For some time, I have kept that bookmark thing in my Bible located at Psalm 51. It is a Psalm that I frequently return to for both a spiritual reality check and for a dose of spiritual hope. I have been downloading various podcasts, in particular for this story the podcast of John Piper. This morning I listened to his sermon about Psalm 51 titled, “A Broken and Contrite Heart God Will Not Despise.”
Also, I received an e-mail from my mother that she sent last night in which she made reference to this Psalm. She let me know that she has prayed for me with this passage for some time.
At the same time, I came across the church website of Andy Davis. Andy is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Durham, NC. Andy and I were working on a PhD in Church History at the same time at Southern Seminary. Two things always stood out to me about Andy. One was his incredible mind. The other was his humble spirit. Andy was an engineer prior to entering the ministry. He made it his practice to commit entire books of the Bible to memory. On his web-site, I read through an article about the practice. I was challenged to commit myself to Scripture memory. I have been trying to decide what section or book of the Bible to work on memorizing. Today it became obvious that I should begin with Psalm 51.
So here is the first verse:
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Notice the ABBA poetic pattern in this verse. To “have mercy on me” is parallel to “blot out my transgressions.” The basis of this mercy is the parallel attributes of God – his steadfast love and his abundant mercy.