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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Living Sacrificially: A Psalm 51:14-17 Devotional

Psalm 51:14-17
14Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation;
then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
15O Lord, open my lips
that my mouth may declare Your praise.
16For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it.
You are not pleased with burnt offering.
17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken spirit and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

David recognized he was a sinner. He understood God as loving, kind, merciful, great of compassion, and omnipotent. David realized he sinned against God and only He could cleanse him from sin and guilt. He pled with God and asked for Him to purify him ceremonially and wash him spiritually. David asked for his joy and gladness be restored to him. He asked God to create a clean heart and renewed spirit within him. In the last devotional (vs. 11-13), David realized he was unworthy to live in God’s presence or to have His Spirit live in him. He asked God not to cast him away from Him and not to remove His Spirit. Besides asking for a re-created heart and renewed spirit, David pled to God to restore the joy of his salvation. He wanted to live his life knowing he did not deserve God’s forgiveness, but could know and have hope he was God’s child and would forever be with Him.

What came next, in verse thirteen, begins a multi-verse reaction to God’s forgiveness, re-creation, restoring, and renewing of David. David, out of love for God, stated what he would do. He would teach others who rebelled against God about Him and His ways so they would be converted – turn back to God from their rebellion against Him.

With verses fourteen through sixteen David told God he would show his love to Him through specific actions. Because of God’s delivering him - rescuing him and snatching him  – from bloodguiltiness - from sin and its death penalty, he would joyfully sing of God’s righteousness, declare His praise, and offer his humble and broken being for God’s plans and purposes. David said he would sing and tell everyone about God and His righteous being, justice, and forgiveness. He would declare his own salvation from sin, guilt, and death by God (vs. 14). We read David did this in Psalm 35:28 and 71:15. In both these verses he declared God’s righteousness and salvation, both of which he was unable to fathom the depth. Do we show our love of God? Is it a visible testimony so others can know God, too?

Next David continued to state what he would do because of God’s righteousness, justice, and forgiveness (vs. 15). He asked God to open his lips to declare His praise. David wanted to express what God did for him and who God is. This speaks of the literal interpretation. Metaphorically, “lips” refers to the shore or edge of rivers and seas and “mouth” refers to a river, sea, or well. From this, we realize David’s praise and declaration of God would have no end. What he said would be just the beginning and did not encompass the entirety of Who God truly is. God is boundless; David loved Him and could spend each of his days praising and telling about Him and still would never finish speaking of God. In Psalm 71:15, he could not know the sum of God. Do we run out of things to say about God? Can we talk about God every day and never get to the end of who God is? Are we willing to spend our days praising Him?

With verse sixteen, David recognized no ritual animal sacrifice was acceptable to God for providing permanent salvation from sins. God does not delight in the death and sacrifice of animals, otherwise David would have given it. What we own - our possessions - will not testify to our realization of our smallness and unworthiness of righteous, forgiving, and saving God. To make an adamant point, David repeated this and said, “You are not pleased with burnt offerings.” Do we today try to offer something physical and fleeting to God hoping it is enough to show our gratefulness to Him?

David recognized nothing he could give God would be enough. He realized only by giving himself – his whole being created and restored by God – to God could his gratitude, love, and devotion be most shown to Him. This requires recognition of God worthiness and our unworthiness. It compels us to give that which is most dear to us – our lives, that which is eternal because of God’s forgiveness and salvation given to us. David acknowledged this in verse seventeen when he said, “The sacrifices acceptable to God are a broken spirit; a broken spirit and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” “Broken spirit and contrite heart” speak of David’s sorrow for sin and humble and thoroughly penitent approach to God. This broken spirit is a person’s crushed will, that which a person uses to decide, one’s temperament, and one’s choices - right or wrong. The person realizes what he or she has done or thought is crushed because of recognizing God and His ways. That person renders him or herself crumbled by his or her sin in the presence of almighty God. The contrite heart speaks of a broken or crushed inner man because of recognition of sin and unworthiness. Both these phrases refer to a person who is broken with sorrow for sin and humble and thorough penitence before God. This person recognizes God’s greatness and salvation as opposed to his or her sinfulness and finiteness. The person realizes he or she has nothing worthy to give to God in gratitude and love that is sufficient for what God did in his or her life except to give back his or her greatest possession – his or her life.

The sacrifices we give to God, all we own, came from God. They are fleeting and nothing more than possessions. God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and everything in the created world. Our God-made saved and eternal selves are greater than anything we have to give back to God in thanks and praise. David said this; his life was the greatest sacrifice he could offer, and he chose to give it back to God as a living testimony of word and action.

Have you come to the place where you realize there is nothing you can give God that is adequate to free you from sin, guilt, and death? Sin requires justice. Penitential confession recognizes God, His greatness, and His power to forgive and save forever. Our response to Him should be love for Him. David shows us love for God should lead us to live out in word and action praise and worship of God and obedience to His ways. How has your walk with God been today? Did your words and actions speak of God so others would note it and learn more about and praise Him, too? True love for God should be evident in our obedience to Him.

What do your words and actions say about God today? It may be time for you to return to God and let Him re-create your heart and renew your spirit.

What will you choose to do? Will you live sacrificially today?