What Does Psalm 51:17 Mean?

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Psalm 51:17(ESV)
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Verse Thoughts

Blessed are the poor in spirit for it is only the heart that is broken before the Lord and truly humbled under a deep conviction of their own unworthiness before a holy and righteous God, that a man or woman of faith can offer to the Lord the sacrifice of a broken heart - a living sacrifice that is worthy of His acceptance.

It is only the soul who through the Spirit's convicting work, (a soul bereft of its own self-importance and which is smitten in genuine repentance of sin) who can offer the sacrifice of a broken and contrite spirit, which is so acceptable and pleasing to the heart of God.

Such lowliness of spirit proceeds from a heart of faith, which is looking to Christ as Advocate, for it is only through Him that God's mercy, forgiveness, kindness and grace will wash away every scarlet-stain that clings to our sin-encrusted soul, when offered in brokenness of heart and true contriteness of spirit.

This verse not only refers to justification for the manifold sins of the unsaved man or woman, but the crushing weight of the post-salvation sins of the true believer, who desires to die to self and live godly in Christ Jesus. Our union with our God can never be broken but our fellowship with Him and our daily communion can be severed, when the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life cause us to stray from the path of righteousness into the destructive dead-end of sin.

Unlike David we need never be concerned in this Church age that the Holy Spirit will be taken from us, for He took up permanent residence in our heart the moment we trusted Christ for salvation. But we can grieve the Spirit of God by our words and actions and we can quench the work He desires to carry out in our lives when we are not walking in humbleness of spirit and in dependence on our Father in heaven.

When David recognised his own lustful sin, he offered his own sacrifice of a broken spirit and a contrite heart, and like David we know that God will not despise such an acceptable sacrifice.

We too must approach the throne of grace in similar brokenness of heart and contrition of spirit, for such is well-pleasing and acceptable to our holy God.

My Prayer

Loving Father I understand more and more the importance of humility of heart, a contrite spirit and the need to be broken before You so that the beautiful character of the Lord Jesus can be formed and developed in me. Search me O God and show me areas where I have not yet submitted to Your leading and guidance, for I desire my life to be a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to You in Jesus name I pray, AMEN.

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Psalm 51:17 Further Study

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