Psalm 51—God’s Divine Medicine to Heal Your Heart and Soul


Along with verses 11 and 12, verse 10 may be the most preached, sung, and prayed verse in church history. As He did for David, through this verse the Holy Spirit will give you full confidence that, in spite of your hourly failures, secret sinful thoughts, and other failures, God daily creates in you a new, perfect, and holy heart. You bring nothing to the table. God does everything (Philippians 2:13; Isaiah 26:12; 1 Corinthians 1:30–31). Verses 10–13 are sung after living Word sermons, living Word
Absolution, and living Word Communion. The living Word creates a new heart in you. Rejoice each time you sing this on Sunday. Sing it with your family, on your way to work, and hum it in your head where you work, and in school. In God’s grace, you are never without hope. Through His Word God creates something out of nothing, including a new heart and spirit for you (Romans 4:17).

As you speak these living Words, you acknowledge that, outside of God, in Christ, neither you nor anyone has hope. Let these words of David remind you of the words Peter said to Jesus: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68–69).

Each day, as you pray verse 12, through His living Word, God promises you His unshakable confidence that He has justified you in His sight (Philippians 3:7–9). Being justified by God (Romans 5:1), you now live a life of joy—no matter how difficult your prob­­lems might be, and no matter how intensely the devil tempts you.

The spirit of joy—expressed by the Spirit, through David—can never be contained (Luke 2:8–20; Acts 4:18–26). The more you read and meditate on God’s living Word, the more the Holy Spirit will create a missionary drive within you—a power even the devil cannot hold back (Acts 4:20).

Luther writes: “Just as David earlier prayed for, and obtained, Absolution from all his sins before God, so here he prays for Absolution of all his sins before the church . . . Thus we have the Sacraments, which we also use for the purpose of letting the whole church know that we acknowledge our Sin and believe that for Christ’s sake it has been forgiven us” (Luther’s Works, vol. 12, p. 391).

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me away from Thy presence, and do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners will be converted to Thee.

14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, Thou God of my salvation; Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Thy righteousness.

15 O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Thy praise.

16 For Thou dost not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; Thou art not pleased with burnt offering.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.

18 By Thy favor do good to Zion; build the walls of Jerusalem.

19 Then Thou wilt delight in righteous sacrifices, in burnt offering and whole burnt offering; then young bulls will be offered on Thine altar.

You ask the Spirit that you might fearlessly and publicly proclaim God’s mercy and forgiveness. “He will do it” (Psalm 37:5).

VERSES 16–19
As you daily read and pray these closing verses of Psalm 51, the Spirit will remind you of one key thing: You cannot offer any sacrifice to God in order to earn His favor or mercy (Hebrews 10:4). His only Son, Jesus Christ, has already done this on the cross (Hebrews 10:9, 10, 12, 14). To think that any of your offerings or works can earn your salvation is, in God’s sight, an offense to God and a slap in the face of Christ! Regarding your salvation, God is pleased when you come to Him, presenting to Him that which He has given you: The gift of a repentant heart! Openly praise not your own righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ. This is the sacrifice God desires and the sacrifice He will joyfully receive.

Dear Lord Jesus, lead me to thirst for Your Word (Psalm 42:1–2a; Psalm 119:81–82, 123), thereby focusing my faith on Your thoughts and not my thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). Cause me to hourly recall Your Word (John 14:16) and to speak, sing, and witness It to others. Amen!

For further study, turn to the Bible Study on page 37, questions 32–­38.

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