“Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my guilt and iniquities.”
“Why God Loved David” Part XIV
“Sin is the great punishment of sin.”
How have I felt when I intentionally acted in a way which I knew was in direct contradiction to God’s will in my life?
Have I ever felt ashamed or guilty at the thought that God was watching me and saw all I did and said?
“Sin carrieth two rods about it: shame and fear.”
“Guilt is related to sin as the burnt spot to the blaze.”
Agustus H. Strong
Over the last few months here in Arizona, there have been many devastating forest fires, especially in some of the most beautiful forested regions of the state. As thousands of acres of earth have been scorched and blackened, much of the discussion about the recuperation after these disasters has centered on areas where everything was totally destroyed leaving the unprotected earth ripe for flooding and destruction by erosion.
Aggressive reclamation efforts have been immediately implemented to try and “save” the soil that has suffered so much devastation. Whether it was replanting after the removal of the unfit earth, the sooner a plan of action was undertaken to try and renew what was destroyed, the better the end result and the less the initial decimation of the burned areas.
There is a correlation between charred earth and charred hearts, especially after a ravaging fire tears through leaving havoc in its wake. Whether it is the blackened earth or our blackened hearts which have been torched by the toxin of sin, the immediate renewal, or as David longed for a revitalization of his heart, is necessary for permanent healing.
However, in our text today, found in Psalm 51: 9, there’s an important issue that I’ve overlooked as I have read Psalm 51 before. What makes this idea in this text so critical is that it strikes at the core of not only David’s behavior, but my own, and quite possibly yours at times, too.
In the first phrase in Psalm 51: 9, David implores God to please, “Hide Your face from my sins.” I understand his sentiment for I remember a time when my sister and I made a huge mess with our finger paints. Out of the sight and awareness of our parents we thought we had plenty of time to clean up the catastrophe before mom and dad’s arrival on the scene of action. Well, we were flat wrong. When my mother walked-in on our mayhem, the first words out of our young mouths were, “Don’t look, don’t look!” For all you moms, aunts, grandmas and teachers out there in the Garden, you’ve most likely heard these same words on more than one occasion, “The mess is so bad, I don’t want you to see it!” This is exactly what David said to his heavenly Father. “I’ve made such a disaster of things, it’s too much for You to see.” Sometimes we act the same way and we try to push God away when we need Him the most! There are several reasons David, or you and I for that matter, come out with this retort to God when we have fallen into sin.
First, we find we are simply ashamed and embarrassed by our wrong-doing. Second, after consideration regarding our behavior, we are hit with a sense of guilt at what we have done. Finally, fear kicks in, as we recognize that our holy Father is looking at and watching our unholy life. This is what happened to David. As he was writing to his Father in heaven, it became more than clear that God was there all the time, taking in all that David had done - - every down and dirty moment of his affair, his plotting and his eventual murder of a trusted soldier, Uriah. The deceit, the lust, the killing - - God saw it all! With this knowledge overwhelming him, David asked God not to look. In fact, his next request was, “Please blot it all out!” Not only did David not want God to see the disaster in the first place, David wanted God to blot the entire mess out - - permanently. And I ask you, “Isn’t this what we would all like to have happen with those charred and burned places in our lives? Those spots where the fire has burned so hot and dark that every time we see a charcoaled spot, a wave of guilt overpowers us and we are taken to a place of deep pain and heartache again.” Has this happened to you? Then you and I are no different that David. How thankful I am, though that, like David, we have a Father who promises that He loves us with an everlasting love - - a love that draws not only His best children but His worst children, too.
And because our Father is a specialist in renewal of the most devastating pieces of burned up land, whether He has to come searching for us like a shepherd hunting late into the night for one lost sheep or if we come straggling down the road so used-up we can hardly put one foot in front of the other, our “Dad,” the great reclamator of heaven and earth, doesn’t turn away and chide us and tell us, “You are too dirty for me to handle.” Instead, He immediately goes to work clearing away what’s burned and refreshing the fire-charred land in our lives. Then, He replants the devastated places in our hearts with the most amazing things you and I could ever imagine. And what happens? I’ll tell you.
Several years ago, I was traveling in Oregon where I used to live as a young, single girl. I wanted to visit the small town where I resided to see how things looked. Across the forested road from where my apartment was, there had been a devastating forest fire at the time I lived in the town. Now, years later, there was not any evidence a fire had damaged the land. The mountains were covered in a bright green. And the new trees that had been planted; the reseeding by the trees that were burned; and the new foliage which had taken root around and in between the large pine trees, provided the most beautiful forest you could cast your eyes upon. It was a burned forest reclaimed!
This is what David needed God to do in his life. While David thought his sin was so bad he didn’t even want God to look at it, he found out that our Father’s eyes, when they see what we have ruined and destroyed, aren’t critical eyes. Instead, His eyes are loving eyes that take in the devastation, then look for those places that need to be reclaimed, and then God goes to work replanting what is barren and turning it into a fertile area again.
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
“Gracious God, my heart renew,
Make my spirit right and true;
Cast me not away from Thee, let Thy Spirit dwell in me;
Thy salvation’s joy impart,
Steadfast make my willing heart.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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