our conscience, but what God desires is a troubled spirit: a broken and contrite heart. When our hearts are broken for our sin, God will come and heal those broken hearts.

We don’t like to think about our sinfulness, or at least I don’t. It is painful and hard, but it is a part of our prayer life, that helps us to grow ever deeper in our walk with Christ. As we grow, we see these points of failure and rejoice in Christ coming into our lives.

As we pray for the growth of the church, of Her mission in Yavapai County and this world, let us also pray that we would be aware of the areas that we need to grow in our dependence upon Christ.


[1] In T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Four Quartets,” Eliot reflects upon Good Friday and refers to Christ as the “Wounded Surgeon,” because of course he was wounded for our transgression and works on our hearts to remove the damaging effects of sin upon our hearts and in our lives.


One comment on “Turn Back oh Man”
  1. Stuart Murray says:

    It gave me great comfort to read and meditate on this today. Thank you!

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