Yesterday, we began to explore the road to repentance that David had been on after his sin with Bathsheba. It had been a road riddled with days and nights of guilty anguish and shame. Psalm 51 begins with the pleas of his heart for God to give him grace. Even in the midst of huge sin, terrible internal termoil and sinful wallowing in his shame, he calls out to his God. David then reveals something quite amazing – he had been conscious of God all the while, even in the midst of his sin, even in the midst of the cover-up, and certainly in the midst of the growing distance between the God of his heart over the past year. Sin may have entered in, but he never lost his consciousness of God - this drove him nuts because he knew God’s view of what he had done. He had sinned – his rebellion now stood daily between him and God and he knew that he stood opposed to God – he had set himself against God and he felt this pressure.
You’re the one…the words of David echo what his heart had known all along.
You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen it all, seen the full extent of my evil. You have all the facts before you; whatever you decide about me is fair. I’ve been out of step with you for a long time, in the wrong since before I was born. What you’re after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then, conceive a new, true life. (Ps. 51;4-6)
David had been so consumed with the cover-up of his sin – so as to keep others from knowing him as a sinner. He had to live with the internal humiliation of his sin – shame is a consuming thing that drives us to conceal what God can only fully deal with once it is out in the open. His potential disgrace was masked over, but not hidden from God.
We need to fully understand the sequence of this unmasking of David’s sin - God sends a friend to David at exactly the right time, in exactly the right manner, with exactly the right message that would goad the heart of David and open him to the work of repentance. Nathan came to David at God’s direction – a prophet of the royal court during the reign of David. God is always compassionate toward the sinner – he will not leave the sinner in their self-condemnation. He knows the agony of internalizing sin and he is faithful to provide the exact “tool” we need to open up to his grace – Nathan was such a tool in the hand of God.
You’re the one - David came to the revelation that he had sinned against a holy God. This was more than the taking of another man’s wife – it was the transgression of the law of God. It was the direct “in your face” violation of the “rules of conduct” God had established for his people. He knew the rules – he knew the consequences of violating those rules. He now stands before God, with Nathan as God’s instrument, being exposed for the violation. You’ve seen it all - we work so hard to conceal our sin - yet the “full extent” of our sin is continually before God.
The full value of it stands between us and God, occupying the growing distance that is created as long as it remains “covered up”. The distance is large enough at the point of our sin, but the growth of that distance is multiplied by each act of deliberate cover-up, purposeful ignorance of the standards of conduct that God requires of his children.
David makes an important observation of what life has been like for him over the past year – he says he has been out of step. Sin’s result is that of “being out of step” with God. For two to dance together, there needs to be harmony of movement – singleness of movement that comes because of repeated exposure to the dance of another. Sin is like “stepping on the toes” of our dance partner or “taking the lead” in the dance. David had moved from being “in step” with God to this place of being so significantly “out of step” because he had taken the lead away from God. What an awesome thing it would be to never be familiar with what it means to lead, but to only know the joy and peace of being led.
What you’re after…truth from the inside out - sincere action, developed character, right speech with no distortion or misrepresentation of who or what we are. David had come to the place of realizing that repentance begins on the inside and affects everything from the inside out. He acknowledged that God needed to “enter” him afresh. Repentance’s full effect is never known until we invite God into our concealed parts. He needs full access – but notice that it is not a forceful entrance. David invites him in – he gives him permission to enter – and that entrance is the hope for a new beginning.
Conceive a new, true life - begin again in me what I have so desperately messed up. Bring about in me a new mind, a new understanding, a new spirit - helping me to understand the life you are creating and to embrace it as it is conceived – taking it into my mind and my heart so that I am deeply affected by it. Let this be the cry of our hearts today.