Monday, February 27, 2023

            Psalm 51 is a passage of confession and contrition.  David wrote this Psalm after his ordeal with Bathsheba and conspiring to arrange the murder of her husband, Uriah.  Nathan confronted then King David about his sinful conduct and Psalm 51 was the king’s response.  When we read this chapter in the Bible, we discover the depth of David’s confession and sorrow before God.  We have a standard for what contrition and repentance look like still today.
            Psalm 51:17 says, “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”  Sorrow over sinful behavior looks and feels like a broken spirit.  This kind of sorrow brings a certain heaviness and weightiness to the soul.  It is almost like an elephant sitting on your chest.  We are not to be indifferent toward our sins or oblivious to them.  We are not to minimize them.  We are not to compare our behavior to someone else and try to persuade ourselves (or even God) to believe we really have not done anything terribly wrong—at least when compared to this person or that person.  We may persuade ourselves to believe that we are not as bad as we could be.  Comparative righteousness or guilt has no value.    
            Psalm 51 shows us how to feel about sin and how to acknowledge sin.  First, we are to feel a sense of brokenness.  We have broken fellowship with God and chosen our ways above His and a love for something else above a love for Him.  If we find that we are persisting in sin and pursuing an ongoing sinful lifestyle, habit or behavior, then we have to ask if we have ever come to know the Lord in the first place (Romans 6:1-2, 11-14).  We are not to be blind to sin and to convince ourselves that we can continue to sin because grace will bail us out.  Such a notion is unconverted thinking and a desire to have it both ways (or even, as Jesus said, to attempt to serve two masters).
            Second, we are to approach God in humble contrition and sorrow.  David wrote, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions” (Psalm 51:2).  David was asking God to blot out his sinfulness—to erase it, to remove it and to cancel it.  What David had once found to be so enticing and alluring had, at last, become disgusting and repulsive to him.  When we see our sinfulness against the backdrop of God’s holiness and righteousness, it does become repulsive to us as well.  We see the disobedience for what it is.  The satisfaction and energy we might once have felt have turned to emptiness, impotence and shame. 
            Third, we approach God with humility.  We set aside our pride to recognize that we have sinned against our Maker.  We have not just done the wrong thing.  We have sinned against the One who made us, loves us and gave His Son’s life for us.  Though we might sin against an institution, an organization or another person, all sin is really against the Lord.  David knew this.  “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge” (Psalm 51:4).  We have to see, with humility, that sin is not just a silly mistake in the moment or an inconvenient lapse in thought.  No, it is an act of trespass against the One who is the embodiment of love, purity and righteousness. 
            Take time to explore the depth of David’s words in Psalm 51.  His approach to confession is worth considering and practicing.  Confession can enrich our walk with the Lord and anchor us in a desire to live uprightly, blamelessly and righteously.  Verse 17 reminds us once again that God does not despise a broken and contrite heart.  Rather, He welcomes the humble, the broken and those who seek Him and His healing grace.  As we make our way through the Lenten season, may we recognize the depth of our sins and the power of the cross to heal and forgive.  And may our love for the Lord triumph over any affection we may have for the things and ways of sin.  Have a good Monday!  Remember you can worship and share our worship at    

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