Psalm 51

Ok, I’ll admit it publicly: I used to be a big Bon Jovi fan.  That can guy sing!  And he sure knows how to write a ballad!

One of his famous lines, from the song In These Arms (which he wrote for his wife), goes like this:

“Baby, I want you like the roses want the rain
You know I need you like the poet needs the pain”

First time I heard that I thought, “man he’s onto something…I’m so glad I’m not a poet!!”
But isn’t it true, even for those of us who aren’t true poets, that our deepest and most significant thoughts (or works of art) are brought about by pain? Another way of saying it (much less poetically) is that we learn the most from our mistakes.

I think David, the psalmist, would agree.

Let’s take a look at Psalm 51. My NIV study Bible notes this as “A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.” Now that’s some serious poetry-inspiring pain!

Reflect with me on this psalm as I insert my own comments/prayers in journal form. [my own thoughts of praise are written within brackets and italicized]:

Psalm 51

Have mercy on me, O God, [You know and I know that I NEED your mercy!]
    according to your unfailing love; [Lord, where would I be without your unfailing love! Thank You! Your trustworthy and constant love is a bedrock and foundation on which I stand…and yet it is a soft place to fall when I cannot stand]
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions. [I recognize and admit my sins, and that the when I sin, I sin against You, not just other people. I don’t deserve your compassion, yet you are merciful.]
Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin. [I’m covered in the filth of my sin, Lord, but I want to be clean in your presence.  Powerwash me – even though it hurts.  Remove not only the dirt but the stain.  There’s nothing I can do on my own to remove the stain of my sin, but you have the power to wash it away completely]

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight; [my sin is an issue between me and You more than anything else]
so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge. [the only true and righteous and perfect one who is able to judge with TRUE justice]
Surely I was sinful at birth,
    sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; [your desire from the beginning was for me to walk in faith and not to walk in sin and rebellion]
    you taught me wisdom in that secret place. [even though I had sin built in, I also had your Spirit within me telling me what was right and wrong]

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. [your cleansing power goes beyond anything of this world. The strongest bleach in the world is no match for your cleansing power because You are the Creator.  You can recreate me as if I had never had the stain!]
Let me hear joy and gladness; [there is joy in freedom from sin!]
    let the bones you have crushed rejoice. [there is rejoicing in forgiveness!]
Hide your face from my sins
    and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, [cleanse me down to the depths of my heart, and make me like new – like the new creation Paul spoke of in 2 Corinthians 5:17. I want the natural outpouring of my heart to be purity]
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me. [make me strong and committed and able to stand firm against future temptation]
11 Do not cast me from your presence [I know I don’t deserve any of this – I deserve to be shunned by You, but please please don’t!]
    or take your Holy Spirit from me. [don’t remove your presence from me – I need to experience your presence in my life! It is the greatest gift! According to Jesus the presence of the Holy Spirit within me is even better than having Jesus himself by my side!]
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation [the joy of the Lord is my strength]
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, [I want to share the joy I’ve found from the freedom I have in Christ]
    so that sinners will turn back to you. [all to the glory of YOUR name]
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
    you who are God my Savior,
    and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. [how can I not sing of your great gift of life? You gave me a voice and I will use it to proclaim your praise]
15 Open my lips, Lord,
    and my mouth will declare your praise. [give me the words to say, and I’ll get out of the way]
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; [whatever you desire, I will bring it]
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. [but you want more than a simple sacrifice]
17 My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit; [Your desire is for my sincerity and complete honesty and humility – I’m willing to be broken God.]
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise. [more than a prepared sacrifice, You desire humility and honesty to the depths of my heart.  So Lord I recognize my rightful place (cast away from Your presence), and submit myself to You, to be broken…and I rejoice in the healing of forgiveness and salvation! Praise be to God for his mercy and grace and salvation!  There was nothing I could do to earn it on my own, but You made a way where there was no way! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!]

18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
    to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
    in burnt offerings offered whole;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar. [after submitting my broken self and humbling my heart as You desire, THEN I will offer you sacrifices of praise and I will sing of Your glory forever! Amen!]

Leave a comment.  Have you ever felt like this?  How has God spoken to You in your pain?  And how have you responded?

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