The fourth verse of Psalm 51 continues from verse 3 the penitent’s petition for a clean slate:
Psalm 51:4: “Wash away all my guilt; from my sin cleanse me.”
It is a recognition on the part of the penitent that the sinful offense has dirtied and sullied the soul. We are made in the image and likeness of God, our soul is a reflection of that image. Only God can forgive sins and therefore only He can wash our souls clean of our offense.
The penitent clearly states their sole responsibility in the sin. Even though someone else may have been involved, the sinner says “my guilt”, “my sin”. No blame is placed upon another. The sinner bears responsibility for their wrongdoing. We alcoholics and addicts are known for shirking responsibility. It is “people, places and things”, or our weakness, our disease, or some other such matter. Although there are mitigating circumstances that can lead us into our addictive behavior, in the end we committed the sin. At what point do we stop making excuses and just say that, “Yeah, these factors came in to play in my demise. But I could have said ‘no.’ I could have reached out for help that is their, even if it is a plaintive prayer into the darkness.”
We bear responsibility for recognizing our true nature as sons and daughters of God, and in seeing that since our souls were made to reflect His goodness, we must strive to keep them clean and on the path to holiness. We allow our consciences to be formed and guided by the Gospel.Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)"The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"