Monday, March 26, 2007

the heart God wants

Psalm 51, the great penitential psalm attributed to David after his sin with Bathsheba, is rich in meaning for us. At such a great expense God worked much good out of this sin, giving us through David the gift of this psalm.

One needs to start at the beginning and work their way to the end. And like the monks and the Hebrews of old, we need to mouth these words to ourselves and God (even if in our minds), pondering their meaning as well as lifting them as prayer to God.

If we don't learn to be sensitive to our sin both in recognizing it, as well as in agreeing with God about it, then we need to ask God to give us that sensitivity. To be aware of our sins will help us to become aware of our salvation and of our Savior and Lord God, as we learn more and more to respond to this awareness in the ways David writes for us in this psalm.

To pick out one line as a favorite is like picking out one photo among the photos of wonderful scenes of creation. But one part I especially find compelling within the whole are these lines:

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
This is part of the heart that God wants from us his people. One that is not beating one's breast or back over and over, but one that is rightfully broken before God because of sin in one's life, be they "big" or "little" sins, accompanied by deep sorrow and repentance. This is the sacrifice that will make all other sacrifices acceptable and even delightful to God.

I find this more important for me as I go on through the years of seeking to follow Christ. What about you? What thoughts do you draw from this? Or thoughts you would share with us?


Allan R. Bevere said...


The awareness of our sin is critical. I spoke yesterday in my sermon on the courage we need to name our sins, in order to understand the serious nature of our sin that we might then know the need for our reprentance.

Too often, I think, we want to speak of our sin in vague terms in order that we might minimize their nature. In naming them, we call them for what they are and we put ourselves into holy light of God and that makes his purifying fire available to us.

andre said...

I love Psalm 51 - it captures the cry of the penitent heart.

Repentance is both a deliberate turning away from our sin but it is also a gift from God - not something we can manufacture on our own. May God give us the grace for repentance.

Ted Gossard said...

Allan, Thanks for those good words. I agree that we need to be as specific as possible before God and when appropriate before others. Confessing our sins means agreeing with God whose Word/Scripture does name them. We need to own something specific as wrong before God if we're going to receive forgiveness from God (1 John 1), I believe. Wish I could have been there to hear your message.

Ted Gossard said...

Andre, Good point. God's grace, and his enabling grace underlies all our penitence before him. We need God's amazing grace just to own the fact that we're lost and in sin. And God surely does give us that grace that teaches our hearts to fear, and grace our fears to be relieved in Jesus (such good words from John Newton, in "Amazing Grace"). Thanks.

Joe McBee said...


I am a 1st time reader of your blog, but have ejoyed it and will return often.

When I think of this Psalm, I think of what brought David to that place of repentance--a prophet named Nathan. To me, it is such a powerful scene as Nathan confronts his king in his sin; "You are the man!"

I think sometimes we have "downplayed" sin so much in our preaching and in our culture that when the Holy Spirit confronts us with "you are the man!" We find ways to explain away our sins.

Bottom line--we cannot know the freedom that comes from repentance without knowing the sorrow that comes with conviction.

Ted Gossard said...

Joe, Thanks for reading and commenting and for your generous word.

You make a great point. We need to dwell on the importance of knowing our sin and then owning it before God, of course by the convicting work of the Spirit. That means we need to not pass over our sin glibly or be in a hurry. David in writing this psalm certainly pondered and thought deeply in his agonizing over his sin.

It's not just an easy "write off" is what I think I'm getting at here. Though thank God we have free and full forgiveness through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Rachel Starr Thomson said...

When I wrote my book on the Lord's Prayer, I based the Deliver Us From Evil chapter on this growing awareness of sin and the desperation that ought to be attached to it. I remember sitting with some friends one night. Somebody made a mildly inappropriate joke, after which we all spent a while laughing at some of our society's most heinous sins. It struck me later that we'd been mocking God. I think David understood this better than most; he calls his own sin what it is: stinking, corrupt, a loathsome disease, a heavy burden (Psalm 38). Thanks for this post.

Ted Gossard said...

Rachel, Thanks for sharing that and for the excerpt!Good thoughts.

We need to see sin more and more for what it is, which means how God sees it, and really wants us to come and see it. We underestimate the importance of this I'm afraid, as God's people.

Ted Gossard said...

we too often underestimate it- not to make a sweeping indictment of us all. Though I certainly fit in all too well in that category.

Wayne Eddie Torr Leman said...

Ted, one thing that stands out to me is that God seems more concerned with what's going on with us internally that with what we display externally. Standard religion, including routinized Christianity, is largely a matter of externals. We seem to crave doing things that others or even God can notice. Sacrifice turned into something so often external, not what God originally intended for it.

Thanks for continuing to post from your, well, from your insides!


Ted Gossard said...

Wayne, Thanks, and thanks for your comment. Good thought.

If it's not from the heart it means nothing at all to God.

Ted Gossard said...

Ah, your the Wayne Leman of Better Bibles Blog!?!

I really appreciate the work you do in translating Scripture, as well as your passion to get it down in the heart language of the receptor/reader (as with the Cheyene translation you recently completed). You are a great blessing and we need more like you out there (so hopefully you can get others to follow, even if by just reading your work). Thanks!