Change of Heart
Psalm 51:10-19 (NRSV)-
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. 14 Deliver me from bloodshed, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.
15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased. 17 The sacrifice acceptable to God[c] is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, 19 then you will delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
How many times have you heard an empty apology? “I’m sorry” means nothing unless it comes from a repentant heart.
David gives us a picture of true repentance in Psalm 51. David loved God, but that does not mean he did not sin. David prays this Psalm after having an affair with a married woman, getting her pregnant, and having her husband killed to try and hide it (2 Samuel 11). And, what made David a man after God’s own heart was his repentance, not his perfection.
Given his repentance heart, David does not just say, “I’m sorry.” He means it. He pleads with God to have mercy on him. And, he acknowledges and feels the weight of his sins. Similarly, when we are really sorry, we acknowledge our wrongdoing without making excuses and sincerely seek forgiveness.
When we are truly repentant, we learn and grow from our mistakes. To this end, David begs God to change his heart and restore their relationship (Psalm 51:10-12). And, he emphasizes that without a repentant heart, even his good works would mean nothing (Psalm 51:16-17). So, while we might be able to pretend that we are sorry for a while, eventually, our real feelings always show.
In order for new attitudes and actions to last, we have to start with a change of heart. When our hearts are aligned with God’s, our actions will be as well (Psalm 51:17-19). And, when that happens, God works through us to share his message of salvation with others (Psalm 51:13).
Today, let’s demonstrate our willingness to learn and grow by starting the day with a change of heart filled with genuine repentance.
Father God, rather than disingenuous apologies that mask inconsistent actions and words, please fill our hearts with genuine repentance. In doing so, please change our hearts. And, please guide us to follow David’s example of asking for forgiveness and authentically repenting of our sins. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen!