Psalm 51:10-11 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
This Psalm is justly one of the most famous, not just from the words themselves but from the context in which it was written. It is actually significant that it was not only recorded, the circumstances were noted in the preface. Acknowledging sin and guilt was unheard of among rulers in the surrounding nations, but here David is demonstrating why God chose him. The whole Psalm is worthy of long and repeated meditation, but right now I’ll focus on this little snippet of it. First off, this Scripture list was chosen on the theme of God’s provision. Here David is acknowledging that a pure heart and a steadfast spirit can come from God alone. Many religions teach all sorts of “purification techniques” by which we are to “receive enlightenment.” Paul deals with those in his letter to the Colossians: “Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” (Colossians 2:23) The Bible is consistent throughout in saying that true power and holiness come only from God and only when we acknowledge that we can’t generate them on our own. The second half of this passage is notable for being the earliest use of the title, Holy Spirit. (There are only three in the whole Old Testament, and the other two are in Isaiah.) That’s easy to overlook when we are so familiar with the concept of the Trinity from New Testament usage, but it is quite remarkable that David was given this revelation, and under these circumstances no less. It was when he confronted his own unholiness that David was able to see how holy God is.
I have never stolen another person’s wife, much less had that person killed, but that doesn’t make me a better person than David was. I am certainly as much in need of God’s Holy Spirit as anyone, and I am deeply grateful that He is available to me. It was in 1974 that I opened up to allow Him to fill me, but I certainly can’t say that I’ve never quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:19) or grieved (Ephesians 4:30) Him since. I keep getting my heart dirty in various ways, and on my own, my spirit is about as steadfast as a toothpick in a tornado. I need a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit practically at every turn. One of God’s greatest blessings to me is in making me aware of how totally dependent I am on His grace. On my own I screw up, period, and as Jesus said, apart from Him I can do nothing. (John 15:5) This Psalm, and more importantly, the attitude behind it, needs to be part of me indeed.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for Your totally amazing grace. Help me be an accurate conduit and reflection of that grace, so that others too may receive it, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!