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Sephardic tradition includes this chapter of Tehillim in the daily prayer service, as part of the "Tachanun" prayer in which we beseech God for forgiveness. Indeed, in a number of verses in this Psalm David prays that God forgive his sins, and makes reference to His infinite kindness and compassion (e.g. verses 6,7,11).
Additionally, however, in this chapter David beseeches the Almighty to assist him in overcoming his evil impulses and to direct him towards the proper path of Teshuva and good deeds. As Ibn Ezra explains (verses 5,8), David asks that God help him grow accustomed to proper conduct, to the point where it becomes second nature, such that the evil inclination can no longer lead him astray. David recognizes the power of his sinful instincts and understands that without God's assistance, he is unable to withstand temptation: "My eyes are always towards God, because He will extricate my feet from the trap" (verse 15; see Ibn Ezra). He thus asks God to forgive the sins of his youth, on account of which he might otherwise be undeserving of divine assistance in his attempt to perform Teshuva (verse 7; see Ibn Ezra).
Towards the end of this chapter, David appeals to God to save him from his foes (verses 19-20). According to Ibn Ezra, in this prayer, too, David seeks God's help in his quest for spiritual perfection. He fears that the threat of his enemies' scorn and ridicule might discourage him from committing himself to God's ways, and he therefore begs God to "protect his soul" (verse 20) from this threat. David recognizes the spiritual challenges posed not only by man's physical drives and desires, but also by the pressures and influences of his peers.
Thus, this Psalm expresses more than just the hope that the Almighty forgive our misdeeds; it asks also that He show us the way back to proper observance and help us follow that path. The complex, grueling process of Teshuva requires both the sincere, concentrated effort to improve, as well as God's assistance. As we recite the daily "Tachanun" prayer, we ask the Almighty for forgiveness for the past as well as assistance in the future, as we attempt to break our old habits and accustom ourselves to a much higher standard of Torah observance.a