Failure and a New Start
Lord, I need grace and courage to listen to You, to answer, and to care. I want to belong wholly to You.
Read Psalm 51:1-19
 For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin” (Exod. 34:6,7). How wonderful!
Anyone reading the story of David, Bathsheba and Uriah in 2 Samuel 11 and 12 must surely ask how David can be known as “a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22)? What is it about David that sets him apart from all the other kings of Israel? We find the answer in this psalm.
When Nathan cornered him with the story of the ewe lamb, David had one simple response: “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Sam. 12:13). There are so many other replies that he could (and we often do) make. He could have defended himself, made excuses, and blamed others, lashed out against Nathan, denied his sin, despaired and given in to a sense of failure. He did none of these, but faced the truth, owned responsibility and threw himself on God’s mercy. To do this takes courage. David’s courage derived from a profound knowledge of God. He knew there was forgiveness because God is a God of unfailing covenant love and compassion (Exod. 34:6,7; Jer. 9:23,24). These qualities of God are emphasized throughout the Old Testament. We do well to meditate on them. David also knew that there was a way to go on, not as a walking failure, but renewed in strength. His prayer for a “pure heart” (10) was a prayer for a fresh start. Moreover, he prayed that out of his experience he would be able to teach others. How richly that prayer has been answered, as thousands upon thousands of us have found strength and encouragement in this magnificent psalm.
We may not have sinned as glaringly as David had done. Our sins may not be as public. But we all sin. Are you limping through life because of unconfessed sin, or will you turn to God, experience his forgiveness and face the future as David did?
Has covering up sin backfired in your life? How have you seen God’s mercy when you owned up to your sin? What lessons did you learn from both experiences?
Merciful God, I lift my voice in praise and thanksgiving. When I confess my sins to You, they are forgiven, forgotten, forever. What a mighty God You are!
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