The Psalter of Jesus: The Lowly Freedom of Contrition // Psalm 51

I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations — one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it — you will regret both.
— Soren Kierkegaard

Every person in this broken world is guilty of wrongdoing. And, at times, we can even admit it. The question is what to do in the wake of our misdeeds, when people are hurting on account of us and we feel the weight of responsibility. The default reaction of our twisted hearts is regret. We expend much time and energy wishing we had done right, even fantasizing about what might have been. This regret often leads into vain attempts at balancing scales. We try to atone for our sin with acts of charity or sacrifice. But God offers us another way, an untwisting of the heart. In the Psalms, we are given prayers not of regret, but contrition. Whereas regret traffics in self-preservation and damage control, contrition yields broken-heartedness and love. Regretful people want nothing more than to wipe failures off their record by any means possible. Contrite people, on the other hand, have given up on salvaging their record and have cast themselves into the mercy and humiliation of God's love.


To you, O Lord, we lift up our souls.
O God, in you we trust.

Make us to know your ways, O Lord;
teach us your paths.
Lead us in your truth and teach us,
for you are the God of our salvation;
for you we wait all the day long.

Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
Remember not our sins and transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember us,
for the sake of your goodness, O Lord.

Our eyes are ever toward you, Lord.
You are our help and our redeemer. Amen.


Merciful God, our sins are ever before us. We confess that we have cared more about our own selfish desires than the true needs of our friends and neighbors.
Create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within us.

We confess that we have grown cold to your presence, and have turned ourselves away from communion with you.
Create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within us.

You do not delight in sacrifice, God, though we would give it.
We offer you instead our broken spirits.

O God, you are all knowing, and yet you forget our sins, giving us new mercies day by day.
Let us live abundantly in this mercy, renewed by your spirit and restored in joy. Amen.

- authored by Alec Watson