586:  Experiencing True Repentance from Psalm 51

586: Experiencing True Repentance from Psalm 51

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How to Experience God Through Repentance

In our quest for a deeper relationship with the Lord, we have been talking about what genuine repentance looks like in real-time.  And we found ourselves in the middle of Psalm 51, examining six key words in David’s prayer of repentance that show us how to not only receive forgiveness from the Lord, but how to experience His presence in the process.  And, as a reminder, the six key words found in Psalm 51:10-12 are as follows:

Please DoCreate in me a clean heart, O God, and
Please Dorenew a steadfast spirit within me.
Please Don’tDo not cast me away from Your presence, and
Please Don’tdo not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Please DoRestore to me the joy of Your salvation, and
Please Douphold me by Your generous Spirit.

But what do these words mean?  And how do they point us to a deeper Christian life of experiencing His presence when we come to Him in repentance?


(You, God) Create in Me a Clean Heart

After being confronted by the prophet Nathan, David pleads,

“(You) Create (bārāʾ – to bring into existence, to create out of nothing, ex nihilo) in me (personal) a clean (ṭāhôr – clean, pure, genuine, free from moral impurity) heart (lēḇ – the immaterial part of man, the seat of a person’s mind, will, knowledge, volition, and emotions), O God (ʾelōhiym – the One True God, the Creator and Sustainer, the Sovereign One).”

He understood that he couldn’t make himself righteous through willpower alone.  No, David needed God to create something completely new in Him that he couldn’t do by himself.  The word “create” means to make something out of nothing, just as God created the universe by His word.

Likewise, we need the Lord to give us a pure, undefiled heart when we come to Him in repentance.  On our own, we can’t clean up the mess inside us.  God must perform heart surgery, transforming us from the inside out as we yield ourselves to Him.


(You, God) Renew a Steadfast Spirit Within Me

David also prays,

and (You) renew (ḥāḏaš – to restore, reestablish on a new or improved basis, to revitalize and make new or like new) a steadfast (kûn – to be marked by firm determination or resolution, to be unshakeable, to stand upright) spirit (rûaḥ) within me (personal).”

Though God cleansed David’s heart previously, he lost that wonderful experience through sin.  Now David asks God to restore what was lost, to “renew” and reestablish the steadfast spirit he once had.  David now understands he needs help staying firmly rooted in his commitment to the Lord because, left on his own, he will once again fail.

When we walk in sin and disobedience, we become spiritually unstable, often losing our zeal for God’s kingdom.  But through repentance, God renews our spirit, revitalizing our passion for Christ and His righteousness.


(You, God) Do Not Cast Me Away From Your Presence

Haunted by his grievous offenses, David worries about losing fellowship with God.  So he implores the Lord to,

“(You) Do not cast (šālaḵ – to throw, fling, to toss casually away, to dispose of) me (personal) away from Your (God) presence (pāniym – face, being before or in front of someone, proximity), and (You) do not take (lāqaḥ – grasp, seize, take away) Your Holy (qōḏeš – sacred, sanctified, set apart and consecrated to God) Spirit (rûaḥ) from me (personal).”

David fears being flung from God’s presence like worthless garbage because of his sin.  And we too, like David, must zealously guard our relationship with the Holy Spirit, who now permanently indwells believers under the new covenant.  Through Him, God makes His home in our hearts.  Sin still grieves and quenches the Spirit today, distancing us from intimate fellowship with God.  Thus, we must continually rely on Christ’s blood to cleanse our conscience and keep our access to the Father through the Spirit open and unhindered.


Restore to Me the Joy

David also prays,

“(You) Restore (šûḇ – to turn, return, to back, do again, to bring back into original existence, use, function or position) to me (personal) the joy (śāśôn – exultation, gladness, rejoicing, jubilation, an emotion of great happiness and pleasure) of Your (God’s) salvation (yēšaʿ – deliverance, rescue, help, preservation, the act of delivering from sin or saving from evil),”

David isn’t worried about losing his salvation.  Rather, he wants the delight and gladness that should flow from his salvation by God to overflow again.  He remembers the exuberance that once accompanied his walk with the Lord, but now, his tank feels empty.  He longs for that joy to bubble up afresh to energize his pursuit of Christ.

Many of us need to plead David’s prayer in our own life.  Do you “rejoice with exultation” over the salvation graciously extended to you in Christ (1 Peter 1:6, 8-9)?  Does your heart swell when reflecting on the wonder of being delivered by God from sin and condemnation?  If not, cry out to Him as David did.  Ask God to “restore to me the joy of Your salvation!”  Ask Him to unclog anything hindering the river of joy that should water your soul.


Uphold Me by Your Spirit

Finally, after begging for inner cleansing and transformation, David requests the Spirit’s ongoing sustaining grace:

and (You) uphold (sāmaḵ – sustain, support, bear up, establish, to supply with everything needed) me (personal) by (what) Your (God’s) generous (nāḏiyḇ – willing, noble, an attitude of heart that consents or agrees, magnanimous, is disposed or inclined towards, gladly willing) Spirit (rûaḥ).”

Even with a renewed heart, David knows he will stumble again without the Spirit’s help.  He needs the Holy Spirit to strengthen and guide him to live faithfully before God and walk uprightly according to God’s truth.

And like David, you and I desperately require the Spirit’s daily empowerment to put sin to death and mirror Christ in our lives.  As Paul explains, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).  So make it your continual prayer to depend completely on Him to uphold and steer you along righteous paths for God’s glory.


The Pathway to Restoration

We all need times of intensive spiritual repair and revival to realign our affections with Christ.  And God uses genuine repentance to bring us back to Himself.  But true repentance requires ruthless honesty, not superficial lip service.  So follow David’s example.  Pour out your heart before God.  Confess ways your love has grown cold.  Ask the Spirit to cleanse, renew, and uphold you afresh through His indwelling power.  Then, walk forward in newness of life and joy.

And go tell someone what God has done in your life.


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