Don’t know what David did, but he did. Don’t know if the effects he was suffering were but natural consequences of sinful behavior divinely permitted, or if they were supernatural repercussions divinely inflicted. What is clear is that David saw a cause and effect dynamic.
Read Psalm 38 and it is clear that David is in great physical and mental anguish. Unable to stand up straight (v.6), sides burning (v.7), heart palpitating (v.8), eyes dimming (v.10). So sick his friends and family keep their distance (v.11). So sick he can’t even muster up the strength to take action against his enemies who would seek to take advantage of his situation (v.12-14). He’s hurting, no doubt!
As one who knows God, then, he knows his dire situation is the result of Sovereign determination. And, through the Spirit’s illumination, has been convicted of his own moral relaxation.
O LORD, rebuke me not in Your anger, nor discipline me in Your wrath! For Your arrows have sunk into me, and Your hand has come down on me. There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me. My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness.
(Psalm 38:1-5 ESV)
Your anger . . . Your wrath . . . Your indignation. My sin . . . my iniquities . . . my foolishness.
Busted! Bent over. Broken. Where do you go when where you are is of your own foolish making?
O Lord, all my longing is before You; my sighing is not hidden from You.
. . . But for You, O LORD, do I wait; it is You, O Lord my God, who will answer.
. . . . . . Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!
(Psalm 38:9, 15, 22 ESV)
Without strength, without resources, and without excuse, the songwriter looks to His God knowing He is a “merciful and gracious” God, a God “abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness”, a God who keeps “steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Ex. 34:6-7).
And I’m reminded that the means by which a holy and just God can forgive unholy and just wrong behavior is through the finished work of His Son on the cross. That mercy and grace can flow freely to cleanse sin because water and blood flowed freely from the lifeless body of our once for all sacrifice. That David’s hope for recovery from his dilemma is ultimately founded in the hope that comes from the Savior’s resurrection from the dead.
So, what’s the bridge from desperation to deliverance? The key to unlocking forgiveness when I have failed?
I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin. (Psalm 38:18 ESV)
I am sorry for my sin. Only the perfect man, or the deceived man, or the callous man, finds such words absent from his tongue on a regular basis. Don’t want to wait until I am bowed by physical despair — whether permitted or inflicted — before I admit I am in desperate need of forgiveness from the Lord of my salvation.
O, that by His goodness I would flee sin. But also, should I be over taken by it, that I would be quick to recognize sin and even quicker to confess it. That I would keep short accounts. That I would remain long in His shadow. That I would be familiar with those three words, “I am sorry.”
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
By His grace. For His glory.