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17 August 2012 @ 03:06 am
A Contrite Heart  
Beneath Thy Cross
By: Christina Rossetti

Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy Blood's slow loss,
And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;

Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon--
I, only I.

Yet give not o'er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.

What does this poem mean?

I believe that it concerns our hearts being stone cold like rocks. We are unmoved by what Christ did for us on the cross. We are unemotional and unfeeling when it comes to Christ's suffering for us.

Rossetti pens, in other words, "Strike my hardened heart so it flows with living water to quench my soul that thirsts after You."

Psalm 42:1 says, "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God."

In John 7:37-39, Jesus said: "If any man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."

I don't think that we are broken enough over our sin. James 4:8-10 says, "Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up."

II Corinthians 7:10 says: "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of, but the sorrow of the world worked death." Godly sorrow over sin brings repentance and life.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Basically, I think this verse is saying, "Blessed are those who are sorry about their sinfulness." In order to receive salvation, a person must first become poor in spirit, seeing themselves as totally in need of help, being spiritually destitute.

Many people are lost in sin, and yet they refuse to admit their plight.
Even Christians today do not mourn over sin.

It is my belief that those who grieve over the fact that they have offended God will find comfort in God's grace and forgiveness and will experience peace with God. Peace with God brings inward purpose, satisfaction, and joy to our hearts.

David was a man after God's own heart. He was constantly broken over his sin and wrote songs about his guilt as he poured out confessions to God and pleads for forgiveness. David had broken just about every commandment: adultery, murder, lying, just to name a few. Yet, what redeemed him was that he felt sorrow for his sin.

"I have sinned greatly in what I have done. I have done a very foolish thing."
-2 Samuel 24:10

"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion. Blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. For Thou dost not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; Thou art not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise."
-Psalm 51:1-2,10,16-17

Psalm 126:5-6 reads, "Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him."

The joy of salvation should not be a one time deal on the day you place your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. It should be a daily celebration.

There are three parts to Psalm 51: contrition, confession, and cleansing.


Contrite means to be bowed down with the awareness of spiritual bankruptcy. In other words, sincere remorse and regret over sin. A spirit crushed by guilt and deep sorrow has a determined desire to do things differently.

Contrition is brokenness.
Does not seek to rationalize, excuse, defend, blame or justify sin.
It recognizes that God demands truth and honesty.

God isn't interested in empty apologies or cheap promises. God desires a broken and contrite heart which is the true sacrifice of one who determines to turn from sin and forsake it.

When I went to London Correctional Institution in London, Ohio on Easter of 2006, I met many inmates who were humbled over their sin and were truly thankful for God's forgiveness. They wanted a second chance to abandon their sin and walk a new life. I have never seen anyone so grateful for God's grace. I will never forget those men Lincoln and Charles who weeped openly over their sinfulness and cried tears of joy over God's love and mercy.


Psalm 51: 3-4 says, "For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned, And done what is evil in Thy sight, So that Thou art justified when Thou dost speak, And blameless when Thou dost judge."

David was acquainted with his sin. He recognized it and admitted it to both himself and to God. He did not deny it, escape it, or try to forget it. "The memory haunts me, the devil accuses me, the sin taunts me, and it is always before me."

David makes no plea for lenience or permissiveness, no claim that God is being too hard on him, no appeal for a light sentence. Simply put, it is, "I am wrong, You are right!"

David had the right attitude. He loathed his sin, was disgusted with it, and knew that He needed God to take it away.

David's son Solomon said, "He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion." (Proverbs 28:13)


Verses 7 and 9-10 read, "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

David recognized the filth and grime of his sin and wanted to be cleansed of it. He knew that God would erase his slate clean and completely remove it as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:12)

Our sins are like scarlet, but they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. God's grace is salvation and "the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:7)
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