David King, author
For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
We all have had the experience of going from one place to another only to come upon a stretch of impassable road. My family lives in Melissa, Texas (northeast of McKinney), and most of Melissa has been under construction for over five years. Someone asked me after I moved in if I was going to like living in Melissa. We love our little town even though it is quite rapidly becoming a larger city. My response to my friend in humorous jest was, “Sure I will love it, if they ever finish it.” Our roads have been under construction for a long time and we often have to find a detour. Once in a while we find ourselves stuck and realize there is no detour around a difficult stretch of road. All we can do is sit and wait.
When it comes to requesting forgiveness or restoring a relationship, it often involves going through areas we most likely prefer to avoid, especially if the relationship restoration is with God. David, the king of Israel, shows us that genuine repentance is the only way to affectively restore our relationship with God.
Why do we avoid repentance of sin and restoration with God and others? Is it because it is hard work? Is it because of pride? Is it because of fear? Those are just three reasons, and there are many others. But when you study the Scriptures, you discover that the entire message of the Bible is a message that implores us to repent—yes, an unpopular message today.
The Old Testament prophets preached repentance. John the Baptist preached repentance. Peter and Paul preached repentance. The last words from the risen Christ in the first three chapters of Revelation to the seven churches of Asia Minor were calls to repent. In order for restoration with God and our fellow-man, we must travel through that stretch of road that is often times most difficult—and it runs right through the middle of the valley of repentance.
This week, I invite you to travel that road and see what true, genuine repentance looks like. We are studying Psalm 51 which is King David’s great prayer of confession after he had fallen into deep, dark, dreadful sin with Bathsheba. In this psalm, we find the great king of Israel sitting on his throne in Jerusalem. Chosen of God as a symbol of power and purity among the people, David’s kingdom is built up. His armies are victorious. Neighboring princes pay him homage. And yet, all of that is not enough to satisfy the lustful appetites of his being.
Having acquired victory, luxury, and ultimate gratification of the flesh, David saw one more thing he wanted. He desired and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite. He then covered up the sin by having Uriah placed at the front of the battle where Uriah would certainly fall to death. What David deceitfully planned is exactly what happened.
Any other king in the world could have done this and not a word would have been said, for kings were dictators who could do whatever they desired. But David was not “any other king.” David was the king of God’s chosen people. He was the anointed king of God, and therefore, what he did was wrong. While pagan kings could do what David did without a whisper of blame, David was Jehovah’s anointed, and he would be held accountable for his actions.
For the better part of a year, David fooled himself and his nation. He thought he had the sin covered up. Uriah was dead. Bathsheba was now a part of his own family. He had brought her into the palace. Probably no one suspected any wrong doing. David fooled himself, his family, Bathsheba and her family, and he fooled the entire nation—all but one particular man.
The cover-up did not make it past the prophet Nathan who, coming at the direction of God, said to David, “You are the man” (2 Samuel 12:7). Nathan continues to chide David by telling him that he has sinned against God and that he must deal with that sin.
As David deals with that sin, he goes before God in genuine repentance. This is a man who grievously sinned. He committed a heinous sexual sin. He committed the sins of murder and of lies and cover-ups. But because he sincerely repented to God, one can understand why the Lord says of David that he is a man after his own heart (Acts 13:22).
In order for cleansing and restoration to take place, we must choose to travel through the valley of repentance. It is a stretch of road that is often difficult, lonely, and dark. But God’s Word (in this psalm and other passages) instructs us that we must not try to detour around the valley of repentance or look for a bypass if we want the same forgiveness and restoration that David experienced.
As we come before this psalm, we will see that there are unavoidable prerequisites for forgiveness and restoration in our lives individually and in the life of the church corporately. The other thing that we will see is that repentance is not something that we experience the moment we trust Jesus as our Savior and then we never have to deal with it again. Repentance is a life-long assignment because sin is a cesspool of continuous temptation that we deal with each day.
So what are those unavoidable prerequisites to forgiveness and restoration? From David’s prayer in Psalm 51, we will look at them this week. But for today, we must understand that there is no detour around this road; we must pass this way. We must be willing to travel this road to restoration even though it takes us right through the valley of repentance.
We stated earlier that in the midst of David’s luxury, there was still one thing he wanted, and she was another man’s wife. What could have David have done differently?
Reflect on David’s ultimate repentance. Since his repentance came after the prophet Nathan’s confrontation, do you think David’s repentance was genuine? Why or why not?