A Sinner Restored
(13) Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. (14) Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. (15) Lord, open up my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise, (16) for you do not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it. You are not pleased with a whole burnt offering. (17) The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and crushed heart, God, you will not despise. (18) Do good to Zion in your good pleasure. Build up the walls of Jerusalem. (19) Then you will delight in righteous sacrifices, in burnt offerings, and holocausts. Then bulls will be offered on your altar.
This last segment of the psalm is centered around two groups of synonymous terms. First, David uses several words for speaking: “teach” (vs. 13), “my tongue will sing aloud” (vs. 14), “open my lips...my mouth will declare your praise” (vs. 15). Once sinners have experienced God’s forgiveness, they are ready to communicate God’s grace to other sinners (vs. 13) and to declare his glory to all those around them (vs. 15).
Next, David uses several words for worship: “sacrifice...whole burnt offering” (vs. 16), “sacrifices” (vs. 17), “righteous sacrifices, burnt offerings, and holocausts” along with “bulls...offered on your altar” (vs. 19). Once sinners are restored to fellowship with God, they are ready once again to participate in public worship. Only sacrifices offered with the right heart attitude are acceptable to God. Unless the worshiper comes with “a broken spirit, a broken and crushed heart” (vs. 17), even the costliest sacrifice, a “whole burnt offering” (vs. 16), means nothing. It is not the outward display but rather the inner attitude of the heart that matters to God.
What results from the forgiveness of our sins:
- right words, speaking in ways that honor God (13-15)
- right worship, offering sacrifices that please God (16-19)
When a sinner is truly restored, proclamation and praise that honors God will inevitably result.
The comment, “My heart is just not in it,” is often heard when someone is simply going through the motions. Such words might be spoken by an employee halfheartedly doing a job, a bored student reluctantly going to class, a husband or wife struggling in a marriage, or a church attender who complains, “I never get anything out of the worship service.” Members of the previous generation tended to persist in what they were doing even when their hearts were not in it, often for the sake of appearances. People today are much more likely to drop out rather than prolong the agony of halfheartedly going through the motions. But is quitting really the best answer?
When a fever lays us low, instead of disregarding it we should seek to diagnose the cause and decide on a cure. When a sense of malaise strikes us, our approach should be the same: figure out what is wrong and decide on a remedy. If we find ourselves indifferent about our work, our first move should not be quitting but rather trying to determine why we are feeling that way and developing a strategy to improve our job situation. If the fervor of our marriage has cooled, we should not ignore the problem which will only get worse with time or start considering divorce, but rather take the necessary steps to rekindle our love and restore our relationship. If our walk with God has grown stale or shallow, we should take the initiative to examine our hearts to figure out the reasons why. We may be suffering from what afflicted David, a tolerance of sin and the need to be forgiven and restored to a vital relationship with our heavenly Father. When our hearts are right with God, our words and our worship will show it.