After the incredibly busy spring/summer I had, I’m ashamed to admit that my Bible reading was largely gone by the wayside. One of my greatest character flaws is that I lack ‘stick-to-itiveness' in general, and as my tired little self grew more and more worn out, for some reason I set aside something very necessary. It requires immense mental effort for me to be out and about with people (don’t underestimate the work it takes for an introverted nerd to portray some semblance of ‘normalcy’) and concentrating on God’s word at the end of the day is harder than just looking through Instagram and going to sleep. It’s no excuse, of course, but that’s how it went.
However, now all of that busyness is over and I’m trying to get started again, slowly, by reading one passage over and over. Don’t get me wrong, I still am working on getting it back into my routine, as much as my life can be called a routine. However, I’m hoping that by blogging about my thoughts on the passage, I will have an incentive to do better.
This is the great repentant psalm of David after his sin with Bathsheba. It’s such an emotional, but eloquent, lament for the transgression he’s committed against God. His plea for cleansing and renewal is one that should be echoed in our hearts today.
It’s ingrained in human nature to pass the blame, to look at other people’s problems before our own, to excuse our behavior by citing the sins of someone else. And this tendency is good at disguising itself in claims of righteous indignation, of telling the truth, of fighting for justice- of love, even. How many times have you thought about someone’s wrongdoing, out of genuine concern, but while ignoring the things that need to be fixed in your own heart and life? I do it All. The. Time. And I’m pretty sure you do too. Of course, we have a level of duty to help others recognize their sins too - but that means actively calling them out on things and mentoring them through the process, neither of which are particularly effective if your own life is kind of a mess.
And that is what struck me first in this psalm, as David is owning his sin and begging for forgiveness from God.
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
Look at the pronouns- ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘mine’, ‘my’, and ‘thy’, ‘thee’ ‘thou’. This is between David and God, no-one else. No-one to hide behind, no-one to blame. Keep in mind, my study bible notes that a year has passed since the incident occurred. I suspect David had done his fair share of blaming, of faking everything was fine, of acting as though his sin had never happened. But in the psalm, he’s reached the point where he’s ready to stand bare before the Almighty and say ‘I’ve sinned against you and I’m throwing myself on your mercy’.
The Lord sent the prophet Nathan to David (in 2 Samuel 12) to deliver the now well-known story of a man who stole someone else’s only prized lamb. When David expressed outrage at the tale, Nathan indicted him-
‘Thou art the Man.’.
It was through the boldness of Nathan’s storytelling that David finally faced the reality of his wrongdoing. He’s reached a point where he’s ready beg the Lord for forgiveness and for help to go on. And it is this that leads to the rest of the Psalm. I hope you’ll join me as I plan to explore the rest over the next few weeks!