As we reach the end of the section about King David, I want to focus on three passages in Scripture which reveal his perspective on God’s work and will in his life. All three were written AFTER his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. First, is Psalm 51, from last week’s readings. Here it is in its entirety.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
then will you delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
Please notice the following aspects of this plea to God.
- David acknowledges that he is a sinner from the outset (born that way) and that ultimately his sin is against God.
- He also recognizes that he can’t fix is own sin problem. He pleads with God to cleanse him from his sin and to create anew a desire and heart to serve God.
- He rightly recognizes that any attempts to appease God (sacrifices, etc.) will not suffice. It is a repentant heart that God desires.
- David also recognizes that an important outcome of his repentance and being forgiven is so that other sinners will see and learn and be inspired to also repent and return to God.
A second passage also comes from last week’s readings (2 Samuel 12:15-23).
And the LORD afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he became sick. David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us. How then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.” But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.
In this passage, God had already told David that the child conceived during his affair with Bathsheba would die as punishment for David’s sin. Notice that David continued to entreat God to change the outcome, but once it was done, David made the choice to worship God anyway. Also notice David’s confidence that he would indeed see the child again when he (David) joined him (the child) after death.
Finally, I want to mention a passage from this week’s readings in which David has led the people of Israel to give toward the eventual building of the temple of the Lord that his son Solomon was charged with doing. In the last chapters of 1 Chronicles, David re-establishes the roles of the Levites and others in preparation for reinvigorating the national worship of God. In 1 Chronicles 29:14-19 he leads the nation in a prayer of thanks to God for the offerings that he and the people have given toward the building of the temple.
But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own. I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you. Grant to Solomon my son a whole heart that he may keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, performing all, and that he may build the palace for which I have made provision.”
In this prayer of thanksgiving, David acknowledges that even though the resources have been given by himself and the people, ultimately all of it originated with God. He also implores God to keep this idea in the hearts of the people and to direct their hearts toward Him. These are important principles for us to remember. Whatever we do, God is the source of our ability to do it and He alone is able to turn our hearts toward Him. Pray that God will continue to draw you to Him and keep your heart and resources always focused on Him and His desires for you.