July 27, 2014
Other than Daniel and Joseph, we read that just about everyone else in the Bible stumbled in one way, shape or form. Therefore, it should be very encouraging for us to know that God is willing to use us as His vessel if we’ll commit our lives to Him. There are many that need to […]
Other than Daniel and Joseph, we read that just about everyone else in the Bible stumbled in one way, shape or form. Therefore, it should be very encouraging for us to know that God is willing to use us as His vessel if we’ll commit our lives to Him. There are many that need to be encouraged. Just because we’ve messed up in the past doesn’t disqualify us if we’ve repented and have been cleansed by the blood of Christ. Today, I’d like to take a close look at the steps that King David took after his blunder with Bathsheba. You’ll recall that he fell into Satan’s trap and committed adultery with the woman. To compound matters, he had her husband murdered in order to make the arrangement work.
The Prophet Nathan knocked on his door one day and confronted him with his sin. That was the point that David realized the gravity of the situation. He had sinned against God. The very God that was so good to him. The very God that blessed the work of his hands, protected him for years, elevated him to the highest position possible, and watched over him every moment of his life! David sinned against God. As the words from Nathan poured down his head like a cold glass of water, reality hit him. He chose rebellion against the God he loved so much, and the God that loved him so much. He now had to pay the consequences because that’s what sin and rebellion will do. And that’s when Satan does his victory dance. I can picture it now as the look of shock was on David’s face, somewhere in the bowels of hell, the Father of Lies was laughing and dancing up a storm!
Read Psalm 51
Most of us have had our “Nathan moment” when we were confronted with the seriousness of our sin against God. That confrontation may have come from a messenger of God as it did with David, or perhaps it came in your quiet time while reading your Bible, or while you were in prayer. Let’s take a look at the steps King David took to restore his relationship with God. He wrote Psalm 51 for this very occasion and it serves us well to be familiar with it. The Holy Spirit of God guided his hand as he penned these words for the desires of a repenting sinner. We must come to the throne of grace humbly as we confess our sins and ask for the grace of God.
The murder of Uriah was the greatest blemish upon David’s character. In fact 1 Kings 15:5 tells us that “David did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the case of Uriah the Hittite”(Bathsheba’s husband). Those who have heavy consciences about any particular sin must look to Jesus Christ our Mediator, and it would be highly advisable to pray over this Psalm.
Even though David fell, he was not utterly cast down because God held him steady and raised him up by His grace and Mercy and He’ll do the same for you, if you repent as David did. This particular sin of foolishness and wickedness that David committed with the wife of a loyal and trusted soldier under his command was a sin not to be spoken of lightly. When we read how loyal this soldier was to David, only to have that loyalty returned by taking his life and his wife, we detest it. We, who commit the same wickedness in one way, shape, or form, we detest it. Imagine how a holy, righteous, perfect, and loving God feels about it? This sin of David’s is a warning to us all, that he who thinks he stands may take heed lest he fall! He actually stewed in this sin for about 9 months without any particular expressions of remorse or sorrow for it. But while God may allow his people to suffer a great while in it, yet He will eventually use one means or another to bring them to repentance.
David poured out his soul to God in prayer for mercy and grace. Where else would a wise child of God go but to the Lord from whom they’ve backslidden. He’s the only one that can set them on the straight path. Look at what David did here. With the Holy Spirit guiding him, he wrote this Psalm that would be repeated and reviewed for thousands of years. He committed it to the chief musician to be sung in the public worship service. Those that truly repent of their sins are not ashamed to repent of them in public and David does that here for others to have a road map to repentance by his example, instructing them on what to do and say, Luke 22:32.
David’s humble petition is quite similar to that of the tax collector in the parable: “God be merciful to me a sinner!” Luke 18:13. As soon as he was convicted of his sin, he never offered to balance his evil deeds with his good deeds, nor did he attempt to atone for them with good works. He turns immediately to God’s infinite mercy and depends upon that for his pardon and peace. He asks that his transgressions be blotted out like a debtor’s name would be erased from his creditor’s book. “Wipe them out Lord, that they may not appear in judgment against me.” Sin defiles us and it’s an abomination in the eyes of a holy God and it disqualifies us for communion with Him. When he pardons sin He cleanses us from it. That’s the only way we can be acceptable to Him and the only way He’ll hear our prayers. Nathan assured David that his sin was pardoned. That didn’t mean the consequences weren’t coming. Yet David still prayed for his relationship to be restored with God. That’s all he cared about. God forgave him, but he couldn’t forgive himself. Sometimes that happens with us as well. David considered himself unworthy of God’s pardon and he valued it more than anything.
The first thing to notice is that David acknowledged his guilt: “I have sinned,” was his immediate response. This wasn’t just a quick shallow response but a heavy burden of grief that weighed heavily upon his heart: “My sin is ever before me,” to humble me and make me continually tremble. Note the acknowledgement that the sin was against God. When we sin, we disobey and dishonor God. You’ll recall that when Potiphar’s wife made advances on Joseph in Genesis 39:9, that Joseph said, “My Master has put me in charge of his entire household, everything except you is under my command, how then could I do such a terrible thing and sin against God?” Not Potiphar, but God! Here David sinned against Bathsheba and Uriah, against his own soul and body, and against his kingdom; but all these pale in light of how he sinned against God.
Secondly, he committed this sin in God’s sight. The fact that all our sins have been committed under the watchful eye of God should greatly humble us. If we believe that one of God’s attributes is that He is omniscient and we do, then we must realize that even if we’re in our house alone and we are sinning, that God sees it! You say, “Oh, nobody sees and it’s not hurting anyone.” I remember about ten years ago when I was teaching children in the AWANA program in our church that I asked a little girl, “If you were in a candy store and there were millions of candy bars all around you and nobody in the store, would it be a sin if you took just one because nobody would know?” She immediately told me the right answer, “God would know!” There goes that lame excuse that it’s not hurting anyone, because it’s hurting God. Enough said!
Next, David confesses his original corruption: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity.” If I had given serious consideration to that fact beforehand, I wouldn’t have played with fire while my heart has so much kindle in it, and so the sin may have been prevented. In other words, “Lord, I’m not just guilty of adultery and murder, but I have an adulterous murderous nature.” In Psalm 139:14-15 David speaks about the wonderful way that God structured his body, but here he talks about the other side of the equation. We have a sinful nature! Sin is twisted in with our bodies; not as it came out of God’s hands but as it came through our parents’ loins (Adam & Eve). So he is by grace, a child of God; by nature, a son of Adam. This is what we call original sin, because it is the origin of our transgressions.
David then prays that God would cleanse him from his sins and the defilement that resulted. “Purge me with Hyssop.” Pardon my sins and let me know that You’ve done so. Then I may be restored to those privileges which I have forfeited by sinning against You. Our hyssop is the blood of Christ applied to our souls by faith. It is the blood of Christ which is called the blood of sprinkling in Hebrews 12:24, that purges us from the guilt of sin and the dread of God which shuts out communion with Him. If we are washed in the precious blood of the Lamb of God, then we shall be clean indeed, Hebrews 10:2. We will be whiter than snow; not only justified (declared not guilty) but accepted. Though our sins have been as scarlet, they shall be white as snow, Isaiah 1:18.
He prays that God would lift up His countenance upon him and restore gladness into his heart, reconciling him in the process and letting him know that it has been done. He asks for a complete and effectual pardon. “Hide Your face from my sins Lord; they are ever before me. Blot out all my iniquities from Your book like a cloud is blotted out and dispelled after the storm. He’s praying for sanctifying grace here not, “Lord, save my reputation,” like Saul did, “Yes, I have sinned, but honor me before these people.” The only thing weighing heavy on David’s heart is the sin he was guilty of. The proof of this is found in his request to “Create in me a clean heart, O God!” Only the One who made the heart can cleanse it and make it new. With God, nothing is impossible.
He prays that he wouldn’t be thrown out of God’s protection, that God would continue to be with him and guide him with wisdom, and that he wouldn’t be forbidden communion with God. He’s not complaining that the consequences of his sin were too great. But he says, “If the sword shall never depart from my house, just let me have your presence to accompany me in my distress and all will be well.” Today, believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit for the Day of Redemption but in the Old Testament, we read of the Holy Spirit coming to and departing from individuals. And so, David prays that God would not remove His Holy Spirit from him. That’s what he dreads more than anything! Do you see why he was a man after God’s own heart? We are undone if God takes His Holy Spirit from us. Saul was a sad instance of this. You remember how miserable he was when the Spirit of the Lord departed from him. David knew it and pleaded, “Lord, take my children, my crown, even my life, but please don’t take Your Holy Spirit from me. I need Him to help me in my repentance, to keep me from relapsing into sin, and to enable me to perform my duties as king and author of many Psalms.”
David takes special note about two effects of his sin. First of all, that it made him sad and so he prays, “Restore unto me the joy of Your Salvation.” A child of God knows that the only true joy is found in the God of our Salvation and the hope of eternal life. Sin robs us of this joy, and that’s when we need to repent and pray that God would restore that joy to us. Secondly, he noticed it made him weak. So he prays, “Sustain me with a willing spirit. If left to myself, I will surely sink Lord, therefore uphold me with Your Spirit, and let Him work against the evil one that would cast me down.” David is so serious about this that he promises to teach others the ways of the Lord! And so he did with the Psalms, especially in Psalm 51 regarding the way back to the Lord after falling into sin, to humble themselves, confess their sins, and seek God’s face. With this Psalm, He will be teaching sinners until the end of time what God did for him. He tells God, “Sinners will be converted unto You.” There is no better way to live your life for God and no greater source of joy, James 5:20.
He acknowledges the sacrifice of a penitent heart, as that which he knew God would be pleased with. David knew that animal sacrifices were meaningless. “You did not desire sacrifice” or I would have brought you thousands of rams to make atonement for my sin. He knew that the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, which requires the breaking of the heart, not in despair but in humble awareness of and sorrow for sin. It is a heart that is pliable to the word of God and patient under the rod of God, a heart brought into obedience, a heart that is tender and trembles at God’s Word. Lord, grant us such a heart as this. Not only will God accept this but it’s the sacrifice He desires. The only necessary sacrifice for the atonement of our sins happened on the cross of Calvary two thousand years ago. It is finished! But the breaking of our hearts for sin is a sacrifice of acknowledgement which is offered up to God. He requires it and He will accept it. Look at the series of events that used to accompany the animal sacrifices in the temple. The sacrifice was bound, bled, and burned. And so it is with a heart that is convicted of sin. It is bound by conviction, bleeds in contrition, and then burns in a holy zeal against sin and for God. But here’s the catch; the sacrifice had to be offered upon the altar that sanctified the gift, setting it apart to a holy and righteous God. And therefore, the broken heart is acceptable to God only through Jesus Christ; there is no true repentance without faith in Him and this is the sacrifice which God will not despise. Man looks down upon and despises anything that is broken, but not God. He will not despise a torn and broken heart and He will never refuse or reject it. The proud Pharisee despised the broken-hearted tax collector but God did not. He looks upon those broken hearts with favor, Isaiah 57:15, 66:2.
You see, we often think that sin only affects us, but the ramifications of sin expand way past the sinner himself. Much like the ripples caused in a pond by a stone, those waves will reach those around us as well. David knew that he did a great disservice to Judah and Jerusalem by his sin, how it weakened them and saddened their hearts. He knew it gave their adversaries reason to gloat, that they would shake their heads and say, “See, there’s your man! There’s the one you look up to for leadership!” David prayed that his sin wouldn’t bring judgment upon the city and his kingdom and asked for God’s continued blessings upon them. A true man after God’s own heart thinks of the relationship between God and his people and dreads even the thought that he would be the cause of judgment coming down upon them.
So there you have it. The steps taken by David in this magnificent prayer to God are:
- He confesses his sin.
- He prays whole heartedly for the pardon of this sin.
- He prays for peace in his conscience.
- He prays for grace to go and sin no more.
- He prays for his continued relationship with God.
- He promises to do what he could for the good of others and the glory of God
- He prays for the people of his kingdom.
Are you broken over your particular “Nathan moment,” a sin that has left you feeling guilty and empty inside, as if you’ve unplugged the cord of your spirit from the outlet of God’s power and love? Have you been reading the Bible when all of a sudden that right arm and index finger just popped out of the Bible like a jack in the box, pointing right at you? The Holy Spirit was convicting you and you knew it. You would never deny it to God. And that’s the beauty of Scripture. He speaks to us and He convicts us. The Word of God is sharper than any double edged sword, cutting in both directions, in judgment and conviction. You were cut in conviction. Let me tell you something. That’s a good cut to get. If it rights our ship we should be praying, “Cut me Lord! Bring me back in your good graces once again.” Don’t wait for the other side of the sword. Believe me, you don’t want the cut of judgment. That only comes when you ignore the good cut.
We must heed the warnings given to us. Charles Swindoll said, “Someone once likened this to the warning light on your car’s dashboard. As you’re driving along, the red light flashes and it says, “Take notice! There’s trouble under the hood.” At that moment, you have a choice. You can stop, get out of the car, open the hood, and see what’s wrong. Or you can keep driving. No one will know the difference for a while, until you burn up the car. And then you look back and realize what a stupid decision it was to ignore the light on the dashboard. Some Christians ignore that warning in their conscience. When the light of true guilt begins to flash, they ignore it. They call it false guilt or they say that it’s just what everybody else is doing. But all the while, their internal motor is burning up. Then somewhere down the road, they look back and realize what a foolish decision it was not to stop and come to terms with what was wrong.
Oswald Chambers writes: “God does forgive but it cost the breaking of His heart with grief in the death of Christ to enable Him to do so. It is shallow nonsense to say that God forgives because He is love. Once we’ve been convicted of sin, we’ll never say this again. The love of God means Calvary – nothing less! The love of God is spelled out on the cross and nowhere else.” With that in mind, I’ll ask you how much did you cry while watching the Passion of the Christ? For every punch and kick our Lord took on our behalf, how much did you cry? For every patch of flesh that was brutally scourged from his body and thrown yards away by the whips meant for you and I, how much did you cry? For the nails driven through his hands and feet, how much did you cry? Be sure the Father cried. This is why a particular sin may be eating away at you right now just like it ate away at David. The Bible tells us that we actually grieve the Holy Spirit of God when we sin. Think about that for a moment.