The Joy of Repentance
If you are not familiar with Psalm 51 you should be. This psalm comes with a heading that it was written after the prophet Nathan confronts David about his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba. If you don’t know the story, here is another link: 2 Samuel 11-12. David committed a terrible sin, both adultery and conspiracy to commit murder and then a cover up. God tells Nathan to go to David and confront David with his sin. David repents and Psalm 51 could be what was on David’s mind as he asked God for forgiveness. The psalm is a beautiful and poignant reminder of what repentance must look like in our lives. There is a lot to talk about here but I’ll focus on three things. First, David doesn’t make any excuses as he asks for God’s forgiveness. There isn’t any, “But if she wasn’t bathing on the roof” or “I was in a moment of weakness from the stress of leading the kingdom”. None of that. Just “Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.” Today’s method of apology which often begins with “If I’ve offended someone…” just doesn’t cut it. Come clean to be washed clean. Second, David first sees his offense as against a holy God. David writes, “Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight” But David committed adultery, no doubt using his power and position to influence Bathsheba’s decision. He had her husband, Uriah, killed and then he covered it up. David certainly “sinned against” these people also but David understood that primarily his sin was against God. Don’t leave God out of the forgiveness equation when you repent. You may not see a direct consequence as it relates to God but you need to acknowledge your need for His forgiveness in a primary way. Third, David sees his forgiveness as an opportunity: “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You.” As in most things relating to God, it is not primarily about us. David desired to use his experience to teach others. We also can use our failures and God’s forgiveness to benefit others and to benefit the kingdom of God.
I hope that we can all learn from David and use his bad sin as a good example for us.