God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not banish me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore the joy of Your Salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit. Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to You. Psalm 51:10-13
David saw lovely, young Bathsheba bathing, and he wanted her. Being a king made this easy. He just sent for her, and she had to come – even though she was married. To a soldier. Who was out fighting a war for David.
Well, you know the story. She got pregnant. So David called her husband, Uriah, from the battle field on the pretense of getting the latest war news from him. Then David sent Uriah home, where David was sure he’d sleep with his wife. But he didn’t. Uriah was too worried about his buddies still at the front. So, David sent him back, carrying a letter to his commander that read: “Put Uriah at the front of the fiercest fighting, then withdraw from him so that he is struck down and dies.”
David – the man after God’s own heart – conceived and carried out all this evil. David, who composed most of the beautiful Psalms, which I use to worship God even today, thousands of years after he penned them. This wasn’t something David did before he found faith in God. This wasn’t the “before” part of his testimony. This was solidly in the middle of his life, long after God had chosen him to be king because of his passion for Him.
But God loved David far too much to allow him to continue down this dark path. He sent a prophet to confront him, to open David’s eyes to his own evil. The king’s heart was pierced when he realized what he’d done, when he really took the time to see it from God’s perspective, when all the justifications were stripped away.
Mourning, he sat down and penned Psalm 51. Renew me, God. Give me back a steadfast spirit, one that resists temptation and sticks on your path. Create a clean heart out of my filthy one, Father. Save me from myself, from my selfishness, from my lust, from my sin. Save me, because only you can.
God did renew David. He did wash away the blackness of that sin from his heart. Consider these words, also from David’s pen: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgression from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.” Psalm 103:11-12
Then what? What did David promise he’d do when God renewed him? “Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to you.” God gave David a task: Don’t waste it. This was horrible, but don’t waste the experience. Use it to teach others, so that they’ll avoid the same mistakes, so that they’ll come back to Me when they’ve messed up … well, royally … themselves.
You and I are David’s students. We are the rebellious ones that David had on his mind. We are the sinners who need to return to God. David is reaching out to you across the millenniums through the words he wrote down. For you. So you’d know God wants you back, no matter what you’ve done.
So you’d know you can be renewed.