Reflection for the 5th Sunday of Lent 2021

The Truth Deep Within

The Palm for Passion Sunday: Psalm 51.1-13 – The Miserere

For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

 “1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.

“2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

“3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

“4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.

“5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

“6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

“7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

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

“9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.

“10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

“11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.”

Hearing all the Layers of his Creation at Once

In the last weeks of his life, the composer Mozart dictated his final work, the Requiem, to Susskind, his student.  To Susskind’s amazement, Mozart didn’t give the “tune” and add the other bits, but gave it vertically, a bar at a time!  The sopranos now sing this, underneath the tenors are doing this, meanwhile the oboe is playing this, and the horns are doing this. His master was hearing and dictating every layer of the piece – every sound of every voice and instrument from the “tune” down through to the deepest harmonies in the trombones and double bass.

Can we dive deep within, to know ourselves, to fathom the layers of our existence, to know what makes me, me, and to confront the issues which may be eating me up?

King David Listens through the Layers of his Life

  • In this psalm, in a wonderful spiritual way, David looks into the depth of his experience, and can analyse what is happening to him. His sin with Bathsheba is crippling him.
  • Deeper still, he is desperate not only to know that the LORD can forgive him, but to “feel” that forgiveness.
  • At another level he is aware that this tendency to sin – to deliberately go against what God wants – has dogged him since the early memories of his childhood….. and even before!
  • David is fully aware of his mistreatment of the woman and her husband Uriah, but, in the most troubled depths of his spirit, he recognises that this has damaged his friendship with God.
  • He wants to sense the total expunging of his wrong doing – to get right with God, and, once again, to feel the inner Shalom of the LORD
  • The most touching aspect of this confession is his aspiration to let the LORD do something inside him which will stop him being such a selfish person.

Mozart takes Psalm 51 Deep Inside Himself

In 1771, while on a concert tour of Europe, Leopold Mozart took his 14 year old son into the Sistine Chapel where the choir was singing Allegri’s setting of Psalm 51.  This has a truly mystical sound.  It is so divine that the Vatican authorities forbade anyone to have a copy of the secret music.  Wolfgang Mozart sat and listened intently to this long piece written in nine parts.  On returning to their rooms, he sat down and wrote out all the parts  entirely from memory.  He had not merely heard, but the music was in him.  It had become part of him.

Experiencing Psalm 51

What a great experience it would be if Psalm 51 became a real and tangible event  for us – knowing the forgiveness of God, as we had never experienced it before. On the left we read the experience of a believer whose spiritual life was changed from black and white into colour…..

Over the years out faith can be reduced to simple head knowledge or empty intellectual assertions; or, sometimes, the romance of the church traditions we have inherited.

The New Testament is unequivocable in its teaching: we can experience, we can sense, we can feel, we can drink in that wonderful experience of the forgiveness of sins, and the outpouring of new life into jaded souls. We can have a new heart.

“I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death. I began to pray with all my might…….I then testified openly to all there what I now first felt in my heart.”

John Wesley

Dear God, I am a sinner. I’m sorry for my sins. Forgive me. I want to turn from my sins. Help me. I invite Jesus to come into my life, to take control from this day forward. And I want to follow Him as my Lord forever. I pray this in the Name of Jesus. Amen.