Some things are so obvious one wonders how they ever missed them!!
I was reading and pondering some Psalms the other day when I came to Psalm 51, a popular Psalm of confession and contrition. As I read it, I suddenly saw some parts from a perspective different than the traditions I was steeped in. (Shedding these traditions is like trying to UNmarinate a piece of meat!! Certainly, a lengthy process and, at times, seemingly impossible!! With Yahweh, all things are possible!!)
My focus was on the latter half of the Psalm and a number of spoken/unspoken traditions we hear in Christendom.
Create [j]in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew [k]a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners will [l]be converted to You.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation;
Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, [m]open my lips,
That my mouth may declare Your praise.
16 For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;
You are not pleased with burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
v. 11 “…do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” How many of us were taught, whether overtly or by implication that the Holy Spirit came at Shavuot (Pentecost), therefore, they didn’t really have the Holy Spirit in the ‘Old Testament.’ Yes, we admit to the Spirit/Ruach’s presence at times and places, but this Psalm points to the individual presence with the Psalmist (David) and by extension with all who are walking with a clean heart.
Yes, when the Comforter was given at Shavuot there was a greater measure and in a special set apart way, but we clearly see in this passage (and others) the Presence in the Tanak.
v.12 “…Restore to me the joy of Your salvation…” Salvation? In the ‘Old’ Testament? YES!! What dos that do to your paradigm? (Salvation is simply looking in faith to the One who saves and being obedient to Him!) By the way, ‘salvation’ here is the Hebrew word ‘yesha,’ very closely related to ‘Yeshua.’
v. 13 “…I will teach transgressors Your ways…” Based on this and myriad other verses, transgressors are those who walk contrary to His ‘ways.’ Elsewhere we see His Torah being called His ‘Ways.’ He does not change, nor does His Torah. Even today, transgressors are those who walk contrary to the Torah.
v. 13 “…sinners will [l]be converted to You.” Being ‘converted’ means to turn and follow His ‘ways.’ Today, ‘converting’ has a totally different connotation. Scripture indicates that it means coming into obedience to His Torah, but Christendom doesn’t define it as such.
v. 16-19 Often I have seen verses 16 and 17 quoted in an effort to indicate that god does not want sacrifices, yet He instituted them, declares some of them will continue into the Millennial Kingdom and in other Scripture, finds then a pleasing aroma!! So what gives?
A seminary professor always said, ‘Context is king!’ In other words, one needs to understand the copntext or risk misinterpreting the verse(s). Here, if we only read v. 16-17 as a proof-text against sacrifice, we have completely abused the verses. Verse 19 clearly says,
The point is that just as in almost every verse in the Tanak that seems to speak against sacrifice, the heart attitude of the sacrificer must be right, or the sacrifice itself is not pleasing to our Father. Just as we read in the first half of this Psalm, the author had committed sin separating himself from the face of Elohim (God). Yahweh DOES desire sacrifice, but He desires broken and contrite hearts even more! A sacrifice given without a repentant and humble heart is a waste of time.
Those are a few items from Psalm 51 worthy of pondering today!!