What David Said: Bigger Than Your Sin

“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.” (Psalm 51:7-9)

When you’ve done your worst. When you’ve been caught red-handed. When everyone seems to know just by looking at you how ugly your soul can be. When you’re drowning in the consequences of your own foolish, selfish choices.

whatdavid_350In that moment, you might feel beyond fixing. Some people vow in that moment to abandon God forever. He could not love them again. He could not forgive that. They are broken. Ruined. Too far gone to ever come back.

David, though, realized that was a lie. His God was bigger than his sin. Your God is bigger than your sin, even if your sin is huge. David believed and so he asked: “Clean me. Make it possible for me to be happy again. Take all my ugly sins and delete them completely from your hard drive.” God can do that.

Think: Have you ever felt it wasn’t even worth the effort to get right with God because your sin was so major? Do you see how that treats God as if He is smaller than your capacity to do wrong?

Pray: Ask God to help you to believe that His forgiveness and grace is greater than your sin. As one forgiven by the blood of Jesus, ask God to help you to hear joy and gladness today.

Do: Make a quick list of the sins that God cannot or will not forgive because they’re just too evil.

What David Said: Paper Confessions

“Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.

“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” (Psalm 51:4-6)

On some cop shows, perps are dragged into a holding cell and grilled by the detectives until they’re ready to spill. (Maybe I’ve watched too many cop shows.) The goal is often to get the bad guy to write out a confession to the crime on paper.

whatdavid_350That’s not a bad idea for you and me, either. David did that here. First, he confessed to his sin verbally with Nathan. Later, he wrote out his confession. Especially when we struggle to believe that we are truly forgiven and loved by God, writing down our prayer of confession to Him can help us have something to hold on to as evidence of the conversation we’ve had with Him.

Notice what David included: 1) He admits that he sinned against God. 2) He throws himself on the mercy of God’s court, understanding He deserves any judgement God chooses. (We know Jesus has already paid our punishment, but we will often suffer the real-world consequences of our wrong choices.) 3) David admits he’s a criminal from the womb; this isn’t a one-time offense. 4) He says he knows he can change only with God’s help by honestly learning in his heart the wisdom God teaches.

Think: Have you ever confessed your sin to God as David did here? Do you see any value in writing out prayers to God, especially prayers of confession?

Pray: Ask God to help you to be honest with Him and with yourself in your heart and to learn the wisdom He teaches in your inmost place.

Do: If you want to, try writing out a prayer to God. If you have unconfessed sin to deal with, follow David’s pattern of written confession. Otherwise, just write what you would normally talk to Him about.

What David Said: Make Me Clean!

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.” (Psalm 51:1-3)

As far as we know, David wrote these words after he had verbally confessed his sin against God. The prophet Nathan — a man God used to speak His words on earth — gave David an immediate response: “The LORD has taken away your sin.”

whatdavid_350But David still felt guilty and dirty and stained with all of his ugly choices. Even after hearing God’s announced punishments (the death of the baby and violence/conflict/betrayl for and from his other kids), David can’t get past the burden of his sin. It’s hard to blame him.

Most of us can relate to the memory of a sin that is always before us. Maybe you have begged God to clean you up over and over already knowing in your head that He has promised to forgive you. Let’s remind ourselves again of God’s great mercy and His unfailing love for us in Christ Jesus.

Think: Why do you think it is sometimes difficult to let go of the burden of sin even after we have done our best to make it right with God and with those we have wronged? Is it a bad thing that the guilty feelings linger? Is there a difference between godly sorrow and worthless regret?

Pray: Thank God again that Jesus paid for all of your sin when He died on the cross. Thank Him for His mercy. Ask Him to help you not to forget His grace and also to remember that you are forgiven in Jesus.

Do: Read and think about 2 Corinthians 7:10.

What David Did: I Confess

“Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’ Nathan replied, ‘The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.’ ” (2 Samuel 12:13-14)

Starting tomorrow, we’re going to spend a few days looking at David’s written prayer to God about his sin with Bathsheba in Psalm 51. Notice the wisdom in David’s immediate response here, though.

whatdavid_350When confronted with his sin and after hearing what God’s punishment will be, David doesn’t say, “I’m sorry.” He doesn’t make excuses. He doesn’t look for someone else to blame. Instead, he offers a one-sentence confession: “I have sinned against the LORD.”

It’s the same response God looks for from us when dealing with our sin. Confession is agreeing with God that I am wrong and He is right. Period. It’s how we draw close to Him again after we have turned from Him by choosing to sin: “God, I did it. I sinned in this way. I want to be close to you again. Thank you that I am forgiven because of Jesus.”

Think: Do you practice confessing your sin to God when you willfully choose to disobey Him? Is it a hard thing to do? Why or why not?

Pray: Ask God to help you to value your relationship with Him enough to admit when you have wronged Him by choosing your way over His way. Thank Him that all of your sins are forgiven through your faith in Jesus.

Do: If it is not your habit, make a point this week to start confessing your sinful choices to God as soon as you become aware of them.

What David Did: I Would Have Given You More

“This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes?” (2 Samuel 12:7-9)

God’s rebuke of David is as surprising as it is blistering. Do you notice what His first complaint is? He doesn’t start with describing David’s sinful acts, the adultery and lies and murder we find so villainous. He starts with David’s ungrateful heart.

whatdavid_350God saw Himself as being in relationship with David. He was and wanted to be the source of everything good in David’s life. He showered the king with success, possessions, and power. David refused to be satisfied with God’s goodness. David’s willingness to sin to get more showed he didn’t believe God could or would provide enough.

Our ungrateful hearts lead us in the same direction. Our choices to sin to get what we want show that we don’t trust God’s goodness, power, and love for us. We decide that if He won’t give us our desires now, we’ll set Him aside to take them our own way.

Think: Do you ever judge God’s goodness, love, or power by what He gives to you or keeps from you? Do you think of Him as the source of every good thing in your life?

Pray: Ask God to help you to have a grateful heart and to help you to trust Him alone to provide those good things He wants you to have.

Do: If God started listing the good things He has given you as He did in today’s verse with David, what would be the first 20 or so items on the list? Write those down.

What David Did: God’s Fiction

“David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.’ ” (2 Samuel 12:5-6)

God is my favorite fiction writer. Careful: I’m not saying Scripture is fiction. But in Scripture, God sometimes uses the power of fiction to help people see the truth. Jesus was a master storyteller who revealed the deep things of God with simple parables.

whatdavid_350Here, an angry God sends his prophet to David with the story of a rich guy thoughtlessly stealing a poor man’s beloved family pet to feed some guests. You can read David’s fury at this injustice in today’s verse above. He was ready to kill the guy.

God used the story to get David to convict himself. We’re not told if David felt any guilt at all about his adultery and murder before this moment. He did what we all do with stories; he identified with the underdog, with the hero. Then Nathan said, “You are the man!” And David knew he was, in reality, the villain.

Think: Has a fictional book or movie or story ever helped you understand truth more deeply? Why do you think we respond so powerfully to stories about heroes and villains? Why do you think we so naturally root for justice?

Pray: We live in a world crammed with fictional stories on TV, in movies, in video games, and in books. Ask God to lead you to worthwhile stories that will help you see His truth more clearly.

Do: Tune in tomorrow for God’s surprising verdict on David’s sin.

What David Did: Getting Away with Murder

“When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the LORD.” (2 Samuel 11:26-27)

We skipped over a few things between the start of 2 Samuel 11 and the end of it. Using his power as the king, David sends someone to get Bathsheba. Some scholars suggest that he raped her. Either way, he got her pregnant.

whatdavid_350To cover up that crime, he brought her husband Uriah home from the war so he’d sleep with her and think the baby was his. When that failed, David had Uriah killed and took the dead man’s wife for his own. And he got away with all of it because he was the king.

At least he thought he did. The last sentence echoes with deep foreboding. God had seen it all, and He didn’t like it. David was in trouble.

Think: Have you ever done something you thought was seriously wrong but you seemed to get away with it? Do you think anyone ever “gets away” with sin?

Pray: Ask God to remind you that no sins are secret from Him. Ask Him to help you to rely on Him both to avoid sin and — when you fail — to confess it and receive His forgiveness.

Do: In a sentence or two, describe the punishment you think David’s sin deserved.