Summer ought to be a season when we’re able to rest well—a time we can spend with the Lord and His goodness. But, oftentimes, we actually fall out of healthy spiritual habits and end up trying to rest from the Lord instead of resting in Him.
That’s why we’ve created the Summer Selah Series. Over 40 days, we’ll be sharing daily devotions during a season where you may not feel very devoted.
Based on excerpts from his book Selah: Devotions From The Psalms For Those Who Struggle With Devotion, Ross Lester, our Pastor of Preaching and West Congregation Pastor, will provide readings from select Psalms, a brief devotional reflection, and some prayer points for each of the 40 days.
Take some time to read Psalm 51. Then, come back and read the following verses again.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.” (Psalm 51:10-12 ESV)
Psalm 51 has to be one of the most gut-wrenching passages in all of Scripture. It was written by David after he had been confronted by the prophet Nathan about his adultery with Bathsheba and his brutally arranged murder of her husband. David was rightly horrified by what he had done, and he penned Psalm 51 as an act of repentance.
Repentance is a word that is used often at church, and so we can forget to stop and look at what it really means. In David’s painful song, we have a great model of biblical, real repentance.
Real repentance requires an understanding of the nature of God. David started the Psalm by remembering God’s unfailing love and great compassion. If we don’t believe that God loves us and if we don’t believe that He has enduring compassion toward us, then we won’t want to approach Him with our sin. On the other hand, if we do believe that He is loving and compassionate, then we can’t wait to run to Him, knowing full well how He will respond.
Real repentance requires an understanding of the nature of our sin. David was honest about his sin and he didn’t try to mask it, cover over it, or make it seem less offensive and horrific. He looked at it long and hard, and confessed it fully. If God knows the fullness of our sin anyway and if that doesn’t alter His nature or His determination to be loving and merciful toward us, then there is no reason for us to walk in secrecy and pretense.
Real repentance requires an understanding of the nature of God’s restoration. David knew that God could cleanse him fully from his past sin, and he knew that God could also transform his heart so that he could be more able to stand against temptation in the future. If God loves us enough to restore us instead of just begrudgingly forgiving us, then we should be quick to go to Him with our dysfunction and quick to cry out to Him for restoration.
Real repentance requires humility. David was broken before God. Admitting failure is by default a humbling position, and real repentance can only come from a humble heart that is crying out, “I can’t do this. I need You.”
Real repentance leads to joy. David’s sin had led to misery, but he prayed that his repentance would lead to a restoration of joy. We keep believing that sin will lead to joy and repentance will lead to misery, but the opposite is true. When we practice real repentance, we furiously pursue our own joy.
Martin Luther reminded us that Jesus willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
What do you have to repent of today? I hope that Psalm 51 will help you do it in a real and biblical way, and I hope that it will bring you much joy.
Spend some time repenting of your sin and celebrating your Savior in prayer.
Ross Lester, Selah: Devotions From The Psalms For Those Who Struggle With Devotion (Magnolia, Texas: Lucid Books, 2017)