Daily D – Psalm 51:10-12
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me
I enjoy going to the dentist. Each station in the building has a television tuned to a home remodeling show. This makes it possible to gather ideas for home restoration while getting teeth cleaned, cavities filled, or the ever-popular root canal. Whenever I visit Dr. Tuggey (Could there be a better name for a dentist?), my focus is on sledge hammers and shiplap and not needles and drills.
Did you know God is in the soul restoration business? Psalm 23:3 says, “he refreshes my soul.” The Christian Standard Bible translates these words, “He renews my life.” The New Living Translation says, “He renews my strength.” The New American Standard Bible says what we most likely recall if we are of a certain age when it declares, “He restores my soul.”
This desire for soul restoration is a recurring theme for King David. Take a look at psalms 6, 32, 38, and 143. It appears from this distance KD was a lot like the Apostle Paul (Romans 7:21-25). It looks like he struggled with dueling desires like we do.
As famous as David’s sin was (sins were?), so was/were his minor key songs of repentance. Verses 10-13 in Psalm 51 instruct us in how to pray for renewal and restoration. Among the powerful words of confession and pleading in this psalm, these three verses get to the heart of the matter.
David asks for a pure heart. He requests a miracle. From Genesis 1 and following we learn an important truth: God alone creates. Humans make. Here he asks God to create in him a pure heart. Nothing he could do on his own could get him where he needed to be.
“Renew a steadfast spirit within me” may be where we get the term Backslider. At some point in his past, David stopped standing strong with God. He stood in his own strength. His strength was not strong enough.
He desired to return to the second half of Psalm 23:3 where it says, “He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” When David walked his path alone for his own sake, he wandered into territory where he did not belong and he took liberties leading to disgrace and death.
King Saul had a good start. He did not finish well. Finishing well is hard. David did not want to repeat Saul’s sins or outcome. So he prayed in verse 11, “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.” Staying in step with God and in the strength of the Holy Spirit prevents this signal failure.
David finishes with a request for joy and a willing spirit. Why did David so willingly step into the sin episode with Bathsheba? Because he thought he could find satisfying pleasure there. What he discovered is how a few minute’s pleasure in no way compares with the endless joy of knowing and experiencing God in every moment.
As he compared the results of his selfish desires with God’s overflowing goodness in all things at all times, he longed to return to joy. Not only did he desire to return, he aspired to stay. He wanted to delight himself in God without fail, without end. Feel free to make his prayer your own: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
How is this prayer helpful for you?
I will seek a willing spirit to keep in step with God all of my life.
Our Father, I too want to finish well. Grant me a willing spirit to hear you and obey you in all things at all times. Remind me as often as necessary how this is the pathway of joy. Amen.
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Psalm 139:17, 18 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!
2 Corinthians 5:1-5 For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 10:13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.