“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”
Psalm 51: 10
King James Version
“Why God Loved David” Part XV
“My strength is the strength of ten, because my heart is pure.”
What do I think David meant when he asked God to create a “clean” heart in him?
What does it mean to have a “right spirit”?
“The Lord is a wrecker of evil in our hearts, but a renewer of the good.”
Theophylact of Bulgaria
“Let us have faith that right makes might.”
As I’ve shared with you before, I love old movies. However, there’s even one thing I like better than an old movie and this is when the old movie is based upon an old book or an old historical story. The movie Camelot is just such a masterpiece. I am especially fond of the version of this Celtic legend of King Arthur, Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot which was a 1960 Broadway hit and seven years later became a triple Academy Award-winning screen musical starring Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero. This theatrical spectacular portrays with grandeur, the very unique idea that was at the core of the legendary King Arthur’s kingdom. The philosophy, which was expressed by the King himself, was his deeply held belief that “right makes might.”
I find it very eye-opening that during one of the most convulsive times in American history, the greatly admired U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln, uttered these same words -- words which we find coming to life in Psalm 51 when David wrote to his Father, expressing not only his deep regret for sin, but also his unending need for heavenly mercy to descend upon him, because he longed for his life to be made “right” once again.
As we continue to explore the opening of David’s heart to God, we find in Psalm 51: 10, that David realized his great need for more than just a simple, wipe and wash on his dirty heart which would only remove the top layer of grime. David wanted what we called “deep cleaning”.
To get a better appreciation of what David was yearning for God to do in his life, I want to look at five of the specific words which are contained in Psalm 51: 10 as they are defined in the Hebrew translation.
Here are the five words in Psalm 51: 10 which I’d like to study more closely:
1.) Create: To cut down as a tree. To select and then feed as in the formative process. To start over and create from the beginning.
2.) Clean: Pureness, in the moral sense.
3.) Renew: To rebuild.
4.) Right: To be standing perpendicular. To be fashioned and fixed as a straight frame. To be prepared and made ready to be firmly established.
5.) Within: At the nearest part to the center core of the heart.
If we take these five words and study each one, we get a very extraordinary perspective of what it was that David discovered he needed from God. Make no mistake, David knew full-well he could not, in any way, fix himself. He had already come to regard his life as such a mess that as we studied yesterday, he implored God not to even look at the “dump” that was his filthy life.
Instead of making a futile attempt to try and “white-wash” himself, David pleaded with God to create in him a clean heart. This type of creation, as we see in the Hebrew, meant God had to start over at the beginning with David. What’s more, the word “clean” which David uses in Psalm 51: 10, does not have the same meaning as the word “clean” used in Psalm 51: 7 where David asks God to “purge him with hyssop” so he will be “clean.” This “clean” in the Hebrew, along with the use of hyssop, focuses on the Levitical laws of cleanliness. However, in Psalm 51: 10, the word “clean” points directly to moral purity. This is the purity which is found when the pedal hits the metal. This is the purity that is reflected in Joseph when he was enticed by Mrs. Potipher and yet he informed her that he would not fall into her trap and “sin” against his God. The cleanliness David knew he desperately needed was one that scrubbed out all the hidden lust-filled crevices in his sinful heart.
Having asked God to recreate his heart and clean it out thoroughly, David then proceeded to appeal to his heavenly Father’s graciousness by asking Him to replace what was a mess with something new. David told God to: “Renew a right spirit within me.” The renewal David was referring to was a rebuilding of what had been torn down. What God had cleared out had left a vacuum that David wanted filled with what was “right.” With the wrong and evil removed, God then fashioned and established within David a firm and straight frame. Right began to be might in David and the same happens in you and me, too. David wasn’t a liar anymore. And he wasn’t a weak-kneed, vacillating figure blowing in the wind. What God had rebuilt was strong, firm and straight. What’s more, it wasn’t just the outside of David God worked on. The critical rebuilding God undertook in David was an internal job which cleaned, fashioned, and fixed him from the inside out.
As I think about David coming to God, admitting freely how he had fouled up and asking for God to recreate him in the most inner portions of his being, it becomes easy for me to understand God’s love for David. Here was a powerful king, who could have eliminated his naysayers with one swift slice of his sword, but who instead, when confronted by the evil within his heart, humbly asked God to recreate him from his inside out. No wonder God loved David so much.
The way David came to his Father asking for help should give each of us the encouragement we need to come to our Father, too, especially when the rubble in our lives needs our Creator to clean and renew us. In the words of Willem Hooft, “It belongs to the very life of the people of God that it must accept again and again to have its life renewed by a new confrontation with its Lord and His holy will.” And like David, when we are cleansed, we will find that right does make might.
“O Lord God, our Father most loving, we would not, even if we could, conceal anything from You, but rejoice rather that You know us as we are and see every desire and every motive of our hearts. Help us, Lord, to strip off every mask and veil when we come into Your presence, and to spread before You every thought and every secret of our being, that they may be forgiven, purified, amended, and blessed by You; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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