Psalms 32; 51

What God Wants.

“You would not be pleased with sacrifices, or I would bring them. If I brought you a burnt offering, you would not accept it. 17 The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise.” ­– Psalms 51:16-17 NLT

These two Psalms, written by David, have to do with the sins he committed during the whole Bathsheba affair. Not only had he committed adultery with Bathsheba, he tried to cover it up, then arranged to have her husband killed on the field of battle so that he could marry her. And it wasn’t until Nathan the prophet exposed David’s sin that he finally confessed it to God.

So these two Psalms reflect David’s heart after he had finally confessed and received God’s forgiveness. Keep in mind, both of these are songs, written to be sung by a choir. David is hanging out his dirty laundry for others to see. He is using his life experiences as a way to teach others of the grace, mercy, and forgiveness of God. These are not some trite worship songs with shallow lyrics and generic statements about God’s goodness. They are the brutally honest cries of a man who had blown it in a big way, but who knew that his God was a forgiving God. So he called out to Him. He pleaded with Him for forgiveness, cleansing, and restoration. David knew what he deserved, but He appealed to the grace and mercy of God.

It would appear that Psalm 51 was written first. Here David cries for grace. He knows that his sin has been against God and no one else. He has offended a holy God and so he cries out for God to wash him and purify him. David wants a clean heart and a restored relationship with his God. His sin has broken the fellowship he once he enjoyed. David also knows that without a broken spirit, a broken and repentant heart, all the sacrifices in the world will mean nothing. God is looking for David to express true repentance and brokenness over his sin, not just remorse or sadness that he had been caught.

In Psalm 32, which is the sequel to Psalm 51, David writes of the relief and blessing that comes with forgiveness. Without it, David experienced guilt, shame, and even physical sickness. But as soon as he confessed it, God forgave him. David had learned from his mistake, and he was willing to teach others the lessons he had learned. To refuse to confess and repent is simply stubbornness. To live with the guilt and sorrow is stupidity, when God offers forgiveness and restoration. David had learned his lesson the hard way, and he wanted everyone to benefit from his mistake. “Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the LORD. So rejoice in the LORD and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!” (Psalms 32:10-11 NLT).

God wants two things: For us to have broken and repentant hearts when we sin that lead us to confess, and the pleasure of extending His grace, mercy and forgiveness to us when we do. God knows we are going to sin. But He has provided a way for us to enjoy a restored relationship, through the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross. Forgiveness of sin is ours. Our sins were paid for on the cross. But we must still confess them when we commit them. We must still take ownership for them. Then God extends to us the forgiveness that Jesus paid for with His blood. “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong” (1 John 1:9 NLT).

Father, may I want what You want. To confess my sins when I commit them and the forgiveness that comes when I do. Help me to learn from David that there is no reason to hang on to my sin in stubbornness, attempting to hide from it or ignore it. All it does is cause guilt and shame. It separates me from You. It robs me of joy. I want to be pure. I want to be clean. Open my eyes to the sin in my life so that I might confess it and be forgiven for it. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men