Summary: Are we truly a broken people with a contrite heart? We just can’t move forward in revival till we come to that place of brokenness in our lives. The simple equation is no brokenness, no revival.
Illustration: In the latter part of the 20th century, my wife Maureena and I would covertly minister to a group of young ladies in the jabels of the Arabian Peninsula who displayed immense boldness to live out Christ through their lives daily. Some of them were nurses and a few were teachers serving the Arab communities in the Middle East. They experienced some of the harshest brokenness in their lives. Having been separated from their families for years to make ends meet, they would cry their lives out and pray that God would protect their families and bring their loved ones to them miraculously.
Facing natural threats like desert scorpions and snakes was a daily ordeal. Their prayers never went unheard. God was their refuge in times like these. Encountering prejudice from local Arabs and unfairness in salaries was their cup of tea every day. Experiences like introducing Christ to a Muslim girl and her accepting Him not only excited them but could have easily become a threat to their lives. They held on to the hope they had in Jesus Christ.
The worship they brought to God whenever we visited them was evidence of the broken spirits they possessed. Their relentless cries of adoration to their Creator said it all. Their persistent weeping and fasting before God made our trip more meaningful and revived our souls. It forced us to see ourselves from within. The external did not matter at all. Their example drew us to pursue a broken spirit in our own lives. This is what God looks out for in His children.
Introduction: “God is less interested in external behavior than He is about internal attitude.” Almost a hard thought to swallow. All our lives we are told to live according to the external: “Do this!” “Don’t do that!” “Follow these rules!” “Behave this way!” “Quit acting like so-and-so!” But I have come to the conclusion that God is more interested in what is going on internally in my life than what is coming out of it. Am I saying the externals don’t matter? No. But the externals are not the focus. If the internal is right, the external will follow suit; but if the internal is polluted and corrupt, no amount of external behavior or “righteousness” will hide the reality of the heart from God.
God was greatly displeased with David’s double sin – adultery and murder. After Nathan confronted him, he had a sense of repentance, guilt and hatred for his own sin. A sense of godly sorrow prevailed over him. Though he was restored, David describes his rebellion and a spirit of defiant disobedience to God, blotting out of sin. Was his external sin wrong? YES! Was the physical activity horrid? Absolutely. But that is not the issue. Sure, the external sin must be dealt with, but the issue really is the heart. God can deal with the external sin (forgiveness), but without an internal change of nature, David will keep on sinning. David experienced personal revival when He got right with God and so can we.
David sees God’s reality and writes: “The [true] sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart.” In essence, a broken spirit and contrite heart is all about dependence. It is realizing that you are weak and the only hope of victory you have lies in Jesus.
What is the process of brokenness that makes us whole?
1. Praising God and Declaring His Righteousness (vs. 14-15)
Speaking of God's lovingkindness the psalmist does not ignore His righteousness. For God has no lovingkindness, no mercy, and no grace, apart from His righteousness. It is all based on His righteousness. The temple in Jerusalem declared that in its altar and bloody sacrifices. And Christ, Who is at God's right hand in heaven, manifests that righteousness.
The guilt of killing Uriah the husband of Bathsheba and his blood being on his hands brought David to repentance. It was the time when David became involved in the double sin of adultery and murder while he was king. He had walked with God for many years. He was widely known as the Sweet Singer of Israel; he had gained a reputation as a prophet, a man who understood the deep things of God; and he had established himself as the long time spiritual leader of his people. Then suddenly, toward the end of his reign, he was plunged into this terrible double sin.
In a most dramatic moment the prophet Nathan pointed a long bony finger at the king and said, "You are the man!" (2 Samuel 12:7). David knew then that his sin was uncovered. He fell on his face before God and out of that experience of confession comes this beautiful fifty-first Psalm, which traces for us the proper way to handle a bad conscience. David desired to be delivered from this guilt conscious and knew that God alone could save. He proclaims praises of God’s righteousness for his deliverance. A temporary atonement could be possible by the shedding of the blood of animals but Christ alone could permanently eliminate that sacrifice.