February 1st, 2011 by Bryan Anthony

“Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
My eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow
And my years with sighing;
My strength has failed because of my iniquity,
And my body has wasted away.
Because of all my adversaries, I have become a reproach,
Especially to my neighbors,
And an object of dread to my acquaintances;
Those who see me in the street flee from me.
I am forgotten as a dead man, out of mind;
I am like a broken vessel.” -Ps. 31.9-12

The element of human weakness in the Psalms is a great provision for the Church, for the moment we come onto the grounds of flowery religious cliche, we at once come to unreality, and God will not work with us along those lines. It is noteworthy for us to consider that the sweet-singer and priestly King of Israel, David himself, had seasons where his soul was overcome with grief and confusion, paranoia and weariness, fear and hopelessness. This does not make him an insignificant figure in the history of the faith, but is rather a testament to the faithfulness of God, Who is able to save “to the uttermost” all who call upon His name.

The Psalms are filled with David’s inner turmoils and wrestlings, and he was not afraid to sing of them in the Tabernacle of old. He did not think of his spiritual image before men, for he was pre-eminently concerned for the presence of the heavenly King. He knew that the One Who had formed the world and knit him together in his mother’s womb, was well acquainted with the actual condition of his life. He felt no need to perform spiritually, but to come to God on the grounds of truth, bringing to the Lord the whole of who he was, “warts and all.”

This is a great call for our nip-and-tuck, fashion-obsessed, image-dominated society. We unfortunately bring the unreality of worldly thought into our experience of religion, and most of us can be found putting up the self-image of our choosing; that which looks most presentable to men. But God has ever and always been eager for the reality and truth of our condition, for it is only on those grounds that we meet with His mercy and transforming power.

We would be quick to accuse, and even quote a verse at David if he were to pour out his soul to us as he did in Psalm 31. His pleas with the Lord were often antithetical to the boisterous, Dominionist views of many modern souls in the Church. We might think of his song as a bad witness, a complaining rant, or a sign of his weak spirituality. But how was it that David became such a precious figure with such favor from God? How is it that when Jesus comes He will restore the “tabernacle of David,” that He will sit on “David’s throne,” and that He did not wince when He was called “the Son of David” by the blind man?

God is not ashamed to be identified with David because David cried out to Him from the ground of reality. And it is David’s pursuit of God from the ground of weakness, in grief, in sorrow, even in iniquity, that made him a “broken vessel” who is still “blessing the families of the earth” today. His weakness is the condition of all humanity, but out of that low place, he continued to cry out to the One who is “high and lifted up,” and we are still feeling the reverberations of his life in God in our generation. Am I pursuing Him from the ground of reality, or have I got some image to uphold before men?

When I come to Him from the ground of my own brokenness, at once I am touched by the only One who has the power to cleanse, heal, and restore my soul, and to bring me into alignment with the reality of Himself. And to live in the reality of God Himself, walking circumspectly before Him in all His glorious light, is to be “free indeed.”

For I have heard the slander of many,
Terror is on every side;
While they took counsel together against me,
They schemed to take away my life.
But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD,
I say, ‘You are my God.’
My times are in Your hand;
Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me.
Make Your face to shine upon Your servant;
Save me in Your lovingkindness.” (vv. 13-16)

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February 1st, 2010 by Daniel Kolenda

Psalms 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

David was one man personally and intimately aware of the deep darkness that lurks within the human heart.  He had, himself, sunk to depths of depravity he would have never thought possible as a harp playing, shepherd boy.  But situations, opportunities and regal power had brought to the surface the gruesome reality of the human heart condition.

When Jeremiah said, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9) he spoke like an insurance adjuster who writes off a damaged vehicle as a total loss.  There seemed to be no hope for salvaging some good thing in it.  Paul declared, “I know that nothing good lives in me”.  And in Psalms reads, “All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one”.

I used to think that when David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God…” he was asking God to clean his heart.  Suddenly I realized that I had been reading it all wrong!  David is not asking God to clean his heart, but rather to create a new clean heart…one that will replace the hopeless, desperate, unmitigated disaster he was born with. David wastes no time asking God to heal his old diseased heart.  Instead he asks for a new one…a clean one.  Such a thing, only God could create.

Spurgeon said, “Human nature is too far gone ever to be mended. It is not a house that is a little out of repair, with here and there a slate blown from the roof, and here and there a piece of plaster broken down from the ceiling. No, it is rotten throughout, the very foundations have been sapped; there is not a single timber in it which has not been eaten by the worm, from its uppermost roof to its lowest foundation; there is no soundness in it; it is all rottenness and ready to fall. God doth not attempt to mend, he does not shore up the walls, and re-paint the door; he does not garnish and beautify, but he determines that the old house shall be entirely swept away, and that he will build a new one.”

David’s words, “Create in me…” conjure eerie images of the pre-adamic earth.  A bottomless soup of boiling bedlam reigning unchallenged for untold eons.  The thick darkness and horrifying chaos seemed impenetrable. “The earth was without form and an empty waste, and darkness was upon the face of the very great deep…” Then God spoke and His word created order out of disorder, light out of darkness, beauty out of chaos and life out of extinction.

David, like the primordial earth, needed more than a good washing.  He cried out to God to give him a heart transplant; to vanquish the old peutrifying horror and create in its place a new heart, as fresh as Eden’s first morning.  Unfortunately for David, this was impossible in his day.  In fact it is as though you can hear his perpetual frustration in his writings as he struggled throughout his life with that old troublesome heart.

But what a privilege is ours!  Today, through Christ, a new heart is available to whosoever will.  “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17)  It is a wonderful mystery; the greatest “creative miracle” possible.

As a college student I had a job working for Wal-Mart.  For those of you who live outside the USA, it is a chain of massive discount department retailers.  It is the largest private employer in America and the largest corporation in the world…and for good reason.  Whatever may be said of their imperialist business model, Wal-Mart knows how to treat its customers.  While I was working there, someone walked up to the customer service counter with an old garden hose, weathered and worn, apparently years old.  They claimed to have purchased it at Wal-Mart but had no receipt and now wanted a new one.  At any other store this would be utterly unthinkable, but at Wal-Mart the customer got a replacement, because his satisfaction was more valuable than the price of a hose.  He walked in with an arm-full of worthless rubber and walked out with a brand new garden hose.

Wal-Mart may be generous, but there is someone more generous still.  When we come before God with our worthless, hopeless, helpless hearts, He is willing to accept them.  He doesn’t patch up that old rubber hose of our hearts.  Instead he offers us a brand new one; fresh and clean.  Now that’s a great exchange.

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.”—Ezekiel 36:26.

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