Psalm 51: 1-4a & 11 (KJV) 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… Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
I heard a preacher say once that David is known for two things: killing Goliath and sinning with Bathsheba. One was a great victory, the other a great defeat. All of his life, David not only believed in God, but built a close relationship with God. His life of faith is recorded by others in 1 & 2 Samuel and by himself in the Psalms. He trusted God for protection (1 Sam. 17: 37), thanked God for great military victories (2 Sam. 8), and tried to be an example to others (1 Sam. 24). However, after all of this, David was still subject to sin. He lusted after Bathsheba, sinned with her, and eventually killed her husband so he could make her his wife. It seemed as though the man after God’s own heart had turned his back on God.
Have you ever been in a situation like David, where it feels like you have forsaken your relationship with God and turned to sin instead? Those awful questions begin to rise. Have I fallen too far? Can God still hear me? Does He still love me? Could He ever forgive me? I have asked these questions before, and I have found the answers to these questions in God’s forgiveness of David.
Although David had shut the door of communication between himself and God, God kept knocking and pushing that door open. He sent Nathan the prophet to confront David with his sin (2 Sam. 12). I can see him, pointing at David as he said, “Thou art the man.” And I can see David, as his walls come crashing down. David could only reply, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Perhaps by this time, he was weeping, acknowledging his sin, and knowing he needed forgiveness from God. Nathan’s reply was quick. “The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.” All that was needed for God to forgive was for David to admit that he had sinned. Repentance and forgiveness happened at the same moment.
I believe that it was not long after Nathan left David’s presence that David penned Psalm 51. I encourage you to read the full Psalm; it’s only 19 verses. This is the passage that I run to when I need forgiveness in my life. It is a constant reminder that God can forgive and that He will forgive. He is a God of mercy. To answer those questions from before, we can never fall too far. God will still hear us; He wants us to cry out to Him. He does still love us. He wants to forgive us. He wants to give us a clean heart, like a new slate, so we can start again. God didn’t throw David away, and He won’t throw us away either. God was quick to forgive