Theme: Pardon and Purity
In this week’s lessons we learn that confession of our sin also involves the desire for our inward renewal, as well as the fact that what we do affects other people, for good or ill.
Scripture: Psalm 51:10-19
Because the psalms are poetry, as a whole they do not have the kind of outlines we expect from didactic literature. The verses do not build on one another with statements, reasons for those statements, and conclusions. We do not find many connective words like “therefore,” “so,” “thus” or “but.” This does not mean that the psalms do not have orderly progressions, however. Psalm 51 obviously does. It has six parts, as we saw in last week’s devotional, and these flow naturally from God, with whom the psalm begins, to the psalmist, who is praying for forgiveness and renewal, to the people whom his experience of forgiveness and renewal will affect.
Yet forgiveness is not the only need David has. He is aware that his sins of adultery and murder came from a sinful heart. That is, he sinned because he is a sinner. Because he is a sinner he is certain to sin again and again, unless God helps him. Therefore, he also needs an inward renewal which he describes as the creation of a pure heart and the renewal of a steadfast spirit. The second half of the psalm, verses 10-19, deals with this necessity.
Pardon and purity! Those are the two great needs of every human being, since we are all sinners by deed and by nature, just as David was. We first need cleansing, then the creation of a new spirit or heart.
In some ways the most important and perceptive part of the psalm is the section in which David prays for inward renewal (vv. 10-12). It indicates that his confession of sin was genuine, because it shows that he could not be content merely with forgiveness. His sin and its effects were so terrible to him that David did not want to fall into sin again. In addition, this fourth section shows David’s awareness of his true problem, namely, that his sinful acts sprang from a sinful heart which would certainly cause him to sin again unless God dealt with it.
Following the pattern of triple parallel statements, which we noted in the last study, we find David asking God to do three things for him in this section: create in him a pure heart, do not cast him away, and restore to him the joy of God’s salvation.
Describe the progression of Psalm 51.
What are David’s needs in this section of the psalm?
Why is the fourth section of the psalm (vv. 10-12) said to be the most important?
Key Point: Pardon and purity! Those are the two great needs of every human being, since we are all sinners by deed and by nature, just as David was. We first need cleansing, then the creation of a new spirit or heart.
For Further Study: The Psalms is one of the best-known portions of the Bible, and has been a source of great blessing to God’s people throughout history. If you would like to have this classic study by James Boice, order your copy and take 25% off.