The Psalms are God's beautiful reminder that quite often life without Him involves sadness, confusion and despair. The book also reminds us that sometimes, even with Him, life is hard and we don't have all the answers. They help us pour out our souls in complete dependence on Jesus Christ, and at the same time invite us to trust His heart, even when we can't see His hand. For our good. For His glory.
Psalms 51 is no exception. It does all this, and more.
"Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to Your abundant mercy 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, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You may be justified in Your words and blameless in Your judgment....
When the prophet Nathan came to David (II Samuel 12) David was a broken man. David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged to have her husband Uriah killed in battle. He was broken before Nathan, broken before the people of Israel and broken before God. In all his brokenness David writes Psalm 51.
10 observations from Psalms 51:
David begins his song with a testimony of God's steadfast love and abundant mercy. Over 127 times in Psalms he writes of God's steadfast love, but only twice does he mention His abundant mercy. David writes of God's abundant mercy in this passage and in Psalms 69:16, "Answer me, O Lord, for Your steadfast love is good; according to Your abundant mercy..." I'm so thankful for His abundant mercy in my life!
In verse 8 David writes, "...let the bones that You have broken rejoice." Some times our brokenness comes directly from God, other times it's allowed by God. God can use our wrong choices to become brokenness in a way that gets our attention. Brokenness can be His way of producing growth in our spiritual lives, and His way of making us more like Him.
In verse 10 David asks God to "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." Shouldn't this be our prayer every morning? He continues in verse 12 by asking God to restore and uphold him. Again, a beautiful prayer in the midst of David's beautiful song.
Then in verses 14 and 15 David launches into a spirit of praise. "...my tongue will sing aloud of Your righteousness...my mouth will declare Your praise." And he ends his song with the truths he learned. We find the lesson and the takeaway in verse 17. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart...."
All this, not from a perfect man. Not from a man without a past. But from a man after God's own heart.
Friend, you may be struggling today with a past. Some thing or things that satan keeps bringing up to make you feel inadequate as a Christian. If this is where you are, cling to David's song in Psalms 51. Cling to the steadfast love and abundant mercy of our God! Hold tight to His promises. Rejoice in your brokenness as David rejoiced in his. Petition God for a clean heart and renewed spirit. Praise Him with a song in your heart. Testify of His steadfast love and abundant mercy!
"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of heaven, for His steadfast love endures forever." Psalm 136:1,26
I first read The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life by Ann Voskamp in 2016. Immediately I knew this book would change my life. Here are just a few of the highlighted quotes found in my copy of Voskamp's book:
“The only way to live a truly remarkable life is not to get everyone to notice you, but to leave noticeable marks of His love everywhere you go.”
"This one's for the lovers and the sufferers. For those whose hopes and dreams and love grew so large it broke their willing hearts. This one's for the busted ones who are ready to bust free, the ones ready to break molds, break chains, break measuring sticks, and break all this bad brokenness with an unlikely good brokenness.
You could be one of the beloved who is broken—and still lets yourself be loved. You could be one of them, one who believes freedom can be found not only beyond the fear and pain, but actually within it. You could discover and trust this broken way—the way to not be afraid of broken things." - goodreads
I'm not sure where this quote originated, but isn't it the truth!
"Gratitude is a choice fueled by perspective." -Anonymous
We can be such ingrates! It's so easy to harbor a spirit of ungratefulness. It comes natural to be ungrateful, and it's seemingly unnatural to be grateful. But it all pivots on our perspective.
This time of year our perspective becomes a little clearer, especially this week of Thanksgiving. We're more thankful because that's what this week is all about. We become a little more grateful and focus more on our blessings and less on the "I wants" of life. But just let Black Friday roll around and we see the ads for all those things we want but can't afford. Let Christmas Day come knocking on our social media wall and we see all those things our friends got for Christmas that we didn't. Or what they could afford to buy their children that we couldn't. Our perspective slips. We're not so thankful anymore, and gratitude takes a back seat to a perspective fueled by something other than thankfulness.
Every one of us can look to someone who has life just a little bit better than us. Ok, maybe a lot better than us. And so often that's where we want to focus. But that kind of focus is not the perspective we should own.
Every one of us can look to someone who has life just a little bit worse than us. Many of us know someone who has life way worse than us. However, this is not typically our focus or perspective.
Having the wrong perspective can send me spiraling into my own little pity party. Poor pitiful me. Look what I don't have. Look what they have. This is wrong thinking, and dangerous! I'm likely to fall into this kind of thinking when I see someone with a cute new outfit. You know, that outfit appropriately color coordinated for the season with shoes and bling to match. Or, I'm watching the newest season of whatever show HGTV is airing now. Or worse yet, someone drives into the church parking lot with a brand new car.
Where's my perspective? Is it on what I have? Or is it on what someone else has? Is it on what I should be grateful for? Or is it on what I want more of? Is it on the temporal? Or is it on the eternal?
When I stop looking around, and start looking within. When I see what a wretched soul I am. When I become thankful that Jesus came seeking this needy soul, my perspective immediately changes! My focus is no longer on the temporal. Now it's fixed on the eternal. It's no longer on what I don't have. Now it's on what I have and cannot lose! How can I not be grateful for this?
Focus on what you have and cannot lose because Jesus Christ has sought your needy soul. By doing so you will cultivate a garden of gratitude in your own life as you plant seeds of thanksgiving.
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