“I don’t want to tell you! I don’t want to tell you!”, my son exclaimed through tears. He had been a little grumpy since I picked him up from school, so I inquired if anything had happened in his day he needed to talk about. Apparently, he had been called out by his teacher during class and was feeling very guilty about it.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Psalm 51:1-3
Our sinful nature is always before us. It’s a constant wrestling match. A battle of the wills. Good vs. Evil. It gets tiring and overwhelming. It sneaks up on us. That’s why we sometimes fall. We make the wrong choice. We lose sight of our God for just a minute and chaos can ensue. As I studied Psalm 51 this week, I was reminded of David’s fall. The night he lost the wrestling match, called for Bathsheba, another man’s wife and threw himself at her. David wrote Psalm 51 after he committed adultery with Bathsheba, found she was pregnant and had her husband killed in battle.
He cries out to the Lord for forgiveness, mercy and compassion (v 1-2). He begs to be cleansed and for God to create in him a pure heart (v. 10-11). But, what really grabbed me were verses 16 and 17.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. Psalm 51:16-17
The only sacrifice God wants us to make are our broken spirit and our broken and contrite heart. When we are able to feel sorrow for our sins and show remorse for our shortcomings God rejoices. It’s in our weaknesses that God is able to do His best work. It’s fertile ground for Him to sow His seeds of love, patience, kindness. It’s in our broken and contrite hearts that He feels most welcome. Look at these other scriptures that reference God’s desire to dwell among the weak, broken and contrite!
Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the LORD. “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word. Isaiah 66:2
For this is what the high and exalted One says— he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. Isaiah 57:15
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
I encourage you to look up more references in your study time today. I pray these words from God penetrate our hearts and we are able to accept that our broken, contrite, hearts and flesh are something to be celebrated. For without it, our love for Christ and those around us would never mature.