Forgiveness, Insecurity & Sin (Part 2)
Continuing our thoughts from last week, I’d love to move into looking at Psalm 51. Self-righteousness has a hard time wrapping its mind around this chapter. How could David say, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.”
Self-righteousness looks at the situation and says, “Isn’t this the man who stole one of his most trusted warrior’s wives and then committed murder to cover it up? Doesn’t this massive sin wrong many people?” Self-righteousness rises up in judgment of the guilty and in defense of the wronged.
Yes, David deserved judgment from God for his wrongs. Yes, the wronged need to be defended. But why did he not mention his sin against Uriah, Bathsheba, Joab, or his entire family and nation? How could he say, “Against you, you only, have I sinned.” Because David’s focus shifted from the human-human dynamic of sin to the human-divine dynamic of sin.
Let’s look at what David wrote in Psalm 51, verses 1-6.
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.
I love this Psalm because David pulls back the veil of self-righteousness and gives us a glimpse into our sinful state. Are we capable of judging others correctly through our own lenses?
In verse 5, David proposes that we are sinful from birth and in verse 6 he tells us that God began to teach us right from wrong in the womb. He pulls no punches when he lets us know that God expected faithfulness from us even before we were born. That blows away our ability to claim goodness on our own merit. Did it take the prophet Nathan, ripping away David’s self-righteousness, to give the king an understanding of his own hopeless state?
And when David gained this new understanding, what changed?
Let’s look at 2 Samuel 12:1-13
The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, 3 but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. 4 “Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.” 5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.” 7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. 9 Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’ 11 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’” 13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
As Nathan lays out his story before the king, David’s righteous indignation grows. He is offended at the man who could do such a thing and immediately passes harsh judgment. David sees the human-human dynamic of another person’s sin and his anger burns outward towards the rich man.
When Nathan points his prophetic finger at David and strips away the lie he has been living and believing, David’s focus immediately turns inward to the human-divine dynamic of his own sin as he realizes the great wrong he has done the Lord.
Hopefully, the Lord never needs to bring us to a David moment to understand a David truth. We each are guilty before God and the primary offense of our sin and other people’s sin is that it is against the Lord.
How would our behavior change if we applied this practically?
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” - Jeremiah 17:9
Are our hearts deceiving us? David’s heart had so thoroughly deceived him that even in the face of adultery and murder he stood in harsh judgment on a man who stole a lamb. Do we do the same? Rationalize our own sin while judging someone else’s?
Jesus says whoever looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her. Whoever hates his brother is guilty of murder. God elevates the standard of righteousness far above what we can hope to attain. He views sin and desire to sin in the same light. And he has the ability to search our hearts and minds.
What type of revolution could we start if we took a step back when confronted with sin and view it through Psalm 51 lenses? What if we reminded ourselves that our spouses’, children’s, coworkers’, friends’, or neighbors’ sin was not about us being wronged but about God being wronged? What if in that moment we choose to overlook personal offense as we bow our hearts in reverent fear, remembering our own rebellion against God?
It could change everything.
It would obliterate offense and remove self so we could judge correctly while reacting in love.
What would that look like in your life?
Exploring your heart:
1. How did God speak to you through Psalm 51 and Philippians 2:1-11 as you meditated on the concepts of sin, grace, and humility during the last week?
2. What will shifting your understanding from the human-human dynamic of sin to the human-divine dynamic of sin do in your life? Will it make forgiveness easier?
3. Think on the last thing that really offended you. Does your sense of offense diminish when you realize the other person’s sinful action was more about their rebellion against God than it was about their love or respect for you?
4. Knowing someone’s sin stems from rebellion against God still doesn’t lessen the hurt they can inflict. Ask God how he can redirect hurt feelings into healing. You can connect with Stephanie through her website or social media platforms. www.stephaniemgammon.com │ firstname.lastname@example.org www.facebook.com/stephaniemariegammon www.twitter.com/stephmgammon www.instagram.com/stephaniemgammon