After the heart of God
Psalm 51 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity And cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me.
4 Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.
6 Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.
7 Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.
9 Hide Your face from my sins And blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners will be converted to You.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation;
Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise.
16 For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;
You are not pleased with burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
18 By Your favor do good to Zion; Build the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then You will delight in righteous sacrifices, In burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
Then young bulls will be offered on Your altar.
David, the writer of many of the Psalms, including today’s text from Psalm 51, is one of many in scripture whose lives and stories should be of great encouragement to us. David’s life was filled with highs and lows. He became a hero as a boy, slaying the giant Goliath and leading the armies of Israel to a great victory over their enemy. He rose from shepherd to king. Under David’s rule Israel became a powerful earthly kingdom. David though also had low points. He was at one point displaced as king by one of his own sons. Even before his rise to the throne, David was forced to hide from Saul, the king he faithfully served. Even after he was called by God, anointed to be king, he lived in caves, hiding from Saul and his army. Tremendous victories and great tribulation, those were the lot of David, of whom God said: 'I HAVE FOUND DAVID the son of Jesse, A MAN AFTER MY HEART, who will do all My will.' (Acts 13:22) So too, is it the lot of us as believers. We are called and anointed by God, from humble beginnings to greatness. We too will have great victories along with trials and tribulation, in this life. Jesus says: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) He also says: “In the world you have tribulation” (John 16:33) That is our lot, the promise of God, abundant, victorious life, not without trials and difficulties, but rather the full verse in John16:33 says: “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” we are victorious in Christ, through tribulation.
The key to David’s success in life was that he was a man after the heart of God. For us too, it’s not that we are anointed
to be kings, though we are, it’s that we too would be people after the heart of God. What does that look like? Today’s text was written at one of the low points in David’s life. He had committed adultery. He was responsible for the death
of the husband of Bathsheba, his lover. David begins the psalm saying: Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity And cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge. If we are to be like David, after the heart of God, we too must be willing to acknowledge our sin. We cannot hide our sin from God. David says: “my sin is ever before me.” So too with us, it seems no matter how hard we try, we still sin. In Romans 7, Paul talks about this struggle in the life of every believer. He says: For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing.(Romans 7:19) Our sin is ever before us. If though we will be, like David, then along with knowing we cannot hide our sin from God, we will recognize that we should not allow our sin to cause us to hide from God. To go after the heart of God is to pursue His heart of compassion, His love and kindness. It is vital that we understand, like David, that regardless of who may be a victim of our sin, the truth is as David says: Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight Our sin, all sin is against the Holy and righteous God. Yet the heart of God we are to pursue, is a heart that does not judge, but rather; blots out our transgression, washes us thoroughly of our iniquity. Colossians 3:2-3 says: Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. There is no need to hide from God, we are hidden with Christ, in God.
David says: Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners will be converted to You. A heart after God is a heart that is redeemed, renewed and restored. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says: if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. The heart that is after God walks in that newness, redemption and restoration. David says: do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Jesus says: I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever (John 14:16) In Christ, we have the steadfast Holy Spirit forever. A heart that is after the heart of God is also a heart that will testify of His goodness. David says: Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners will be converted to You. Jesus says: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:15-16)
David says: O God, the God of my salvation; my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise. A heart that is after the heart of God is one who continually praises God. One who joyfully sings and declares His righteousness. Regardless of the circumstance we are in, whether the highest of highs or the lowest of lows. God is the God of our salvation. Through Christ He has redeemed and restored us, reconciled us to Himself. For that alone we should joyfully sing, we should declare His praise.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You for calling and anointing me to rule with You, to be a child of the King. Thank You that I do not need to hide from You in my sin, but rather, through the cross, I am hidden in Christ’s righteousness. With a heart that is after Your heart I will praise You, I will joyfully sing. I will testify of Your goodness and teach transgressors Your ways. To You be the glory forever. Amen