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Psalm 51:3 – For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. (NKJV)

One of the evidences of authenticity about the Bible is that it never covers up the ugliness in its characters lives. David is perfect example.

He is the only person in the Bible described as a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13.22). And yet there are some things about him that would curl your toenails:

  • At times his children despised him – 2 Sam 6.16
  • His guilt at being a poor parent would cause him problems later – 2 Sam 18.33
  • He was living it up in luxury while his men were out fighting for the country – 2 Sam 11.1
  • He lusted after another man’s wife while her husband was off serving as a soldier – 2 Sam 11.2
  • Committed adultery with her – 2 Sam 11.2-5
  • Murders the husband – 2 Sam 11.6-25
  • Steals his wife – 2 Sam 11.26-27
  • The resulting child dies because of the sin – 2 Sam 12.15-23

What makes a man guilty of such wickedness earn the exclusive title of “man after God’s own heart”? No doubt most who are reading this are not guilty of murder; even less doubt that many ARE guilty of adultery, poor parenting and as a host of other sins.

Are we capable of being called a person “after God’s own heart”, or was that just some special blessing bestowed on David? Although it might be an over-simplification, I think the quality that was the “active ingredient” for David was sincere and thorough repentance. And while there are many Scriptures we can point to, Psalm 51 shows us in nutshell why David was a Godly man.

Written following the Prophet Nathan’s rebuke for David’s sordid choices of adultery and murder, the King exhibits the qualities of a heart that truly loves God (Psalm 51):

  • He pleads for forgiveness of his sins without excuse or rationalization – v.1
  • He asks for forgiveness based on God’s mercies admitting that he does not deserve it; he throws himself on God’s mercy – v.1-2
  • He freely acknowledges his sin and admits that it is God who is transgressed against ultimately – v.3-4
  • He takes all the blame on himself so that God’s name will be blameless – v.4
  • He understands and admits that his sin wasn’t just a one time event; he was born in sin – v. 5-6
  • He admits his need to be cleansed by God; he can’t do it himself – v.7-9
  • He realizes that his future holiness is dependent upon God’s power – v.10-11
  • He knows he can’t fake joyfulness and asks God to restore; he also realizes that true joy can only come from being right with God – v.12
  • He knows the importance of teaching the lessons he has learned to others so that “sinners” will be turned to God – v.13
    • Note: this is exactly the reason why Christians should be ready and willing to share their “testimony”. It’s not religious requirement or a way that your church has devised to embarrass you.

    By testifying (telling others) of how God has cleansed you from your sin
    and saved you from a life of wickedness, other sinners will be turned to God’s mercy.

  • David asks to be delivered from his guilty heart showing that he fully realized he deserved to be punished for his sin – v.14
  • He then promises to serve God with a pure heart and not with insincere religious acts – v.15-17

Verse 17 summarizes what made David a Godly man despite his failures:

Psalm 51:17 – The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise. (NKJV)

Just the opposite of what the world calls us to be. God loves the broken spirit (poor in spirit – Matt 5), the person who realizes that they are guilty before a Holy God and have no hope of rescue other than than the loving mercy of that same God. And God loves the contrite heart. A contrite heart is one that is genuinely sorry, that weeps over ungodly choices and decisions. It is a heart that deeply grieves over sinfulness because it offends and saddens the God who is violated by it.

What are you guilty of today? Murder, adultery, lies? Laziness, lukewarmness, spiritual mediocrity? You’re only a prayer away from becoming a person “after God’s own heart”. Let me help you get started:

Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness;According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out (remove, forget, forgive) my transgressions (sin).

Wash me (through the blood of Jesus Christ) thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin (salvation and sanctification). For I acknowledge my transgressions (sinfulness; specifically name your sins), And my sin is always before me (the curse of sin and its continued temptation).

Against You, You only (because God is the ultimate authority), have I sinned,
And done this evil (any and all sin) in Your sight— That You may be found just (so people won’t blame God for your sin) when You speak, And blameless when You judge (God is perfectly just in punishing sin).

Contemplation: Have you reached a point, or regularly get to a point where you just wish God would forget that you have committed the same sin over and over? Do you think that you have been too “bad” for God to ever love or accept? How much worse than murder or adultery can you get? Or, just the opposite, do you think your sin is not all that bad, or not that frequent, and your are a good person in no real urgent need of repentance?

Application: You can be a person “after God’s own heart” when you are “broken in spirit” (realize you a lost sinner with no hope accept Christ) and have a “contrite heart” (genuinely sad and sorry about your sin). If you have those two characteristics you have a heart that God can work with. If you don’t, it doesn’t matter how “good” you are, or talented, gifted or popular at church… you are not a person “after God’s own heart”.

  1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
  2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
  3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?