Summer Daily Devotional - Psalm 51

The Pain of the Plow

The Pain of the Plow

Psalm 51 is one of the most well-known Psalms, and rightly so. It is David’s Psalm of confession following his adultery with Bathsheba.


And before we roll our eyes and cast a stone at that wicked adulterer David, we need to realize that this could and should be your Psalm of confession and mine.


Here’s the big idea for you to chew on throughout the day:


True spiritual life begins when we offer a Spirit-born, broken-hearted plea for mercy.


Life begins after death. Death to self. Death to sin. Death to hypocrisy. Death to deception. Death to saving face. Death to playing games with God.


God used the prophet Nathan to expose David’s hidden sin, and by God’s grace, David responded with genuine repentance.


“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin” (Ps. 51:1-2).


This Psalm ties in perfectly with Pastor Josh’s sermon last Sunday on repentance. He gave 4 aspects to the nature of true repentance, all of which we see in David’s prayer.


These are really helpful categories as you consider your own ongoing practice of repentance…and here they are for quick review or in case you missed it:


  • Conviction of Sin… (seeing your sin by the work of the Holy Spirit)
  • Contrition over Sin… (feeling your sin and its effects)
  • Confession of Sin… (articulating your sin without defense or minimization)
  • Conforming from Sin… (turning from sin and changing how you live)


Here are 4 additional observations about biblical confession & repentance from Psalm 51…


1. We must truly acknowledge our sin as being, ultimately, against God.


A lot of people were impacted, hurt, and affected by David’s sin. But David knew the reality that the ultimate offended party in sin is always God. Our biggest problem is with God. “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” (Ps. 51:4) We haven’t truly confessed or repented until we do business vertically with God, owning our sinful nature and acts outright.


2. God is after new-found internal honesty.


Sin runs to our core, and the light of God’s truth exposes our true inner condition and dialogue. David prayed, “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place” (Ps. 51:6). God sees and knows our heart of hearts and calls us to a raw honesty and integrity that drops the inner self-justification and minimization.


3. True repentance comes with palpable dependence and desire.


Create in me a clean heart! Don’t take your Spirit from me! Restore my joy & a willing spirit!


These are the desperate pleas and longings of a broken and repentant heart.


David is crystal clear that he is 100% dependent on God’s grace and mercy. He makes his appeal to God for the help and intervention that only God can give. We have no other hope or prayer in light of our sinful condition before God.


4. God will not despise a broken and contrite heart.


This is the promise and hope at the end of a painful road. God gives grace to the broken and humble. He sees the heart, and He responds to true contrition with amazing grace.


Twentieth-century pastor and author A.W. Tozer talked about the “pain of the plow” of repentance—the necessary breaking up of the hard ground of our hearts. But the pain of the plow opens the ground to the fresh rain and new seed. It opens the way for a new harvest of spiritual fruit and life.


True spiritual life begins when we offer a Spirit-born, broken-hearted plea for mercy.


Wherever there’s need, do business with God today. Confess, repent, come clean.


Open the gate to the pain of the plow.


And if you’re walking in the freedom of integrity and joy of salvation, rejoice in the mercy that God has shown you and praise Him for His grace that is sustaining you.


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