“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.” -Psalm 51:1
This psalm was uttered in the aftermath of David’s behavior in sending Bathsheba’s husband Uriah to war and having him die on the front line of battle so that he (David) could have Bathsheba as a wife. David knew that he had sinned grievously, and there were consequences from that sin. (The story is in 2 Samuel 11:1-12:23 if you need more context.)
The Greek word for sin is άμαρτια (“hamartia”) and according to Strong’s Biblical Lexicon, one of the definitions is “to miss the mark”. This jives with the inclusion of this verse as part of the opening words in the Morning Prayer section of the “Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families” in the Book of Common Prayer. (It is on page 137 for those reading this in manuscript form and is here for those who are reading this online.) I find its inclusion appropriate because I know I miss the mark with my life way more often than I like to admit, and I think it helps us to start off the day with a clean slate while reminding us that our God is a God of mercy.
The agape aspect of this comes in the form of our sins being put on Christ who died for them, giving us life instead of death. God loves us so incredibly much that He sent His son to die for us. That is the deep-reaching and soul-changing aspect of why the Greek language distinguishes this form of love from the others.
Gracious God, thank you so much for your mercy and forgiveness. Help us remember that we can come to you and confess our sin to you when we miss the mark with our lives. Amen.