“Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight: that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou judgest.” - Psalm 51: 4, King James Version
“Why God Loved David” Part V
“Can any sin be called light, since every sin involves some contempt of God.” - Eucherius
What did David mean when he told God that his sin was against God, and God only?
How is God justified when I admit that my sins are against Him?
“Sin is essentially a departure from God.”
“Inquired what iniquity was, and found it to be no substance, but the perversion of the will, turned aside from Thee, O God, the Supreme, towards these lower things.”
Augustine of Hippo
Our text for today, found in Psalm 51: 4, begins with a profound statement of recognition by David when he admitted to God that his sin was against God, and God only. Now my first thought upon reading this passage was to think about all the parties in the debacle that David hurt. How about Bathsheba? How about David’s dead baby? How about the slaughtered Uriah? How about all the troops who were lied to? And how about David’s children and the people in the palace whom he tried to deceive? Didn’t David sin against these people, too?
Well, the answer is, “Yes!” However, as I began to study this one text in depth, I found some of the most illuminating thoughts, penned by much greater minds than mine, and I want to share with you some of these stimulating perspectives with the hope that you will be encouraged to reflect on why David wanted to get to the heart of this matter in his deeply personal letter to God, as to the fact that at the core of his disobedience, was his purposeful sin against God.
Let me be clear, David didn’t mean, by telling God that his sin was against his heavenly Father, that he didn’t think he had not hurt Bathsheba and Uriah. On the contrary, David understood the depth of the pain he had caused.
But if we return to II Samuel 12: 13, to the day Nathan confronted David with the evil he had done, David, even at that critical moment declared, “I have sinned against the Lord.” What David acknowledged is that sin is, as Martin Luther wrote, “Essentially a departure from God.” Furthermore, when I make a choice to depart from God and do my own thing, I not only defy my King, I break the heart of my Friend and Father.
If we remember back to our studies on Joseph in Genesis 39, and we read about his run in with the come-hither wife of Potiphar, Joseph, in rejecting the woman’s sensual offer replied with these words, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God” (Genesis 39: 9).
Sin at its most basic level is a turning away and separation from God. And David understood that until the bond between himself and his heavenly Father was healed, he had no ability to have a real relationship with any of the other people in his life for these were relationships which he had destroyed, all on his own.
I’d like to interject that we would do well to consider David’s approach in our own lives when we are living with broken relationships caused by our own willful disobedience and stubbornness. We can’t go about fixing what is broken unless we go to the only source of all healing – our heavenly Father. I love these instructive words by C. H. Spurgeon, “You are not able to subdue the least sin apart from Christ. But, by the help of the Holy Spirit, there is nothing that can master you.” What a hopeful message!
As David admitted to the fact he had sinned against God, the mercy and grace he needed to bring healing in his own life, infused the lives of those he touched.
However, there is more to Psalm 51: 4 than David’s admission of defiance against his heavenly Father. David also says, “Thou (God) mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou judgest.” I have to tell you, this is another one of those times in the Bible when I’ve read a verse before and quickly skimmed over it, not taking time to really think about and delve into what I was reading – and I’ll just say, “What a mistake!” These few words convey such a revelation into the relationship God our Father longs to have with each of His children, including you and me!
If we check the Hebrew translation of the word “justified,” as used in Psalm 51: 4, we find it means: to clear, to cleanse, to make righteous. And if we look at the Hebrew meaning of the word “judgest,” it means: to defend or vindicate.
Here’s what David was telling his Father, “When my case comes before You and You cleanse me and wipe the slate clean of all the evil I have done, I want, by my admission of not only what I have done wrong but of “Who” I have sinned against, to leave no question in anyone’s mind why You have defended me and vindicated or cleared me from suspicion.”
Now I must tell you, sometimes I’m a little thick-headed and it takes several times of reading a passage of Scripture before the depth of the truth contained in it strikes home. This is exactly what happened when I first began to read the phrase, “That Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou judgest.” However, when the light switch went on, and I began to get a clearer view of what love was contained in these words, I was overwhelmed. What David was conveying to his Father was his concern that he had stomped on his “Dad’s” reputation. By his wayward behavior, David had called into question his Father’s judgment, not only in placing him on the throne of Israel and Judah, but of calling him a “man after my own heart.” And this thought tore David up. He was brokenhearted that he had trashed his gracious Father’s reputation. So in humility, he said to his “Dad,” “I did this evil to You. And You alone. I can’t fix things with others until You fix me. And when You cleanse me and clear my name, as I know You will because I’m Your child, I want You to get the glory…I want everyone to understand that You are the “One” who has made me whole. And You did it because this is who You are: “Thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth” (Psalm 86: 15, K.J.V.).
Again I say, and it won’t be the last time, no wonder God loved David so much. For in this heart of a very flawed man, was the love for his heavenly Father whose reputation he never, ever wanted to tarnish or destroy by his willful sinning.
“All sin comes from not putting supreme value on the glory of God – this is the very essence of sin.”
“God is my strong salvation,
What foe have I to fear?
In darkness and temptation,
My Light, my Help, is near:
Though hosts encamp around me,
Firm in the fight I stand;
What terror can confound me,
With God at my right hand.
Place on the Lord reliance;
My soul with courage wait;
His truth be thine affiance,
When faint and desolate.
His might thy heart shall strengthen,
His love thy joy increase;
Mercy thy days shall lengthen;
The Lord will give thee peace.”
Based on Psalm 27: 1-3, 14
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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