Our theme for 2021 is RENEW, and on the first Sunday of each month, I plan to address a different aspect of renewal. This Sunday we’ll focus our attention on a famous psalm of David.
The background of Psalm 51 is his sin with Bathsheba and his being convicted of his sin by Nathan the prophet. [To appreciate the context and to get a feel for David’s remorse, you might read the whole psalm.]
David is devastated by what he’s done, and he desperately wants God’s forgiveness. Beyond the cognitive aspect of forgiveness (i.e., the mental awareness of his being forgiven), David wants to feel forgiven. He wants to “hear joy and gladness.”
Beyond that, though, he recognizes that his brokenness led to his sin. He knows it wasn’t just a momentary lapse of good judgment or a “weak moment.” He knows that something is messed up inside him, so he asks God to give him a “clean heart” and a “right spirit.”
Notice the repetition of spirit in these verses: “renew a right spirit within me . . . take not your Holy Spirit from me . . . uphold me with a willing spirit” (vv. 10, 11, 12).
David knows he needs renewal . . . specifically he needs his spirit to be renewed.
I suspect that’s a prayer that many of us should probably pray. “Father, give me a new spirit, one transformed and controlled by your Spirit . . . one that is overwhelmed by your beauty so that I no longer fall prey to the temporary but ultimately unsatisfying experience of sin.”