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If it's not broke, you haven't fixed it

I think that’s a fair way of summing up Psalm 51.  This psalm was penned by David after Nathan the prophet called him out for his adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah, her husband. Though he had been in major denial about his wrong doing, when confronted by Nathan he confessed his sin and this psalm shows how truly penitent he was over the things he had done. 

The theme of the psalm is spiritual brokenness and it’s expressed in the phrase, “let the bones that You have broken rejoice,” (v. 8 ESV).  It’s a great example of what it means to mourn (Matthew 5:4).  But it’s also a great example of what it means to be poor in spirit (5:3).  And to hunger and thirst for righteousness (5:6) . . . and be pure in heart (5:8). 
And that’s the challenge of this psalm.  Because of its background, we’re oh-so-tempted to think of it exclusively as a psalm of penitence when we should think of it as a prayer of maintenance.  In other words, brokenness is not something we should adopt only when we’ve sinned, but as a way of life.  In fact, we’re never more whole than when we’re broken so our goal is to live wholly broken.

It’s a paradox but it fits right in with Jesus’ teaching that we save our life by losing it (Matthew 16:25), it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35), and the last will be first (Matthew 20:12).  Think again about the words, “let the bones You have broken rejoice.” There is great joy in following the Lord but it only comes through brokenness --- through a deep and abiding sense of our personal inadequacy and a corresponding total dependence upon God.  To the degree that we drift away from these things we drift away from true joy.

This river of brokenness runs through the psalm.  David is broken to his own righteousness (v. 1).  His plea for forgiveness is based upon God’s “unfailing love” and “great compassion,” rather than upon anything he has done.  He is broken to the mere appearance of righteousness in his behavior (think the Pharisees), recognizing that “You desire truth in the innermost being and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom” (v. 6). He is broken to his own sufficiency --- the idea that once he gets through this crisis and back on his feet he won’t need God as much as he does now.  He’s in need of a “steadfast” and “willing” spirit to “sustain” him (v. 10, 12).  He’s broken to his own will (v. 16-17).  And he’s broken to his own glory as he closes the psalm with the petition that God will “build up” the walls of Jerusalem so that He might “delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,” (v. 18-19). 

There’s blessing here for disciples of Jesus if we will see it as a psalm for all seasons of life. Remember this about your life --- if it's not broken to God, you haven't fixed it!
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