Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. . .Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.
Psalm 51:10, 12
Moral chaos breeds chaos. David’s immoral behavior would bring calamity on his household. David’s forceful taking of Uriah’s wife made it more likely that women in the palace would be vulnerable to another man’s violation. Weakened from within, David was not able to protect those dearest to him. What happened in the palace would be mainstreamed “in broad daylight for all Israel.”
Violence begets violence. Despising God brings God’s judgment upon oneself. How could David have fooled himself into believing he could “take” Uriah’s wife as his own!
Thus confronted, David repented. Remorsefully he confessed, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Sam. 12:13). God accepted David’s sorrowful lament. Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die” (2 Sam. 12:13). David’s life could have been “taken” from him, even as he had taken Uriah’s. David could have lost the right to rule as king, even as did Saul, whom David was anointed to replace. David and Bathsheba would also endure the additional grief of their firstborn child’s death.
God doesn’t want us to visit the dark side. When we go there, he doesn’t want us to stay there. Recovery through repentance from sin is the way out. This good news applies to all sins; adultery is not excluded. Broken trust can be restored. An afflicted husband and wife may have to work hard for years to get through the pain, but by God’s grace it is possible “to love and to cherish...for better or for worse” and go forward.
David wrote Psalm 51 in remorse for what he had done. With guilt and shame, he owned up to his sins before God. Re-establishing trust is built on remorse, repentance, and renewal. Remorse stops us in our tracks. Repentance turns us from going in a sinful direction to living godward. Shuv, the Hebrew word for repentance means literally “to turn around and go in the opposite direction.” Renewal is the result of our misdirected life being redirected.
Our life is determined by the choices we make at home, at work, and in our community. Believers are sinners saved by God’s grace. The work I do as pastor includes helping people who are caught in sin by showing them that there is a better way to live, and to begin living that way. When Nathan said, “David, you are the man who has done this!” He showed David the consequences of his sins. But God’s amazing grace saved the shepherd king.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have you become enslaved to habitual sin? Can you see God’s escape route? Are you feeling salvation’s joy at home, at work, and in your community? Are you enjoying life by dancing to the rhythm of God’s grace?
PRAYER: Lord, I get Your message. The purer my heart, the more I can see of you. By being with you in prayer, I trust that you will burn away the impurities in my heart. Have your way with me so that I will live in your ways. David’s prayer becomes my prayer, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and renew a right spirit within me." Amen.
A Note from Mark Roberts: This week's reflections have been written by my friend and fellow pastor, Dr. Leslie Hollon, Senior Pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas. Leslie (known also by the nickname Les) is a noted preacher, pastor, professor, and author. He is a gifted biblical teacher who connects the deep truths of Scripture to the realities of daily life. Every time I hear Leslie preach, I am encouraged to consider in new ways how the Word of God speaks to me. I know you will find Leslie's reflections on temptation to be challenging and encouraging.