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Monday, June 20, 2011

A broken and contrite heart


…A broken and contrite heart….

Psalm 51:17   The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. [1]

“…There are things you just can’t do in life.  You can’t beat the phone company, you can’t make a waiter see you until he’s ready to see you, and you can’t go home again…” [2]

Today, I’d like to take a look at Psalm 51, particularly verse 17, as read earlier.  Now, does anyone here know of the reason or the setting of this Psalm?  The Why David wrote it?  The account of the “why” of Psalm 51 is found in 2 Samuel 11:2-17:
2 And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. 3 And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?  4 And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house.  5 And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child.
6 And David sent to Joab, saying, Send me Uriah the Hittite. And Joab sent Uriah to David. 7 And when Uriah was come unto him, David demanded of him how Joab did, and how the people did, and how the war prospered.  8 And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet. And Uriah departed out of the king’s house, and there followed him a mess of meat from the king.  9 But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house. 10 And when they had told David, saying, Uriah went not down unto his house, David said unto Uriah, Camest thou not from thy journey? why then didst thou not go down unto thine house? 11 And Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing. 12 And David said to Uriah, Tarry here to day also, and to morrow I will let thee depart. So Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day, and the morrow. 13 And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him; and he made him drunk: and at even he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house.
14 And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 15 And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die.   16 And it came to pass, when Joab observed the city, that he assigned Uriah unto a place where he knew that valiant men were. 17 And the men of the city went out, and fought with Joab: and there fell some of the people of the servants of David; and Uriah the Hittite died also. [3]
The why wasn’t really Bathsheba, it was sin.  David’s lust of life, of the eye.  The truth of this is revealed in verse 27 where it reads “…But the thing that David had done displeased Jehovah.” (Samuel 11:27) [4]
God’s pronouncement of judgement comes against David in the form of Nathan in 2 Sam. 12:1-9.  This leads to David’s heart rending Psalm of forgiveness, Ps. 51.  In Ps 51, David pleads for mercy (v.1), asks to be washed clean (v.2), acknowledges his sin before God and against God (v.3), and seeks to have joy restored in to him, these verse we will look at here:
Psalm 51:10-12 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not the spirit of thy holiness from me. 12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and let a willing spirit sustain me. [5] 
He then goes on to declare what he will do for God’s renewed mercy (vs. 13-15), bringing us to our opening verse, which I’ll read here with 16 also:
Psalm 51:16-17 16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.  17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. [6]
The sorrow of David can be felt in this psalm.  One thing to note here, is that this was true repentance for what he had done, not just being sorry that he had been caught.  What happened next in his life though is foretold by Nathan in 2 Samuel 12:10  10 ‘Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’[7]  God’s judgement was that the sword would never depart David’s house again, trouble and unrest would be his lot the rest of his days.  Here, the truth of author’s Bryson statement can be seen:  “you can’t go home again.”  The reference to a broken and contrite heart in Ps 51:17 points to this.  “How?” you might ask.  What do these two seemingly different views of life have in common?  They speak of the heart, and as we go on, hopefully you’ll see what I mean.
For those of us with an addictive past, it is one of the hardest lessons we will ever face: our past might dim, but it just won’t seem to go away.  You see, we are walking miracles, you and I, for we have been rescued from death.  We see God’s miracle, we see our life changing before our eyes, we experience the restoration of sanity and the renewal of our minds, we see the restoration of ourselves to our families.  Yet, despite all of this, under the surface the old path we used to walk lurks around, waiting for an opening.  When we go home, its not home anymore.  Things have changed, situations are new and different, the kids are older, and our spouses?  They are more careful.  All are hopeful, but, and I say this not to discourage you but to educate you, they all are looking at us, waiting, like it or not, for us to pull the same stunts or actions we did before. If we do oops, they will ascribe to these actions the same motivations we had when we were using.  Doesn’t sound fair, but there it is.  You see, God changes us, saves us, and redeems us, yet through it all, we still have to walk it out.  That means, as we go through our sanctification process, the old pathways and unconscious behaviors in our lives have to be identified and dealt with.  We are new creatures, yes, but the truth?  We are still looked at through the memory of what we were.  I can’t speak for any of you, but as far as I was concerned, this probably wasn’t an unrealistic attitude on the part of my family.  That knowledge doesn’t make it any easier to take though.  Walk new, talk new, think new: do all the right things and we are loved, accepted.  Slip once- BOOM!  You become nothing but the same old loser you once were in the eyes of those you love; I’m not talking about a slip or a relapse either, even though it could be these.  All it has to be is a word wrongly or carelessly spoken, or something as simple as the old way of making a decision.  If it even resembles the old you, then, all the good you are or have done is washed away in an instant.  Truthfully, I’ll say this to you, if it happens, you will probably be wondering just exactly what you did wrong.  You see it is those small behaviors of ours that if we aren’t consciously trying to change them, they will rise up and bite us on the backside.  Sometimes we catch them, sometimes we don’t.  It doesn’t mean we are purposely trying to harm anyone, it just that we have to learn to walk this process out.  We will oops.  To those who have lived with our past behaviors though, these actions will leap out at them, triggering all the hurts and disappointments still inside, and naturally, their defense mechanisms go into full-tilt-boogie.  They lash out, adopt attitudes, withdraw, and so on and so on.
Can we blame them?  When we were out of control, we forced upon them horror after horror.  If they see something that to them resembles the past, well don’t hold it against them. 1 Corinthians 13:5 says “… love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs…” [8] 
That being said, the sad truth is that this is what more than likely will happen.  We oops, they go nuts, then because we don’t really understand what just happened, respond with our own nuttiness.  Then “WALAH!”, gas is poured on the fire and everybody gets burned.  You can’t go home my friend; it’s not there.  The walk of sanctification is long, lonely and at times very hard.  The only way through it is with a broken and contrite heart.
       It is in the realization that for a time, we will ever be judged by our past behavior that our hearts break.  It is here, perhaps for the first time, we understand the hurt we inflicted on those we love, that they feel as if they have no choice but to look at us through this dark filter.  Trust me in this: it’s not their fault, that’s for sure.  The sin rest on ourselves.  David said it best in Psalm 51:3-4, “3 I recognize my faults; I am always conscious of my sins. 4 I have sinned against you—only against you— and done what you consider evil. So you are right in judging me; you are justified in condemning me.” [9]  Now, there’s good news though!
       Romans 8:1,2 says:  1 Hence, now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed you from the law of sin and death.” [10]  We don’t have to wear the hurt, but dang it, there are times I just don’t know how not to.  Jesus freed me from past, but boy o boy!  I’ll let you in on a little secret:  there are consequences to our sins.  Let’s face it: we aren’t the only ones who were hurt.  They were also.  This reconciliation, this restoration has to take place in EVERYONE”S lives, not just our own.  Christ needs to be allowed to heal all wounds, but this takes time.  Remember:
Isaiah 53:4-5  4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. [11]  Don’t get in a hurry, or anxious when it seems that the heat is being turned up.  The peace of Jesus can get us through the storm.

       Time just seems to be so short.  If we are looking for a quick fix, then it is ourselves who have the unrealistic expectations.  Just like those of our loved ones when they react to an unintentional slight.  Our patterns of doing the right things have to be developed, for we spent, usually, a lifetime doing the wrong things.  Therefore, it goes without saying that it takes time for God to weed out all the junk.  He will cleans us though, rest assured.  First we must cry out to Him as David did in Ps 51:2:
Psalm 51:2  Wash me fully from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. [12]  Then just hold onto the promises found in His word:
Jeremiah 33:8  8 And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned against me, and whereby they have transgressed against me. [13]
Ezekiel 36:25 25 I will sprinkle you with clean water, and you will be clean and acceptable to me. I will wash away everything that makes you unclean, and I will remove your disgusting idols. [14]
2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. [15]
And finally, 1 John 1:7-9:  7 But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say, “We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. [16]
       While we are under going our change, we hope that those we care for will tolerate our mis-steps, but NOT excuse them- we WANT to be held accountable, right?  Like, oh, say we do something whack, hopefully they’ll say “Uh, hey, that was a little whack…care to try again?”  or… “Excuse me?  What was THAT?”  If done in love, we will likely respond the same way.  But if it isn’t done in love, WE must be the ones to respond in love.  Even if our hearts are breaking, we MUST respond in love and humility.  Now this is the hard part for when somebody else is in attack mode, then the OLD WE wants to normally respond in kind.  AHHH!  We aren’t the “old we” anymore, are we?  Remember, 2 Corinthians 5:17   Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come. [17]  I know it’s hard, but let’s take a practical look at how we, as the new man, should respond.
…HOW TO NOT BE IN THE FLESH…
1.    The attack dogs are out- verbal, or not, attitude or posture.  This is CLUE #1 that maybe we just OOOP'sd.
2.    Step back, get out of yourself, shove emotions down and take a DEEEP breath.  (Repeating the Blessed Name of Jesus a million times helps here.)  { Joel 2:32  “… And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of Jehovah shall be delivered… [18]}
3.    Calmly, lovingly, ask, “Did I just do (or say) something that upset you?”
4.    (a)IF #3 is done in love, a dialogue [and note this: CLUE #2- a shouting match is NOT a dialogue] can be established and the problem worked out..usually..  {Matthew 5:23-24 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. [19]} 
(b)If you botch up #3 and go something like “WHAT?  What’s the matter with you?”, it’s best to go back to #2 and SHUT UP till the storm clouds subside.  Then go on to #3 again, in love, and then observe 4a.
5.    NEVER, I repeat NEVER go into attack mode yourself  (That’s the “old we”).  Separate yourself if need be, but you are a new creature in Christ- act like it.
        Now, this seems to put all the responsibility upon us, to make the relationship(s) work.  Nope.  What it does is put upon ourselves to be Christ-like, to love, to hold no wrongs against those we love, to understand that they have to heal as well, and that we are in the healing process also.  So, put on Christ (Galatians 3:26-27 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. [20]), put on love (Colossians 3:14  14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. [21]), put on your broken and contrite heart [CLUE #3: contrite means humble].  We have to understand, as formerly addicted people, that we will be judged by the old standard.  (At least, for a while, till the evidence of our new life is seen.  (1 John 3:8-9  “… But the Son of God came to destroy these works of the devil. 9 The person who has been born into God’s family does not make a practice of sinning because now God’s life is in him; so he can’t keep on sinning, for this new life has been born into him and controls him—he has been born again. [22])  As we walk out our sanctification, as we draw closer to Christ, the “old we” will fade farther away, but be aware, it won’t go away completely.  (Romans 7:23-25:  “23 but there is something else deep within me, in my lower nature, that is at war with my mind and wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. In my mind I want to be God’s willing servant, but instead I find myself still enslaved to sin.  So you see how it is: my new life tells me to do right, but the old nature that is still inside me loves to sin. Oh, what a terrible predicament I’m in! Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature? Thank God! It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free. [23])  What else is important that you pray daily, minute by minute, if need be for your loved ones and their healing.
“…a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise…”  It is in YOUR humbleness and in YOUR brokeness that relationships heal.  What I’ve offered here today is a practical and I believe, a scriptural way to approach this matter.  Don’t think for one minute that I live this perfectly, OOO NOO!  Don’t happen.  I “bow up” just like anybody else and end up with a good dose of shoe sandwich.  I’m walking it out every day myself and believe me, it breaks my heart to know that the “old Man” I’ve tried so hard to bury is still the standard I’m held up to.  Well, then, so be it.  He that is in me is greater than he that is in the world.  Romans 8:37-39 says:  “37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [24]   For this Lord, I’ll bring you a broken and contrite heart, and then, at last, I can go home again. 
May the Lord Jesus Christ richly bless you and keep you, my beloved.  AMEIN


[1] The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.
[2] Bill Bryson, American author
[3] The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.
[4] 1901 American Standard Version, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1994.
[5] Darby, J. N., 1890 Darby Bible, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.
[6] The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.
[7] The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.
[8] Good News Bible: Today’s English Version, American Bible Society, (1992: New York, NY) The Living Bible.
[9] Good News Bible: Today’s English Version, American Bible Society, (1992: New York, NY) The Living Bible.
[10] The New American Bible, (Nashville, Tennesee: Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) 1997.
[11]The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.
[12] Darby, J. N., 1890 Darby Bible, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.
[13] 1901 American Standard Version, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1994.
[14] The Contemporary English [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1995 by the American Bible Society.
[15] The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.
[16] The New American Bible, (Nashville, Tennesee: Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) 1997.
[17] Good News Bible: Today’s English Version, American Bible Society, (1992: New York, NY) The Living Bible.
[18] 1901 American Standard Version, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1994.
[19] The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.
[20] The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.
[21] The Revised Standard Version, (New York: Oxford University Press, Inc.) 1973, 1977.
[22] The Living Bible, (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) 1997.
[23] The Living Bible, (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) 1997.
[24] The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.