Smiling On Us

19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
    in burnt offerings offered whole;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar. Psalm 51:19

In verse 16, David said “you do not delight in sacrifices” but in this verse he stated that the Lord would “delight in the sacrifices of the righteous”, so why the apparent contradiction within 4 verses?

Simply put, it’s a heart issue. If you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, i.e., to be noticed, for praise from others, everyone else is doing it, etc., then the sacrifice is something the Lord doesn’t delight in. But if the motives are pure and you’re doing it out of a heart of gratitude and love for Christ, it makes a world of difference. It doesn’t mean He can’t or won’t “bless” the sacrifice of the heart that’s not right, but He doesn’t delight in it.

It doesn’t take a lot on our part to bring delight to the Lord. Put another way, having the Lord smile down upon us is probably a good place to be in on most days!

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Peace in Israel

18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
    to build up the walls of Jerusalem. Psalm 51:18

Hardly a week goes by that Israel isn’t in the news. This time it’s in relation to what a senior Obama administration official said about Prime Minister Netanyahu. It’s sad actually. One of the only true allies that Israel has had in the world slanders the leader of that nation. The nations that favor Israel tend to prosper. In contrast to that, the nations who oppose Israel go downhill fast. That’s certainly not set in stone but my observation.

In any event, would you pray for the peace of Israel today? Would you pray that its leaders will be as wise in all its interactions with other leaders for they have more enemies than friends.

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Broken: A Good Place to Be

17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise. Psalm 51:17

Broken is a good place to be, though we tend to think opposite of that. Our natural man rails against brokenness because it’s considered weak and ineffectual. We want to be strong and independent. The world teaches and pushes us to do be stronger and more assertive.

But there’s another way. It’s the way of the cross. It’s the way that Jesus lived. Was He a strong man? Absolutely. Consider what He did with the money changers. Consider what He did day to day amongst the Jewish leaders. Consider Him standing face to face with the leader of the known world, and not backing down. He was absolutely strong.

Now consider what it took for him to humble himself. It wasn’t weakness at all. It was a strength that still mystifies the world. Does anyone reading this doubt that at any time during the horrific crucifixion scene He could have called down several hosts of angels who would have done His bidding? But He didn’t because it wasn’t the will of the father. He had humbled Himself to do the will of the Father.

And that ultimately is what brokenness is all about: doing the will of the Father.

Are you doing the will of the Father today? If you are, fantastic! Even though the road seems rough and impassable (and often lonely), you’re doing what the Father wants.

If you’re not doing His will, what steps would you need to get there?

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Mustang Mode

17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise. Psalm 51:17

In movies you see somebody trying to “tame” a wild mustang. Time after time a person gets on to ride it and is bucked off quickly. The rides get longer until one time, the horse is broken (being able to mount and ride the horse). In real life the process is much more involved and time consuming but the basic tenets are the same. There’s trust, familiarity with equipment, and a slow gradual process of riding the horse.

In the same sense, a broken spirit doesn’t mean that one is distraught and dejected. A broken spirit is one that has been tamed and is maneuverable.

A lot of us go through our Christian lives with the attitude of the wild mustang: “you can’t control or tame me! I am my own, and nothing will change that. If you try, I’ll just throw you off.”

That’s the way we once were. We occasionally slip back into what I call “mustang mode” and pay the consequences. Our pride creeps up and we forget who we are in Christ.

What does that look like? Shouting at drivers. Being rude to wait staff. Neglecting the poor. Calling people idiots, morons, and other inappropriate names behind their backs. Shall I go on? When we say and do those things, we are no longer under the control of the Holy Spirit.

Don’t underestimate the significance of a tamed and maneuverable life offered to God. It is a struggle to be certain, but well worth it in the end.

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An Old Testament Practice

16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. Psalm 51:16

This is an interesting verse in light of the Old Testament practice of offering grain and animal sacrifices to God. David would have known what it was all about, but in this verse it appears that he is discouraging the practice altogether, so what gives?

As we will see in the next verse, it’s an internal sacrifice that God requires. For instance, if you sacrificed all your wealth but still lived a godless, uncaring life, it wouldn’t be a sacrifice, but merely going through the motions (and an incredible waste). In this way, it is a profound verse because it cuts through the rituals and captures the intent of sacrifice.

Thank the Lord today that the system of sacrifice has, in fact, been done away with because of Christ’s work on the cross. The cross makes the difference because a perfect sacrifice was given to atone for our sins. Even as I typed that sentence, I don’t fully understand the implications of that sacrifice, but I will accept it.

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