Forgiveness – the joy of Lent.

Psalm 51 clearly teaches us that we cannot repair the consequences of being sinners, ourselves.


Psalm 51:1-2:  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.


Psalm 51 is about the consequences of and the remedy for our entire sinfulness, rather than merely the individual sins that lies heavily on our conscience.


But we learn the lesson of forgiveness from David’s deep sorrow after committing both adultery and murder. We are taught that radical sinfulness can be healed, and our sorrow repaired by radical repentance.  And this forgiveness is the real joy of Lent.


Psalm 51 describes the totality and the radical nature of our sinfulness.

Verse 3: For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

Sin leaves the sinner liable to judgment and punishment.


Verse 4: Against you (God), 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.

The Psalmist understands that our sinfulness is much more than a matter of crime and punishment. Instead, he teaches us about the deep-seated and universal nature of our sinfulness that saturates every aspect of human life. And yet, we can be forgiven by the mercy of God.


Verse 8: Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.

Sin, he says, deafens the sinner to the experience of joy and causes physical agony. But our repentance and penitence find it’s purpose in being forgiven.


Verse 11: Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me.

Our sinfulness creates the feelings of being cast out from God's presence, of being rejected and abandoned – even by the Holy Spirit.


Verse 12. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Our sinfulness obstructs the enjoyment of the good news of God's salvation and destroys the willingness to even attempt to follow God's way, thus spreading its own malignant influence across all the boundaries of our lives. God repairs our deep depression about our sin and restores our joy in the Lord.


The Psalmist concludes that our sinfulness even prevents the offering of praise and gratefulness and that it perverts these sacrifices of gratitude to God.


The deadly consequences of being sinners prevent us from repairing our own lives. Any idea that we can do something by ourselves to patch up the results of our evil nature is foolishness. Psalm 51 reminds me that the purpose of repentance is to beg for God’s gracious help to restore our joy and thus restores our lives and the lives of those we impacted with our evil choices.


We need to trust the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. It is our only hope, and our only redemption. The true source of our eternal joy.


The Season of Lent is a blessed time of humble repentance and therefore of healing and the restoration of our joy. It is all about receiving help and remedy for our natural spiritual status called sinner, and grants us the assurance, through forgiveness, that we remain God’s beloved children.