Psalm 51:1-2 “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.”
Recently, I shared these thoughts at a men’s meeting on the heels of seeing the following picture coupled with my personal devotions in 2 Samuel:
While I cannot help much with “Worcestershire sauce,” 🙂 the other two are strikingly male issues that David’s example challenges us to articulate through our stammering lips and lives! It is generally believed that about a year elapsed between chapters 11 and 12. During that time the hand of the Lord was heavy upon David; his spiritual struggle is described in Psalms 32 and 51. “Thou art the man” by Nathan the prophet in 2 Samuel 12:7 was not a compliment, but confrontational rebuke in the most sensitive AND PERVASIVE area of vulnerability for every man!
What David did after being confronted is what separated him from the herd as “the man after God’s own heart.” In a world of men who don’t talk about the most important things, how do we personally change that trend in our areas of influence? It will include voicing some words to other people, but is must begin first with God whom we have despised (2 Sa. 12:9-10) and offended (Ps. 51:4)!
A godly man learns how to verbalize two tough but transformative prayers:
“I was wrong.” (1)
In recent days, I have observed several church leaders attempting to minimize the wrong of sexual sin done by those in places of influence. Eric Geiger wisely pushed back on this trend, “Counselors and psychologists who work with those who have been abused view the encounter between someone in spiritual authority and someone under the care of that person as abuse and not an affair. This is true regardless of the person’s age or marital status. This is true even if the perpetrator insists there was consent. It is abuse because a person in a position of authority utilized their power to manipulate someone else into a place where the abusive interaction could happen.”
David had “more than an affair! He was horribly wrong as an ABUSER and then later as a MURDERER…and he “manned up” to admitting it! (Imagine how not only God but Bathsheba must have felt after being abused, having her husband murdered, and then her baby dying…all because of David’s blatant wrong!)
Two ways to practically say these words:
Say this by learning repentance. (2 Sa. 12:13-14)
One may wonder, perhaps, why David was not punished with death as he had so sternly advocated for the guilty man in Nathan’s story. Adultery and murder both were sufficient cause for the execution of even a king (Ex. 21:12; Le. 20:10). The answer surely lies in the genuine and contrite repentance which David expressed, not only in the presence of Nathan but more fully in this Psalm 51.
Without repentance being modeled from the top down in our areas of influence, the problems never get resolved and just keep “snowballing” often into the next generation. Here is a preventative truth for the sloppy “I’ll just sin and then eventually apologize” mindset: Even the repented/forgiven sins sown by a father (David) will be reaped in their children’s hearts and lives-lust/rape (Amnon) and hatred/murder (Absalom). On the other hand, nothing could revolutionize your family more than if the husband/father would learn how to practice godly repentance as soon as possible to minimize the effects of your sin.
Say this by pursuing growth. (2 Sa. 12:19-23)
That David possessed a deep understanding of God’s character is evident by the way he responded to God’s judgment on his sin. Before the blow fell, he prayed, knowing that Jehovah was a God of mercy. After the baby died, he worshipped, knowing that Jehovah was a God of righteousness. He forgot the things that were behind, accepted the divine discipline, and looked ahead to the future.
One of the most authentic ways to say I was wrong is to start doing right! As one author challenges us, “Be brave by being will to stink at something new.” Listen, your potential is greater than your past! Yes, you messed up, but don’t wallow in it. God is always leaning forward and the best way to resolve the wrong permanently is to strive to grow beyond it.
“I need help.” (2)
Most men struggle to not only admit wrongdoing but also to ask for help.
Two ways to practically say these words:
Say this by initiating community. (2 Sa. 12:24-25)
Bonhoeffer famously declared, “Sin demands to have a man by himself. It withdraws him from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation.” Prayer uniquely helps us break that deadly cycle.
The divine references to several key people that David now has relationship with are important! Now, after repentance and restoration, Bathsheba is referred to as “David’s wife” instead of “Uriah’s wife.” She bare him a son … Solomon. The name means “peace” and was probably given with reference to the inner peace that David and Bathsheba could have before God now that the sin had been confessed. The Lord loved him. This shows the approval of God upon this child. “He sent” refers to God’s commissioning Nathan to give assurance to David with the divinely given name Jedidiah, which means, in current idiom, “God’s little lover.”
While sinful relationships kill, redeemed relationships produce new life built upon God’s shared peace and love!!! We men are way too anti-social and we think that is “normal and healthy” when it is actually dangerous. What could God do if weak, prone-to-fail you would run toward instead of away from your wife and men placed in your life by God Himself? As Josh Teis just posted, “Everyone wants to FIND community. Few are willing to BUILD community.” Choose to build it. With your words. Words discovered in prayer.
Say this by choosing accountability. (1 Ki. 1:1-4)
From what is said of him in 1 Kings 1:1–4 it is obvious that David was in poor health and quite weak shortly before he died. His inability to retain body heat led his attendants to search for a way to keep David warm. Their decision to provide a young woman who could keep him warm by lying next to him in bed and also serve as his nurse was in harmony with medical customs of that day. Since David was the king a woman who combined beauty with the other qualities needed in a nurse was sought. An attractive young woman was found in the town of Shunem. The fact that David had no intimate relations with his nurse Abishag shows that that David was very weak. The king’s inability to withstand temptation while in good health resulted in his committing adultery with Bathsheba. But now, due to poor health and advanced age, his vigor was gone.
Whether David could not or would not, He did not dishonor the Lord with his body like he did with Bathsheba. What was once so important and consuming to David is no longer so as his life is winding down. The key on how to stop failing morally in a predictable manner is to surrender the choice BEFORE you are in the moment of weakness with the help of another! Who knows how David’s story with Bathsheba would have been different if he had found a new “Jonathan” to strengthen him in the Lord at a key season of vulnerability. Ask God to give you accountability partners who will help you not be tripped up by temporal lusts that will fade away in light of eternity.
Before you dismiss this Psalm, verbal David was more of a “man’s man” than you could ever hope to be as a warrior, king, and leader. Don’t mock him or marginalize him. Mimic him-especially in your prayer life. Jim Berg wisely asserts, “Though it grieves him to wrong the One Who has loved him most, a man growing in godliness is not discouraged by his sin since he has often sees the amazing forgiveness to him time and again. Others who have not seen the amazing work on the cross as clearly are despondent when they find out that their actions have fallen ‘short of the glory of God’ (Ro. 3:23). The godly man is humbled more by the grace of God in the light of his sin than he is by his sins themselves.” The male ego will never bow before MAN-GENERATED GUILT; it will only do so before the GRACE OF GOD processed and activated through verbalized prayers.