A Heart Contrite and Humble

David, son of Jesse – the one who became King of Judah and Israel – anointed as a young lad, the one who defeated Goliath, the one who established Jerusalem as the holy city and brought the Ark of the Covenant to reside. King David of whom the Books of Kings and Chronicles hold up as favored of God, as the high-water mark of all the kings – it is his voice who cries out to the Lord. “A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn” (Ps 51:19) Such is the refrain from the Responsorial Psalm from today’s readings.

The psalm begins “A psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had gone to Bathsheba.” It describes a scene from 2 Sam 11:1 thru 12:14 in which King David was sleeping with another man’s wife (Bathsheba), impregnated her, and arranged her husband Uriah’s murder. The confessional prayer of this Psalm is deeply personal for David, but its instructional elements provide a framework for how we are to have a heart contrite and humble. The Psalm is best read as a whole taking all 19 verses into context. As you read through the Psalm, you will find a few key elements that explain what it means to have a contrite heart.

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