October 1, 2004
Encouragement for Today
A Contrite Heart
Sharon Jaynes, Vice President of Proverbs 31 Ministries, author, speaker, radio co-host
"God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6 NIV).
In the Old Testament, there is an interesting account of two kings, two sins, two convictions, and two responses. What makes it interesting is that one king's sin doesn't seem so bad, but his kingdom was taken away, and yet the other king, who created a heinous act, is referred to as a "man after God's own heart" (1 Samuel 13:14). But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's take a look at these two stories.
King Saul was "elected" the first king of Israel, mainly because he was tall, dark, and handsome. He would have looked great on TV, if there had been such a thing back then. Oh, he didn't really want to be king at first, he hid when the people began chanting his name. But he sheepishly accepted the kingship, and God anointed him with the Holy Spirit. Things went pretty well for King Saul at first. He won a few battles, gained the respect of his followers, and the booty from the conquered foes mounted up in the castle.
In fact, Saul became so confident he decided being a king wasn't so hard after all. He didn't need God or the prophet Samuel, who was appointed over him. After each battle, Saul was supposed to wait for the prophet Samuel to come and offer sacrifices to the LORD. But Saul disobeyed God and offered the sacrifice himself. The prophet Samuel arrived just as Saul was putting the finishing touches on the sacrifice.
"What have you done?" Samuel asked.
Saul replied, "When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Micmash, I thought, 'Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the LORD's favor.' So I felt compelled to offer the burn offering" (1 Samuel 13:11-12).
Oh, I could quote Saul word for word, but let me sum it up for you. Instead of repenting of his sin and asking for forgiveness, Saul
- Defended himself
- Justified his actions
- Blamed others
- Tried to cover up his sin
- Acted as though nothing had happened
- Was more concerned with looking good to his peers than repenting of his sin (1 Samuel 15:30).
What was Saul's most heinous sin? I don't think that it was actually assuming the role of prophet and the offering of the sacrifice. I believe that was an outgrowth of his sin. Saul's sin was pride. And even though he was "caught" red-handed - the blood of the animal sacrifice was still on his hands - Saul did not repent of the sin of pride. He was an unrepentant, unbroken man.
Author Nancy Leigh DeMoss said this about pride and brokenness: "Broken men and women don't care who finds out about their sin; they have nothing to protect and nothing to lose. They are eager for God to be vindicated."
Now let's look at the second king, with the second sin and the second response.
King David was Saul's successor. While Saul was the people's choice as king, David was God's choice. One day, while the rest of the men were at war, King David was lollygagging around the palace. While strolling on the roof, he noticed his next-door neighbor bathing on her roof. He saw, he wanted, and he took. David committed adultery with his neighbor Bathsheba and subsequently plotted the murder of her husband to cover it up. Several months later, when David was confronted by the prophet Nathan, he did not try to defend himself, justify his action, blame others, or cover up his sin.
David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD" (2 Samuel 12:13).
David repented before the LORD, mourned before his people, and penned two beautiful psalms humbling himself before generations yet to come. Yes, he was "a man after God's own heart."
As we see with these two kings, God is more concerned with the depth of our repentance than the breadth of our sin. As Martin Luther once said, "God creates out of nothing. Therefore until a man is nothing, God can make nothing out of him."
Dear Lord, forgive me of the sin of pride in my life. I admit that I have tried to take things into my own hands, have not waited for your direction, and have thought more highly of myself than I ought. Help me to be more like Jesus, who, "being in the very nature, God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing" (Philippians 2:5,6) Break my pride LORD, as a loving master breaks the stubborn will of a wild mare. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Write out your own prayer of repentance for any sin that you've been holding on to. If there is a person whom you have offended, consider humbling yourself and asking that person for forgiveness.
Do you see areas of pride in your life?
Is there some sin that you have been hiding rather than repenting of publicly?
Are you more concerned about what God thinks of you or what other people think of you?
Does your life reflect the attitude of King Saul or King David?
What is your attitude when confronted about sin in your life?
(Dear friend, these are hard questions. I do not ask them lightly, but struggle with you to be a woman after God's own heart.)
"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." Proverbs 11:2 (NIV)
"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18 (NIV)
"A man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor." Proverbs 29:12 (NIV)
"The word of the LORD came to me: 'Son of man, say to the ruler of Tyre, "This is what the Sovereign LORD says: 'In the pride of your heart you say, "I am a god; I sit on the throne of a god in the heart of the seas." But you are a man and not a god, though you think you are as wise as a god.'" Ezekiel 28:1-2 (NIV)
"This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word." Isaiah 66:2b (NIV)
"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." James 4:10 (NIV)
Dreams of a Woman: God's Plans for Fulfilling Your Dreams by Sharon Jaynes