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Psalm 50: 14

 “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving.”

 Psalm 51: 15 – 17

O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise. For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

Psalm 50 and 51 might best be understood when read together for they shine light upon each other. In Psalm 50 God is speaking and when you read the psalm in its entirety you see that God says the he owns all of the cattle, knows every bird and so on. He does not require Israel, or us, to sacrifice goats, sheep or cattle so that He can feed Himself. It was not the sacrifice of animals that He wanted. He said to offer Him a sacrifice of thanksgiving.

David responds to God in Psalm 51. He first prays that the Lord will give him a mouth full of praise then he goes on to explain that he understands that the sacrifice the Lord wants is the sacrifice of praise. He tells God that he would gladly give sacrifices of burnt offerings if that is what the Lord wanted but that he knows that is not what the Lord seeks. In truth, I would say that the burnt offerings were necessary because people would not give the Lord what He sought; hearts devoted to Him and mouths which offered praise and thanksgiving. David reveals to us that what God really wants are our hearts.

David spoke about the human heart which is acceptable to God in terms of being broken. He also speaks of a broken spirit. When you look up the word “broken” in Strong’s Concordance you find that it does describe something that is broken. It literally means to burst. Other synonyms found in Strong’s are crush, destroy, hurt quench. This was not what I expected to find when I looked up the word. I was thinking of a heart which is not proud or haughty, a humble heart and spirit so I was surprised that David used a word that truly does mean broken. There is one other term that Strong’s uses in defining this word which, I believe, reconciles both viewpoints. The word shabar (broken) means break down, in pieces, etc. but in it is the idea of rebirth. The Strong’s definition literally says “bring to birth.” This means that God wants to receive our hearts in such a condition that he can rebirth them in His glory.

We sometimes talk about people having to hit rock bottom before they can get their lives in order. Perhaps there is an element of that kind of contriteness in this verse. Remember that David has already prayed for God to create in him a clean, upright heart (v. 10). I believe what we learn from this is that which God wants from us is a heart which has been cleansed of the worldly mess and all of our preconceived notions so that He can write His truth upon it. God will create a new, glorified creature in each one of us but he needs that clean, white slate upon which to write. He is not going to argue doctrine with us. He is not going to battle with us over what the truth really is. He will give us all truth and wisdom freely but we must first give Him a clean slate upon which He can write. We must prepare our hearts in the sense that we must offer them to God with a willingness for Him to fill them with Himself and His words. We do not have to do any of the work to clean them other than pray and receive. Jesus has already provided the heart wash and stocked it with cleaning fluid. All we have to do is to decide to drive our hearts through it. That’s all but it is a critical piece of the process. We must first do our part and then Father, Son and Holy Spirit will take over from there.

 So this is the sacrifice that the Lord requires of us, our hearts. 

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