On my desk at work, I have a lovely picture frame that features chapter 51, verse 10 of the book of Psalms. I’ve prayed this prayer whenever I’ve started thinking negative, angry or prideful thoughts.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10, KJV
But what do a pure heart and steadfast spirit mean?
In the Bible, Psalm 51 is titled, “A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.”
David was the greatest king of all Israel. He was known as “a man after God’s own heart”. However, he was still a man and vulnerable to sin. He abused his power and dishonoured God’s law.
His story is told in the book of 2 Samuel where he decided to stay home from war. During a walk on the rooftop he spotted a beautiful woman bathing and, despite knowing she was married, sent for her. Bathsheba became pregnant so King David sent her husband to the front lines of the war, knowing that he would be killed. He committed adultery and murder.
The prophet, Nathan, confronted David and told him God knew of his sin and he would suffer for it. No sin escapes God’s notice.
In David’s guilt, he confessed and repented. Psalm 51, is the record of David‘s lamentation.
A Pure Heart
David recognized what a truly unclean heart he had. But also realized that he could not amend it in his own power. He had to ask God for a pure heart — not to clean up his old heart, but to create a new one. By asking God to create a pure (very, very clean) heart, he was asking for God to make a new person altogether.
A Steadfast Spirit
A steadfast spirit is needed to keep a new heart clean. It’s a reliance on God in humility that asks for grace to sin no more. David asks God to help him be consistently and constantly strong in spirit. He needed help to continue to keep his new very, very clean heart pure.
David realized that he needed more than his sins blotted out. He needed God to create in him a clean heart and to renew a right spirit within him.
My sins may not be as public and blatant as David’s, but I still need to be as repentant and as willing as David to go to God for cleansing.