March 25, 2012
Fifth Sunday in Lent
Psalm 51:1-12

The old prophet couldn’t sleep a wink. He had that horrible feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when your confidence in someone has been challenged. He was a prophet and his job was to call sin sin and confront the sinner. The only problem was that in this case the sinner was the king. The king was a good king. The king would come to be known as a man after God’s own heart. That didn’t mean the king wasn’t subject to the same human weaknesses as anybody else. The dangerous thing for the king was that he had the power to go after and get what he wanted.

David was on the roof of his palace one day surveying his kingdom when he saw the beautiful Bathsheba bathing. He went to his aides and asked, “Isn’t this woman Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” There were a lot of off -ramps David could have chosen to use as he was on the road to one of the most grievous moral failures of his life. He could have gone back to bed and ignored the temptation. He could have prayed or sung a hymn of praise to elevate his thoughts. He certainly could have said, “I will not send for her.” When you’re the king, though, you think you’re invincible. He may have gotten away with his liaison, but something happened. Bathsheba sent word to David, “I’m pregnant.” Her husband, Uriah, would know it wasn’t his child.

To make a long story short, when Uriah didn’t go along with David’s plan to cover up his misdeed, David arranged or his valiant fighting man to be killed in action. The man after God’s own heart was guilty of adultery and murder. The prophet Nathan knew it was his job to confront the sinner. The direct approach could mean the end of the prophet. He concocted a story about a rich man taking a lamb from his poor neighbor to feed to his guests. As the rage mounted in David regarding the offense, he said, “That man deserves to die,” Nathan the prophet says, “You are the man.”

David was hit right between the eyes with his own sin. There was nothing else for him to do except come clean and throw himself on the mercy and grace of God.

First, there was a plea for mercy, in confidence that God would hear.

Notice it is based on confidence in the unfailing love and the great compassion of God that he says, “Wash away my iniquity and cleanse me from all my sin.”

It’s interesting that it didn’t take a lot of convincing for David to see he was a guilty sinner.

There was an acknowledgement of his guilt.

He knew his sin. He said he had sinned only against God, though there were few others he sinned against: Uriah; Bathsheba; his wife, Abigail; his children; the people under his leadership and several others. Ultimately, his sin was against God; and he said, “Against You and You only have I sinned.” In other words, he hurt other people, but he broke God’s standard.

He acknowledged his own sinfulness and the people he hurt, but he acknowledged ultimately his sin was against God. Because the sin was against God, he could pray with confidence and ask for God’s cleansing.

He plead, “Do not cast me from Your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.” You need only to read the Psalms to know God granted David’s request. The man after God’s own heart was restored to a joyful relationship with the God who saves sinners.

Have you done anything worse than adultery and murder?

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