Psalm 51, Day 6

Devotional for Saturday, May 23

Psalm 51:16-19
You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
    You do not want a burnt offering.
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
    You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
Look with favor on Zion and help her;
    rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit—
    with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings.
    Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.

The end of this psalm reminds us it was written in a place and time. Burnt offerings were the order of the day for relating to God, and would continue to be so for a long time.

But we also get a glimpse of what was to come, what was to make possible the healing of broken and repentant hearts even today. Sacrifices were a means to an end. To demonstrate this, God came in flesh to provide the ultimate sacrifice, atoning for every sin committed.

Fully divine, Jesus could not be repentant, but he could demonstrate how terribly broken God’s heart is when we sin. Through Jesus, God experienced a painful and humiliating death, bearing the weight of all the world’s sins while nailed to some timbers. All this to help us break free from sin’s grip.

To take advantage of this great gift, all we have to do is be contrite and repentant enough to believe. We have to humble ourselves, finding our place in the great design of the universe. We are the created, God is the Creator.

As always, there is good news in this story. The Creator loves his creation dearly. The joy and freedom God offers far exceeds what we could find on our own.

With all his power and all his wealth, King David believed it, and we should, too.

Thank you, Lord, for the process of repentance and salvation, a gift freely given and undeserved. Amen.

With Praise and Confession

Devotional for Saturday, May 16

Psalm 66:16-19 (NLT)
Come and listen, all you who fear God,
    and I will tell you what he did for me.
For I cried out to him for help,
    praising him as I spoke.
If I had not confessed the sin in my heart,
    the Lord would not have listened.
But God did listen!
    He paid attention to my prayer.

People like to hear life lessons from someone who has experienced success. The psalmist here lays out a pattern of prayer that proved effective for him.

As he went to God, seeking relief, he remembered that our first task is to praise God. The relationship between God and creation always has to be in proper context; God is over all things, and we are made to praise! Our praise may be expressed in different ways, depending on our limited abilities, but we need to use the talents we have been given.

Have you ever considered opening your personal prayer time with a song of praise to God, or a poem about God, or a small work of art glorifying God, assuming you are equipped in such ways? If you lack such talents, how might you praise God with the talents you do have?

As Jesus noted during his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, where the people fail to cry out, the rocks may take up the cause. Praise of God is hard-wired into creation, and we need to remember this truth whenever we turn our faces to God.

Confession also was an important part of the psalmist’s prayer. We likely have not achieved anything close to holiness. It helps to confess our sins before God, acknowledging we are unworthy to be before him.

Centuries after the psalmist wrote his words, God humbled himself to take on flesh and die for our sins, and our creator is pleased when we express humility, too.

Praise and confession are key components to a reverent approach to God. God paid attention in the psalmist’s day, and he is paying attention now.

Lord, may we always draw near your throne in a respectful and humble way, and may what we ask be aligned with your teachings and your will. Amen.