King David, the one known as a man after God’s own heart, was just that, but a time came where David got far off track and made some very bad choices.
2 Samuel 11 describes one evening when David got up from bed and walked out on the roof of his palace. It was there he was drawn to notice a woman bathing, she was very beautiful. Uriah, a soldier, was the husband of this woman, her name; Bathsheba. If only David followed the same steps of Joseph when confronted with the temptation of Potiphar’s wife. By the way, any men out there dealing with this type of temptation, there’s your battle strategy, RUN! Instead of running, David moves toward the temptation and calls for Bathsheba to be brought to the palace. He ends up sleeping with her and she becomes pregnant. Soon after Uriah comes into the picture, and David takes him right back out of the picture. David gave the order for Uriah to be placed on the front lines where the fighting was fiercest. This order was carried out and Uriah was killed.
So, what may have started out as a restless night turned south very quickly. David lusted for then sleeps with a married woman. Murder followed, as David arranged for the death of Uriah. In this situation, can David’s choices get any worse? After speaking with Nathan, 2 Samuel 12, David realized his sin and felt terrible for what he had done. David repents and confesses. At his confession Nathan responds telling David that the Lord has forgiven him.
When we realize what we do is wrong and confess, the Lord is quick to forgive – he wants that opportunity to forgive us. Consider a child who makes a bad choice. As parents we just want that child to understand the wrong in what they did. If a child gets angry and breaks a vase, what’s more important to the parent, the replacement of the vase – or the child’s acknowledgement of the wrong done. We get relief knowing our child understands they did wrong, and doesn’t want to do it again.
Although David was forgiven the moment he confessed, I believe he was not done feeling bad about what he did. I think it’s pretty natural for us as people to hold it against ourselves for awhile. But, I do feel God wants us to move forward from it. David truly felt an incredible amount of guilt and remorse for the incredible sin he committed. It has always been sin that separates us from God. Psalms 51 paints a picture of the remorse David felt after he realized the truth of what he had done. This is his prayer.
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.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
Feeling remorse over a past sin? Confess it and be forgiven. According to 1 John 1:9, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. That is the love of our Heavenly Father. But sometimes we chose to hold it against ourselves. I’ve been there, feeling bad about sins that I have already been forgiven for. Perhaps you too still struggle over something that has also already been forgiven.
Now I’m not sure if David himself wrote this, or if he uttered the prayer and had someone else record it. But perhaps writing is another way we can express our feelings to God. When struggling over a past sin, maybe we write God a prayerful letter expressing both our struggle and our need for him in our lives. This Psalm shows how David doesn’t want to just be forgiven, he wants to grow. Just as verse 12-15 of this Psalm illustrates, David wants to bring others to know God. He wants to sing of God’s righteousness, and give praise to our Heavenly Father. God arranged for this particular prayer to be placed in our Bible. I believe this letter brought our Heavenly Father much joy in knowing David wanted to grow in his relationship with him.
The next time I mess up or I feel separated from God because, more than likely, my own ways got in the way, I am going to write a prayerful letter to my Lord. This actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it in the terms of relationship. Have you ever attempted to write a letter (or text) to a friend or loved one after a falling out? I believe this to be pretty common. Just like in any relationship, with our Father in Heaven, it’s probably best to first pray verbally and then move on to written form if you’re feeling it in your heart to do so.
This is like being that child who tells their parent, “sorry I broke the vase”, then writes their parent a letter or draws a picture expressing their love and admiration for them.