The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
A Broken and Contrite Heart
Observations: Psalm 51 is probably one of the most famous psalms. According to the introduction, it was written by King David after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba. In it David confesses his sin and asks God to forgive him. It has some of the most profound statements in all of Scripture. For example, when we sin against others we are also sinning against God (v4), we are sinful even from conception (v5), and it is only God who is able to make us pure (v10). But the one that stood out for me today is the idea that God doesn’t delight in sacrifices and burnt offerings (v16), rather what God delights in is ‘a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart.’ That idea reminds us that the foundation of the law isn’t legalistic obedience, but an attitude of the heart. External obedience only matters if it flows from an attitude of true repentance and remorse at how our sins have hurt God. God says of his people, ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. (Isa 29:13, Jesus quotes this verse against the Pharisees, Mt 15:8; Mk 7:6)’ What we do and say only matters if our heart is in the right place.
Application: Where is your heart at? I’m not talking about how pure your heart is, we all sin, and we all struggle with temptation, rather do you recognize sin for what it is, an offence before God? Are you truly sorry for your sin, or just the consequences? Does sin break your heart and lead to true contrition and repentance? Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 5:3)’ How poor and broken is your Spirit, because it’s only as we know the truth about ourselves that we truly turn to Jesus in faith and are saved.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, my efforts to compensate for my failings won’t deal with my sin before You. Forgive me when I try and earn my salvation and Your acceptance. Instead, Lord, I cast myself on Your mercy and compassion. Lord, I put my faith in Jesus that my sins may be washed clean in His blood shed on the cross. Lord, fill me with Your Spirit, that I might be truly convicted of my sin and that my heart might be changed. Lord, break my heart when it comes to sin that it might be healed. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.