5 Psalms a Day: Psalm 51-55

Photo credit: Kevin Cabral

Psalm 51

Prayer for Cleansing and Pardon

To the leader.

A Psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.


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.


For I know my transgressions,
   and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, 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 judgement.
Indeed, I was born guilty,
   a sinner when my mother conceived me.


You desire truth in the inward being;
   therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
   wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
   let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
   and blot out all my iniquities.


Create in me a clean heart, O God,
   and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
   and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
   and sustain in me a willing spirit.


Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
   and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
   O God of my salvation,
   and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.


O Lord, open my lips,
   and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you have no delight in sacrifice;
   if I were to give a burnt-offering, you would not be pleased.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
   a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.


Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
   rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,
then you will delight in right sacrifices,
   in burnt-offerings and whole burnt-offerings;
   then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Psalm 52

Judgement on the Deceitful

To the leader.

A Maskil of David, when Doeg the Edomite came to Saul and said to him,

‘David has come to the house of Ahimelech.’
Why do you boast, O mighty one,
   of mischief done against the godly?
   All day long you are plotting destruction.
Your tongue is like a sharp razor,
   you worker of treachery.
You love evil more than good,
   and lying more than speaking the truth.
          Selah
You love all words that devour,
   O deceitful tongue.


But God will break you down for ever;
   he will snatch and tear you from your tent;
   he will uproot you from the land of the living.
          Selah
The righteous will see, and fear,
   and will laugh at the evildoer, saying,
‘See the one who would not take
   refuge in God,
but trusted in abundant riches,
   and sought refuge in wealth!’


But I am like a green olive tree
   in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God
   for ever and ever.
I will thank you for ever,
   because of what you have done.
In the presence of the faithful
   I will proclaim your name, for it is good.

Psalm 53

Denunciation of Godlessness

To the leader: according to Mahalath. A Maskil of David.
Fools say in their hearts, ‘There is no God.’
   They are corrupt, they commit abominable acts;
   there is no one who does good.


God looks down from heaven on humankind
   to see if there are any who are wise,
   who seek after God.


They have all fallen away, they are all alike perverse;
   there is no one who does good,
   no, not one.


Have they no knowledge, those evildoers,
   who eat up my people as they eat bread,
   and do not call upon God?


There they shall be in great terror,
   in terror such as has not been.
For God will scatter the bones of the ungodly;
   they will be put to shame, for God has rejected them.


O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion!
   When God restores the fortunes of his people,
   Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.

Psalm 54

Prayer for Vindication

To the leader: with stringed instruments.

A Maskil of David, when the Ziphites went and told Saul, ‘David is in hiding among us.’


Save me, O God, by your name,
   and vindicate me by your might.
Hear my prayer, O God;
   give ear to the words of my mouth.


For the insolent have risen against me,
   the ruthless seek my life;
   they do not set God before them.
          Selah


But surely, God is my helper;
   the Lord is the upholder of my life.
He will repay my enemies for their evil.
   In your faithfulness, put an end to them.


With a freewill-offering I will sacrifice to you;
   I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.
For he has delivered me from every trouble,
   and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.

Psalm 55

Complaint about a Friend’s Treachery

To the leader: with stringed instruments. A Maskil of David.
Give ear to my prayer, O God;
   do not hide yourself from my supplication.
Attend to me, and answer me;
   I am troubled in my complaint.
I am distraught by the noise of the enemy,
   because of the clamour of the wicked.
For they bring trouble upon me,
   and in anger they cherish enmity against me.


My heart is in anguish within me,
   the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fear and trembling come upon me,
   and horror overwhelms me.
And I say, ‘O that I had wings like a dove!
   I would fly away and be at rest;
truly, I would flee far away;
   I would lodge in the wilderness;
          Selah
I would hurry to find a shelter for myself
   from the raging wind and tempest.’


Confuse, O Lord, confound their speech;
   for I see violence and strife in the city.
Day and night they go around it
   on its walls,
and iniquity and trouble are within it;
   ruin is in its midst;
oppression and fraud
   do not depart from its market-place.


It is not enemies who taunt me—
   I could bear that;
it is not adversaries who deal insolently with me—
   I could hide from them.
But it is you, my equal,
   my companion, my familiar friend,
with whom I kept pleasant company;
   we walked in the house of God with the throng.
Let death come upon them;
   let them go down alive to Sheol;
   for evil is in their homes and in their hearts.


But I call upon God,
   and the Lord will save me.
Evening and morning and at noon
   I utter my complaint and moan,
   and he will hear my voice.
He will redeem me unharmed
   from the battle that I wage,
   for many are arrayed against me.
God, who is enthroned from of old,
          Selah
   will hear, and will humble them—
because they do not change,
   and do not fear God.


My companion laid hands on a friend
   and violated a covenant with me
with speech smoother than butter,
   but with a heart set on war;
with words that were softer than oil,
   but in fact were drawn swords.


Cast your burden on the Lord,
   and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
   the righteous to be moved.


But you, O God, will cast them down
   into the lowest pit;
the bloodthirsty and treacherous
   shall not live out half their days.
But I will trust in you.


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