David’s Sin; Our Sin

Statue of David

Statue of David

Last Sunday, our pastor spoke on Psalm 51 and a correlative passage in the gospels.  Once again, I was drawn to the beauty this Psalm and how acutely it speaks to each one of us.  I have to admit, I was so drawn in fact, that when our pastor moved into his normal story-telling mode, I sunk my eyes back into my Bible, desiring the benefits of God’s words to once again impress their truth and value onto my impressionable heart.

Before I proceed, I want to recommend a Bible to you.  I have discovered absolutely the best study Bible:  The ESV Study Bible.  Westminster Bookstore always has amazing prices on this Bible and other wonderful biblically-based books by well-studied authors.  This Bible has through and scholarly study notes, maps — too much to mention.  The ESV ( a word-for-word translation) is also beautifully interpreted.  You’ll never need another Bible.

Back to Psalm 51.  Let’s dig into some history.  King David wrote this Psalm after Nathan the prophet came to him (2 Sam. 12:1-14) and told him a story of two men, one rich and one poor.   The rich man had many flocks, but the poor man had only one ewe lamb that was treasured so much by him that it was like a daughter to him.  Have you ever loved your dog in this way?  I have.

One day, a traveler came one day to visit the rich man.  Selfishly, he refused to use one of his own lambs to feed the guest.  Instead, he took the poor man’s one and only beloved lamb, sacrificed it and fed it to the traveler.  King David was angry when he heard this and cried out:, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die.  He shall restore the lamb fourfold because he did this thing and because he had no pity!

Nathan turned to David, looked him straight in the eye and said, “David, you are this man!” Nathan, as only a prophet could, spoke words from the LORD, declaring there would be consequences for David’s actions.  You see, David had committed a grave sin.  He saw Bathsheba bathing from his window, lusted in his heart for her, then arranged to sleep with her, irregardless of the fact that she was already married to Uriah the Hittite.  Together, they conceived a child (in sin).  Rather than admit his sin before Nathan, Uriah and God, David plotted and arranged for Uriah’s death to cover and hide his sin.

Once accused, David admitted his sin before Nathan.  He cried out, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan replied that the LORD had cleansed David’s sin and that he would not die.  However, the child who was created out of this union will die.  Why does it so often take an accusation of truth against us to spur our admission of guilt and cause repentance to flourish in our heart?

What a painful price for this sin — that the death of his very own son would be required!  God convicted David of his sin and David immediately understood that the greatest sin he had committed was against God!  We know in our hearts when we sin, don’t we?  We don’t like to hear the word “sin” but sin it is.  In the contemporary church, we don’t even say the word “sin” anymore.  Sin always happens to other people.  The fact is, sin will always be found out, if not by those living in this world, by our sovereign God who sees and knows all.

Star of David (photo by zeevveez)

Star of David (photo by zeevveez)

Now that you know the story behind Psalm 51, you can imagine David crying out the words,  “I have sinned against the LORD!” How painful to admit our sin, not only to ourselves but before God!

Now let’s read the Psalm with these thoughts in mind.

Psalm 51:1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,and cleanse me from my sin!

3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.

5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.

9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me

11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

14 Deliver me from blood guiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.

15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise

16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

How much more meaningful are these words to you now that you know the story?  Do you recognize God’s mercy with David and ask God to have mercy on you when you sin?  Do you understand that only God can totally cleanse you from your sin?  That it is nothing you can do by yourself?  Do you admit your sin readily or must it be dragged out of you?  Do you recognize that your sin is against the very God who created you?  Do you see that when you sin, God is blameless in judging you?  That’s a hard one.  We deserve whatever punishment comes our way because of our innate, sinful nature.

There’s also some theology tucked into this Psalm.  Look at verses 5-6.  “In sin did my mother conceive me.” This speaks about original sin, not our everyday human sins.  We are born into the world as sinful creatures because of the very first sin of disobedience exercised by Adam and Eve.  This is a concept you must grasp if you are to have an accurate view of the Christian God.  We are born sinful creatures.  We are not born “good people.”  It is our very nature to sin and at all moments, we are inclined towards sin.  It is only through the working of God in your life through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that we can hope to be more like Him and less like the sinful creatures that we are.

In verse 6 we see David’s acknowledgment that God delights in truth, not only in the truth of our actions but the truth of His being.  Only God can reveal that to us.  Let us all desire for God to create in each of us, a clean, pure heart — that our spirits would be renewed in His likeness instead of wallowing and reveling in our sinful nature.

Finally, when we sin, Lord, restore our joy in YOU.  Make us willing to follow YOU, not our sinful natures.  Only God can teach us this — only God can deliver us from the guilt of our sin because HE is our only salvation.  God does not delight in sacrifice.  If this could be so, we could forgive our own sin.  No, God demands the sacrifice of a broken, obedient heart before we offer our works-based sacrifices to Him.  Thank you, Father, for cleansing our sinful hearts.  May we moment by moment bring you the sacrifice of praise and honor due your name.

Statue of David Photo by © Argenberg


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