Psalm Chapter 51:16-19

Psalms Chapter 51: Verses: 16-19 (Unless otherwise cited all the scriptural references in this devotional are from the public domain version of King James Version of the Bible).


David pleas to God for the forgiveness of his sin. This psalm appears to be about David’s most memorable sin. His sin with Bathsheba.  Psalm 51 is written after Nathan the prophet visits David to pronounce God’s judgment on the king because of the murder of Uriah and all of his men 2 Sam. 12.  

Verses 16– 17 Begin with the implication that God is asking His people If he did, then the psalmist would bring one. Instead of animal sacrifice, God desires a broken and contrite heart, that is, a heart saddened by sin and ready to disown it and turn away from it.

16For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. 17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Verses 16– 17 begins with the implication that God is asking His people to offer sacrifices to Him.

This is a common error of the early church. People would conduct self-flagellation as a type of religious experience that indicated piety. Some people believe that they must give almost all of their salary to their religious organization for them to be righteous. Some Muslims believe that killing “infidels”  will result in them receiving much favor from Allah.

It does not matter what religious affiliation we belong to humans do not understand this one thing. God only wants his children to have “broken and a contrite heart.” But what does a “broken and a contrite heart mean? It basically says that people with a broken and a contrite heart are willing to do what God asks them to do in His holy word. They are not looking for excuses as to why they should not do it. Tithing is one of the biggest misnomers in Christiandom. We make all sorts of excuses why we should not be given on a regular basis to God’s work. The following is an excerpt from a blog posting on this principle.

What is the Tithe?

The word “tithe” comes from an Old English root meaning “one tenth.” It is the common English translation for the Old Testament Hebrew asar word group. The tithe was an offering of one’s agricultural income to the Lord as an expression of thanks and dedication. In the Old Testament agricultural economy, tithes were paid not in cash, gold or goods but in crops or livestock, for only the agricultural fruit of the promised land was to be tithed—not other forms of income. Although today we commonly think of the tithe as “10 percent” as a result, apparently there are three tithes in the Old Testament, two every year and a third every third year, or an average of 23.3 percent of one’s annual produce from the land. There was also provision for freewill offerings and personal giving above and beyond the tithe, so that the tithe never stood alone. Tithes were given by the patriarchs Abraham (Genesis 4:17-20) and Jacob (Genesis 28:22); a system of tithes was instituted in the law of God given through Moses (Deuteronomy 12Deuteronomy 14Deuteronomy 26; and the prophets rebuked the children of Israel for failing to give the tithe to God (Malachi 3:8). Read the rest of this article here. On a personal note, I will say that there is no such thing as being too poor to tithe. Why?

Here are some biblical examples.

The Widow’s Offering Mark 12:41-44  (NIV)

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

New Testament References about giving. The NT does not address “a tithe” as a specific amount. It does address giving.  Matthew 6:21 says “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  When we are able to give 10% or more of our income instead of keeping that money for ourselves, it shows that our heart isn’t tied to our money and that we love God more than our money. In 2013 my financial world was turned upside down. I became too ill a full-time job. I was forced into retirement early. I do remember giving, not just o my local church but to other endeavors that support kingdom work. Was it because I expected God to give me something in return? No, I felt that he had blessed me so much that I could give to this ministry’s Facebook endeavors by supporting others who were working with us in reaching others, by establishing relationships with them. They needed tools to carry out that job. Now that I am on a very limited income, I still give. Not as much as I was able to give, but I give none the less. God does not need our money. He just wants to see where our treasure is.  It takes a broken and a contrite heart to give of our best to the work of God.  It should not be a once in a blue moon event either. It should be consistent. Can you imagine what would happen to churches all over the world if people gave “when they felt” like it? Even more doors would be closing. It is a malady that is an international one. It takes a broken and a contrite heart to see outside of one’s circumstances to serve God and to trust him to give for us. He does not want penance, nor sporadically deciding when we will give of our best to Him and His work. Sometimes it will take a lot of faith to continue giving. But are we not called to walk by faith? The New Testament actually tells us to give of our abundance, not just a tithe.

What and how much we give is determined by how “broken and contrite”  our hearts are.

18Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. 

During the time of David’s reign, there was nothing wrong with the walls of Jerusalem. Longman has an explanation for this verse, “It is possible, if not likely, that these verses were added later in the history of Israel, perhaps during the exilic or post-exilic period. That may be why sacrifice is mentioned. The restoration of the city means that that the destroyed temple would be rebuilt and the offering of sacrifices could begin again, to God’s great delight” (Longman 2014, 223). In an NT context, the church is the spiritual house of God. and its walls are salvation (offered to all who will listen to the call of the Holy Spirit). The new Jerusalem will have special walls. “It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel” (Rev. 21:12 NIV). God’s people will not have to worry about re-building walls there.

19Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

This verse is challenging to many. What does David mean when he says “then?” Could he be looking forward to a time when the ultimate sacrifice of the ONLY righteous one, Jesus Christ, would give His life for sinful mankind? Or is he looking inward and voicing the fact that ritual sacrifices and celebrations are meaningless to God? God wants us to worship him in spirit and in truth. The only way we can do that is with a repentance attitude and a broken and contrite heart. 

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