This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2020 Bible Reading Calendar.
The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God. ~ Psalm 51:17
David wrote Psalm 51 after one of the darkest moments of his life. The good king, the king who had been so faithful to God, the king who had won many battles and led God’s people to greatness–the king “after God’s own heart,” had committed a terrible sin. And that is an understatement.
He had an affair with another man’s wife and when she became pregnant, he tried to conceal first by manipulating the man, Uriah, and when that failed, he had Uriah purposefully killed in battle. King David murdered another man to conceal his own infidelity.
It was only after the prophet Nathan confronted him and spoke God’s judgement against David’s sin, that the king realized the error of his way. His power, it seems, blinded him to the obvious.
What followed, however, was a heart of true repentance. Such does not negate the heinousness of David’s crimes, and David still suffered loss because of it, but he also found the grace of God’s forgiveness.
So, what did repentance look like for David as a model for us?
First, he humbly called out for God’s compassion, and in doing so he confessed his sin against God. David realized that he stood guilty before God, more than before any other court. He needed grace and forgiveness, and God is the author of such. We find our grace and forgiveness through Jesus. He is the one who wipes away the eternal guilt of our sin. That does not mean we won’t suffer societal or physical consequences still for our sin, but the guilt that separated us from eternal life is removed.
Second, he asked for God to cleanse him. The stain of sin was great, but God could renew and restore his heart. So it is, again, in Christ that we receive a new heart and a new spirit. Our hearts of stone that once beat for the world and ourselves, become hearts of flesh that beat for God. Our spirit, once dead in trespasses and sins, becomes alive in Christ.
Third, he sought the joy that only God can give. Sin has momentary pleasures, a sense of happiness in the moment. But God alone is the source of unending happiness. This joy we find in God is not a happiness in things but a happiness in a person–in God himself and second to that the good things that he gives. If we have Jesus, then the happiest we feel today will pale compared to the eternal happiness we are promised; and the saddest we feel today will fade as a distant memory to the greater joy of forever.
Fourth, he vowed to tell of God’s goodness. Who are God’s people? What is the church? We are those who were broken in sin and now are being pieced back together by God. We are those who deserved eternal death but now have joyous forever-life by the undeserved goodness of God alone. We are those who have been lavished with grace, and this not because of anything we have done. So, what do we do? We seek to lavish others with grace as well. We want the to experience the goodness that we have experienced, so we tell them about God’s goodness, greatness, and love.
Repentance leads us not to shy away from our past but to see it through the lens of God’s grace and forgiveness, as we offer people great hope through Jesus.
All Scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.