Joyful Thanks Living - Bible study
part 4 of 10
A Change of Heart
Psalm 51 was written by King David after the prophet Nathan announced that God had forgiven David his sins of adultery and murder. Psalm 51 shows David’s true repentance as an example for God’s people. Many phrases from this Psalm are familiar parts of our worship liturgy.
Psalm 51:1–5 (NIV 1984)
1Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. 5Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
David’s pastor, the prophet Nathan, boldly pointed out David’s sin “You are the man [who deserves death].” As soon as David repented, “I have sinned against the Lord,” Nathan announced, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.” (See 2 Samuel 11-12).
Verses 1 and 2 remind us that we are saved by grace alone. Grace is God’s undeserved love for us. Grace saved King David. Grace saves us too.
Confession Of Sins
In verses 3-5, David confesses his sins. Verse 5 refers to his original sin, inherited from his first father Adam. We also are children of Adam, born in rebellion against God, needing a Savior from the very beginning of our lives. Like David, we each need forgiveness for ALL our sins, not just for our most obvious sins.
Carl Zorn brings home this point very well:
“Oh, dear Christian, sinner that you are, you do understand that you too need to pray for everything that David prayed for, word for word, even if you have not committed sins like adultery and murder.”
(Carl Zorn, The Psalms, page 238)
Psalm 51:6 (NIV 1984)
6Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
“David realized that dealing with sin requires more than cleaning up one’s act and behaving a little better than before. God wants more than improved outward performance. He wants a change of heart. But this change of heart David could never produce. Nor can we. This change of heart and renewal must come from God. David prays for such renewal. So do we.”
(People’s Bible page 212)
Psalm 51:7-12 (NIV 1984)
7Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 9Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. 10Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
A Change Of Heart
The People’s Bible calls verses 7-12, “The plea for renewal.” Many of the words in these verses are familiar to us, since they are used in the liturgy in some of our Good Shepherd’s worship services.
Psalm 51:13-19 (NIV 1984)
13Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. 14Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. 15O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. 18In your good pleasure make Zion prosper; build up the walls of Jerusalem. 19Then there will be righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings to delight you; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
A Forgiven Heart:
Psalm 51 was written by King David after the prophet Nathan announced that God had forgiven David his sins of adultery and murder. Even though David knew he was forgiven, he again confesses his sins in verses 1 through 9. Now in verse 14 David pleads, “Save me from bloodguilt, O God.”
Pastor Zorn comments, “A true believer can never ask for forgiveness too often. The continual plea for the forgiveness of sins is the eager hand that a believer continually reaches out to take hold of the forgiveness God continually offered to him in the past, the justification continually offered and grasped now in the present, which leads to ever new confidence and ever growing joy and gladness in the future.”
(Carl Zorn, The Psalms, page 240
A Broken Heart
“A broken and remorseful heart is one that is completely saddened and struck down by sin. It has absolutely no intention of raising itself up in self-righteousness or self-will or anything else that comes from its own ego or initiative. A broken and a contrite heart relies only on the grace of God in Christ, and in all its thoughts, plans, ideas, intentions, speech, and action, it seeks guidance only in the gracious Word and will of God.” (Carl Zorn, The Psalms, page 241)
A Changed Heart
“God is interested in the spirit and intentions of our hearts. It bears repeating: a grateful heart that praises the saving grace and righteousness of God in Christ and proclaims God's glory and honor with a joyful spirit--this is the proper sacrifice of a sinner blessed with forgiveness; these carry a sweet aroma up to God.” (Carl Zorn, The Psalms, page 241)
Open My Lips
“For our tongues to be able to sing praises for this righteousness-this also is a gift of God. And so David prays, ‘0 Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.’ Hear Luther's comment on these words: ‘When we have received God's favor and righteousness through faith in Christ, we can perform no greater work than to speak about it and proclaim it.’ …Dear Christian, sinner that you still are but pardoned and forgiven, may God grant you his Holy Spirit so that you also can pray every word in this section of our psalm!” (Carl Zorn, The Psalms, pages 240 + 242)
Let Us Pray:
Have mercy on me, O God. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Surely I was sinful at birth. Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. May I always have a a broken and contrite heart. A heart that trusts you and you alone for everything. You are my light and my salvation. Amen.
For additional study read: “The People’s Bible – Psalms 1-72”
pages 209 – 217. (Psalm 51)
Brug, J. F. (2002). Psalms : Psalms 1-72
(2nd ed.). The People's Bible. Northwestern Publishing House.
Zorn, Carl Manthey (2005). The Psalms – A Devotional Commentary.
Northwestern Publishing House.
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