Reflection on Psalm 51:16-19

“For if thou hadst desired sacrifice, I would indeed have given it: with burnt offerings thou wilt not be delighted. A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit: a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Deal favourably, O Lord, in thy good will with Sion; that the walls of Jerusalem may be built up. Then shalt thou accept the sacrifice of justice, oblations and whole burnt offerings: then shall they lay calves upon thy altar.” (Psalm 51:16-19)

Literal Sense: David sinned against God by having Uriah murdered and taking his wife Bathsheba into his bed chamber.  In this context David proclaims that without a broken and contrite heart, animal sacrifices are of no avail.  However, with a repentant heart, sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Allegorical Sense: The sacrifices of animals, along with a contrite heart, are only acceptable to God because of the sacrifice of Christ.  It is ultimately His sacrifice that is the “sacrifice of justice” spoken by David in this passage. 

Moral Sense:  Those with an antinomian view believe they can continue to sin even after they have been sanctified by the blood of Christ since Christ’s sacrifice is perfect.  However, just as God required a repentant heart before he accepted the sacrifices of animals, God requires a repentant heart before the sacrifice of Christ will be of any avail to the sinner.

Anagogical Sense: Because of the sacrifice of Christ in union with a contrite heart, God will “[d]eal favourably” with Zion and ” the walls of Jerusalem” will be built up, which means God will deal favorably with the Church triumphant and the Kingdom of Heaven will be built up and protected forever in the new heavens and the new earth. 

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