Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10, NIV).
Friend to Friend
When I was a child, I loved to help my mom carry groceries from the car into the house. I do not know what it was about the weekly process that was so enjoyable to me, but I remember it made me happy. One day I grabbed a gallon of milk that was too big for me to handle at the time. I remember the “You probably shouldn’t try that” look on my mom’s face. Just as I began to skip to the porch, proving my strength, the milk slipped from my hands onto the asphalt, breaking open and leaving a white trail. What a mess! And what a pit in my stomach.
David wrote Psalm 51 amid a mess, but it wasn’t a simple mistake of spilled milk. The subtitle of Psalm 51 in my Bible cuts to the heart of the matter before we can even read a word of the Psalm. It reads: “A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.” Yes, David, the king who had been anointed by God, messed up royally.
In 2 Samuel 11 & 12, we find the backstory of Psalm 51. In only two chapters, David is tempted, commits adultery, impregnates a woman, arranges for the murder of her husband to try to cover it up, and gets called out for it all. Enter Psalm 51. David pens a plea for mercy.
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.” (Psalm 51:1 NIV)
He continues his plea for mercy with a request for forgiveness. His agony and regret can be felt in every phrase of the psalm. When I recently read this passage, today’s key verse arrested me. “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10 NIV)
David had been called “a man after God’s own heart” when he was anointed king. He knew that it is only by God’s creation that his heart could be made pure. This was a new work that he couldn’t come up with on his own. He needed the Spirit of the living God and longed to be in God’s presence.
It’s easy to feel the pit in our stomach when we’ve turned the wrong way or chose what we shouldn’t have, but it’s harder to think that we can repair the holes in our hearts. I am so encouraged to know that we don’t have to try to do this ourselves! Our part is simply to align our hearts with the Lord. He is the One who will perform the heart fix we need. He is the One who renews and restores.
Psalm 51 is a beautiful song of confession to the Lord. Though temptation can trip us up and sin can weigh us down, God forever-forgiveness can set us free.
Today we can trust that the Lord is going to take our failures and short-comings and forget them, just as He did for David. Not only does He forget them, but He redeems them, giving our redeemed shortcomings a beautiful story. Pray Psalm 51 with me?
Have mercy on me, God. May Your unfailing love and compassion pour over me and cover my sin. Wash my transgressions away. I cannot stop thinking about what I have done. I’m so sorry that I have failed You, Lord. I need You to cleanse my heart; I know that Your forgiveness makes me as white as snow. I have been in such anguish over disappointing You, Lord, that I can’t wait to hear happiness once more. While my bones have been crushed, let me rejoice that You love me so much that You correct me. Hide my sin from Your face and forgive my iniquity.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
What part of your heart needs God’s healing hand? Pray the prayer above once more and after the word ”heart”, insert the word “of”, along with whatever struggle or mistake you are giving over to God. Maybe it’s a heart of bitterness, or a heart of unforgiveness, or a heart of ____________ (just fill in the blank.)
More from the Girlfriends
If you enjoyed this devotion, you’ll enjoy Rachel’s free Psalms Bible reading printable or “Praying the Psalms”, a 31 day Bible reading plan and journal digital download. Print it out, type in it on your device, or use the mark up feature on your tablet or iPad.
© 2020 by Rachel Wojo. All rights reserved.