Create in Me (Psalm 51) Hosanna

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Service Notes

  • Liturgical Date: Ash Wednesday – Hosanna to the Son of David series
  • Hymns: LSB #419, 607, 563, 423
Create in Me (David)

Theme Verse

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:10-12)

Sermon Text

This evening we begin our Lenten series entitled: "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!"[1] This is the shout of the pilgrim throng as they paraded alongside Jesus on His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. This Lenten season we'll see what it means for the Messiah to be the "Son of David" as we look at David and his sons. Tonight we look at David and probably the most famous and infamous story of his life and the resulting psalm.

"In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel ... But David remained at Jerusalem."[2] That's how the story begins. As the story continues, David sees Bathsheba bathing on her roof, lusts after her and commits adultery with her. Everything seems to be fine until the morning where David gets a terrible message: Bathsheba's pregnant. He goes and has Bathsheba's husband Uriah brought back to Jerusalem to lay with her to cover up his sin so that everyone would think that the child was Uriah's. That doesn't happen so David sends him back out to the battle carrying his own death sentence. Uriah dies and David comes off as being the gracious king who takes the widow of a fallen soldier into his own home to care for her in her time of need. What a nice guy David seems to be. The only problem is that he's not that nice a guy! God sends the prophet Nathan to chastise David for his sin. David repents, but the child conceived will die for their sin. After Nathan leaves, David laments and writes what we have in Psalm 51. I want to look at the second part of the psalm--the prayer for renewal from God. Words that are very familiar to us.

The prayer starts, "Create in me a clean heart, O God."[3] Because of his sin, David doesn't have a clean heart. In fact, his heart is so far removed from being clean that he can't even fathom it ever having been clean. Something had to be done. David could do nothing. His sin had so calloused and hardened his heart. David couldn't change it. In fact, David points out that he's always been that way. "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me."[4] His heart had been hardened and calloused ever since he was conceived. He understands his sin so well that he prays for God to create a clean heart within him. David thought that he needed an entirely new heart, but God shows him that his heart just needs to be cleaned. To be recreated through His mercy. God does exactly that through the prophet Nathan, sending him with this message: "The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die."[5] Absolution creates a clean heart through forgiveness by a merciful, creating God. Why? Because of Jesus Christ. We talk about Jesus' virgin birth quite often. Jesus had to be born of a virgin so that He would not have any of the inherited sin that comes from the union of mother and father. Being incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, Jesus was born without sin. He has the clean heart that David so desired. Through Absolution, Jesus comes and cleanses hardened, calloused hearts so that they are soft and loving. Both for David and for you.

David continues, "Renew a right spirit within me."[6] Notice the difference in the words--"create" and "renew". "A right spirit" was something that David had once had. David is called a man after God's own heart.[7] The Spirit of the LORD came upon him with power when he was anointed king.[8] You have also possessed this before. You've had it and lost it many times. That renewal is the result of Holy Absolution. In Absolution, your spirit is set right once again. You were given a clean heart and a right spirit in Baptism. When you've fallen into sin, your spirit has drifted off course. Your spirit is renewed and straightened every time you hear the words of Absolution. There you come to see the words of the prophet Joel: "Return to YHWH, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love."[9]

David continues his request: "Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me."[10] Being cast away from God's presence is the ultimate punishment for sin. This comes in the form of the ultimate Son of David. St. Paul wrote, "For our sake [God] made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God."[11] Jesus came into the city of Jerusalem to shouts of "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!"[12] He left under the shouts of "Let Him be crucified!!"[13] As He hung on the Cross, He felt exactly what that punishment. That's why He cries out, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani!! My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"[14] Jesus was cast away from God's presence. Jesus was abandoned and forsaken by His heavenly Father. Jesus became sin. He became your sin so that you could become His righteousness. He was cast away so that you could be restored.

So David finishes the prayer: "Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit."[15] This is what happens when you "become the righteousness of God."[16] As you look at your life after Absolution, you see that you have been restored to God's joy and salvation. You are reconciled to God.[17] Your true treasure is in Heaven.[18]

David came to God repentant. He rent his heart and not just his clothes.[19] He saw that God was truly angry with him, but he also saw--through Nathan's final words--that God is abounding in steadfast love. Love that does not change just because you sin. Love that is always there. The love of a Father for His children.

God has created a clean heart in you. God has renewed a right spirit within you. God hasn’t cast you away from His presence. He has brought you closer to Him. He has forgiven your sins. You know this because He has given you the Holy Spirit. He has restored to you the joy of His salvation. All these things are yours because of God’s gracious mercy that forgives sins. Amen.


  1. Matthew 21:9
  2. 2 Samuel 11:1
  3. Psalm 51:10
  4. Psalm 51:5
  5. 2 Samuel 12:13
  6. Psalm 51:10
  7. 1 Samuel 13:14
  8. 1 Samuel 16:13
  9. Joel 2:13
  10. Psalm 51:11
  11. 2 Corinthians 5:21
  12. Matthew 21:9
  13. Matthew 27:21
  14. Matthew 27:46
  15. Psalm 51:12
  16. 2 Corinthians 5:21
  17. 2 Corinthians 5:20
  18. Matthew 6:21
  19. Joel 2:13