This post is part of my book launch, God’s Triumphant Mercy: A Reflection of Psalm 51
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Jesus said: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person” (Matt. 15:19-20). Our sins flow from our heart. They are the symptoms of a far deeper issue.
While David’s confession and repentance were as sincere as could be, what guarantee did he have that he wouldn’t commit adultery and murder again? The root had to be addressed! His actions had shown the reality of what his heart was capable of—not only his heart, though, but also our heart.
We’re capable of every sin that has ever been committed. That’s why Paul wrote: “Brother’s, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Gal. 6:1). No one is immune to be “caught in any transgression.” The sins of others are a mirror of our own heart.
David used the same word as found in the creation account: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). He created everything ex nihilo—out of nothing. This teaches us that within ourselves there’s nothing that can produce a clean heart or even assist God in the smallest measure. It’s His gracious and supernatural work.
He also asked God to renew “a right spirit within me.” He prayed for a firm, stable, and fixed spirit. For many years, he had been wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord, walking in His ways and being a man after God’s own heart. His firmness, though, had dwindled, which had brought about his great fall. He realized that only God could renew that dedication within him.
Apart from such a divine work, we’re fickle and feeble, easily drifting into sin. As we join David’s prayer for cleanness and rightness, let’s do so with the confidence that God is able to do so. Nothing is impossible with Him!
No matter how many times we’ve fallen, let’s hope in the One who “is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy . . .” (Jude 24). The gospel is always God’s good news no matter what our condition or need.
Lord, create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
The Devotional Writer
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