A Broken and Repentant Heart

by | Pastor's Blog

A Broken and Repentant Heart

by | Feb 12, 2021 | Pastor's Blog

Psalm 51:17 – The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. 

Have you ever experienced a broken heart?  You know what I am talking about.  You suddenly lost a loved one.  That is so painful!  A relationship ended with someone you deeply loved.  That is tough. You lost a job that you enjoyed.  Or, just maybe, your favorite sports team was eliminated from the playoffs and you are brokenhearted.  Admittedly, some of those experiences are more agonizing than others. 

Here is a poignant question: When was the last time you were truly broken-hearted over your sin?  Hmm.  That is a question that ought to make you pause and think. For some reason earthly heartaches tend to affect us more than heavenly heartaches.  We are often more bothered by offending a friend, than by offending God.  Ouch!  

The reason for our lack of sensitivity is that we often view our sin differently than God.  We see our sin as an anomaly, while God sees it as an abomination (Proverbs 6:16).  We view our sin as something to change, but God views it as something that condemns (Romans 3:23).  We approach our sins passively, while God takes them personally (Isaiah 59:2).  You get my point!  

II Samuel 11 relates how King David, a man after God’s own heart, committed an egregious sin.  He committed adultery with Bathsheba (II Samuel 11:1-5),  and then tried to cover it up by having her husband killed (II Samuel 11:14-21).  Wow!  How shocking and scandalous!  Such a crime deserved to be punished by man and by God.  How would David respond?  More importantly, how would God respond to David’s sin?

In Psalm 51 we see David’s reaction to his sin.  To his credit, he doesn’t excuse it, ignore it or try to get away with it.  He confesses it and pleads for God to be merciful towards him.   What can we learn from David’s response?  

  • More than against anyone else, we sin against God. 

If only we could fully understand that truth!  We tend to view our sins mostly as an offense to others.  After all, they are the ones most affected by our sins, right?  My anger hurts my wife.  My selfishness affects my family.  My lying affects the person to whom I was untruthful.  Those are most certainly true statements; yet the person most offended, most sinned against and most hurt by our sin is God.  David recognized this. 

Psalm 51:4 – Against you,  you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight. 

To view our sins as offending God first and foremost, sheds a new light on our transgressions.  They are no longer white lies, just impure thoughts or simple selfish acts.  They violate the character of a holy and righteous God.  

  • God responds to a broken and a contrite heart.     

Human nature is to attempt to rectify our sinful actions with a religious response.  We offer a sacrifice, go to church, give an offering or say a prayer.  Yet none of those things alone move the heart of God.

Psalm 51:16 – For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.  

It is not that religious acts are unimportant, rather David recognizes that mere religious acts are empty without a heart of brokenness.  In other words, God responds to the attitude of your heart more than the actions of your hands.  He is more interested in who you are than in what you do. 

Psalm 51:17 – The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

There are a few key words in this verse. Let’s examine what they mean.

  • Broken – Comes from the Hebrew word meaning to break or break in pieces. 
  • Contrite – Comes from the Hebrew word meaning to crush.
  • Heart – Comes from the Hebrew word meaning inner man, mind, or will.
  • Spirit – Comes from the Hebrew word meaning breath or wind.

Putting all those words together, we see that a broken heart and a contrite spirit speak of when our will has been broken.  We no longer see our sin through our human lens, but through the lens of God’s holiness and righteousness.  As a result, we have a heart that is fully surrendered to God. 

Let me add one more truth.

  • Every one of our sins equally offends God.

We tend to view our sins in degrees, some sins are worse than others – adultery is terrible, but lying, ah that is not so bad.  How tragically untrue!  In God’s eyes there is no such thing as “good sins” and “bad sins.”  Every one of my sins were lovingly vicariously paid for on the cross.   I need to view every sin with the same conviction and contrition. 

This truth is life changing!  When you respond in that way to your sin, you can confidentially cry out like David, “Create in me a clean heart, O, God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Restore to me the joy of my salvation…”  (Psalm 51:10, 12).