A Heart of Repentance

Today’s Reading: Psalm 51 (SOAP: Ps. 51:17)

The sacrifice God desires is a humble spirit
O God, a humble and repentant heart you will not reject.

Psalm 51:17
After Bathsheba

Following David’s affair with Bathsheba he was confronted by Nathan, the prophet about his sin. This Psalm is David’s prayer of repentance sometime after the confrontation. David calls on the Lord’s loyal love and compassion. He acknowledges his awareness and sorrow for the sin and pleads for God’s forgiveness and cleansing, and the joy of God’s deliverance. He seeks God’s sustaining power of obedience and rescue from the guilt of murder. David lived in the time of burnt offerings and blood sacrifices but would have been well aware that there were none acceptable for murder or adultery. He was also aware of what we know today this side of the cross and of what Isaiah proclaimed long before the cross. God is not interested in the tangible sacrifices of bulls and goats, or of incense and rituals, but that of the heart, humbled and repentant and yielded to Him and His will.

A great example

This truly is a beautiful prayer, one we would do well to learn from and to use as a model for our own whenever we sin. Note David’s contrition and awe of God. David knows that he is not deserving of the mercy and forgiveness he requests from God but bases the request on God’s loyal love and great compassion. He knows that his actions have been rebellious and sinful and he knows that God is right to confront and condemn him. I love that he demonstrates not just sorrow for the sin but a longing to be right with God, to tell others of God’s mercy, and to lead them to God.

  • No amount of our good works or acts of services like serving in the nursery, singing in the choir, visiting the shut-ins, or attending every church event will ever be able to atone for our sins. What truly matters to God is our love and obedience.
  • We shouldn’t just go through the ‘religious acts ‘ with God but rather seek and invest in a relationship with Him.
  • We must keep in mind that what God desires and will not reject is a heart humbled and repentant (yielded) before Him.
prayer prompt

Father, You are a gracious and merciful God, willing to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. May we never forget that Your forgiveness comes at the great cost of Jesus’ blood. In remembering this – may we, as David, humble ourselves before You – offering not sacrifices of human hands but rather of our own repentant hearts – hearts that turn away from sin and toward You. – We ask not because we are worthy but because of Your faithful love and promises. Amen – in Jesus’ name.

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