To the chief musician: a psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bath-Sheba
Nathan confronted King David for committing adultery with Bathsheba and then having her husband killed. (See II Samuel 12:1-15.) David sought God’s mercy. He did not deny his sinfulness, but asked God to “create in me a clean heart” and “renew a right spirit within me.” Known as the Miserere, which is Latin for “Have mercy,” this amazing psalm of repentance has been set to music by many composers, the best known being by Gregorio Allegri in the seventeenth century.
Have mercy upon me, O God,
according to thy lovingkindness:
according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me throughly from mine iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions:
and my sin is ever before me.
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,
and done this evil in thy sight:
that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest,
and be clear when thou judgest.
Behold, I was shapen in iniquity;
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts:
and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean:
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me to hear joy and gladness;
that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
Hide thy face from my sins,
and blot out all mine iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God;
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence;
and take not thy holy spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation;
and uphold me with thy free spirit.
Then will I teach transgressors thy ways;
and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
thou God of my salvation:
and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
O Lord, open thou my lips;
and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it:
thou delightest not in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit:
a broken and a contrite heart,
O God, thou wilt not despise.
Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion:
build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,
with burnt offering and whole burnt offering:
then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.