Psalm 51

Have mercy on me, O God of unfailing love
O God of great compassion
Blot out my troublesome doubts and despair
Wash away all my dark thoughts
Cleanse my selfish feelings
For I know my worst tendencies
They are always before me
They lead me away from Your peace and light
Into turmoil and darkness
I begin to doubt and fear Your righteousness, Your judgment
It becomes easier to believe that You don’t exist
That You are a creation of human beings
I am not alone in this, surely
It seems to be pretty common among all people
This turning from You
Yet You remain
From before I was, from when I first was
Through my life and past it
The psalmist says that You taught us wisdom
In the secret place of the womb
Maybe, but I forget it too easily
In the public places of my life
So I’m back, again, asking for Your compassion
Wash away my mind’s dark stains
Let my thoughts turn to rejoicing, to joy, to gladness
Help me to turn away, as You turn away, from darkness and selfishness
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me
Don’t desert me; don’t let me forget that I need You
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
Turn my self-centered pride into a God-centered willing spirit
That will sustain me
Then maybe, just maybe, I can remember You in my dark times
I can turn back to You when I feel low and unloved
When I feel defeated by my own negativity, hurt and anger
Deliver me from my crushing feelings of inadequacy and despair
O God, You are my Savior, my only hope
Let my mind and heart sing of Your righteousness
Then my words, my life will reflect Your goodness, will declare Your praise
You do not delight in my fears, my withdrawal from life
You take no pleasure in watching me undermine myself
I will draw away from doubt and despair, from selfishness and pride
I will come to You for peace and security, for love and hope
May it please You to draw me ever more into Your castle
Ever nearer to Your bright throne
Surrounded by Your great glowing cloud of witnesses
I can let Your light devour my darkness. Amen.

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Psalm 52

Why do I take pride in the wrong things and think myself better than others?
I fool myself, I tear myself down by such thoughts
I get everything backwards, I value the worthless and throw away the precious
Too easily my thoughts become words, disparaging words, hurtful words, that can’t be unsaid
God, Sovereign, You can stop me, You can turn me from such thoughts
You can give me Your righteousness so that I can laugh at myself, appreciate my own absurdity
Do I want to depend upon the strength of money and reputation, both of which can be stolen and destroyed?
Or, like the olive tree, do I want to flourish drawing life and strength from God’s unfailing richness?
From God’s love forever and ever
Do this for me, please God, that I may praise You forever
Hoping always in Your name, trusting always in Your love
Flourishing always in Your goodness, praising You always. Amen.

Psalm 53

Sometimes I foolishly stop believing, telling myself there is no god
But then I just seem to sink lower and lower
Thankfully, God is patient, waiting for me to once again turn around
My own repeated metanoia
While I, I go my own way, stumbling blindly forward
Finding goodness harder and harder, more elusive, more uncertain
Will I never learn? Will I ever stop letting doubt devour my peace, my faith?
Here I stand – in all the rich irony of that
Overwhelmed with dread when there is nothing to dread
God scatters my doubt
God turns me around
Oh, that God would keep being God, keep saving me
Keep restoring the fortune of my faith
Let me rejoice and be glad in that certain salvation. Amen.

Psalm 54

Save me, O God, by Your name; vindicate me by Your might
Hear my prayer, O God, listen to the words of my mouth
Strange thoughts and fantasies, strange worries and fears
Attack my peace of mind
My life turns from You
Surely You will help me; surely You can turn me back
Banish those unhelpful, negative thoughts and feelings
In Your faithfulness, restore my faith, my peace
Let me live my life honoring You, praising You, giving You credit
For You have delivered me – time and time again – from all my troubles
I can examine my life without fear
Because of Your great power, mercy and love. Amen.

Psalm 55

Listen to me, God, don’t ignore me, hear my need and answer it
For I am troubled and uneasy
As always, my negative thoughts – about myself and others
Undermine my peace, give rise to anger, cause me pain
My world turns dark and deadly, I lose joy, I find only discontent
I imagine life would be better, easier, more worthwhile if I were different
If I were some place different, if others changed
I imagine I can outrun my storms
That’s hopeless. I have only one real hope: You, God, You
You are my hope, my salvation
You can bring beauty and peace, order out of chaos
Strength to my interior castle
You can make it worthy of Your throne
The parts of myself that I value most – my intellect, my compassion even
These can turn against me when I use them in pride
When I use them to convince myself I am better than others
Let those tendencies die for they are evil within me
Let me call to You, God, instead, admitting my weakness, my powerlessness
Evening, morning and noon, help me to turn to You
To remember that You hear me, You help me, You ransom me unharmed
Though my own thoughts try to defeat me, depress me
God, God Almighty, You and You alone can help me change
You and You alone can teach me to revere You
Oh, I can tell myself fine stories of my understanding and my superiority
I can smooth over my faults but they are killing me
So I need You, my savior God, to sustain me, to uphold what is best in me
To defeat what is worst, to rid me of all that is not good and helpful for me
I trust You. Amen.