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A Contrite Heart

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17, ESV). Psalm 51 is a penitent psalm, as David cries out to the Lord for forgiveness. His plea is based upon the unfathomable mercy, the “steadfast love” of God (v.1). The king confesses his sinfulness, recognizing that God is ultimately the one against whom his sins offend (vv.3-6); yet God is able to forgive, restore, and cleanse the guilty conscience (vv.7-12). David looks for His salvation with hope for the future (vv.13-15), recognizing that it is not truly outward sacrifices that please God (v.16), but repentance of the heart (v.17)—yet we must read this in the context of the whole of Scripture, and recognize that a penitent heart is not enough unless it takes hold of the true sacrifice for sins, the cross of Christ.

God is merciful to those who call upon Him. No gifts can really enrich God, no works really benefit Him; but He has compassion on those who humbly seek His grace. In love, God sent His own Son to sacrifice for our sins; in mercy, He will receive those who come to Him. Keep your trust fully fixed upon the wonderful love of God.

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