Psalms 51 - A Broken Spirit

Psalms 51
A Broken Spirit
Pastor Stephen "Red" Shumate
May 6th, 2018
Photo by nikko macaspac on Unsplash


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Psalms 51
Most of us are familiar with the story of King David and Bathsheba.  David saw her from a distance, and he called for her to be brought to him.  When she came, he slept with her and she got pregnant. And in order to save himself a lot of embarrassment and trouble, he schemed and schemed trying not to get caught.  But none of the schemes worked and ultimately he had her husband sent to the front lines of battle, where he would be killed.  In fact, he even had the army retreat and leave him there to ensure that it would happen. 

This of course, was sinful, in so many ways.  But he kept his secret hidden, until God revealed what was going on to the prophet Nathan. Nathan then went to David and called him out on it, and said, Look David, you need to repent. Needless to say, David suddenly felt the guilt and shame of what he had done, and this is when this Psalms 51 was written. 

Psalms 51:14-17 
Save me from the guilt of bloodshed, God—
God of my salvation—
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it;
you are not pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifice pleasing to God is[c] a broken spirit.
You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God.

Here, David is feeling the guilt and shame of his sin and is desperate for forgiveness and restoration.  I truly believe that David was feeling so low about his sin, that he would have given up his whole kingdom, to undo what he had done.  But David says…

You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it;
you are not pleased with a burnt offering.

Have you ever messed up so bad that you would give anything in the world to go back in time and undo whatever it is that you did? I think we have all been there.  The things is, there is nothing we have that God wants us to give Him in order to be forgiven for our mess.

So, what does God want?

“The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit.
You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God.”

Sounds simple enough right? The problem is that we have a hard time allowing our spirit to be broken.  It is in our nature to hold on so desperately to what little shred of dignity and life that we have so that we don’t have to go down the road of shame, guilt and regret that we will tend to do everything we can to not allow ourselves to be completely broken.  The problem is, when we do this, we are just prolonging our suffering. 

Back in my younger days, I used to go kayaking.  And one time I was going down a rapid, and I made a mistake.  I should have been leaning one way, when I was actually leaning the other.  And when I hit the bottom of the rapid, I started to turn over.  But I didn’t want to turn over, I so threw in a low brace.  This was my second mistake. 

While the low brace WAS preventing me from turning all the way over, it also wasn’t allowing me to completely right my boat or get out of the rapid either.  I needed to be in a high brace for that. 

So, I sat there for a few moments, thinking of everything possible I could do to prevent turning all the way over… but there was nothing I could do.  My choice was now to either keep this low brace on and spend the rest of my life in that rapid… or I could let go, let myself turn completely over, where I could reset and be able to roll the boat upright the right way.  It wasn’t until I made the choice to let go and let myself turn completely over that I was able to upright my boat and go on with life.

I think sometimes that is where we are in life.  We make a big mistake… we mess up… and our life starts to turn upside down.  But we keep holding on and doing whatever we can to prevent life from completely falling apart, or to keep from being found out.  The problem is, the things we are doing aren’t what we need to be doing and instead is preventing us from moving forward and getting life straightened out. 

Sometimes, we have to admit defeat.  Sometimes we have to be humbled.  Sometimes we have to be completely broken and feel shame and regret before we can move on.  And according to this scripture this is what God desires.

The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit.
You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God.

This is what God desires, but it’s not that He desires us to be broken. What He does desire, is for us to not live in this half up/half down state.  He doesn’t want to see us live in a partially broken, but holding on with dear life state.  He desires to see restoration and the path to that restoration sometimes is complete brokenness. 

So, what that means is when we find ourselves desperately holding on and doing whatever it takes to keep our head above water and keep from feeling guilt and shame… when we find ourselves doing wrong things to make right things happen.  It’s time for us to surrender.  It’s time for our spirits to be broken, so God can begin rebuilding us from the ground up. 

Are you desperately holding on when you need to be broken?


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