The Way Back (Psalm 51), Part XVII

For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Psalm 51:16-17

The fifty-first Psalm is one of my favorite Psalms and one of my favorite chapters in the Bible.  It is the song and prayer of David’s confession after his sins of adultery with Bathsheeba and subsequent murder of her husband, Uriah.  In my opinion, this chapter is the best example in the Bible of a prayer of a true penitent.  If we ever find ourselves having sinned, this is the chapter that shows us “the way back to God.”  We will take a couple of weeks and look at it verse by verse.

In verse 16, David tells us what God is not interested in, namely sacrifices and burnt offerings.  In verse 17, he tells us what God is interested in, namely a broken spirit and a contrite heart.  Those are things that the Lord “will not despise.”

When we sin, our heart attitude toward that sin will tell us which direction we are going to go.  If our sin leaves us with a broken spirit and a contrite heart, then we are on our way back to the Lord.  Sometimes that brokenness comes almost instantaneously, and sometimes it takes days, weeks or even years.  But, before we can find forgiveness and healing, we must come to ourselves and realize that we are sinning.  We must feel that brokenness.  David had that broken spirit and he had a contrite heart.  God wants us to understand that we have sinned against Him.  Anyone can “offer sacrifices.”  David could have offered a sacrifice without even feeling sorry for his sin.  But, as he understood, that would have been pointless.

God wants a broken spirit and a contrite heart.  When we sin, do we feel sorry?  Is our spirit broken?  Those are the things that God wants.

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