The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17
David talks about “a broken and contrite heart.” In other words, this is a sincerely humble heart that is almost dying out of despair. David is saying that God doesn’t hate a broken and contrite heart, but rather accepts it with joy. The message we proclaim brings life and God’s approval to us because it strengthens us and fights against sin and death. In fact, the gospel demonstrates its power when we are sinful and weak. It’s a message of joy that can be experienced only when sorrow and distress are present.
But we want to have the message of life and joy without any sorrow or death. What fine theologians we think we are! We must learn that as Christians we have to live with death all around us, with regret and a trembling conscience – between the teeth of the devil and hell. In spite of all this, we must hang on to the message of God’s grace. Then in all circumstances, we can say, “Lord, you want only the best for me.”
In this psalm, we read that God finds no sacrifice more pleasant than a broken heart. The tax collector exemplified this attitude when he said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke18:13). The tax collector offered the Lord the most desirable sacrifice, a broken heart that trusts in God’s mercy. This is a comforting way to think about God. God’s true nature is to love people who are troubled, have mercy on those who are brokenhearted, forgive those who have fallen, and refresh those who are exhausted. This psalm calls us to trust in God’s mercy and goodness alone. It encourages us to believe that god is on our side even when we feel abandoned and distressed.
Edited by James C. Galvin
Timeless insights from one of the most important people in church history. Resounding across the centuries, Martin Luther’s prolific writings as a pastor, theologian, scholar, Bible translator, father, and more, remain powerful and richly relevant. Faith Alone is a treasury of accessible devotionals taken from Luther’s best writings and sermons from the years 1513 through 1546. This carefully updated translation retains the meaning, tone, and imagery of Luther’s works such as this gem:
Some people value good works so much that they overlook faith in Christ. Faith should be first. It is faith—without good works and prior to good works—that takes us to heaven. We come to God through faith alone. —Martin Luther
Through daily readings, Luther’s straightforward approach challenges you to a more thoughtful faith. Read one brief section a day or explore themes using the subject index in the back of the book. Faith Alone will deepen your understanding of Scripture and help you more fully appreciate the mystery of faith.