Psalm 51:10-13 has become such a fundamental part of my life, I have long since memorized it and let it sink deeply into my heart. These verses represent a contrite heart. The writer, King David, was desperate to be forgiven by God after his many grievous sins (see 2 Samuel, Chapters 11-12).
Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.
Then I will teach your ways to rebels,
and they will return to you. (vs 10-13)
What touches me most about this scripture is King David’s sincere desire to be reconciled to God. He wants to be close to God, restored, joyful and willing to obey. There have been many times when I’ve prayed these verses as my own plea to God to forgive me, draw me close, restore me and give me a second, third, fourth(!) chance.
The most beautiful love of God is shown in His patient and constant interest in forgiving us, especially when we come to Him with a broken and contrite spirit. Approaching Him with true repentance and a desire to change and turn away from sin is what touches God’s heart.
According to the dictionary, being contrite is “feeling or expressing remorse or penitence; affected by guilt”. In today’s society, there’s not much interest in feeling guilty or remorseful. We live in a world where pretty much anything goes. You’ll hear the phrase, “As long as you’re not hurting anyone, it’s OK.” What does that mean? Of course, you’re hurting someone! You! Those sins that are done in secret, those habits that hurt your health and welfare, those addictions that make you pass out at midnight when you need to get up at 5:30 for work, will catch up to you. We can’t run from God or ourselves. At some point, we have to stop, turn around and confront the sinful situation that we are in. That’s when we can relate to King David in these verses.
When you read the entirety of Psalm 51, you find these opening verses:
Have mercy 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 I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned (vs 1-4)
David is acknowledging that God is the only one who can cleanse him and purify him from his sins. When we acknowledge the true state of our souls, we are faced with our need for Jesus. Through Jesus, we are forgiven. Through Jesus, we are cleansed. Through Jesus, we are restored.
In addition to Psalm 51, there are a series of verses in the book of Romans that are often referred to as “The Romans Road to Salvation”. It is a simple yet powerful method of explaining why we need salvation, how God provided salvation, how we can receive salvation, and what are the results of salvation.
Romans 3:23 “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”
Romans 3:10 “As the Scriptures say, ‘No one is righteous, not even one.’”
Romans 5:12 “When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.”
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Roman 5:8 “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”
Romans 10:9-10 “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.”
Romans 10:13 “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.”
If you have never confessed your sins to God with a contrite heart, and asked Him for forgiveness, won’t you do so now? If you’ve never confessed Jesus as your Lord and Savior, now is the time to do it! Don’t wait! You may not have tomorrow, or even the next hour!
Here is a simple prayer that you can pray today, this minute, with God leaning in to hear your heartfelt plea as it says in Psalm 116:2.
“Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe that You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your name, Amen.”
Paula Aiton is a member of the worship team at Koinonia Church in Hanford, CA. She is a freelance writer, musician and artist. Her blog, God’s Glory Girl, can be found at godsglorygirl.com