“Legends are material to be molded, and not facts to be recorded.” – Hervey Allen
Psalm 51 is a Psalm of David that was penned after his sin with Bathsheba. Despite all his flaws David was a man after God’s heart (1 Samuel 13:14; 1 Kings 11:4; and Acts 13:22), the apple of His eye (Psalm 17:8), and a man in God’s hall of faith (Hebrews 11:32). We learn a lot about David’s faith in the Lord and how he consequently viewed himself. David paints a picture of a man that is truly poor in spirit. Though Psalm 51 should be studied as a whole we will look at a few passages that address David’s poor in spirit mindset and how he truly saw himself – self as the enemy.
In verses 1-10 David cries out for God’s forgiveness with a repentant heart. Here we see the beginnings of being poor in spirit. David knows he has sinned and his sin was based in his own pride. David could have any woman in the kingdom, but in his lust he used his office of king to make his advances on a married woman of a friend and then have the friend killed to cover up his sin. The sin was revealed, as it always will be, and David had to admit that he was in need of the forgiveness that only God’s grace and mercy can put away because his sin was against God Himself. David recognized who he was: a man incapable of entering the presence of the Lord outside of the grace of God.
In verses 12-13 David cries out to God for real transformation. Transformation is needed because in David’s pride dwells nothing that the Lord would see fit to salvage – all of self had to go. Self was the problem. Self got him in trouble. David needed a clean heart that only God could create. David wanted a steadfast spirit that sought after the will of the Lord, not his selfish whims and agenda. David need the presence of God and the Holy Spirit in his life moment by moment and cries to the Lord hoping that in His great love He can restore him to a place of being poor in spirit. David recognized he needed transformation.
In verses 14-15 David rejoices in the Lord and sings His praises because God will deliver Him. The Lord is faithful when we are not. God loves us when we are in rebellion loving ourselves and not Him. David recognizes that all praise and glory is due to the Lord who alone restores our relationship with Him when we sin and who desires our best by desiring that we become poor in spirit.
In verses 16-19 David states that God is not interested in our sacrifices. We can know this is true because the Lord was pleased with the one sacrifice – Jesus Christ. Verse 17 is very interesting because it shows that that a broken spirit, a broken heart, and contrite heart are initiated by God’s sacrifice not man’s. The character of being poor in spirit is never man’s doing and this verse in effect lets us know it is because of the ultimate sacrifice, on a wooden cross some 2,000 years ago makes it possible. David recognizes that he is reliant upon God’s work to make him poor in spirit.
No matter the sin you commit the sacrifice has been made to remove it. Be like David and become poor in spirit so that the Holy Spirit can restore your relationship with God when you sin and that you can continue to develop Christian character.