December 8, 2009
A Legacy Of Repentance
READ: Psalm 51
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart. —Psalm 51:17
All nations have heroes, but Israel may be alone in making epic literature about its greatest hero’s failings (Ps. 51). This eloquent psalm shows that Israel ultimately remembered David more for his devotion to God than for his political achievements.
Step-by-step, the psalm takes the reader through the stages of repentance. It describes the constant mental replays, the gnawing guilt, the shame, and finally the hope of a new beginning that springs from true repentance.
In a remarkable way, Psalm 51 reveals the true nature of sin as a broken relationship with God. David cries out, “Against You, You only, have I sinned” (v.4). He sees that the sacrifices God wants are “a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart” (v.17). Those, David has.
In his prayer, David looks for possible good that might come out of his tragedy and sees a glimmer of light. Perhaps by reading this story of sin others might avoid the same pitfalls, or by reading his confession they might gain hope in forgiveness. David’s prayer is answered and becomes his greatest legacy as king. The best king of Israel has fallen the farthest. But neither he, nor anyone, can fall beyond the reach of God’s love and forgiveness. — Philip Yancey
How blest is he whose trespass
Has freely been forgiven,
Whose sin is wholly covered
Before the sight of heaven. —Psalter
Repentance is the soil in which forgiveness flourishes.