It seems David’s simple “sorry” is a little too effortless to earn the instant pardon it gains. On the face of it, it’s a lame response. It’s not until we read Psalm 51 that we understand the depth of David’s actual grief over the situation.
His was a deep regret, a dam bursting inside him as his remorse spilled out on to the page. He neither could nor would make excuses. He would no longer cover up this sin because essentially David’s values were based on righteousness. He had wandered from those values but he was now coming back to what he was at his core: a man who wanted God and wanted a life that made God happy.
Ed Cole once said, “Maturity begins with the acceptance of responsibility”.
In our society, we have a legal and political system built on the avoidance of responsibility. The employer is negligent but fights the worker’s claim for compensation for work-related injuries. The woman sues the shopping centre when the real reason she tripped over a display stand was because she wasn’t watching where she was going. The politician blames the people in government before her or someone on her staff. The school parents blame the school for not teaching their children self-discipline. The child abuser blames his parents for his sin when he could have sought help to stop him from committing it.
When King David accepted the full responsibility for the situation he had created, he showed us what he was made of. Like a 21st Century man, he could have blamed Bathsheba: “What right did she have to be taking a bath up there at that time of day when anyone could see her?!” He could have blamed his humanity: "What d'you expect? I'm only hunan!" He could have blamed God: “If only God had made me stronger in this area! And if you had warned me, Lord, this wouldn’t have happened! Where was Nathan the Prophet on that day, huh?!”
Instead he admitted, “I have sinned.”
Again in Psalm 51, we see the depth of his heartfelt repentance. He pleads for God’s help even as he determines to make the necessary changes to his lifestyle.
My life has been empty without that sense of being on the right footing with God. Now. Am I prepared to admit my fault? Can I swallow my pride, avoid shifting the blame on to others, refuse to make excuses and admit that the drift from God started with my own decisions and behaviours? It's probably not going to require that I "repent in sackcloth and ashes" :) (And what the heck IS sackcloth anyhow?); it's probably just a matter of saying "Yeah, I messed up. Mea culpa. I take responsibility".
If I can, I'm heading in the right direction.
Once David admits that the situation is a result of his choices and that he is prepared to change, he is ready to move onto the next step...
- Take time to reflect on your situation, allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal "sin" and the choices which lead you to this place. Think back to the behaviours and attitudes that lead you away from passion for Him.
- Read and "relive" the accounts of the Crucifixion of Jesus. Read Romans 6. Ask yourself: In what ways is the life I’m living not worth the death that Jesus died? Write these matters down.
- Ask God for forgiveness where necessary.
- Forgive yourself and let any guilt go. It is nailed to the Cross and God will remember it no more. The slate is clean. This is not an excuse for beating yourself up, pilgrim!
Spend time meditating on the mercy and kindness of God. Sing to Him. Find Psalms that underline His forgiveness and compassion. Remind yourself that God’s primary motivation is to bring you close to Himself, and so He does not use your past mistakes in a petty way to keep you feeling guilty and in debt to Him. Allow Him to love you again.
If this is the first time you've read one of this series of posts, please click on the label at the end of the post (Relighting the Fire) to read all entires. Unfortunately, they're in reverse order, so like many blogs, you'll have to scroll to the bottom to find the start of the the thread...