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Daily Devotional • April 3

Chase Benefiel
Lord, Open Our Lips
A Reading from Psalm 51

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy,
    blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
 and my sin is ever before me.
4 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 judgment.
5 Indeed, I was born guilty,
  a sinner when my mother conceived me.
6 You desire truth in the inward being;
    therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
 let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
   O God of my salvation,
   and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you have no delight in sacrifice;
    if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
    rebuild the walls of Jerusalem;
19 then you will delight in right sacrifices,
    in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar.

David just committed the worst sin of his life. David’s laundry list of of bad decisions has left his relationships with his family, country, and God in shambles. David is unrepentant and perhaps even unaware of his transgression. Nathan the Prophet comes to him and rebukes him in the name of the Lord.

David’s response is to repent and beg for mercy. It’s a common response when you're at the very bottom of the pit. Every day we repeat a short line from Psalm 51: “Lord, open our lips and our mouth will show forth thy praise.” Not David’s mouth — mine, ours. We say this phrase, sometimes while making the sign of the cross on our lips, before we pray the psalm in recognition that we cannot pray unless God first opens our mouth.

The context of this line matters, though. We pray this line, also, as a repentance in itself. We pray it because it is only after we destroy ourselves and only after God calls us home that we can praise. This is the good news: if (when) you’ve destroyed your life and the life of everyone around you, God has called you. God has already sent the Good Shepherd, Jesus, who seeks and saves the lost — only the lost — and he has laid down his life for you.

Chase Benefiel is a friend, Tennesseean, preacher, and student (in that order) currently finishing his M.Div. at Duke Divinity School.

Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Sabah – The Church of the Province of South East Asia
The Diocese of West Virginia
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