In Psalm 51 we see King David’s repentant heart. This psalm was written in response to his sinfulness with Bathsheba (see 2 Samuel 11 & 12). We can see as we read through the psalm a template of how to repent. The word “repentance” on its own means a transformation of thinking or changing the direction you are going. In a spiritual sense it is about recognizing where you have gone wrong, stopping it, and turning back towards God. Unfortunately in today’s churches, sermons, books, podcasts, and any other medium by which you receive biblical teaching, repentance isn’t taught enough. It’s evident by the rampant sin we see amongst Christ’s body today. The idea of repentance scares us because it means we have to own up to what we have done wrong. Maybe we wouldn’t outwardly admit it but essentially we have to reveal to the world that we aren’t God. We aren’t perfect. We fail. Nobody likes to admit they are wrong. The devil knows this, so he keeps piling on the shame so we keep our sins secret and continue to secretly indulge them. But God knows, so we are only fooling ourselves into thinking everything is going to be ok.
David starts the psalm by asking God for grace, because it is only by grace that we can be saved from our sin. There is no sacrifice we can perform that ultimately will save us. There is no penance that we can perform to make God forgive us. There is no pact we can make…“God if you save me I’ll never do this again!”…that will convince God that this is the last time we will sin. It is only by the grace of God that we are restored and redeemed. By His grace we are cleansed and made whole again. Our humility (that is, admitting our sins to God) opens the door for us to receive this grace. Our pride (my sin isn’t THAT bad, what’s the big deal?) prevents us from receiving God’s grace and in fact is yet another sin towards God.
David then recognizes his own frailty and the glory of God before him. He realizes only God can restore him, if He wishes. He knows that God’s love and mercy is the only thing that can save Him. He also wants to be in a right relationship with God again because he knows it is the best relationship to have! Have you ever wronged someone and because that relationship is very important to you, felt really bad about it? You may have even said, “I will do anything to make it up to you!” This is the point David is at. He is pleading to God to restore him into a right relationship with the Lord knowing that only He can do it.
As a result David recognizes he will be able to praise, worship, and glorify God once more. He also recognizes that our physical being is but a byproduct of our heart condition. It isn’t about sacrifices or praise but how the heart interacts with the Lord. David knows his purpose in life and realizes that without God he cannot fulfill it. That’s how it is with you and me, friends. Our relationship with God not only helps us understand our purpose on this earth but also empowers us to live it out! Without God we are but dust from the ground.
By living out His purpose individually we will begin to realize His purpose globally: to establish His Kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. David was king of Israel at this point but realizes that by repenting and returning to God, He is playing his God given role in establishing the Kingdom. You have this same opportunity if you remain in right relationship with God.
So what is it you need to repent of today?