The psalmist David, king in Israel, poured his heart and soul out in poetic literature left for all. The highs and lows in his life are seen through the words written for our learning (Rom. 15:4). It’s believed that the low and lonesome time of Psalm 51 came after his sin with Bathsheba as David was a broken man after his confrontation with Nathan the prophet of God (II Sam. 12:7). He was broken, but he didn’t wallow in his brokenness. He rather sought forgiveness from the Father to be a blessing to Israel.
As one of the children of Israel, he fell into the sin trap. To remove that sin he cried out to God for mercy and forgiveness (Psa. 51:1-9). The sense he speaks of is one all will experience at some point in life, that of being surrounded—overwhelmed—by the wicked world. David came into a world of sin and rather than rising above it, he fell into it. With broken spirit he asked the Lord to forgive and to hide His face from his sins. Not only that but he also asked that his iniquities be blotted out (v. 9).
A prayer for the renewal of repentance follows (vv. 10-13); “create in me a clean heart, O God” recognizing he had heart trouble and needed the great Physician to fix it. The world will certainly soil the heart; it’s important to know and keep it clean because from your heart are the issues of life (Prov. 4:23). A pure heart (Psa. 24:4) divested of worldly things produces a right spirit pleasing to God (Matt. 18:3).
The God of Heaven recognizes “a broken spirit” and “a broken and contrite heart” (Psa. 51:17). This is borne out in the prayer of commitment to righteousness (vv. 14-17). Only One has the ability to look upon the heart (I Sam. 16:7).
A prayer of intercession (vv. 18-19) closes Psalm 51. Much like the appeal of Christ “Thy will be done” (Matt. 6:10), is the appeal of the psalmist asking God to act for their good according to His [God’s] good pleasure.
For the Christian it is much the same, just better. The Light was manifested (I John 1:3) so that we could have remission of sins, and a Savior who acts in our behalf. This should produce joy (v. 4) in service to Christ (Phil. 4:4). In the new covenant children of God are blessed to “walk in the light” (I John 1:7), and enjoy the grace of God. In all times the confession of sin before a loving God has been key (I John 1:8-9). The old saying: “honest confession is good for the soul” is right. God’s people of old were told to repent and pray (II Chron. 7:14), and that’s the same today.
Can God forgive me? Killed any Christians lately? Saul of Tarsus did and God forgave him, making him a beloved apostle. Done what David did? God forgave him and regarded him as a man after His own heart. If your spirit is broken before God, then you are set by His direction to be a blessing.
Northeast Church of Christ bulletin July 23. 2023