Today’s Bible reading is Numbers 21-22 and Psalm 51. Our devotional is from Psalm 51.
Psalm 51 is a prayer of brokenness, confession, repentance, and a plea for restoration.
Written after the prophet Nathan’s dramatic confrontation with king David (2 Samuel 12:7-13), Psalm 51 introduces us to a man brought low by sin. David’s adultery with Bathsheba, her conception of his illegitimate son, and his failed attempt to conceal his sin had led to the murder of her husband Uriah the Hittite on the battlefield. David’s hush-hush sins were secret no more and the king’s disgrace was exposed in his court.
Many a great man and woman have found themselves in the unenviable position we find king David…at the pinnacle of success and power and unaccountable to any who might mercifully and lovingly warn, “Thou art the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7).
Late 19th century British historian Lord Acton made the observation, “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Such is true, not only of monarchs, politicians, business leaders, teachers, and pastors; but also, men and women who, in their own little fiefdoms have roles that go unchecked.
One should ponder how David falls from the innocence of a boy tending sheep in his teens, a national hero in his young-adult years (1 Samuel 18:7; 21:11), crowned king by age 30, but at 50 years of age descends to become an adulterer and murderer.
Be forewarned: Given the right provocation, the potential of such egregious sins lies within us all. David acknowledged the nature and bent of sin within us when he writes, “I was shapen in inquity: and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). Indeed, the inclination for sin is within the heart of all, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10).
Even more disconcerting, while in the throes of sin David continued to act as judge in other men’s matters while tolerating the curse and burden of his own sins. One wonders how long David might have continued his charade if God had not commanded his prophet to confront the king. Remembering oriental monarchs like David held absolute authority and the power of life and death rested with them, we appreciate the tenuous position Nathan found himself.
The words, “Thou art the man!”(2 Samuel 12:7) echoed in the king’s judgment hall and resonated in David’s heart who cried out to the Lord, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness… 2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions…4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done thisevil in thy sight…”(Psalm 51:1-4a).
David prayed, “10Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me… 12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” (Psalm 51:10, 12a).
I find three failures in David’s life that are the haunt of men and women.
The first, David entertained unbridled passions that inevitably led to a neglect of his duties and responsibilities as husband, father and king. The second, David’s role as king had insulated him from accountability. His moral failure occurred when he was alone. Finally, until confronted by Nathan, David was too proud to confess his sins and humbly accept the consequences (2 Samuel 11:6-22).
Friend, if you are concealing sin, be forewarned: You are living on borrowed time before the consequences catch up with you and your loved ones (Galatians 6:8; Psalm 32:3-4).
I invite you to humble yourself before God knowing He has promised, “whoso confesseth and forsaketh [his sins] shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).
Copyright 2019 – Travis D. Smith