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.
Psalm 51 is unique in several ways. In the first place it is the public record of a very horrendous sin, as detailed in 2 Samuel 11. It is highly unusual in the literature of the time to find negative things recorded about famous leaders. (Some things recorded seem horrible to us, but to them they were boasting.) On top of that, this is the personal repentance of the guilty party, which he himself allowed to be included in the public record. That takes both courage and humility. David had courage from a young age, but humility grew over the years. Even from his youth he realized that it was God who enabled him to overcome ferocious enemies, but humility was not always in evidence. Here he is brought down to zero, and acknowledges that God alone is holy and pure. From that position he makes this request. Recognizing that his heart is not pure, he asks God to make a new one for him. He remembers, accurately enough, that in the past his spirit had been pretty unshakable, so he asks God to renew that since he is certainly shaken as he writes. He then makes his most fundamental request, to be allowed fellowship with God by the Holy Spirit. Having written so many anointed Psalms, it is clear that David was quite familiar with the Holy Spirit, and knew what it was to just rest in God’s presence. That was something he certainly didn’t want to lose. This Psalm teaches us a lot about who David was, and how we also need to repent when the Holy Spirit shines light on our sins.
My life-shaking moment of repentance wasn’t over adultery and murder, but it was no less life-changing. I have gone back to it time and time again in my mind and heart, recognizing my ability to deceive myself and seeking God’s guidance and protection to keep me from that. As I deal with others as a pastor, no sin really shocks me, though it does sadden me. I realize that God’s grace is not only big enough for me, it’s big enough for them, too. I seek to help people understand that God is stronger than their weakness, so He can cleanse and use them whatever they have done with themselves up to this point. God can indeed create a pure heart where there was none before! This is in no way to excuse sin or to allow people to wallow in it. Paul dealt with that lie in Romans 6:1-4. I am to call a spade a spade and not run from confrontation, but I must do so in love, knowing to the depths of my being that I am as much in need of the grace of God as anyone.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Every last one of us is a story of redemption, of Your taking someone who had no right to live and making them alive through Your Son. May I be an effective carrier of that glorious Gospel to more and more people, for a lasting harvest in Your kingdom and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!