"The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart O God." -- Psalm 51:17
THERE are two things in this verse that God desires and when offered to Him He will not despise. 1. A Broken spirit 2. A Repentant heart. What's the difference between the two? I think Brokenness is the process, repentance is the product. God allows painful breaking, so that we will see our true spiritual condition before God and will respond in desperate repentance. I think repentance is not just a one-time response to God, every moment God allows brokenness it also opens the wide venue to come to him in repentance, individually or corporately. Before any one of us chooses to repent God must convict first, so we can repent. In the case of David God used Prophet Nathan to convict him of his sin of adultery and murder. Then the whole Psalm 51 was written by David a prayer of a repentant heart.
What makes repentance real? Or just reel? As we look into Psalm 51, we also look into David's heart and especially to God's heart. Let us pause and ponder today and ask God to soften our hearts through brokenness, so we can still avail of the chance and grace to repent. Brokenness and repentance are really not popular topic today in many pulpits. Perhaps because brokenness mysterious process of breaking our pride. Pride is the only poison they say if you swallow you will get well. Though brokenness is not all scandal related, they are all pride related. Believe, me pride comes in many deceiving forms, so deceitful that the proud soul do not even suspect that it exists! Brokenness will unmistakably show us who we are and our true spiritual condition before God. As God allows brokenness to progress, it works for God's glory and our benefit because it will finally lead us to bow before him in repentance. Recovery is only possible when repentance is involved. This is not a popular subject because it will show you the offense, as well as the opportunity to change. Before I oversimplify things here, I must point out that change or transformation is long journey itself. But his journey begins with repentance as a result of God's breaking!
Let's take time to see some timeless and timely spiritual insights regarding David's brokenness and especially his repentance. Here we ask these questions 1. What is true repentance? 2. What's involved in the whole transaction of repentance? 3. What are the realistic results of repentance?
While these questions are necessary, let us not forget that repentance itself possess its own mystery that we cannot unveil. On the other hand, it also possesses its own peace that a true repentant heart cannot deny even though guilt is still piercing. True repentance acknowledges authentic guilt that comes from God's conviction. True repentance is proven not by erasing the damage, but by once willingness to face consequences. I read somewhere that asking repentance without desire and decision to change is another form of manipulation. Make no mistake David though forgiven must face a lot of consequences for the rest of his life. That's why in verse 4b David says:
"You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgement against me is just." True repentance also leads to a new beginning of seeing God's unconditional love that led us to brokenness and repentance. We do not repent to earn the love of God; we repent because we realized God loves us so much!
Before we go deeper in Psalm 51 and see why God so desire a broken heart and a repentant heart, we need to see that sin blocks this relationship with God! When God called Nathan to rebuke David, it is so scary to notice that while Nathan is relating the story recorded in 2 Samuel 12, David has practically become so spiritually numbed that he can't sense that he is the man the prophet is alluding to. Until Nathan thunders "You are the Man", then something painful and something sacred begins to function again in David's heart let's take time to read some parts of Psalm 51.
"Have Mercy on me on me, O God because of your unfailing love. Because of Your great compassion blot out the stain of my sins"
"Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin"
"For is recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night"
"Against you, and you alone have I sinned"
"I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just." Psalm 51:1-4
A repentant hear is admitting vulnerability over deceptive disclaimers
Real repentant heart as oppose to reel repentant act admits vulnerability and culpability, accepting flawed humanity and facing responsibility. When David heart Nathan say "You are the man!" David replied "I have sinned against the Lord" this is a repentant heart. No disclaimers, no excuses, no damage control, no covering, in brokenness David repents.
Psalm 51:1-4 gives us these signs of real repentant heart:
Admission of sin
Appeal for mercy
Acceptance of God's discipline
You are not committing excess if you look for these strong signs when one says I repent. You are not also being judgmental if you doubt the authenticity of repentance when these signs are not evident. Ultimately ours are ideas, God has the final say. God's word guides us to check ourselves and not be deceived by political disclaiming and calling it repentance.