Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit. Psalm 51:10-12 (NRSV)
The only thing I like about cleaning is when it’s done. But living in this fallen world, we get dirty. Physically, emotionally and spiritually dirty. Dirt happens.
Psalm 51 was the Psalm David wrote after he was caught in adultery with Bathsheba. Even though David was God’s choice to be King of Israel, he got dirty. He got caught up in sin. At times in his life, David messed up big time. Just like us.
Sometimes we don’t see our sin and dirtiness, until other people point it out. Nathan the prophet had to point it out to David that God knew exactly what he had done:
“…and the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”
Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul; I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more.-2 Samuel 12:1-8 (NRSV)
We still have to deal with the earthly consequences of our actions though. In David’s case his sin did not leave him unscathed. He had to endure the death of his first child with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:14) and the ongoing infighting in his family (“the sword will never depart from your house” – 2 Samuel 12:10.) Like David, we too live in the world of “here now, but not yet.”
The good news is that no matter how dirty we are or how bad our sins may seem, God makes us clean again, and again, and again.
Couldn’t we all use a heart cleaning today?