“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your HOly Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me . . . . You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
Poor David, we think. Such a grand king. Such a great fall. But that’s okay, we assure ourselves. Look at how he confessed. Look at how God forgave him. And we feel better for him, and for ourselves.
Wait. Let’s not dismiss that confession too quick. Confession didn’t buy back God’s favor, didn’t erase the consequences. Rather, confession restored the relationship. The relationship between a holy God and a desperate disciple.
Have we lost our passion for confession? Yes, I think so. And if so, why? Because we don’t want to admit that we are really that bad. That we have broken God’s standard. Because confession is hard work. We must allow ourselves to sit under the Word of God and be subject to it. We must open ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s conviction. It’s far easier just to cry out, “God forgive me. I’m awful.”
But this is not true confession. This is a guilty heart wanting to feel better, not necessarily grieved over sin. Perhaps, this prayer is pity in disguise. True confession is a broken spirit, a heart that is grieved because sin has distanced it from God. A heart that lays itself down in surrender.
Listen to how David mourns his sin, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.” Confession recognizes that God is right, and we are wrong–not a popular idea in our culture of relative morality.
And then, the heart of David’s plea, “Do not cast me from your presence.” Hear the brokenness, the yearning for God.
We don’t confess merely to seek absolution from guilty feelings, but because we are desperate to renew the intimacy with the Lord. David is desperate. The road of confession is one we walk in relationship with our Creator.
David knows he has nothing to offer–no sacrifice that would please the God of the universe. How we want to offer a sacrifice and be done with it, but God doesn’t want our sacrifices. He wants our hearts. That’s why David’s language is imploring and surrendered, “Create in me…Do not cast me…Restore to me…Grant me…”
Friends, we are called to walk this road of confession. It starts with a broken spirit–humility–and it leads to the joy of our salvation. There is no joy in holding in our sin or dismissing it as not that bad. Nor is their joy in groveling in our depravity. There is joy in simple brokenness, a simple cry for the Lord’s renewal of our hearts.
And there is hope. Always hope. David didn’t doubt God could restore him from adultery and murder. So you don’t doubt either. God can restore you. Wants to restore you. Waits for you to be broken before him.
The road of confession is before us. Can you trust it leads to joy?