Saturday, February 20, 2021

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

DAY 4: February 20, 2021                            Saturday after Ash Wednesday- Psalm 51: 1-12

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.” – Psalm 51:1

Psalm 51 is one of seven penitential psalms commonly referred to as psalms of lament. [See also Psalm 6, 32, 38, 102, 1130, 143] 

The circumstances concerning this Psalm are explained in the introduction. David wrote and prayed this Psalm after he was confronted by Nathan the prophet regarding David’s affair with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah Bathsheba’s husband and the subsequent cover-up. The story can be found in 2 Samuel 11:1 – 12:25.

Portions of this Psalm have found their way into our worship life. Vv.10-11 are used in the Offertory. Vs. 15 is used as the opening sentence of Matins and Vespers. Potions of this Psalm are used in the Introit for Ash Wednesday.

This psalm is an intense personal lament over sin and its consequence. It explains not only the consequences of sin which are present in all people. He also walks us through the process of coming openly before God; confessing our sin then finding restoration through the mercies of God.

The Psalm is outline in clear, logical order. The format follows – Vv.1-2 an appeal for mercy, 

Vv.3-6 a confession of sin, 

Vv. 7-12 prayers for cleansing, 

Vv. 13-17 willing service of a contrite heart, 

Vv. 18-19 a concluding prayer for Zion.

As David begins his prayer he appeals to God’s steadfast love and His abundant mercy. When we pray and especially when we come seeking His mercy, forgiveness and cleansing we appeal not only to the Lord’s justice but especially to His mercy care and loving kindness.

We are in the early days of Lent. Use this Psalm often especially when we need to petition the only One who can act for us cleansing us from our sin.

Rejoice, O Lord, the countenance of Thy servants; and deliver our souls from the lowest hell, that protected by Thy mercy, we may with spiritual strength tread fleshly desires under foot; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with Thee and the Holy Ghost, One God, world without end. Amen.[2]

Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth Your right hand to help and defend us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.[3]

God of might and compassion, You sent Your Word into the world as a watchman to announce the dawn of salvation. Do not leave us in the depths of our sins, but listen to Your Church pleading for the fullness of Your redeeming grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.[4]


[1] Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts copyright © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use

[2]A Lenten Prayer copyright © 2005 Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood

[3]Collect for Saturday after Ash Wednesday,

[4] For All the Saints A Prayer book For and By the Church; The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau copyright  © 1995 Delhi, NY Vol. II Year 1 The Season After Pentecost p. 741

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