Praying through the Psalms

Praying through the Psalms

Friday, May 6, 2016

David and Bathsheba

Reading for the Day:
2 Samuel 11-12, Psalms 51, Matthew 23


Verses of the Day
Psalm 51[a]
For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

The context of this psalm is the confession by King David, when he committed adultery with Bathsheba. When she became pregnant, he tried to cover up his sin by sending Bathsheba's husband Uriah home from the war. He hoped Uriah would make love to her so that he would not be linked to being the rightful father. But Uriah, being a faithful servant, did not return but slept by the city gate. This happened twice, so David sent him to the front of the battle line, and he was killed in battle by Israel's enemy.

After being confronted by the Nathan the prophet, David admits his guilt, and Psalm 51 records his confession. This confession is a good model for us when we sin. We probably won't do something close to what King David did, but sin is sin. It separates us from God. We need to give honest confession and receive God's mercy. David appeals to God's mercy and unfailing love. David is guilty so all he can ask for is mercy. David prays that God would "blot out" his transgression. Meaning that God would wipe clean his slate. Notice only God forgive his sin.

Notice a couple of other elements to David's confession. He realizes his sin is against God alone, and he has done what is evil in God's sight. Of course this is covered in the Ten Commandments when God says, "Do not kill". Note too though David is forgiven, the consequences of his sin is that his illegitimate son dies soon thereafter. It reminds us that even though we may be forgiven, it doesn't mean there won't be consequences to our sin, often commensurate to the nature of our sin.

Finally, later David will ask God to create in him a new and clean heart, and restore the joy of his salvation. This may remind you our liturgy, where we sing these words in the context of corporate confession. We all sin on a daily basis. We all try to cover up our sin. We lie and do all sorts of things to try and escape being found out. But here is the problem with this strategy. God alone knows everything we do. We cannot fool him.

David said God knew him in the womb, in the secret place. What secrets are you holding on to? Do you realize that they take away joy in your life, and the sense of the Holy Spirit's presence in your life? It is more work to cover up your sin, then to confess and move on. There may be consequences, but you will have peace back and the joy of your salvation restored. This will be fulfilled when Jesus comes, who is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. In Him only are our transgressions blotted out and our joy restored.

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