In Psalm 51, David is expressing a repentant heart after he had “gone in with Bathsheba.” He seeks “a clean heart” and “a steadfast spirit (10, NASB).” David knows what his predecessor Saul experienced after he repeatedly sinned against God. “Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD terrorized him (1 Samuel 16:14).”
Because of Saul’s experience, David knew what it was like to be without God’s Spirit. David was often present when “an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul, and he raved in the midst of the house (1 Samuel 18:10).” David would often play his harp “and Saul would be refreshed and be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him (1 Samuel 16:23).”
Paul reminded us to “walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please (Galatians 5:16-17). David is readily aware that his behavior is of the flesh, not the Spirit of God. As Paul wrote, “the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21).”
David replaced Saul as king because of Saul’s sin. He pours out his heart to God after Nathan helps him see his sin. “Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit (Psalm 51:11-12).” David does not want to experience the torment Saul went through. He knew that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).” This is the same Spirit available to us today.
© 2022, Chris G. Thelen
Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity And cleanse me from my sin. – Psalm 51:1-2 (NASB)
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. – Galatians 5:24-26 (NASB)