Last week we began our investigation of Psalm 51 looking at verses one and two (click here to read). David, in great desperation, has cried out to God to absolutely and completely remove his sin (every form and desire of it) from his life. After such a declaration, David turns and tells of how his sin has been pressing in upon his life.
Many scholars think it has been anywhere from nine months to two years that David has been living in his sin before the prophet Nathan has confronted him. We know the baby was born to Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11.27) so David has experienced at least nine months of anguish and turmoil in his soul. What was once fiery intimacy and passion with God has turned to cold hardness of heart. When God used Nathan to confront David’s sin, David admits within his cry:
For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
The word “acknowledge” is a word for knowing something. In Greek there are four distinct words for knowledge so I thought it would be fun to look up which Greek word was used in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament. The Greek word is one of my favorite Greek words – ginosko. Ginosko is not knowledge about facts and information (cold and lifeless facts and “knowledge”); ginosko is all about relationship and intimacy. It is the same word when Adam knew Eve, which resulted in the birth of Cain (Genesis 4.1). It is an intimate acquaintance and oneness, a knowing which grows and increases.
David is saying that he is intimately acquainted and deeply knows his transgression (the same word used in verse one, which we discovered meant rebellion). “I intimately know my rebellion! I can’t escape it. In fact, wherever I look, my sin stretches out before me.”
In this second statement, “my sin is always before me,” David furthers his emphasis on his connection and knowing the corruption of his heart and life. Always before me is one Hebrew word which means continuous, perpetually, or to stretch out. In other words, the sin in David’s life is stretching out before him in every direction; wherever he looks, sin is always in his face. He cannot escape it.
Have you ever been in this position? God is awakening your life to the corruption and sin within and you find that the rebellion of your heart, mind, and life is an intimate part of who you are. Perhaps more so, the sin in your life is ever in your face, always stretching out before you wherever you gaze. If this is so, you only have one solution – you desperately, and I do mean desperately, need a Saviour!
Against You Only
I find this statement of David rather odd:
Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight.
It would seem that David has sinned against far more than just God. He has forced Bathsheba into adultery, murdered her husband Uriah, and has committed a blatant sin against the nation he has been anointed to rule.
But in this time of great conviction it is as if the BIG DEAL is sin against the Living God. The whole event leading up to the sin was a demonstration of David’s power, control, and authority (read the study here). Now, David is humbled and is placing himself under the authority of God and His discipline. The Pulpit Commentary puts it this way:
Though no sins could be more directly against man than adultery and murder, yet David feels that the aspect of them shrinks away into insignificance, and is as if it were not, when they are viewed in their true and real character, as offenses against the majesty of God. Every sin is mainly against God; and the better sort of men always feel this.
Joseph, the son of Jacob, said the same thing with Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him, “There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has [Potiphar] kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39.9). Both David and Joseph knew that to sin against man is a far bigger deal than a mere “oops, I wronged you”; it is sin against God Himself.
… and done this evil in Your sight
The word “done” in the Hebrew means to fashion, accomplish, or make. What David is saying is that he has sinned, not in a dark closet somewhere where no one, even God, can see; rather, he has fashioned and crafted his sin in the very eyesight of God. He has taken evilness and wickedness and like a potter with clay, crafted and shaped it in the face of God. Can anything be more rebellious?
Few things drive me nuts but one thing that is guaranteed to make me frustrated is all-out rebellion. I substitute teach on occasion. “Babysitting” teenagers is a lot of fun, for the most part, and I personally have no problem if they talk, goof around, or listen to iPods. But what I do have a problem with is when I tell an individual not to do something and with a gleam in his eye and a smirk on his face, he does it anyway. That is rebellion and it declares the condition of his heart. If he is willing to be rebellious with me, he is obviously willing to be rebellious toward God – and THAT is what I have a problem with.
Here we have David in such a state. With a glimmer from his eyes and a smirk on his face, he has taken pure evil wickedness and has crafted it right in front of God as if he couldn’t care less.
… that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge.
I probably don’t have to convince you, but when God speaks it is always just, clear and righteous. He never speaks lies, deception or unrighteousness. His speaking proves the essence, nature, and character of Who He is. God is found perfect and righteous when He speaks. When God judges, He is found and recognized as One who is pure, cleansed, and without blemish. There is no fault in His judging. When God judges, everyone agrees because it is judgment based upon Truth and His perfect nature.
In Psalm 51.3-4, David is saying that he recognizes and intimately knows his rebellion. His sin is stretching out before him and he cannot get away. In fact, he has crafted this evil within God’s sight and has literally torn himself from the intimacy and oneness with God he once experienced – thus his sin is against God and God alone. Yet, he comes in a posture of humility and realizes that when God speaks, it will be righteous and right, true and correct. When He judges it will reveal God’s own purity, cleansed-without blemish state, where no fault or corruption is contained in His judgment. In other words, David throws himself completely on the grace and mercy of God and says, “Do what You want with me! However You judge me, I know it will be correct. I cannot live this way a moment longer, deal with me!”
Isn’t it interesting that in the culture in which David was king, there was no higher authority? If you had a problem you could appeal it only as high as the king. Whatever he decided was the final decision. Yet David, in this kingly authoritative position, appeals to God as his Judge and standard of measurement. He throws himself at the feet of Almighty God and asks for judgment against his soul.
Have you, in desperation, come to Christ, throwing yourself at His feet asking Him to pronounce judgment upon your soul? Declaring you are so sick of living the way you are, constantly crafting and living in sin, without hope; yet longing for a solution and change of life? Allow Jesus to speak and judge.
I find it fascinating in light of the Cross that the very thing God speaks and judges in our lives is Himself (Jesus). When He speaks, He does so with righteousness; but as He deals with our sin, His great desire is to produce this same righteousness (His nature) within us. When God judges us it is always done with purity, without blemish or fault, in truth and rightness. Yet this is the very thing He longs to accomplish within us as well! He judges us guilty and deserving of hell, but when we receive the fullness of salvation, allowing the God of the universe to dwell within us, it is this purity, faultless, truth and rightness He builds in our lives.
Will you throw yourself at His feet and allow Him to judge and deal with YOU? Let him take all that you are and exchange it with all that He is.
Read the other Bible Studies in this series: