Create in Me a Clean Heart



It’s the first action, the first verb, in the Bible. And, that first action is taken by God.

In the Old Testament, there are four Hebrew words that can be translated to create, make, or form. But one of these words, bara, which means to create, is used only of God. God is the only being who “bara’s.”

Interestingly, in the New Testament, there are two words that can be translated to create. But, once again, one of them, the Greek word ktizo, only has God as the subject.

We often think all of God’s creating happened in Genesis 1. But, that is not so.

Like Genesis, the Psalms state that God created all living beings, especially man. But, the Psalms begins to expand on the use of bara, revealing that creating was not something that God did only in the beginning.

In Psalm 104, the writer recounts the many works of God’s creative power, loosely parallel to the days of creation in Genesis 1. The psalm states that all of the beings God created wait on Him for their food, which also could be read as the creatures having an expectation that God will provide for them. Whatever God gives, they gather.

However, if God hides His face, that is if He doesn’t provide, then the creatures are troubled. The psalmist says the result is that God takes away their breath, they die, and they return to dust, which is reminiscent of God’s account of forming man in Genesis 2.

But, in verse 30, God sends His Spirit to create new living beings to renew the earth. In essence, God is continually creating anew to replace that which has died. God is continually creating to bring life where Satan has brought death.

Psalm 102 brings the idea of recreation closer to home though. Here we see God will create a people as opposed to creating afresh all manner of living beings to fill the face of the earth.

The psalm, written by an afflicted individual, starts with a pleading cry, begging the Lord to hear the psalmist’s prayer. Then, in great detail, the psalmist describes his affliction, his reproach by his enemies, and God’s wrath upon him.

But, the writer turns his heart to the eternal nature of God. At the set time, God will arise and have mercy on Zion so that all will see God’s glory. In verse 18, the psalmist writes that the Lord’s mercy upon Zion will be written for a future generation so “that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.”

Indeed, in 1 Peter 2:9-10, we see the fulfillment of the psalmist’s prayer. Peter says that Christians, followers of Jesus, are “a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

But, David writes about God creating even more personally in Psalm 51. The background to this psalm is a familiar story that is found 2 Samuel 11 and 12. During the time when kings went to war, David stayed back in Jerusalem. One night he awoke, went to the roof of his house, and saw Bathsheba bathing. David sent for her and committed adultery with her.

When Bathsheba became pregnant, David tried to cover up his actions. He called Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, back from the battle in an attempt to get Uriah to sleep with Bathsheba so that the child would appear to be his and not David’s.

When that plan failed, David sent Uriah to the hottest part of the battle and had the rest of his army retreat from Uriah so that he would be killed. Eventually, the prophet Nathan confronted David regarding his numerous sins. In the end, David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

Speaking about all men, God said in Genesis 6:5 “that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

In Psalm 51, David acknowledges this fact about his own heart and pleads with God for mercy according to God’s loving kindness and the multitude of His tender mercies. In verse 10, David writes, “Create [bara] in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” David links God creating a new heart in him with renewal, just as God creating new living beings was linked with renewal, or recreation, in Psalm 104.


Where does this new heart come from? How is this heart created in you and me?

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself.”

The Greek word for creation here is ktisis, which is the noun form of ktizo. Remember, ktizo, to create, is something that only God and Jesus do.

The new heart David cried out for is created by Jesus when we are in Christ. He gives us a new heart when see him as the son of God who laid down his life for us on the cross.

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