Broken Heart Before God – Psalm 51
Have you ever felt the ache of a broken heart? Have you experienced the devastation of a ruptured relationship? Psalm 51 shows us that we should love our Savior fervently and passionately. Any break in our spiritual communion (or, in other words, any sin our life) should cause us the same sort of gut-twisting pain we feel when separated from those we love the most.
King David – A Man After God’s Own Heart
The story of King David tells one of the greatest Old Testament examples of sin covered by grace. David reigned as the second king over Israel and God Himself described him as “a man after My own heart.” David loved the Lord passionately and desired to serve Him; however, he fell prey to two very grave sins: adultery and murder.
The story is well-known; David saw a beautiful woman bathing on her roof, desired her, and took her. When she conceived, he tried to cover their sin by first arranging to have her husband, Uriah, killed in battle, and then marrying Bathsheba himself. For awhile, it seemed as though he’d gotten away with his sin, but as always in the life of a believer, the Holy Spirit soon began His convicting work. The Bible tells us of David’s absolute desolation after the prophet Nathan confronts his sin with Bathsheba. The words of Psalm 51 give us a glimpse into David’s broken heart as he pours out his anguish before the Lord.
When did you last weep over your sin?
This very personal prayer begins with David’s heart-wrenching plea to the Lord, asking for forgiveness. The sin in David’s life had severed his communion with God, and he desperately wanted it back.
“Have mercy upon me, O God… Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity… For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.” Psalm 51:1-3
According to Psalm 51, You Should Take Responsibility for Your Sin
From the very beginning, in the Garden of Eden, men have been blaming others for their missteps. Adam blamed Eve, and she, in turn, blamed the Serpent; however, the Serpent did not feed her the forbidden fruit. She made a choice to pick it up and take a bite. Furthermore, Eve did not physically hold down Adam and force him to swallow his portion. Oh no! He took it, looked at it, and made a conscious decision to eat. Others may tempt, but the sin rests squarely on the shoulders of the sinner.
“Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest and be clear when thou judgest.” Psalm 51: 4 (emphasis added)
David Acknowledged His Sin
Even though it took time and conviction, David realized that his sin was his own. He could have made excuses for himself or gotten angry with Nathan for confronting him, but instead, he humbly acknowledged that his sin was entirely his own doing. He took ownership of his deeds. That is the first step in the path towards forgiveness.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
David also realized that His sin had done more than to make him “look bad.” It had broken his fellowship with God. David did a horrible thing; he took the life of another man. However, he understood that the gravest result of His sin was the communion he had broken with his Savior. It was more than getting caught. He agonized over the pain that his decisions had caused and the rift it had created in his spiritual walk.
Psalm 51 Shows We Should Offer Up a Broken Spirit and a Broken Heart
Taking ownership is the first step, but there is more to repentance than admission. A man may admit that he is an alcoholic, but if he continues to go to bars and get drunk every night, the acknowledgment isn’t worth much. Therefore, true repentance requires action, as well as a genuine desire to seek forgiveness.
As we read further through Psalm 51, we see that David understands that there is nothing he can do to earn God’s forgiveness. No amount of sacrifice or offerings on his part can atone for his transgression. We cannot “make our sin up” to God in any way. All He requires is true repentance.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Psalm 51:17
God Desires a Contrite and Broken Heart
What God wants from us, more than anything is a contrite and broken heart. There is nothing we can do to earn forgiveness. If we could secure forgiveness through our works, Calvary would have been unnecessary, and we would have no need of grace. The fact is, we do need grace. By ourselves, you and I continue to fail, but through Christ, we are washed white as snow. Confess your sin to him, and then ask Him to cleanse you from your unrighteousness. He will. He has promised to do so, and, in fact, He delights in it. God is not an angry dictator who sits around and waits for us to mess up so that He can take pleasure in punishing us. Our sin breaks His heart because it interrupts our walk with Him. He longs for us to run back into His open arms.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” Ephesians 1:7
The Consequences of Sin
Many unbelievers defend their stance with the question, “How can I believe in a God who allows bad things to happen to good people?” The truth is every bit of heartache and suffering that occurs results from sin. God is holy and righteous, but He is also just, and sin invites consequence. Therefore, even though God will always forgive sin in the life of a truly repentant believer and completely erase it from their eternal account, we still face earthly repercussions.
“Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will be no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” Exodus 34:7
Sin Brings Repercussions Even After Forgiveness
If there were no earthly consequences for our actions, we Christians might fall into the trap of indulging sin, knowing that we are “under grace.” After all, if God will forgive us no matter what, why shouldn’t we do what we want? This is a lie Satan loves to feed us, but the truth is, sin destroys relationships. David’s family paid a high cost for his transgression with Bathsheba. The baby they conceived died, and many of his sons became murderers, rapists, and idolaters. Don’t ever think that sin does not have repercussions, and very often, those consequences affect others, people we love dearly.
Amazingly, the God of justice is also a God of love and grace, and if we confess and repent, we are not doomed to pay for our mistakes forever. The consequences here on earth will not follow us as we move into our eternal home. This is just one of many pictures of God’s heart for His children.
Summing it All Up
If you’re reading this, that means you’re a human being, and that means you’re going to fail. Don’t let that knowledge discourage you; instead, strengthen your resolve to grow in Christ daily, drawing from His strength and living freely in His grace. Never believe the lie that you’re too bad or too dirty to enjoy God’s love; He loves you so very much and longs to forgive you and restore you.
The 3 Steps to Forgiveness:
- Acknowledge Your Sin
- Offer Your Contrite and Broken Heart to the Lord
- Accept His Forgiveness
Take every failure as an opportunity to learn, and thank God always for His unfailing love. He is good, today and every day.
“Heal the Wound” by Point of Grace; Sung by Shana Roby
This song says the words that should be in our hearts. Listen to the lyrics and make them your prayer.
For a copy of the written lyrics and the backstory to Heal the Wound, click HERE.
About the Author
Kim and her husband, Craig, live in Overland Park KS where she successfully manages a marketing company and homeschools her two children still at home. Twenty-two years of juggling business and homeschooling has taught her a thing or two about time management. In addition to work and family, Kim helps her husband with the College and Career class at the church and also directs the Children's Music Ministry and drama team. The Submissive Spirit was born from her desire to reach out to other Christian women across the globe and share encouragement and the love of Christ.