“Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.” – Psalm 51:10-12
The inscription of this psalm explains that David wrote it after Nathan the prophet confronted him about his grievous evil: taking another man’s wife and then having her husband, one of his great army champions, killed in battle. Obviously, this it is hard to imagine an act more despicable, and, after Nathan calls David out on this and condemns him, David pens this psalm in grief, remorse, and repentance.
What I want to look at today is verses ten through twelve. Here, David asks God to restore his soul, and for the Holy Spirit to stay within him. David had no guarantee of this. His predecessor, Saul, also had the Holy Spirit dwelling within him. But, after impatiently making sacrifices himself instead of waiting for the priest, Samuel, to make them, the Holy Spirit left Saul. To me, Saul’s sin pales in comparison to that of David’s, and I think that David felt this too. Thus his desperation. However, unlike Saul, David turns back to God, realizing that only God can cleanse him of his wrongdoing.
And that is to be our response when we sin as well. But, our prayer to God should be different than that of David. After Christ ascended, he sent the Holy Spirit to live inside us and keep us on the path of right. And, unlike with David in the Old Testament, we have a guarantee that he will not leave us. Our sin has already been removed by Christ’s death on the cross. The Holy Spirit lives in us forever, and empowers us to live Christ’s work out in our lives. We still do not always follow God, but we know that, if Jesus has died for us, his Holy Spirit will restore us, and that our heart will remain clean.