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Friday, April 20, 2018


"Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness:  According to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin... Create in me a clean heart, O God; And renew a right spirit within me... Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; And uphold me with a willing spirit.  Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; And sinners shall be converted unto thee... For thou delightest not in sacrifice; else would I give it:  Thou hast no pleasure in burnt-offering.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit:  A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise... " 
Psalm 51

We all have sinned and some more than others. One of the hardest things for us to do is to confront just how bad our sins are before our Holy God and truly weep for our sins. David's Psalm 51 is a great place to start. He shows us what a truly broken heart looks like. Let's look at this Psalm together.

Recently as I was reading Psalm 51, I was struck with the brokenness of David’s heart, his sincere repentance, his sorrow over sin, and the heartfelt appeal to God for His grace. It is marvelous how God responds to our brokenness, the brokenness that is caused by our sins.  It is an extension of His grace and lovingkindness. God responds to our brokenness when we are humble of heart instead of proud and haughty in spirit as if we were self-sufficient and “quite able to manage on our own, thank you.”  Indeed, the guilt of sin is a heavyweight that motivates the humble in heart, for he knows how to yield to God's will.  The humble heart humbly heeds the need for God's mercy, God's forgiveness, and His grace, for sin weighs heavily on the soul.  A broken man weeps bitterly over his sins and repents before his God, for he recognizes his spiritual poverty before His Creator.  In the spirit of brokenness, the poor in spirit heed the need for righteousness and obedience.  He stands before God without any pretense, for he strips himself of all self-sufficiency, self-security, and self-righteousness.  The broken and poor in spirit will humbly admit that he has sinned against his Lord and thus is not worthy to be God's son in His kingdom.  He is justified by God, for he is poor in spirit and begs for God's mercy and understands his spiritual poverty. We cannot enter heaven any other way, for God demands that a man’s heart be broken, and his spirit humbled before he may enter His heavenly kingdom.

God wants those who are spiritually needy to know the depth of their sins and the need for a Savior to rescue them from their desperate spiritual poverty.  Only the poor in spirit will allow Jesus our Lord to rule their hearts.  Those who are poor and brokenhearted will heed the Gospel Message, the good news, to set them free from the slavery of sin.  God's grace will not benefit us unless we accept and grasp the enormity of our guilt and unrighteousness and the poverty of our spirit before a righteous and holy God.  The poor and brokenhearted grow in the awareness of their sins and plead to God for mercy, for they desire to have a pure heart with which to serve Him.  God creates a clean and pure heart within us through forgiveness and then defines the path of purity and directs us in that path.  The brokenhearted person seeks to be pure in heart and does not question the efficacy of God's Law, for he does not argue with its implications for him.  He strives to keep God's commands or laws, for he wants to obey God's Law to please Him and be devoted to Him.  Psalm 51 teaches us how to acknowledge our sin and its guilty stain on our conscience. David shows us the remedy for it, which is the restoration of our soul so that we may have a relationship with God.

2 Samuel 11-12 provides the background for Psalm 51 and the sin that David confesses.  The Psalm expresses David's great pain and godly sorrow after committing adultery with Bathsheba, for David could not get away with his many sins.  The prophet Nathan confronted David with his sin and his tortured guilty conscience. David, a man after God's own heart, thought himself above the Law of God, setting aside his principles of righteousness, scruples, and ethics to feed his selfish desire.  His biggest mistake was to look at a woman with lust in his heart, Bathsheba, while she was bathing.  Not only did he lust after her, but he brought her into his palace and began an adulterous affair with her.  When she got pregnant, he tried to cover up his sin by bringing Uriah home from battle, but Uriah, a godly man, refused to come home to his wife, so David ordered him to the front lines of the siege and the other soldiers secretly to withdraw so that he was struck down in the battle.  You see, David was not caught up in circumstances beyond his control, for he had a choice. He had complete control over them.  He concealed his sin by plotting to use the battle as a cover for murdering the husband of his lover.  One sin committed and not repented of usually leads to more sins, making us a slave to sin.  This was David's case, for his slavery of sin finally crushed him when he was confronted.  Until then, David failed to have the courage to confess his sin and be broken with godly sorrow.  Nathan looked David straight in the eye and said to him, “You are the man!”  Nathan had to confront him with his sin to make David aware that God knew what he had done. He had sinned against Him.

This Psalm discloses David’s folly, restoration, and the change of heart that grew out of his repentance or godly sorrow.  The purpose of my study is to illustrate the process of a broken and contrite heart and the prescription or remedy for spiritual restoration.  Indeed, this Psalm is a plea for forgiveness and mercy from God, confession of sin against God, appeal for a cleansing of guilt, purification from sins, and restoration of fellowship with God.  David recognized that he had been separated from God, but now he longs to regain fellowship with Him.  So, he pleads with God to be washed whiter than snow.  He knew that only God can wash and make us clean.  God can purge us from all sin when we humbly confess our sins and plead for the cleansing of our guilt.  David pleas to God for full purification from his sins so that he no longer be considered unclean, for he, David, is carrying a very heavyweight, the weight of a guilty conscience.  David desires joy and gladness again.  You see, sin takes away our joy and leaves us with tremendous consequences.  Sin destroys our fellowship with God God's lovingkindness and mercy can restore our soul.

One of David’s most beautiful pleas, the one that I love the most, is found in verse 10.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; And renew a right spirit within me.”  

And though David wants to be made clean, he acknowledges that he needs a change of heart, a purging of his heart of wickedness and impurity to serve God faithfully.  Our God wants our hearts to be pure and clean from the impurities of sin, for He wants to rule in our hearts.  He wants our surrendered and broken heartsHearts that will humbly accept their errors, flaws, and sins and be sorrowful enough to make changes and thus restore their fellowship or relationship with their God.  God wants our hearts to be right with Him so that He can delight in our worship.  Our hearts must be in tune with God's heart and righteousness.

The following is an explanation of Psalm 51.  I hope you will find this study edifying in your walk with the Lord.

I.   “HAVE MERCY UPON ME”  (51:1-4)
“Have mercy upon me (Be gracious to me), O God, according to thy lovingkindness: According to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.  2 Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.  3 For I know my transgressions; And my sin is ever before me.  4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, And done that which is evil in thy sight; That thou mayest be justified when thou speakest, And be clear when thou judgest.”  
  • Plea For Forgiveness:
“Have mercy upon me (Be gracious to me), O God, according to thy lovingkindness:According to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.  2 Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.”

David starts out this Psalm with a heartfelt plea for God's mercy.  The first two verses express David's urgent and deep need for God's forgiveness, for he has sinned against Him.  David has broken and transgressed God's Law. He is found guilty and feels the full weight of his sins, the enormity of his guilt.  He recognizes his need for God's grace.  So, he prays to God saying, “Have mercy upon me (Be gracious to me), O God, according to thy lovingkindness: According to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.”  

In verses 1-2, David expresses his need using a chiastic phrase, a Hebrew parallelism.  In his petition, we find a trio of thoughts that reinforce David's prayer for forgiveness.  He bases his request on two fundamental truths concerning the character of GodFirst, he pleads that God remove his sin because His mercy is great. He knows that such terrible sins could only be forgiven by someone whose lovingkindness, mercy, unfailing love, and compassion were enormous. David asks God to have mercy on Him as a mother would have toward her child.  David does not appeal to God to remember his past service and greatness as king but rather firmly relies on God's mercy, lovingkindness, and compassion.  In the Old Testament, from the times of Moses, God revealed Himself as a compassionate and gracious God who forgives sin.  So, David trusted in God's unfailing love to forgive the guilt of his sin even though he had failed God miserably. Yet, God did not fail him but showed mercy, love, and compassion to David and all who rely on His mercy and lovingkindness.  David acknowledged God's unfailing steadfast love, which includes God's faithfulness, love, and good-heartedness.  Is there any better plea a sinner can make before a righteous and holy God?  David acknowledges he does not deserve God's forgiveness, so he calls on God's character of mercy to remove and blot out his sins.  Anyone who has ever felt the guilt of sin, the brokenness of heart, and the spiritual poverty of spirit can identify with this Psalm.

In His prayer, David makes three desperate requests:
  1. “Blot out my transgressions.”
  2. “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity.”
  3. “And cleanse me from my sin.”

David describes his violation of God's Law with three different Hebrew words:  transgression, iniquity, and sin.  Transgression is rebellion against God.  Iniquity is a perversion of that which is right.  Sin is missing the mark in life.

He makes two points:
  1. He is guilty and needs forgiveness.  
  2. He needs to praise and focus on God.  
David felt defiled because of what he had done, for he had sinned. By committing adultery and murder, he had crossed over the line God had drawn in His Law (transgression).  He had missed the mark God has set for him (sin).  And finally, he had willfully rebelled against God.  There was no atonement provided in the Law of Moses for such intentional sins (Lev. 20:10; Num. 35:31-32).  The only hope he had was to appeal to God's mercy, grace, and love (verse 1; Ex. 34:6-7; 2 Sam. 12:22).  David does not focus on any specific sin but is inclusive in his description.  You see, David does not need mercy just for his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah. He needs God's mercy and forgiveness for his whole life, for his life has been full of sin (verse 5).  Indeed, David acknowledges his poverty of spirit and deep brokenness before God.  He felt defiled and in need of cleansing.  Because he felt defiled, he asks God to blot out, wash thoroughly and cleanse him from his sins.  The blotting out of David's transgressions speaks of David's accountability before God.  David not only wants the slate of accountability to be wiped clean before God but also wants his soul to be thoroughly washed and cleansed so that he can be in God's presence.

When David began his appeal, he did not make any excuses or try to justify his sins.  He did not shift the blame on Bathsheba.  He did not shift the blame to a supposed sinful nature or because it was human to sin and that he cannot help sinning and everyone sins and makes mistakes.  He was completely honest with God, for he did not try to hide his sins when Nathan confronted him.  Likewise, he did not go on pretending as if God did not care.  He simply knew he needed to humbly confess his sins before God with a contrite and broken heart and thus repent of his sins, because he had sinned against God, and his heart was aching for a thorough purging (Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin”).

  • Confession of Sin:  Sin against God
 "3 For I know my transgressions; And my sin is ever before me.  4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, And done that which is evil in thy sight; That thou mayest be justified when thou speakest, And be clear when thou judgest."

In verses 3-4, David describes the heavyweight of guilt he had been carrying for some time.  And though he had tried to keep his sins out of his mind, they still lingered, accusing him of the wickedness and lawlessness of his soul.  He is conscious of the evil that had filled his soul.  He failed to see his transgressions in the light of God's Truth.  David said,

“For I know my transgressions; And my sin is ever before me.”  

David is openly declaring the guilt and the great pain people have to deal with themselves when they have committed grievous sins, transgressions, and iniquities.  Indeed, David knew a guilty and convicting conscience that would not let him go. It had caused him to crash down into a wretched state of misery in his soul.  He knew what he should have done with what he did.  His sins pointed at him with a judgmental finger.  O how horrible is the mass of sin that will not stop, be erased, dismissed, or hidden!  It will keep you awake at night unless God's forgiveness can remove it!  I can only imagine David's turmoil, the sleepless nights, and miserable days he had to endure as he continually tried to cover up his sins, transgressions, and inequities.  His sins were always accusing him.  He knew he had sinned against His Lord to Whom he had professed his steadfast love.  He knew well that when he sinned, he was showing his rebellion in the very face of God.  Does that sound familiar? Every time we sin, we need to make things right with those we have sinned against, but especially before our Father in heaven!  Isn't that the breach that must be healed at all costs?  Isn't that what our God wants from us, a deep cleansing, purging, and discipline of our inner heart?

But of course, all this demands poverty of spirit, a surrender of the soul, and brokenness of heart with a lot of humility before God the Creator of all.  Like David, we cannot be in denial about our sins or what we have done against God but realize and accept the gravity of our sins when we consciously know that we have violated God's Law, thus sinning against Him.  You see, sin not only hurts us, but it also hurts others.  Sins have grave consequences, for our actions are violations of God’s will and are worthy of God's wrath.  Any punishments given by our merciful and righteous God are just, fair and blameless, for punishment is due to us.  David recognized that the charges against him were right and fair and worthy of punishment, for he had violated the very character of God as expressed in His laws.

God is not interested in empty apologies, rationalizations, explanations, or excuses to justify sin.  We cannot fool God, even though we might fool ourselves and others for a while.  We must recognize and accept that God demands truth, honesty, and integrity of heart.  Our spirit within us must be crushed with guilt, genuine and deep sorrow for our rebellions and sins against God, and resolve humbly to repent with a contrite and broken heart that does not seek to rationalize, explain, excuse, defend and justify our rebellions or sins against our God.  We must not blame our circumstances or others or even God for our own failures, rebellions, or sinsRemember what Adam said to God when he was caught in sin?  He said, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” (Genesis 3:12).  Eve pointed to the serpent and said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Gen. 3:13).  You see, Adam blamed God and Eve blamed the serpent.  Indeed, a contrite and broken heart will admit that sin is a spiritual crime and a violation of God's laws, an offense against all that is holy, godly, upright, and righteous; a rebellion, disobedience, and stubbornness of heart.  Our sins will find us out!  Thus, we must regard our sins, iniquities, and transgressions with a contrite heart.  Our God will not accept empty apologies, cheap promises, or resolutions, which are simply justifications for evil. He desires a broken and contrite heart because it is the most genuine and truthful sacrifice.

David's confession of sin has two sides:
  1. First, David confesses to himself. He recognizes his sins and does not try to escape or forget about them.  His sins were always before him, accusing him and taunting him.
  2. He confessed to God, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, And done that which is evil in thy sight.”  David admitted to the guilt of his sin as a confession of God's Truth and righteousness when judging him for his sins.  David did not plead for indulgence or leniency, claiming that God was too harsh or too hard on him.  He did not appeal for a light sentence.  He simply admitted, “I am wrong, and you are right!”  
A genuine confession demands a right evaluation of sin, the right attitude of heart and right conduct concerning sin, a forsaking, and resignation of sin.  Though David experienced God's mercy and compassion, there is something even better for Christians. There is forgiveness, justification, and salvation through Christ, who came into the world to save sinners.

David admitted that God is perfectly righteous in all His judgments on him and mankind.

“That thou mayest be justified when thou speakest, And be clear when thou judgest.” 

David had seen God's indignation in the words of the prophet Nathan.  Nathan's words were like sparks of fire in his heart as he recognized God's righteous and fair judgments, His just condemnation for what he had done.  By a righteous and holy God, his sins had been judged.  Paul quoted Romans 3:4 in his description of the Jews' lawlessness and sinfulness from the Old Testament saying, That thou mightest be justified in thy words, And mightest prevail when thou comest into judgment.”

  • Surrounded by Sin:
“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity; And in sin did my mother conceive me.  6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts; And in the hidden part thou wilt make me to know wisdom. 7 Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean:  Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity; And in sin did my mother conceive me.” 

Many commentators and scholars have badly abused this verse to defend the doctrine of total depravity, the sinful nature or original sin.  They force this verse to say something that David never said.  Take heed. David expresses his feelings of guilt by what is called “hyperbole,” an overstatement or exaggeration. It is a literary device to communicate the emotions of his heart to God. Psalms are poetry, and David is a master craftsman with words. David is not trying to make a theological point in the middle of his prayer for God's mercy.  David is not approving or teaching original sin, for if he were teaching “original sin,” he was blaming his mother or, ultimately, Adam.  On the contrary, David powerfully admitted to his sins when he said earlier in verse 4, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, And done that which is evil in thy sight.” 

Verse 5 is a favorite verse of many false teachers to defend the erroneous doctrine of original sin, total depravity, and inherited sin.  When one reads this entire Psalm, he will find that there is no evidence at all of any "original sin."   It does not say, “I was brought forth in iniquity inside me.”  They refuse to acknowledge that this verse implies that David was brought forth or was born into a world of wickedness, sin (lawlessness).  It is figurative language (hyperbole, overstatement) to emphasize the intensity of his sins by saying, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me,” he is speaking of the prevalence of sin in the world.  He is speaking widely of the iniquities (verse 2) and sins of David, his repentance, and his desire to obtain pardon, forgiveness from God (verse 9).

As we read the first three verses of this Psalm, we notice that David is stating that he had sinned against God and is overwhelmed with godly sorrow by the magnitude of what he had done.  He confesses that everything that he had done in his life had been infected and affected by evil. Instead, in a hyperbolic expression, he acknowledges the sinfulness or lawlessness of his own life and everything around him that was surrounded by sin. Because of this, David admits that he was in need of God's mercy, unfailing love, and compassion.

“6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts; And in the hidden part thou wilt make me to know wisdom.”

In verse 6, David concludes by acknowledging that God desires “truth” in the secret recesses and depths of the soul, for it is the hidden part of our souls and heart the part that only God sees and judges.  God wants us to know and do what is right, devoting ourselves only to Him.  As we seek to do this and have this kind of heart, God will compassionately help and strengthen us by granting us wisdom, discernment, and fear or reverence toward Him. It is the inner person that must be converted, transformed, cleansed, and disciplined.  Our actions flow from this inner person, from our heart of hearts.
  • Appeal For Cleansing or Purging:
“7 Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean:  Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

David knew that cleansing or purging from the guilt of sin was necessary, so he sought it.  He begs God saying, “Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean.”  In some translations, the word “purge” is used.  The word “purge” or “purify” means to free one from (the effects of) sin.  The word for “purify” comes from a root word for “sin” and conveys the idea of being “de-sin-atized.”  David wants God to undo or remove what he had done, his sins, actions, guilt, and stain.  In the Old Testament, when a leaper was healed of leprosy, he would have to go through a ritual cleansing in which the plant hyssop was used (Ex. 12:22; Lev. 14:4; Num 19:6).  Water or blood was sprinkled upon the unclean person during the ritual cleansing or purification by the priest.  In this Psalm, David petitions God to be his priest and remove all the filth of sin from him.  He wants to be so purged, purified that he wants his soul to be whiter than “snow,” the purest whiteness one could envision.  When God cleanses us, He washes us from all sin, to be “whiter than snow.”  It is beautiful beyond words!!

You see, sin brings a sense of dirtiness, filth, and a feeling of pollution that it is impossible to remove unless God removes it.  David demonstrated this concept by using different terms, figures, and comparisons to illustrate the depth of his brokenness, contrition, humiliation, and the sincerity of his repentance, his sin, and the blemish or stain of his heart.  He begs God to put together the broken pieces to be fashioned and molded into a new man with God's divine grace.  In a few words, David is asking God for a restoration of divine fellowship, for he found himself unclean and wanted no longer to be considered unclean by God.  Don't we all wish to commune with God? Do we not all want to be found clean without any stain or blemish?

“8 Make me to hear joy and gladness, That the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.9 Hide thy face from my sins, And blot out all mine iniquities.  10 Create in me a clean heart, O God;And renew a right spirit within me.”
  • Spiritual Drought:
“8 Make me to hear joy and gladness, That the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.”

Since David had experienced spiritual drought, he longs for the joy and gladness of heart that only our God can provide.  David's joy had gone out of his life, and only God could restore it.  In David's heartfelt prayer, he longs to have the joy of fellowship with His God and be restored to Him once again.  Isn't it something how sin causes misery while pardon offers healing, restoration, joy, and salvation through redemption!!  God's forgiveness brings reconciliation, peace, and the remedy to the troubled conscience.  Joy and gladness replace the grief and sorrow of the heart through God's cleansing process and redemption.  Only God can make us sing and rejoice once again through forgiveness.

“That the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.” 

Here, David acknowledges God's judgment of his sin, which had shaken him so much that it was as if all his bones were broken.  In this verse, the word “bones” refers to the totality of his being.  The “crushing of his bones” is a figurative way of describing David's utter devastation.  He was affected mentally, physically, and socially.  Indeed, David's sins had devastated his body, his mind, and spirit.  So, David wanted his entire being to be restored to serve His God faithfully, with joy and gladness.

“9 Hide thy face from my sins, And blot out all mine iniquities.”

David continues his plea, for he knew that nothing was more meaningful to him than to have God's face turn away from his sins and never behold them again.  So, he asks God to erase his transgressions and rebellions out of the divine book of accountability and give him a new heart, for sin separates us from God (Is. 59:1-2).  Sin has to go!  We cannot experience God's goodness and cleansing and know the joy of His salvation when we indulge ourselves in sin.  God has the remedy for cleansing our soul: the blood of Jesus His Son, which cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).  But we must accept His terms of redemption or salvation.

“10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; And renew a right spirit within me.”

O how I love this verse!  It is the most beautiful and most magnificent request from the mouth of David, and it must be ours as well.  Verse 10 is the focal theme of this Psalm.  It comes from David's heart, for he was in desperate need of God's remedy for his sins.  Only through God's forgiveness can we have a “clean heart” and "a right (steadfast) spirit."  David is seeking restoration and renewal.  He wants full purification from his sins so that he no longer be considered unclean by God.

In Hebrews 9:14, we read,
“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” 
Forgiveness lifts a heavy burden from our heart because it cleanses and restores us to a state of purity, which results in unspeakable joy.  God's grace can transform our hearts into pure hearts like gold that is completely free from impurities.

V.   “CAST ME NOT AWAY”  (51:11)

“Cast me not away from thy presence; And take not thy Holy Spirit from me.”

Verse 11 powerfully points out David's concern and fear since he understands that his sins have made a separation between him and God.  He does not want that in his life, for he wants to remain in fellowship with God rather than be cast away because of his iniquities, rebellions, and sins. He desperately seeks God's goodness and grace toward him to remain in fellowship with Him.  David had been living outside of God's fellowship because of his sins.  So, he begs God to receive him back and wash away his sin to be whiter than snow, for he is carrying a guilty conscience and bloodstained hands that only a merciful and gracious God can wash and cleanse.  God's presence was once the center of David's life.  David recognized that only the upright in heart can see God's face (Psalm 11:7).  Only the righteous and upright will be admitted into His presence forever (Ps. 41:12).  Remember that David had seen king Saul wrestle with the torment of an evil spirit.  When God removed His Spirit from Saul because of the evil he had committed (1 Sam. 16:13-14), an evil spirit took His place.


“12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation;  And uphold me with a willing spirit.”

David now pleads for spiritual restorationHe wants to hear joy and gladness once again.  There is no joy in sinThere is great joy in forgiveness, restoration, purification, cleansing, and reconciliation.   David pleads with God that He restore the joy of salvationIsn't it something how David's transgressions, iniquities, and sins have taught him a significant and life-changing lesson!!  He realized that sin destroys our relationship with God, and only through His mercy and lovingkindness can we be restored back to Him.  David recognizes that he needs a change of heart and not just to be made clean, for he wants to purge his heart of all lawlessness and evil desires to serve and devote himself to God.  He wants all the impurities of his heart removed from him.  He knew that his spirit (heart) was not right with God and thus needed to be renewed.  The concept of spiritual renewal is not merely an old covenant idea in the Old Testament.  Remember what Paul told Titus.
 “But when the kindness of God our Saviour, and his love toward man, appeared, 5 not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 which he poured out upon us richly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour.”  (Titus 3:4-6)

Our sins have corrupted our spirits or hearts.  We have allowed lawlessness and evil to dwell in our minds and hearts, making a home of their own.  But thanks to God's lovingkindness and mercy (grace), we can be renewed by God when we seek Him.  God's mercy, lovingkindness is only offered through His Son and Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ who has saved us according to His mercy through the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit and not by own our actionsBaptism is the washing of our sins (Acts 22:16) and the renewal of our spirits (made clean).  Paul's words are paralleled with Peter's on the day of Pentecost when he told the crowd, “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).  A clean conscience produces joy.  The forgiven person can have peace because of his renewed oneness with God and His Truth.  So, the washing of regeneration is to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.  The gift of the Holy Spirit is the renewal of the spirit as we receive a clear conscience.

Today a “willing spirit” is the person who will allow the Gospel to renew and regenerate him through obedience to the Gospel, which includes baptism for the remission of sins.  The Gospel provides a new beginning for the new man who walks in righteousness and in fellowship with God.

VII.  GOD'S DESIRE FOR MAN:  (51:13-17)
"13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; And sinners shall be converted unto thee.  14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation; And my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.  15 O Lord, open thou my lips; And my mouth shall show forth thy praise.  16 For thou delightest not in sacrifice; else would I give it:  Thou hast no pleasure in burnt-offering.  17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit:  A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."
  • "I Will Teach Transgressors"

13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; And sinners shall be converted unto thee.”

Verse 13 calls on us to teach others about God's ways, mercy, and what He has done for us.  We must show others that we were sinners once mired in sins, but God in His mercy made a sacrifice for our sins so that we might be made anew and restored to a relationship with Him.  So, we must continue speaking of God's mercy and of His Gospel Message to others who are walking in sin and darkness.  Christians who are grateful to God for His mercy, forgiveness, and the healing of sins must speak of His grace and not be silent.  Evangelism must take place after restoration, forgiveness, and the return of joy.  We, the redeemed, must motivate others to seek and find God, and we must pray to Him to find them.  David's final request in his prayer was followed by a commitment to undo the damage as much as he could and to promote God's glory on earth by teaching others to turn from their sins, transgressions, and rebellions so that they have a relationship with God.  His earnest desire was that others would see his light shining in the midst of so much darkness.  He wanted others to see his life as a living sermon for converting or turning others to God from sin unto salvation.  David's primary concern was to teach sinners about God's ways.  Sinners must be confronted, taught, and challenged with God's everlasting Truth.  Of course, sinners must choose with the right heart.

Revival leads to evangelism.  Recommitment comes before personal work, for one must make sure that he has been restored before he can be used as an instrument of righteousness to restore the souls of others.  Those who have tasted of God's salvation will freely do the works of God.  So is it righteous to keep silent about such a great gift and refuse to share with sinners the good news of God's unfailing love?!  Let this sink deeply into your hearts!!

  • “Sing Praises”  (51:14-15)
“Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation; And my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.  15 O Lord, open thou my lips; And my mouth shall show forth thy praise.”
With David's conscience heavily burdened by the guilt of murder, he begs God to forgive him of “bloodguiltiness.”  He pleads with God to rid him of such guilt.  He acknowledges what the Law of Moses could not do, but what the God of his salvation could do.  David resolved to sing the praises of God's righteousness with his tongue, for it is hard to present acceptable worship to God without forgiveness of sins.  The God of righteousness cannot ignore sin, but in His lovingkindness, He will forgive it.  David saw God's goodness and righteousness through Nathan's rebuke of his sin.  Therefore, David wants to see God's righteousness revealed in God's forgiveness, which He promised His people.  David's heart longs for God's deliverance from the punishment and guilt of his sin.  One cannot sing of redemption unless he has experienced it.  A grateful heart that has been forgiven produces a loving adoration of God.  Therefore, we, the redeemed, must have tongues that sing aloud of God's righteousness and what He has done for us.  We must sing praises to God because of His great righteousness.  We must sing and continue to sing praises to Him.
  • "A Broken And Contrite Heart"   (51:16-17)
“For thou delightest not in sacrifice; else would I give it:  Thou hast no pleasure in burnt-offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit:  A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”
This is the very essence of what God wants.  God wants our hearts and not our sacrifices. That is, He wants our heart to be right more than He wants our sacrifices.  He wants contrite and sincere hearts that will listen to Him.  An honest heart seeks His approval, for he wants to do His will.   Such a heart is willing to surrender to God's will in full obedience. Such a heart will stay with God no matter what because he is willing to endure with faithfulness and determination.  Our worship to God is useless if our hearts are not broken over our short-comings, desiring to do right and be devoted to Him.  Our good works and our service to God are meaningless if we do not have a broken and contrite heart toward God.  All that we do in word and deed must come from the love of our hearts. Otherwise, it will be despised.  God will only delight in our worship when our heart is humble and devoted to Him.  Even under the Law of Moses, God demanded sacrifices that rise from hearts that were righteous and obedient to Him.  

God wants a broken and contrite spirit.  He will welcome it and rejoice over it.  A man whose heart is broken surrenders and accepts responsibility for his sins. Such a heart destroys his strong will and allows God to rule in his heart.  It does not allow his heart to become calloused by sinA broken heart admits the errors and sins and is sorrowful, desiring to make changes and move forward in a true relationship with God.  A broken heart does not allow guilt to eat him away but longs to do God's will. It is Satan who wants to paralyze us by guilt and make us give up the only hope of restoration to a relationship with God.  The broken heart accepts accountability for the guilt of his sins, for it has godly sorrow.  A contrite heart is poor in spirit and is fully aware of its need for God's approval.  A broken heart submits to God and His rule, walking the straight path of righteousnessTherefore, our hearts must break with sorrow for our sins to receive forgiveness.  God will respond to our brokenness with grace when we humbly confess our sins and surrender to Him and His will.  A contrite heart accepts that change must happen, deep repentance, to dwell with God.  He wants to obey God's laws. God will only give salvation and grace to the brokenhearted and poor in spirit.

VIII.  “DO GOOD UNTO ZION”  (51:19-19)
“Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion:  Build thou the walls of Jerusalem.  19 Then wilt thou delight in the sacrifices of righteousness, In burnt-offering and whole burnt-offering:  Then will they offer bullocks upon thine altar.”

David closes this beautiful Psalm with a separate appeal to the nation of Israel and the city of Zion.  In verse 18, David pleads for the nation and their needs.  He asks God to bless Zion.  The Mount called “Zion” was the place where the Ark of the Covenant rested.  It represented God's presence among His people and the nations.  David asks God to bless the Ark's sacred place and for Him to rest His goodness upon the glorious city of Jerusalem.  The city needed God's protection and oversight, for His worship and work must continue in it and through it.

Verse 19 shows a well-fortified and prospering city.  With the walls secured and protected, God's people could devote themselves to offering the sacrifices that God commanded.  It will give them a proper place of worship.  “Burnt offering” means an ascending to God.  “Whole burnt offering” means a complete sacrifice.  These two words combine poetically to convey the sum of the offerings that were to be made.  Sacrifices that were to be offered by willing and grateful hearts who would then offer praise and delight to God. This Psalm begins with an appeal for restoration and ends with an affirmation of worship and praise.  It starts with the truth of a sinful man and ends with a forgiven and renewed man and nation.  A man who has been delivered from the darkest depths of his sins through truthful and genuine repentance through God's marvelous grace to a shining life that dwells anew on the mountaintop of God's presence, glory, power, and praise.


Again I say, studies of the Bible such as this one have been very fruitful for me as it deepens my understanding of God's Truth.  A Truth that illuminates my path in life and helps me shine my light along the way that I may not trip, fall, and be easily deceived.   When we follow the light of God's Truth, that Light will show our path. When we turn off that light (before we have actually arrived at our destination), we run the risk of walking in the dark and being misled.  Therefore, we must keep God’s light shining brightly ahead of us to avoid deception.

Psalm 51 and the song “Healing In Its Wings” motivated me to do this study.   The song is based on David's 51st Psalm sung by a broken heart. We who know that we have sinned and find healing through our Lord Jesus Christ feel a special bond with David:
"Oh, Father, I do sin, and my heart breaks deep within. So often do I fall, yet You reach out again, lifting my burden that is more than I can ever bear. Oh, may I ever strive to live pure in Your sight, filled with Your goodness, free to glorify and honor You." 

Psalm 51 is the prayer that David lifted to God after the prophet Nathan confronted him with his adultery.  This is one of the most moving and powerful Psalms ever written.  In this Psalm, we see a broken man because of his sins and thus is pleading to God for forgiveness.  It presents to us a great insight into David's spiritual recovery from a place of denial, arrogance, and callousness toward God's laws.  David recognized that God's revealed character is one of love and compassion.  God has revealed Himself as the compassionate and gracious God who forgives sin.  David called upon God based on His merciful character and unfailing love (lovingkindness) toward those who fear Him and do His will.  Anyone who has ever felt the weight and the guilt of sin and the need for God's forgiveness can identify well with this Psalm.  What other pleas can a sinner make before an almighty and righteous God?

Psalm 51 is unique for several reasons.  We see the darkest picture of sin.  There can be no more tragic circumstances than the ones we see here.  Sins have piled up, one on top of another, creating an enormous mountain of wickedness.  It was so big and evil that it tested the strength of God's grace.  We also see a shameful picture of adultery, lying, murder, denial of guilt, and other sins to the point of consciously breaking half of the Ten Commandments It cannot get worse than that!!  So the question is, If God could forgive David, will He not forgive anyone?  Can He forgive our sins?  How far can our salvation reach?  Does it go all the way to the humble and contrite sinner?  Can it reach the hardened heart of rebellion?  Can God save the most wicked and lawless sinner?  Can God remove sin to take away all traces of guilt forever?  Can He forgive sin to never mention it again? Can God make sinners entirely just and righteous in His sight?  Yes!  According to this Psalm, God can and does.  Even the most wicked man can repent and receive forgivenessWhat a compassionate and loving God we serve!!

David had to be rebuked by God when He sent His prophet Nathan (2 Sam. 12:1-15).  According to His faithfulness, God gave David enough time to acknowledge his sin and examine what he had done, and to come to Him in full repentance.  Sadly, David, like so many, had closed his eyes to the evil he had committed and hardened his heart toward God.  You see, nine months had gone by, and it was time for David to face the Truth.  God sent Nathan to pierce David's heart with conviction and godly sorrow.  Nathan told the story that led David to conclude that his sin demanded punishmentNathan's story is one of the most impressive sermons!  Nathan's presentation portrays a rational understanding of rebellion and disobedience.  He speaks with smoothness and precision, and David cannot help but follow it to its conclusion.  But he found himself surrounded by a pronounced verdict.  The outcome was unavoidable.  So when David declared what must be done in this scenario of lawlessness, he looked up to see Nathan's finger pointing at his heart with the prophet announcing, “You are the man!”  God's heavy hand of Truth had fallen on David, so he had no place to hide or turn to but to repentance.  He had two choices to make:  harden his heart or humbly repent.  So David said, "I have sinned against the Lord" (2 Sam. 12:13a).  For a long time, he had tried to hide his sin. He had lied, had committed murder, but he could not escape this powerful sermon preached by Nathan.  Full repentance requires hearing, understanding, judgment, personal application, and turning.

The guilt of sin weighs heavily on the heart, soul, and mind of man.  Some sins bring a heavier weight to the soul than others.  It is a deep pain that almost everyone has felt in his life as he tries to serve God faithfully.  In Psalm 51, David expresses his deep sorrow and his tortured conscience because of his actions.  He teaches us how we ought to deal with our sins.  David acknowledged his sins and his deep need for forgiveness.  His plea is based on God's mercy, unfailing love, and compassion.  He does not rely on self and his past service to God or how good he was as a king but instead with devastation and brokenness of heart and soul.  And though David had failed God through sin, God did not fail but continues with mercy, love, and compassion upon him and those who rely on Him.  David recognized his spiritual condition before an all-righteous God.  So he cries out to God for His mercy, for he has lived in the dark prison of guilt. He needed restoration and reconciliation from God to be whole again.  Without God, we are lost, lonely, hopeless, guilty and have no purpose in life.  God's restoration is forgiveness, a clean heart, fellowship with Him, joy, the recovery of godly influence, and most of all, a life that God approves.

Sin in our life is the transgression of God's will, rebellion against Him, and iniquity.   It is thoroughly evil from top to bottom.  It opposes all that God is, His purposes, His love, and His grace.  Sin is hopelessly corrupt, filthy, and contaminating.  It produces guilt, shame, and filthiness.  Sin is falsehood and is the antithesis of Truth.  It reduces man to a puppet in the hands of Satan and unrighteousness.  It crushes those who indulge in it.  It covers the soul with deep sadness, deep grief, and tormenting pain.  It separates man from God, His Savior, and the Holy Spirit.  The most feared thing is that it numbs the conscience since it hardens and blinds our understanding of that which is wholesome, righteous, and holy.  Sin enslaves us, piling on more and more sin until the soul is fully absorbed by it.  Only when sinners surrender to God with a broken or contrite heart can they be forgiven and cleansed by God's grace.  Thanks be to our merciful and loving God who can deliver us from His wrath through His Son Jesus our Lord and from the grave of sin and guilt!!  Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!!

Brokenness of sin accepts personal responsibility for what we have done.  Sinners must come to the point of having a broken heart over their sins with a heart that grieves for hurting God because of their transgressions.  Therefore, there must be a deep sorrow toward God for Him to respond to us with grace.  They must also resolve to yield to God's will, and turn from evil, to walk in newness of life to do righteousness.  For sinners to benefit from God's grace, they must accept and obey the terms of God's salvation.  When they accept God's terms of salvation, they can have a new heart, a new joy, and a renewed fellowship with Him.  This new life must then be lived according to God's righteous and holy standards.  The redeemed must then pass to others God's most magnificent gift of love.

There is no better picture of God's grace and what He can do with our sins when we confess them to Him than the one found in this beautiful Psalm.  God forgives, cleanses, blots out our sins.  God removes our sins and erases them from His record.  This is how God deals with our sins through the fulness of His redemption, the thoroughness of His cleansing.  When God forgives us, He justifies us (Romans 3:24).  This justification requires godly sorrow, a deep understanding of what our sins have done to God.  Godly sorrow, brokenness, declares, “my sins are first against God and second against men and finally against myself.”  Since God is righteous and holy, any sin is against Him.  My sins not only hurt God, but they also hurt others and, of course, myself.  My sins separate me from God and corrupt my relationship with those around me.  My sins cannot be excused, rationalized, or blamed on others or circumstances.  Since no one can forgive himself of sin's stain and guilt, God has to do it.  So we must approach Him on His own terms to find forgiveness or pardon.  Sin must be dealt with God's ways for true peace and reconciliation to happen.  It is then that we can sing again because of God's way of salvation.  We must face our sinfulness with brokenness and lay our sins at God's feet.  Remember, sin stands between God and us, between our joy, and our righteousness.  Nothing can remove our sins except God's grace, the precious blood of His Son.  Only when we bring our brokenness and transgression to God, do we find the forgiveness that our hearts are craving.

The kingdom of Christ is only for those who are “poor in spirit” so that they may be broken when they honestly confront the guilt of their sins. The poor in spirit accept and understand their spiritual poverty before God.  They seek and look to God for help and depend on Him, for they strip themselves of all self-sufficiency, self-security, and self-righteousness.  The poor in spirit, the broken, humbly accepts that he has sinned against His Lord and is not worthy to be His son and belong in His kingdom.  He is not proud or arrogant, thinking that God owes him something. The poor in spirit acknowledges his spiritual destitution, for he knows that he must be a beggar before God to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Kingdom citizens beg and do not boast or brag (John 15:5; 9:39-41).  God wants hearts that are broken, poor in spirit that accept their spiritual poverty.  The poor in spirit recognize and accept that their personal goodness is not enough to measure up to God's standards and goodness.  You see, this is a big problem with our people today, for they think they're good enough and don't see the need for God.  They refuse to accept that they are deep in sin and need to beg for God's mercy to save them.

Without brokenness and poverty of spirit, we can only endure one ruler.  Guess who?  ME  Why?  Because with this mindset, we deceive ourselves, believing that we must fight to preserve our own little kingdom of death rather than repent and follow Jesus, who must rule over us.  We refuse to be poor in spirit to belong to the kingdom of God.  We must empty ourselves to have the mind of Jesus.  Without understanding our grave sins, it will be impossible to have poverty of spirit, brokenness.  There won't be any grace for us until we are poor in spirit and broken because of our sins.  It will be impossible to grasp Christ's glory and His riches toward us until we understand our deadness, blindness, and brokenness due to sin.  In brokenness, we become aware of our sinfulness, for to have God's mercy and lovingkindness (grace), one must be broken for God to respond to our contrite heart with grace.  The poor in spirit have a deep sense of spiritual destitution and acknowledge their blindness before God, for they understand that "none are righteous" (Romans 3:10) and that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).  A failure to acknowledge our spiritual poverty and brokenness can only alienate us from God's grace and power to transform our lives of sin into righteousness.  God will only forgive the broken heart who understands his condition before Him.  A broken heart wants to repent and be forgiving to humbly serve and bless others who are also broken because of the guilt of sin. Thus we must empty ourselves that we might be filled with God's righteousness.  A broken heart recognizes its failures, is sorrowful, makes changes, and moves forward in his relationship with God.

The beautiful and moving phrase used by David in Psalm 51, "Create in me a clean heart, O God," reflects an earnest desire from a heart that is broken and serious about repentance, reconciliation and that wants to go to heaven.  This Psalm portrays the height of God's grace and the elements of true repentance (godly sorrow, brokenness).  But salvation is presented as conditional, for God's Word says that one must acknowledge his sin, turn away from it with godly sorrow, accept the responsibility for his sin and come to God for fellowship.  But there must be a full intent of returning to God so that He may run to meet us.  One must choose to repent and turn from all evil and lawlessness to walk in righteousness.  This moving Psalm gives hope to the sinner when he repents.  It is the picture of the prodigal son in Luke 15 where we can see a parade of full repentance, grace, complete forgiveness, full restoration from the depths of sin, and the indescribable hope that is in God for the hopeless.  As one reads David's pleadings, we can notice the deepest and darkest valley of tragedy to the highest mountain tops of God's character and grace.  Can you not rejoice in the goodness of God when you read this Psalm?!

So, will you come to Jesus our Lord with a broken and contrite heart, confessing your sins so that He can cleanse your heart?  Will you allow Jesus to transform your life? Will you be willing to experience the only salvation that He and only He can provide?  Why not turn to God for refuge?  Why not refuse the urge to self-sufficiency and independence, for you need a Savior to save you from your broken life?!  Why not find God after failure and receive salvation and grace?  Don't let Satan immobilize you because of your guilt, for he wants you to give up restoring your relationship with God.  Remember that God can blot out your transgressions and continue His unfailing love toward you and me only when we confess our sins to Him with complete brokenness and poverty of spirit.

 May we have brokenness of heart, sincere repentance, sorrow over sin, and a heartfelt appeal to God for His grace and lovingkindness.  May we have humility of heart instead of a prideful and haughty spirit who boasts in self-sufficiency and self-reliance so that we may yield to God's will.  May we have a humble heart that heeds the need for God's mercy, God's forgiveness, and grace, for sin is a weightier burden on the soul.  May we have a spirit of brokenness that weeps bitterly over our sins and repent before God, for such a spirit recognizes his spiritual poverty before His Creator.  May we have a spirit of brokenness and heed the need for righteousness and obedience.  May we stand before God without any pretense and strip ourselves of all self-sufficiency, self-security, and self-righteousness, for the broken and poor in spirit, will humbly admit that he has sinned against His Lord and thus is not worthy to be God's son in His kingdom.  May all men have a poor spirit that begs for God's mercy, and may they understand their spiritual poverty to be justified by God, for no man can enter heaven without brokenness of heart and a poor spirit.  May all people know the depth of their sins and the need for a Savior to rescue them from their poverty of spirit, for only the poor in spirit will allow Jesus our Lord to rule their hearts. May God create a clean and pure heart within us through forgiveness and by defining and directing us to what is pure, for the brokenhearted seeks to be pure in heart and does not question the efficacy of God's Law and does not argue with implications toward him.  May we all acknowledge our sin and guilty conscience and allow God to heal us with the remedy that He freely offers, the restoration of our soul so that we can have a relationship with Him.  May we have a heart of honesty that eagerly wants to listen to God's Word, a heart that will obey with all humility, for such a spirit leads to brokenness and contrition.  And finally, may we have a heart that desires purity, a willingness to surrender, and a steadfastness that endures, for a faithful soul stays with God no matter what.


“Healing In Its Wings”
By Glenda B. Schales

Oh, Father, I do sin, and my heart breaks deep within.
For You have sought me, 
Yet I turn away from all your loving care.
So often do I fall, yet You reach out again,
Lifting my burden that is more than I can ever bear.

Through Your beloved Son, there is grace so undeserved.
How can I ever 
Sin against the One Who makes my heart to sing?
So weak I need Your help, so to You I do turn.
Then light of morning rises up with healing in its wings.

Do not delay, O God. Oh be gracious and forgive,
In Your compassion, 
Through the Son, You gave in pain and selflessness.
Against You do I sin, yet through You do I live
Ever to please You, ever praising all Your righteousness.

My broken contrite heart is so worthless in my sight.
But You restore it,
Give it peace and joy to love and follow You.
Oh, may I ever strive to live pure in Your sight,
Filled with Your goodness, free to glorify and honor You.

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