Create a Clean Heart
Psa. 51:10 ¶ Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Psa. 51:11 Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Psa. 51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.
David had sinned and was now overcome with guilt and grief. He had slept with Uriah's wife and she was pregnant. He began to hatch different schemes, ways in which to alleviate his guilt and sense of responsibility. He had Uriah brought to town and thought he'd sleep with his wife and they could say the baby was his. However, Uriah was a valiant warrior and refused to go home to his wife while his men were still fighting. (And what was David doing home and not out fighting in the first place?) Eventually Uriah goes back to the battle and David sends instructions that Uriah is to be left alone without any defenses so that he will die. As soon as the proper mourning period is over, David takes Uriah's wife to be his and he thinks he has created a great cover-up.
But God sees through it all. The prophet comes and has a little chat with David and suddenly the weight of the guilt overcomes him. What in the world has he done? Why did he try to manipulate so many things to simply fulfill the cravings of the flesh?
This Psalm is David's cry of repentance. He realizes there is corruption within his very heart. He doesn't ask for the sin of his heart to simply be washed up, scrubbed up or cleaned up -- instead he realizes the depths of his sin and that he needs a new and clean heart created within him. He needs the old heart removed and replaced with a clean one that includes a new and right spirit. This spirit remains the source through whom he may be connected to the Lord. David wants desperately to be in the presence of the Lord.
Sadly he has lost the joy that he had previously had in the Lord. He used to write songs of joy and gladness, knowing that he had been saved day in and day out by the Lord. Now, those songs are gone. He cries out asking God to restore the joy; but not only to restore it but to sustain the joy and the relationship through a willing spirit the remainder of his days.
This event is a turning point in David's personal relationship with the Lord. The two had always been close. David had enjoyed the intimacy of his relationship with God and yet, what had happened? Little by little, I'm guessing, life got in the way of the relationship. When battles were being fought and David was needing God's protection on a daily basis he was crying out to God continually. But now, things had settled down. He was the king and there was no one trying to take the throne from him. He was loved and respected in his own land. He had wealth and wives! Things were going really well and so now, why have this great downfall at this moment?
Could it be that the greatest temptation in life which can distract us from our spiritual walk is success? It was in the time of success that David allowed his own heart to become corrupted. One would have thought that would have happened when Saul was constantly chasing after him to kill him! Why not allow his heart to be hardened at that time, when he was going through the tough times? But in the tough times he learned to rely on God. In the good times, he forgot to rely on God.
And so the temptation in the good times is to do your own thing and the next thing you know you're not going off to war and doing what you ought to be doing. Your eye wanders where it shouldn't wander and you see something you want and your heart isn't even checked -- you just go for it. And the next thing you know you're knee deep in sin.
David reveals to us the only way back. The only way that we can overcome the temptation and complacency of a good and successful life is by having a clean heart created within us. No matter how hard we try to scrub our own hearts, we can never be good enough. We need a heart transplant with Jesus. We need him to place his heart within us so that his passions are our passions. This is what will sustain us through the bad and the good of life. And when his heart is within us, we react at the presence of the Spirit. It's that gentle palpitation -- knowing that the Spirit is near. And the Spirit keeps us connected to the will of the Father, day in and day out.
The result is a restoration of the joy that comes from the salvation we experience in him. The only way that we can have deep and abiding joy is to be connected to him continually. We all need a clean heart created within us!
Lord, may my heart long for you every moment of every day. May your Spirit check me instantly when I begin to wander off in my own direction and draw me back to you. Amen.