Today, I am going old school and we’ll dig deeper into what this verse means by looking at it in the original Hebrew language.
I have so much fun doing this as it makes the words have more meaning to my life. I hope it does the same for you today.
These words came after David is confronted by Nathan about his sin with Bathsheba, which included, lust, adultery, murder of her husband. In response to the truth and extent of his sin, David repented and begged God, “Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me.“
As we mediate on, memorize or sing these words in worship, understanding more of what they mean can make those moment richer and more meaningful.
Create: bara: literally translated: choose, shape, fashion, form, transform, a sense of newness & astonishing miracles. bara is only used to describe the work of God.
This is a work of God, not our doing. God gives this to us, from His Creative power, not our efforts or attempt being “good, clean, pure… better, worthy, acceptable.” but literally, as God’s child we look up at our Abba/Papa and say, I can’t do this, you have to do this in me and for me.
Already this makes my heart lighter, my brow relaxed no longer scrunched in concentration and effort – my “try hard face” – and my posture open to receive what God is going to do within me. Doesn’t that just take the pressure off!! We just need to come to God and ask… and accept.
Clean: taher: clean, pure, without blemish
More than clean, taher connotes a sense of purity. A heart that is not leaning towards sin. Rather than just a washed, scrubbed and polished heart, this is a heart that had is pure and flees from sin.
Heart: leb: the inner man/woman, mind, heart, soul, and will.
This is not about feelings or hearts we see on Hallmark cards, but rather the decisive part of us, our will, our minds and who we are deep down. Especially when no one is watching. This word is translated: heart, imagination, will, mind, concern, myself, thought, Our inner most soul-self -our very essence- that comes through in all we think, say, do.
Renew: chadash: repair , restore, rebuild, renew, make anew,
The idea of “make anew” stands out to me. Again this is the work of God changing us inwardly from the self driven heart, will to one governed by love, which trumps our selfish and destructive desires. This is where God repairs anger with forgiveness, jealousy with trust in God’s goodness, fear with courage. We are changed as it says in 2 Cor 5:17.
Right: kun: established, firm, determined, steadfast, stable, secure.
These are not words that usually come to mind we hear the word “right.” I think of words like “you’re wrong, I’m correct, smarter, right!” But this word, kun, is different. It means a sense of moral code, a determination to be steadfast in truth and firm in pursing righteousness in our thoughts and actions.
David is praying for a steadfast determination to live according to the ways of God, the God-heart in him rather than his self-centered man-heart. We can cry out and ask God to help us be steadfast in our faith and desire to live firmly from the beauty and purity of our God created and regenerated soul.
Spirit: ruach: breath, wind, spirit, being, heart, strength, a sign and symbol of life
David asks God for the very source of his life to be God breathed, renewed, infused.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
This verse is about us coming before God in utter awareness of our sinful nature, our bent toward selfishness, jealously, anger, worry, hatred, judgment, lust, disobedience and misuse of our power and position – and repenting.
Then we are able to receive forgiveness and rely on God to do the renewal work, and by His power create in us a pure heart and steadfast self.