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Create in Me a Clean Heart

This Sunday, we will be looking at Psalm 139 and Psalm 51 as we examine an intimate aspect of prayer.  

Psalm 139 has a line that reads,  "Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!" (Psalm 139:23-24). 

What do you suspect might happen if you honestly prayed this statement to God?  

Is there something you know will come up before God?  Is it something you are embarrassed or ashamed of?  He already knows, but maybe you don't want it on the table?  Or maybe you're unsure about anything; but if you're like most of us, you know there is probably something. 

I was once challenged by a professor to pray this prayer.  "If you dare. . .," he said.  I didn't think too much of it so I got down on my knees and prayed.  I read these words and then said them again from memory.  And I meant it.  In less than 30 minutes an old sin against God and someone else was brought before me by the person I sinned against, and by very unlikely means.  I was shocked!  On the one hand I knew God heard me; but on the other, I was convinced my relationship with this person was over.  In fact, I thought life as I knew it was over. 

What was I to do?  I was wrecked!  I prayed Psalm 139 and God did exactly what I asked.  But it doesn't end there.  This is where Psalm 51 can and should be transformed into a personal prayer.  

Psalm 51 is David's prayer after he committed a number of sins that included murder, lying, coveting, and having an affair with a married woman.  David didn't ask God to search him. It was Nathan who brought David's sin into the light. (You can read about that in 2 Samuel 11-12).  Look at some of David's prayer that followed his brokenness:

"Have mercy on me"
"Wash me"
"Purge me with hyssop"
"Let me hear joy and gladness"
"Hide your face from my sin"
"Blot out all my iniquities"  
"Create in me a clean heart"
"Cast me not away from your presence"
Restore to me the joy of your salvation"
"Uphold me with a willing spirit"
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness"
"Open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise"

[IF YOU HAVEN'T ACTUALLY READ PSALM 51 JUST NOW, STOP READING THIS AND GO READ THAT.  THEN COME BACK HERE AND READ THE REST OF THIS POST. THIS IS JUST COMMENTARY ON GOD'S WORD; PSALM 51 IS ACTUALLY GOD'S WORD THAT I'M DISCUSSING HERE.]

Notice that David is completely at the mercy of God.  There's nothing he can do.  But also notice the line, "Create in me a clean heart."  David is asking God to do a mighty and amazing work within David's soul.  When we're broken beyond the depth of our soul, the only answer is for God to create something new and clean within us. 

And after God has searched the depth of your soul, taken you to a place of tatters, and then are made you clean, you can rightly pray the opening of Psalm 139.  It reads,

O Lord, you have searched me and know me!  You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.  You search out my paths and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.  Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.  You hem me in , behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. 

We will be looking at Psalm 139 and Psalm 51 as part of our worship time this Sunday.  I hope you'll consider joining us.  We meet at the Northwest Community Center at 11am.  (We gather at 10am in the same place for prayer.)  See you Sunday.