April 25, 2014
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
We come to the last four verses of David’s great psalm of repentance. We have seen him start out with profound sorrow for his misdeeds of adultery and murder, and plead with God to wash away his sins according to the Heavenly Father’s mercy. After expressing such personal needs, the king begins to think of his fellow Israelites, and their need to be close to God. Finally, he turns to the issue of worship – corporate worship at the central tabernacle. Here are verses 16 through 19 of Psalm 51:
For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in
burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a con-
trite heart — These, O God, You will not despise. Do good in Your good plea-
sure to Zion; build the walls of Jerusalem. Then You shall be pleased with the
sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering; then
they shall offer bulls on Your altar.
Have you seen the progression as we have studied this psalm over six blogs? I believe this should be the order of all confession and repentance. You get the problem of your personal sin before God solved by His mercy and grace first. Then – being reestablished in fellowship with the Father through the blood of Jesus Christ – your concern should encompass others. There are unsaved people who need to be reconciled back to their Creator. And there is the matter of worship with other believers. God wants us to praise and honor Him individually and as the Body of Christ, the Church, together.
Sacrifice – we don’t “…offer bulls on…[God’s] altar” anymore. But He still wants the “…sacrifices…[of] a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart.” God told Samuel what is important to Him in I Samuel 16:7: “For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” Yes, He wants good works to be manifest in the believer’s life, but not taking the place of a clean heart that is right with God (see Ephesians 2:8 through 10 for the proper order).
There is another related matter that David puts forth in verse 18: “Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion; build the walls of Jerusalem.” This request could be interpreted to refer to God building up the corporate spirituality of the capital – and the whole nation. But I think it more concerns the physical and military protection of both Jerusalem and all Israel. But such protection and spirituality are very closely related!
In the book of Judges, there are seven oppressions of Israel recorded. And each oppression by their pagan neighbors is directly related to apostasy in the Israelite nation! When the Jews turned from worshiping Jehovah to the idols of the pagan nations, God withdrew His protection and national security. When they returned to Him, the Lord restored their safety and prosperity. This principle is supported in many scriptures. Here are some from the psalms:
• Psalm 20:7 – “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.”
• Psalm 33:12 – “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, and the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.”
• Psalm 33:16 through 19 – “No king is saved by the multitude of an army; a mighty man is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a vain hope for safety; neither shall it deliver any by its great strength. Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.”
• Psalm 147:10 and 11 – “He does not delight in the strength of the horse: he takes no pleasure in the legs of a man. The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.”
Although God does not emphasize national godliness today – but faithfulness in His Church – the principle still holds for nations. America was founded as a Christian nation. The further we move away from God – the more we remove Him from our public lives, our educational institutes, and the government – the more the United States of America becomes vulnerable to His judgment!
This is why we need revival among Christians! We are the key! God said the same in II Chronicles 7:14:
…if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray
and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from
heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
It was true for Israel, and the principle stands today. Think about it!