PSALMS 51:5-6: “You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. Look with favor on Zion and help her; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit— with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings. Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.” NLT
OBSERVATION: How do you rebuild the walls of a broken life? This is a question that we need to ask ourselves as we see the brokenness all around us. And, this question takes on even greater importance if the brokenness is in our own life!
David was called a man after God’s own heart. Yet, his writing in this Psalm comes from the lowest depths of failure in his personal life. David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and sent Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, to the front lines to be killed. Confronted by Nathan the prophet, David is now left to deal with his grave sin. In this Psalm, we get a glimpse into this moment of agony and repentance in David’s life.
At the time of David’s sin, Israel was strong and united. Jerusalem had been built up, and David was living in a palace. The Ark of the Covenant had been brought to Jerusalem and sacrifice and worship were a daily part of the life of Israel. The army was strong and victorious and they dwelt behind strong walls of protection. Yet, David knew that his sin threatened all of this!
In life, there are spiritual walls and physical walls around us. This was true with Israel. Even though the physical walls stood strong, David realized that his sin had left a breach in the spiritual walls of Jerusalem. We never sin with impunity. Our sin affects our lives and has an impact on the lives of others. In David’s deep repentance he realizes this and cries out,
- “O God. Look with favor on Zion and help her; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.”
So many times when there is brokenness in our life or the life of another, we fail to understand the importance of rebuilding the spiritual walls that have been breached. We focus on the tangible effects of sin but not the spiritual root of sin. We want to apply bricks and mortar to our problem when what we need are sincere repentance and God’s intervention. This is why David prayed,
- “Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.” Psalms 51:4 NLT
Before David could do anything to restore the breach he had created, he knew that he had to restore the breach he had made in his fellowship with God. David in reality did not only sin against God, he sinned against Bathsheba, Uriah, the child he conceived, and the entire nation of Israel. However, before any of that could be addressed, David’s heart had to be restored!
So many times we try to deal with our sin and brokenness with physical acts alone. We try to rebuild the walls of our physical and emotional life and neglect the walls of the spirit. This is why David proclaims,
- “You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart,”
David could have run to the priest, asked him to offer sacrifices for his sin, lifted prayers, sang songs of worship, and given an offering. Yet, all of this would have been meaningless if David first and foremost did not address the broken walls of his spirit and His fellowship with God. David came to God with a heart in need of healing. His cry was desperate and sincere. His plea was from a broken and truly repentant heart.
- “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you.” Psalms 51:10-15 NLT
God did restore David. His sin was fully forgiven. His spirit was restored. Yet, David’s restoration did not remove him from the physical consequences of his sin. Once the spiritual walls had been rebuilt by the Lord there were physical walls to deal with. There was the loss of a child and the rebellion of a son. The sword never departed from David’s lineage. We need to realize that our actions have consequences.
Yet, in all of this, God’s mercy was greater than David’s sin. David’s legacy was not the one who committed adultery, but the man after God’s own heart. He left all the resources needed to build the Temple to his son Solomon. He initiated true worship around the tabernacle that would continue when the Temple was built. And, he left us with a legacy of Scripture inspired by the hand of God.
Jesus came to defeat the power of sin and death so that we could rebuild our lives in the image of God. He came to offer us forgiveness of sin and the rebuilding of the broken walls of our spirit. And, He guides us in the task of rebuilding our physical and emotional lives as He restores our hearts. David understood this principle. He understood that the spiritual walls were first and the physical walls were not to be neglected.
- “O God. Look with favor on Zion and help her; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit— with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings. Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.”
Lord, search me and know me this morning. Look upon the spiritual walls of my life. Lead me to repentance for anything that is in my life that is breaking down these walls. Forgive me, cleanse me, and restore me so that I can offer my life as a living sacrifice. Empower me by Your Spirit to rebuild my life and to lead others to Your throne of grace in their time of need!
In Jesus Name!