Repentance To God Brings Reconciliations
A person feels unhappy and fearful when he is separated from God. Of course God is unhappy, also. Remember, He created man to be His friend. 11 Remember how in the time of Noah God felt displeasure and grief when He looked upon the sinful condition of the earth. The sin of David, too, brought grief to God. God loved David and would not forsake him. It is not the intention of God simply to punish people for sin. His plan is to cleanse them from sin so that God and man may walk closely together and fulfill the purpose of creation.
For this reason God did not strike out in physical punishment upon David. Rather, He spoke to his heart in a way that would bring true repentance. He arranged that David would hear a story which would remind him of the sin in his life.
The story concerned a rich man, who owned a large number of sheep and cattle, and a poor man who had nothing except one little ewe lamb. The poor man loved the lamb and raised it up like a child in his house.
One day a traveler came to visit the rich man. Naturally it was the duty of the rich man to prepare a meal for his guest. But he did not wish to use one of his sheep. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it to serve for his guest’s dinner.
“What a terrible thing,” said David, “the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”
Then the word of God came to David, “You are the man! I anointed you king and delivered you from your enemies. You could have had many different women. But you struck down Uriah with the sword in battle and took his wife to be your own.”
“I have sinned,” David admitted in great sorrow and humility, “I have sinned against God.”
Since he was the great king, David could have reasoned that everything in the kingdom rightfully belonged to him, including beautiful Bathsheba. Yet David knew in his heart that it is God who is truly the Great King, and it is to Him that all things belong.
David realized that not only had he done a sinful act against a person much weaker and poorer than he, but his greatest sin was against his Lord. He no longer tried to pretend that there was no sin. He knew the condition of his own heart. He accepted full responsibility. He realized that he was worthy to die, just as he had said of the rich man. The sword of his conscience haunted his soul day and night. He cried out in anguish, “I have sinned, and I deserve to die.”
David knew that there was nothing he could do in his own power to cleanse the sin from his life. The thought of separation from God was terrible to him. “I acknowledge my transgressions,” he said, in complete confession of guilt. “Wash me… cleanse me… create in me a new heart,” he prayed, asking God to forgive him.
David thought about offering the Lord a sacrifice of burnt offerings. It was his custom to 13 offer the ritual sacrifices as instructed in the writings of Moses. However, he knew that the offering up of an animal sacrifice itself did not point to man’s goodness in performing a religious duty. The sacrifice pointed not to man’s goodness, but to God’s mercy. We find in the thoughts of David another reference of the wonderful mystery which we have mentioned before. The ritual sacrifice was a beautiful picture of One that would come to dwell among men to reveal the deep compassion of God to mankind. We shall learn more about this in another lesson.
But now let’s hear how David expressed these thoughts of his heart. “I would bring sacrifices of burnt offerings,” he declared, “but this is not what God desires of me. God prefers the sacrifice of a heart that is sincerely sorry for sin. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.”
David was never reluctant to speak directly to the Lord. He said, “Behold, you desire truth in the inner parts. Do not cast me from your presence. Restore to me the joy of your salvation.”
All of these words come from psalms of David, which were in reality prayers to God. David spoke in an honest and intimate way and had the ability, as the Lord inspired him, to record his thoughts in very plain words. We can understand these psalms and apply them in our own lives. As we study them we find a set of principles concerning our relationships with God. We see clearly from these words of David that he felt separated from God as a result of his sin.
The first principle we learn from this experience is that when he felt that separation it troubled him greatly. He desired very much to be close to God. Then, he confessed his sin and accepted full responsibility for it He repented. That is, he felt truly sorry for his sin, and he told God that he was sorry. Some people say, “I’m sorry,” in a casual way. They may pull their ears and droop their eyes. But David had agony in his heart when he cried, “I confess my iniquity. I am troubled by my sin.”
Next, David realized that he could not cleanse himself. There were no good deeds which could cleanse him. No special religious practice would make him pure in the sight of God.
Finally, he simply trusted in the mercy of God and asked Him for forgiveness. He believed that only in this way could he enjoy the presence of God and the assurance of salvation. He prayed these words, “Have mercy according to your loving kindness.”
The experiences of David are extremely important to us because we have not only the facts of the events which we know to be true historically, but David left for us his own interpretation of those facts. He shared with us the feelings of his heart concerning them. We do not have to guess or wonder. We know how he felt about sin and separation from God. We know the meaning of guilt, responsibility for sin, confession, repentance, and the merciful forgiveness of God. We know because God has preserved for us these marvelous psalms of David.
For You To Do
Following are words which David wrote after his experience in the matter of Uriah. Read them and think of their meaning. Memorize them. You may wish to use them as a prayer of your own.
Have mercy on me, 0 God according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Create in me a pure heart, 0 God Do not cast me from your presence, or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation.