Wednesday, January 16, 2013

David's Sin With Bathsheba: A Broken, Contrite Spirit, Part 4

We've been studying David's sin with Bathsheba and while I've written it, God's taken me on a journey, as he so often does when I sit down to write about the Word. I've changed the title to better reflect that journey.

My first words in this series were typed with a heavy heart. I'd received a hurtful e-mail from a family member, toward whom I could not allow my heart to harden. More than anything I want this person saved.

Outside of prayer for God to perform a miraculous work of grace in her life, I only have loving kindness to offer toward her salvation. I can't save her, but I can let Jesus shine through me and I can hope. I can pray with faith.

God's voice was clear in what I had to do. "Do not harden your heart."

My response was a weary whine: "But how, God, when she keeps hurting me? I'm so weary of the hurt I'm ready to walk away."

When God directed me to study David and Bathsheba, I puzzled.

"Why that story?"

Even after three posts on this, I still wasn't sure how to tie it all together, but I knew that David's Psalm of repentance (Psalm 51) was key. What am I supposed to take away from that Psalm? Why did God have David write it?

Immediately in the story, after David confessed that he'd sinned against God, we read that God forgave him.

Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” 2 Samuel 12:13a

And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die.” 2 Samuel 12:13b

It's worth noting here that while God did forgive David, there were still dire consequences to David's sin, carried out by God. The newborn son born to Bathsheba died, shaming the couple (a baby son's death was considered a punishment from the Lord), and the sword never left David's house. David had a myriad of problems controlling his children later on, and one of his sons ended up killing his brother.

However, David and Bathsheba enjoyed a mutually good, close marriage. Bathsheba had every reason to hate David forever. Uriah was a good, faithful, honorable husband to Bathsheba and she loved him. Uriah wouldn't have brought shame on her the way David had done. If there was ever a hopeless marriage, this was it, but God redeemed it. Beauty from ashes. Bathsheba was David's favorite wife and God honored their union later on with the birth of Solomon.

Let's unpack some of this Psalm, which is shown in blue.

Psalm 51:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 

David knew God's promise from Exodus 34:6-7

Exodus 34:6–7: “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty.”

David knew that some would be forgiven, and others would not. He could only throw himself on the mercy of God, begging for his life. We have knowledge David didn't have. Christ on the cross, dying in our place. Cleansing us. But even though we know we'll be forgiven, we need to throw ourselves in humility at the foot of the cross, acknowledging sin, and asking for forgiveness and cleansing. This is the spirit God wants from us. A broken one, going to Him in desperation, knowing we cannot save ourselves.

Here's where the lesson gets personal for me, in regards to my pain over the hurtful e-mail. I need the cross as much as my relative does. Every day I need the cross, not just the first time I embraced it. I'm no better than an unsaved person and to allow my heart to harden at someone else's sin? That's ugly pride, not a broken and contrite spirit. I deserve death, as David did. 

But Christ.

We can avoid a hardened heart when we understand the magnitude of what we've been given. We deserve to be one of those in eternal hell, but God saved us.

This whole Psalm is beautiful because David doesn't take God's mercy for granted, as we New Testament Christians can easily do. 

Psalm 51, cont.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. 

All sin is against God, first and foremost. Sin is a belittling attack on God.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from blood guiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (emphasis mine)

We know from the bold blue verses that David understands this: God has broken him. Broken his spirit. Made him poor in spirit, in fact, as we read in the Beatitudes. Matthew 5:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

God loves the poor in spirit. We read it here, too: Isaiah 66:2 Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?" declares the LORD. "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.

And here too: Revelation 3:17 You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. (emphasis mine)
Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.

I want to close this study with some words from John Piper:

Being a Christian means being broken and contrite. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you get beyond this in this life. It marks the life of God’s happy children till they die. We are broken and contrite all the way home—unless sin gets the proud upper hand. Being broken and contrite is not against joy and praise and witness. It’s the flavor of Christian joy and praise and witness.

A broken and contrite spirit should be the flavor of our lives, then. When we grasp this, when we live this Psalm everyday, we begin to resemble the unstained bride God wants for His church.

 Ephesians 5:27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

This is foundational: The Lord does all the work to make us holy and blameless. We are desperate at the foot of the cross, unable to save or better ourselves. We are sinful, vile, spiritually dead, but he forgives us, fills us, and remakes us. Wow!

Let's not lose our awe, our thankfulness, or our tears over his mercy and grace toward us. 

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Beautifully said, dear friend. I pray daily for the hearts of my children to stay soft towards the Lord and what He has done for us.
I received your comment on my blog, but didn't publish it. I am so thankful to hear that little Anna is doing well on the methotrexate. We'll continue to pray for no bad side effects. Hope you're having a blessed week.
Much love to you....