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A Man in Tension

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10

“James, you need to understand that I am a man in tension"

I worked with someone (let’s call him Jack) many years back who described himself this way…‘a man in tension’. Jack wanted to do the right thing, but the tension came when that ‘right thing' meant cost to him personally.

Perhaps you can identify with Jack…I certainly can (especially around tax time!)

We’re about to start a series looking at the life of David from 1 & 2 Samuel, and I wonder whether David would have described himself in a similar way.

David is one of the most important figures in world history, the subject of vast numbers of paintings, sculptures, writings, and poems. The story of his life is a captivating story - it’s a story of greatness and faithfulness, and also a story of weakness and failure.

He was known for his intimacy with God as expressed through many of the Psalms he wrote, and unfortunately also for his moral failures...particularly when he committed adultery and then murder to cover it up. When he realised the extent to which he had betrayed God, David penned Psalm 51...these verses are a heartfelt prayer, inviting a radical renewal from God, begging for God’s mercy, cleansing, and restoration.

David longed to live a life worthy of his calling, but he was aware that no amount of ‘trying harder’ or ‘doing better’ was going to cut the mustard…he needed a complete heart transformation (Ps 51:10), which was also what the prophet Ezekiel prophesied would happen (Ez 36:26) when Jesus came.

David’s life points us to Jesus and the coming of the Spirit, without whom we would have no hope of a clean heart. We get to enjoy what David only dreamed of…we revel in the good news that David could not fully conceive.

This prayer ‘Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me’ should be something we pray often…this Psalm is evidence of the forgiving, restoring nature of God. Let these simple prayers pass our lips often:

God, make me new just for You.

God, give me an undivided heart, wholly Yours and wholly pure.

God, clear out the sin and clean me up.

God, give me a fresh start so I won’t break Your heart.

Even though David got in a world of trouble, God didn’t define him at the end of his life as 'the king who was an adulterous murderer' or even ‘a man in tension'. In the New Testament, thousands of years after David’s sin we read that his legacy and description, as far as God was concerned, was still “...a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do” (Acts 13:22)

That’s what praying for a clean heart and renewed spirit can do for us. It makes us pure and brand new in God’s sight.

I don’t want to live as a man in tension, I want a clean heart and renewed spirit...don’t you?

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