My sacrifice [the sacrifice acceptable] to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart [broken down with sorrow for sin and humbly and thoroughly penitent] such, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17 (AMP)
Most of us are familiar with the life of King David. God called him a man after his own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), yet we know David made some grave mistakes that cost him and others a great deal of pain. Two of those mistakes were his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah.
Some time elapsed from the time David committed those sins until the prophet Nathan paid him a visit (2 Samuel 12:1-15). The exact amount of time is unknown, but one commentary suggests that it could have been as much as one year. After Nathan rebuked David and brought his sin into the open David penned the words to Psalms 51.
In speaking of a broken spirit David uses the Hebrew word shabar. Shabar means to burst, to break to pieces or to reduce. It is easy to see the brokenness in David’s heart as he approached God about his sin and asked for mercy. He wrote, Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! (Psalm 51:1-2 ESV)
When speaking of a contrite heart he uses the Hebrew word dakah. This word means to crumble, to beat to pieces, to bruise, to crush or to humble. David humbly offers his repentant (bruised and crushed) heart as a sacrifice to God. David knew the required sacrifice for his pardon and that God would be pleased with no less (Psalm 51:16).
There is a popular prayer in many Christian circles today that says, “Lord, break our hearts with the things that break yours.” It’s easy to look around us and see the things that break the Father’s heart. Those things include injustices of all kinds; hunger, abortion, war, racism to name of few. However, we should make sure that we don’t overlook the things inside of us that break his heart, the sin that so easily besets us (Hebrews 12:1).
Our sin should break our hearts and we should approach God in humble repentance. In fact it is in our brokenness and repentance that God dwells and we find mercy. Isaiah wrote, For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite. (Isaiah 57:15 ESV)
Though we may approach God with confidence (Hebrews 4:16), we should never go into his presence presumptuously as though we have earned the right to be there. We have nothing to offer him that he hasn’t provided for us. When repenting of our sin we approach God in brokenness with our will and self-sufficiency crushed; totally dependent on the price Jesus paid for our sin. He made the necessary sacrifice for us to come into the Father’s presence (Hebrews 10:19).
Does your sin break your heart? How often do you go to God in humble repentance?
Scriptures for meditation: