Yesterday we read from the book of psalms where David prayed that the Lord creates for him a clean heart and a steadfast spirit. And we said that the reason for this prayer, was because he did not just want to simulate virtue or appear to do right before people. He wanted a genuine change of heart. That his morals and virtues may be founded in God. He wanted something we all wish we could have every time we mess up. A fresh start. A clean slate. And psalms 51:17 paints for us a picture of the heart that was making this request for a clean heart. David says that the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart. And God does not despise such a sacrifice. You see, the kind of prayer that David made in verse 10 is not made in a vacuum. Just because we have that provision from God as His children to ask for a clean slate does not mean that God is just sitting there waiting to dish out new hearts every time we mess up. Such a prayer needs to be accompanied by a genuine desire for change. By a conviction of the heart. By humble and penitent faith.
A prayer for penitence or forgiveness is an offering; a sacrifice of the broken heart and remorseful spirit. Such sacrifice requires more than the external sacrifice of simply giving up the old ways. It is not just a formality. David offered his broken heart and a fully penitent spirit first, and only then did he follow up with external acts of penance. Internal repentance always comes first. The spirit must first be emptied of all vainglory confidence. It must be brought to acknowledge that it is empty without God. The inner man, the mind, and the will must be transformed first. They must be humbled. They must be drawn into submission before God, before He can remake them. The heart must first become tender and pliable to the word of God.
The soul must accept to bear the burden of conscious guilt until it is broken. Until it is melted down and subdued under the sense of God’s displeasure. It must thirst for reconciliation with God. A broken heart mourns for its sinfulness. It does not seek to lessen its guilt. It acknowledges its sin. It calls it by its right name. It melts at the thought of the pardoning grace of the pierced and wounded savior. This is the kind of heart, the kind of sacrifice that the Lord says He does not reject. This is the kind of heart that mercy lifts up. The kind of heart that the Lord regards and accepts with pleasure. The kind that He binds up and mends. The kind of heart that He looks upon. The kind of hearts that the Lord looks to come and dwell among. This is the kind of heart, the kind of spirit that we should present before the Lord. He looks upon such hearts with favor. May we desire to have such hearts. To approach the Lord in our brokenness and bereft of our own self-importance that we may receive in full the joy and gladness of His salvation. That we may fall upon His tender mercies and grace knowing that He shall not turn us away. In Jesus’ mighty name.
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Pastor Lucy Paynter Daily Insights