February 23rd, 2009 by Kristi Stephens
For the last couple of weeks we have been working through some aspects of David’s great sin with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah. In part one, we looked at the idea that David’s failure to do what he was supposed to be doing set him up for failure. In part two, we looked at the subtlety of sin and the safeguards we need to put into our lives and hearts to help keep us from falling. In part three, our discussion centered on the human tendency to blame-shift and sidestep responsibility for our sin, constantly looking for a way to cover our tracks. Finally, we looked at Nathan’s confrontation of David and the difference between David’s heart of humility and Saul’s lack of repentence. Today I want to spend some time in Psalm 51.
(If you open your Bible to Psalm 51, you’ll notice that a note is included in a smaller font before the Psalm begins, documenting that this Psalm was written when Nathan confronted David about Bathsheba.) Please read Psalm 51 on your own and then I just have a few things for us to ponder.
Spiros Zodhiates summarizes this Psalm in the footnotes of The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible (my personal favorite!) this way:
“This is one of the greatest passages in the entire Bible concerning confession and forgiveness… David’s repentance included:
1. a godly sorrow for his sin
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me. (vs. 2-3)
2. verbal confession
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge. (vs. 4)
3. a turning away from sin
Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. (vs. 6-7)
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. (vs. 9-10)
5. restoration to God’s favor
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me. (vs. 11)
6. rejoicing in salvation
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (vs. 12)
7. a willingness to testify to others about the grace of God.”
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise. (vs. 13,15)
Remember back to Saul’s sin of wrongly offering the sacrifice before Samuel arrived? Saul appeared to think that God would accept the sacrifice, even though it was offered in sin. When Samuel confronts him, Saul gives excuses about Samuel being late and the army scattering. Notice what David says at the end of this Psalm:
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise. (vs. 16-17)
David understands: it’s not about the physical sacrifice. It’s about the heart.
So, what does this have to do with us? Most of us probably aren’t dealing with sin as “bad” as adultery and murder. What about those daily sins that creep up on us? God doesn’t want your outward show – He wants true repentance, a broken heart, a true desire for restoration, a true turning away from our sin.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I have been struggling to get myself and the kids on a consistent daily schedule. Between that post, today’s look at repentance, part one of this series, and another study I’ve been doing in my quiet time, God has pointed out a very obvious need for confession in my own life. I might not be as “bad” as David in this instance, but I am not in line with the heart of God.
I know that I have spent far too much time lately on frivolous things on the computer, which means that I have been neglecting my children and husband. I have been failing to invest the time I should in teaching my children and even just playing with them and being available to them. The giant ironing pile still looms, the playdough and paints sit untouched in the basement, and right now there is a huge bolt of fabric calling my name that I need to sew into curtains for our room. These aren’t earth shattering things, but they are things that I have been given the privilege and responsibility to do for my family. My kids notice when I am engrossed with something other than them. My husband notices when I don’t delight in caring for him as much as doing something meaningless. My heart has been divided, and I’m not doing what I need to do! Lesson learned from David: I have been tolerating compromise, and if I continue I’m setting myself up for failure.
I don’t know what your area of struggle is right now. Guaranteed, we all have one! I pray that you will join me in praying Psalm 51 along with David, and committing to give the Lord our hearts and not just an outward show. He wants it all. He is worthy of it all.
Teach me your way, O LORD,
and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.