Failure’s Response

I know, I know . . . we’re all just sinners saved by grace. We’re not perfect, we’re still works in progress. God’s not finished with us yet. If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and make God out to be a liar (1John 1:8-10). I believe that. And I know that . . . boy do I know that! But, if you noodle on it for a bit, that King David fell as he did really is quite incredible, and disgustingly deplorable.

Hand-picked by God to sit on the throne over God’s chosen people. Having experienced repeated encounters of the divine kind, as God’s power came upon him more than once as he victoriously fought against both beast and giant. The Spirit of God having fallen upon him since the day Samuel anointed him as heir to the throne of Israel (1Sam. 16:13). Having known God’s protection through all his time of being on the run as jealous King Saul pursued him. Having received the unfailing promise of God to establish “the throne of his kingdom forever” (2Sam. 7:16). Victorious in battle. Untold wealth at his finger tips. He had it all–the best of both heaven and earth.

And so, to have taken another man’s wife into his royal chambers and then, as commander-in-chief, conspired to murder the man to cover his own sin really is unbelievable (2Sam. 11). To whom much is given, much is required. To the one entrusted with much, more will be demanded (Luke 12:48). So how could he? And how could it not have resulted in him being written off?

David’s sin was not some incidental mistake. Nor was it some momentary lapse of judgment. It was an epic failure. And what grabs me this morning as I read Psalm 51 is failure’s response.

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 . . .

(Psalm 51:1-4a ESV)

When confronted with his sin, David appeals to God’s mercy. When convicted of his deceitful heart and treachery, treachery against God more than against man, David casts himself upon Elohim’s unfailing love. As he looks down at the garments stained with another man’s blood he turns to Jehovah in order to find washing and cleansing so that he might know renewal and restoration.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. . . . Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. . . . Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

(Psalm 51:7, 10, 12 ESV)

David has nothing to bring to the table. No way to make the wrong right. The woman is pregnant with his child. Her husband is dead. No undoing it.

What’s more, God has been betrayed. And simply increasing the number of animal offerings, simply engaging in more religious activity, won’t atone for the transgression. The only sacrifice acceptable in such a situation is a heart that mourns.

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.

(Psalm 51:16-17 ESV)

A broken and contrite heart. That’s failure’s response.

And, when that is our response for our failure, for any sin against a holy God is as David’s sin, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. Abundant mercy blotting out our transgressions. Steadfast love purging us again with hyssop, applying afresh the blood of the Lamb that we might be washed of sin’s dark stain. Overflowing grace reaffirming that we are justified “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith” (Rom. 3:24-25a).

And when that is the response for our failure, then we’ll know anew the response for God’s forgiveness . . .

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.

(Psalm 51:14-15 ESV)

Our tongues will sing His praise!

Because of His unending grace. All for His unending glory.

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