Psa. 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. 14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. 15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Most of the time when we pray we ask God to do something for us and that’s it. Sometimes we say “thank you”, but most of the time we take it for granted that it has been answered (or forget we even asked).
David is not afraid to ask God to do something for him: purge me, wash me, let me hear, let my bones rejoice, hide, blot out, create, take not, keep me near, restore, uphold. We should not be embarrassed to ask God for things…But we mustn’t stop there in the asking, nor with a mere “thank you”.
David is praying a conditional statement of sorts. “If you purge, wash, etc, then I will…” He knows that God’s work on his behalf does not and should not stop with what he needs. David knows that when God blesses him, he is freed from the shackles of sin so that he can glorify the one who freed him. He knows that action on God’s behalf demands action on his behalf.
Don’t think, though, that David is paying God back for his work. He is not scratching God’s back anymore than a person rescued from a burning house pays the fireman who pulled him out. You can’t pay back! Get over it. You are not dealing with a peer. God is not in need of your praise. Rather, as gratitude and faith overflow from our hearts and out of our lips (remember the post “Too Much to Say” two days ago?) and out into action.
David will teach, sing, declare praise…He knows that the world does not revolve around him and his family. Rather, he exists to help others see the magnificence and the splendor of the one who pulled him out of the fire. Ultimately, David knows that he is spiritually bankrupt. There is nothing he can do to repay God. It does not matter how many fattened bulls he slaughters, he is broken and useless.
True joy and love for God and for others comes when we live from a broken and contrite heart. We have something to offer people when we realize that we nothing to offer but words of hope and instruction about God.