Psalm 51 was written by David after the prophet Nathan confronted him about what he did to Uriah and Bathsheba. It is a song of repentance. In verses 16 and 17 he wrote, “You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”
If you track scripture you will see that David’s statements are true to who God is. Even Ahab, an awful king of Israel, repented at one point and God relented of destruction coming his way. When Samson repented, God restored his strength to take out the Philistines. In Matthew chapter nine, Jesus is confronting the Pharisees and quotes Hosea 6:6 when He said, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’”
We put a lot of emphasis and stock in doing good. Some religions teach that you won’t enter whatever their version of heaven is unless your good deeds outweigh your bad. Before any good deeds are done for God’s glory and Kingdom, He desires us to first have a broken spirit before him.
The word we use for that is repentance. Repentance is a word that means to turn away from. We probably all know that by now. However, actually repenting is challenging. First, we have to admit we are wrong. Not just say we are wrong, but truly believe we are wrong. We may sometimes say we are sorry to someone just to bring peace to a situation, even though we don’t think we were in the wrong. Not with repentance. Repentance before God is acknowledging that we are sinners and can’t achieve what God wants from us on our own.
What does repentance look like for you? When you sin does your heart break? When you sin, do you run to God, falling before Him, asking Him to grant you discipline and self-control so as to ward off temptation? James tells us that we are tempted when we give in to our evil desires.
David was forgiven of his sin. In fact, the Bible describes him as a “man after God’s own heart.” David would be the litmus test for all kings after him. But the difference between him and Saul, for example, is that David’s spirit was broken before God. And he wasn’t going to continue with his leadership of Israel until he acknowledged that before God. What do you need to lay before God this day?