“For I (David) acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.”
Psalm 51: 3
King James Version
“Why God Loved David” Part IV
“The experience of guilt has always been one of the most excruciating problems in the history of mankind.”
Peter G. Van Breemen
If I were to acknowledge the transgressions in my life, would I be left with a feeling of guilt over some of my actions?
Have I confessed my wrongs to my heavenly Father and asked Him to lift my burden of guilt?
“Nothing is more personal than guilt.”
“For the guilty there is no peace.”
Mary Shelley, Author
Recently, I was reading a book regarding the courage it takes for us to live our lives the way we were created to live them, and I happened upon the following interesting observation by author, Sue Thoel who observed, “Among women, guilt spreads with the rampant fury of bubonic plague.” Then she went on to say that in her own life, “I used to feel guilty if the cat had matted fur.”
How about you? Has guilt worn a pathway on the rug of your existence? And I ask, could you ever imagine a domain where the specter of guilt didn’t reign? Since the Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, shares the fact that “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” it could lead us to believe that the resulting guilt which occurs when we do something “wrong,” is a common occurrence and just part of life on planet earth.
Add to this the words of David in Psalm 51: 3, and getting out from under the blight of guilt seems like a mighty difficult task, indeed. As David expressed in his heartfelt cry to God, “I acknowledge my transgressions,” or as the Hebrew translation of this phrase reads: “I recognize and admit to my moral rebellion.” I find it very enlightening that the word “transgressions,” in Psalm 51:3, means moral rebellion – the word chosen by David in the Hebrew specifically carries a spiritual intent.
When David approached his Father, he came to Him admitting that spiritually, he had been in moral tyranny against God. This is how clearly David understood his sin to be. But there’s more, for when we are in open rebellion or opposition to God, we are basically telling God, by our words and actions, that we want to go in the opposite direction from Him. This type of behavior is played out in our lives and everything is turned upside down. We find ourselves living with regret, shame and guilt for what we have done.
This is what happened to David. Painfully, his guilt was not some transient or false sense of guilt. The guilt David felt was brought on by his direct disobedience, by his desire to do his own thing, and by his longing to do what made him feel good – even if it was for a few moments in time. Sadly, as so often happens in all our lives, once David got what he lusted for, the desire was gone and he was left with the dire consequences of his rash actions and the fulfillment of his sensual longings. And what was David left with in the end? He answers this question in Psalm 51: 3 when he tells us, “I know how bad I’ve been; my sins are staring me down” (Message Bible).
Brokenhearted and distraught, David’s sadness overwhelmed him and as Horace Bushnell writes, “Guilt is the very nerve of sorrow,” and David knew this agonizing reality all too well.
While the emotion of guilt frequently can drive us from God, the lesson we can learn from the recognition of guilt in the life of David is that this searing emotion was a catalyst which drove him closer to God.
Several months ago, when I began my in-depth study in preparation for this special series on “Why God Loved David,” I was reading II Samuel 23 where at the end of his life, the Bible records that, “These be the last words of David, David the son of Jesse” (II Samuel 23: 1). Throughout this chapter David reviews much of what has happened in his life as a warrior. And he specifically takes time in
II Samuel 23: 24-39, to bring attention to 37 men – comrades in arms, who stood out. These were men of valor who had been in battle with David. Beginning with Asahel, the brother of Joab (David’s general on the battlefield), we find a list of names. But there’s one name that really caught my eye. It isn’t a name that is buried in the long list. Just the opposite! It is the very last name on the list. This is who David remembers, “Uriah the Hittite: thirty and seven in all.” The murder of Uriah, that hideous sin was ever before David. From the instant David betrayed Uriah by taking his wife as his own, until his last breath, this sin was, as David said, “staring him down.” Living with the guilt of what he had done was too much for David. It would be too much for any of us. So instead of running away from God and trying to hide, as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden after they had sinned, David ran to God, his Father, whom he acknowledged and recognized could cleanse him from his sin and take away his guilt.
Author Roger Schutz lays out the ways we, in modern society, often tend to deal with the guilt we bear when he writes, “Man (and woman) today attempts to escape his (her) guilt through the electrifying effects of consumer society, through seeking different ways of being amused, through the merchandising of peace by commercial means.” And I want to add that all our false attempts to rid ourselves of guilt are to no avail at all.
In the book, Grace Abounding: Wrestling With Sin and Guilt, author Dorin Barter so beautifully describes the heartbreak our sin causes our heavenly Father. But it is the description of God’s love, in spite of my failure, that touches my heart:
“Our wrongdoing and sin, in both attitude and in specific acts, caused our separation from God: God’s love has reached across this break to us who are broken away, so that the relationship shall not be broken. In this reaching out, His love fully experiences, in a way we can barely comprehend the rejection and refusal of the sinner, the rending disjunction in the fabric of His universe of love. Although God promised to blot out our sins, He does not ‘forget’ in the usual sense of the term. Omniscience has to know what has been done, and ‘always’ will, but He loves the repentant sinner just as though it had not been done, loves fully, openly and graciously.”
When God’s child David came to Him asking for mercy, God responded to His child with a love that not only cleansed but took away the guilt and in its place left David with a Godly peace. Oh, how God loved David, and oh, how He loves you and me.
“Jesus to Calvary did go
His love mankind to show
What He did there
Brought hope from despair
O, how He loves you;
O, how He loves me
O, how He loves you and me.”
“Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me to thy bosom fly,
While the gathering waters roll,
While the tempest still is high:
Hide me, O my Saviour, hide,
Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide,
O receive my soul at last.
Other refuge have I none;
Hangs my helpless soul on thee;
Leave, ah, leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me.
All my trust on thee is stayed,
All my help from thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of thy wing.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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