For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. , A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.
Psalms 51:16-17 NKJV
The other day my kids were arguing about something. In the end they had to apologize to one other. One of them came forth with a sincere from the heart apology and the other one gave an apology but with an attitude of sorry, not sorry. As a parent, we can certainly discern the difference between the two. Soon after this interaction, I explained the two of them an apology that is not sincere is no better than no apology at all. This situation with the kids immediately brought to my mind the scripture above.
Is this Psalm, King David is speaking to the Lord after his affair with Bathsheba and the murder of his good friend Uriah. He comes to the Lord with great sorrow, a desire for forgiveness for his wrongdoing. King David speaks to the fact that God does not desire burnt sacrifices but a contrite and broken spirit. In the Old Testament, sacrifices of all kinds were required to atone (make amends or reconcile) for the sins of the people. (If you want to dive deeper into the types of sacrifices required, the book of Leviticus goes into detail). To be reconciled or in relationship with God, these sacrifices had to be given. Even though Jesus had not yet come to be that final sacrifice for us, God still is taking things one step further here and stating He doesn’t just desire sacrifices from us but a broken and contrite heart.
Sacrifices and offerings, outward actions would be easier than an internal heart change. It is much easier to sacrifice an animal than to allow the Lord to examine your own heart. Ultimately, God knew that an internal heart change would in turn change the outward actions of people. To have this knowledge is beneficial but how do we apply this to our lives.
Develop a contrite heart and broken spirit. This looks like true remorse and sorrow about what you have done to others or toward God. A contrite heart makes NO demands on the Lord or others, makes NO excuses or explanations. A contrite heart is grateful for the mercy and forgiveness provided by the Lord.
For thus says the High and Lofty One
Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,
To revive the spirit of the humble,
And to revive the heart of the contrite ones. Isaiah 57:15 NKJV
The broken spirit does not continue to walk in shame and guilt after forgiveness is provided. A broken spirit comes humbly to the Lord recognizing they are nothing apart from the Lord and His provision. The Lord promises he will provide provision for the man who has a contrite heart.
For all those things My hand has made,
And all those things exist,”
Says the Lord.
“But on this one will I look:
On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,
And who trembles at My word.. Isaiah 66:2 NKJV
What is it today that God is requiring a contrite heart and broken spirit about instead of a sacrifice and burnt offering? Do you have the heart, like my child, in this situation, apologizing to the Lord with a insincere sorry not sorry apology? Just like we know our own children, the Lord knows when we are truly sincere.