[Jan 30]--Forgiveness and Repentance, Part One

Psalm 51

What does a good man do when he realizes that he’s done a very bad thing? We spent a long time examining David’s affair with Bathsheba (and the results) last year, so we won’t go into too much detail here. Just a quick summary: Staying behind while sending his soldiers off to war, David committed adultery with a woman who caught his eye. When informed that she was pregnant, he brought in Uriah (her husband) and unsuccessfully tried to have him sleep with his wife so that he (Uriah) would think that the baby was Uriah's. Uriah was too honorable to sleep with his wife while his soldiers were out in the field, and so David arranged for him to be killed in battle. So David was guilty--among other things--of cowardice, adultery, and murder. Nathan the prophet confronted him with his crimes, and to his credit David confessed and repented. This psalm is the result.

By the way, I think that it’s a shame if this episode is the first thing that we think of when we hear his name. He was a good man. God himself called David “a man after [my] own heart.” Like with Job, if I knew that the Lord talked about me like he talked about David, I'd be thrilled. David was a man of extremes: He showed incredible godliness and character throughout most of his life, especially as he was being chased by Saul. But when he fell, he fell really hard. Why do I bring this up? Because most of us reading this are trying to follow God’s direction in our lives. But in a moment of foolishness, we can mess up royally and find ourselves doing things that we would've never imagined doing.

What do we do then? First and foremost, don’t make excuses. When Saul was confronted with his sin, he found everyone to blame except himself. When David was confronted, the next words out of his mouth were “I have sinned against the Lord.”

Second, call the sin what it is. Note the terms David uses here: “transgressions,” “iniquity,” “sin,” “evil,” and my personal favorite—“guilt of bloodshed.” One word you won’t find here is “mistake.” That’s a word we really need to avoid in situations like this. A “mistake” is when you don’t balance your checkbook right. A “mistake” is when you forget to pick up the milk from the store. When you’ve consciously disobeyed God’s instructions, it’s not a mistake.

Third, recognize that your sin has been primarily against God: “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” No matter whom else you might have harmed, your first offense was against holy righteous God. David had sinned against Bathsheba and Uriah (among others), but he first and foremost needed forgiveness from his Lord.

We’ll finish this discussion tomorrow, but for now I’d like to leave one main point in your head: We don’t take sin nearly as seriously as God does. We tend to minimize what we do wrong, and as long as we do, we can’t experience the depth of his forgiveness.

And now for your enjoyment and meditation, here's Charlie Peacock's version of verses one to four.

Father God, I want to hate. I want to hate my sin with just a smidgeon of the passion with which you hate it. I want to love you with all my heart, mind, soul and strength, and I can’t do that as long as I hold onto something that hurts you. Please help me.

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