Praying through the Psalms

Praying through the Psalms

Monday, July 17, 2017

What Can We Learn from David's Confession

Psalm 51

For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

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.
For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is always before me.
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.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
    sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
    you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

This is the famous passage expressing King David's remorse over his sin of adultery with Bathsheba.  He was confronted by the prophet Nathan and he came to his senses, and confessed his sin to God.  There are many aspects of his confession worth noting. 

First, he appeals to God's mercy and compassion.  Since he was guilty as charged, he knew that his only recourse was to ask God for mercy.  And the root of God's mercy was his unfailing love. He is referring to God's covenant love, when he established his covenant with Abraham.  He chose Abraham and was faithful to him, even when he was unfaithful.  When Israel sinned, God had mercy on them when they turned back to him. He knew that he needed forgiveness, and the only one who could credit his debt was God.  This looks forward to when God blotted out our sin because of Jesus' death on our behalf.  Notice the combination of God's mercy plus a covering of the sin, or a cleansing of inquity.  Better said, somebody had to pay for the sin, it wouldn't just go away.  It had to be dealt with because God is a just God.  

Second, David knew he was a sinful human being, and his action had flowed out of his sinful nature, which he had since birth.  David wasn't trivializing or rationalizing his sin, he was acknowledging his sinfulness before a holy God. He also realized that although his sin greatly damaged his relationships, it was against God alone that he sinned.  He knew first and foremost his sin was against God.  

In the end, David paid a heavy price for his sin, but his relationship with God was restored. Through God's grace he continued to be king over Israel.  David reminds us that our sin is first against God.  Our only recourse is to ask God for mercy.  Now that Jesus has been revealed as "the once and for all sacrifice for our sin", we go to God through him.  It was through what Jesus did on the cross that he blotted out our transgressions.  It was the death Jesus died in our place, that God could wash our iniquities.  

Take some time today to thank God for his mercy and unfailing love. Although our God is just and holy, thank God for our sake he is compassionate and merciful.  This is why it is so important to show mercy and compassion to others.

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