My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart. Psalm 51:17
At first glance I dismissed the painting Consider the Lilies by Makoto Fujimura as a simple, monochromatic painting featuring a lily seemingly hiding in the background. However, the painting came alive when I learned it was actually painted with more than eighty layers of finely crushed minerals in a style of Japanese art known as Nihonga, a style Fujimura calls “slow art.” Looking closely reveals layers of complexity and beauty. Fujimura explains that he sees the gospel echoed in the technique of making “beauty through brokenness,” just as Jesus’ suffering brought the world wholeness and hope.
God loves to take aspects of our lives where we’ve been crushed and broken and create something new and beautiful. King David needed God’s help to repair the brokenness in his life caused by his own devastating actions. In Psalm 51, written after admitting to abusing his kingly power to take another man’s wife and arrange the murder of her husband, David offered God his “broken and contrite heart” (v. 17) and pleaded for mercy. The Hebrew word translated “contrite” is nidkeh, meaning “crushed.”
For God to refashion his heart (v. 10), David had to first offer Him the broken pieces. It was both an admission of sorrow and trust. David entrusted his heart to a faithful and forgiving God, who lovingly takes what’s been crushed and transforms it into something beautiful.
What parts of your heart are crushed? How might you entrust your brokenness to God?
Dear God, I entrust my brokenness to You, believing that in Your time, You’ll transform it into something truly beautiful.
The superscription to Psalm 51 reads: “A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.” The backstory to this psalm can be found in 2 Samuel 11–12, where we read that David refused to confess his double sin of murdering Uriah and committing adultery with Bathsheba for almost a year. God then sent the prophet Nathan to confront him. After repenting from his sins, many scholars believe David penned Psalms 32 and 51. (Some scholars add Psalm 86 as well.) Psalm 51 is one of the seven “penitential psalms” (also Psalms 6, 32, 38, 102, 130, 143), so called because the writer, in repentant sorrow, confessed his sins and turned to God for His mercy and forgiveness. Psalm 51 has become a model prayer for believers in Jesus today as we seek God to forgive our sins.