Day 18 Psalm 51 ... True Confession


This poem of remembrance may well be the most impressive outcome of David's sordid affair with Bathsheba. It is one thing for a king to confess a moral lapse in private to a prophet. It is quite another for him to compose a detailed account of that confession that could be sung throughout the land!

All nations have heroes, but Israel may be alone in making epic literature about its greatest hero's failings. This eloquent psalm, possibly used in worship services as a guide for confession, shows that Israel ultimately remembered David more for his devotion to God than for his political achievements.

Step by step, the psalm takes the reader (or singer) through the stages of repentance. It describes the constant mental replays-"Oh, if only I had a chance to do it over"- the gnawing guilt, the shame, and finally the hope for a new beginning that springs from true repentance.

David lived under Old Testament law, which prescribed a harsh punishment for his crimes: death by stoning. But in a remarkable way this psalm transcends the rigid formulas of law and reveals the true nature of sin as a broken relationship with God. "Against you, you only, have I sinned," David cried out. He could see that no ritual sacrifices or religious ceremonies would cause his guilt to vanish; the sacrifices God wanted were " a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart." Those, David had.

In the midst of his prayer, David looks for possible good that might come out of his tragedy, and sees a glimmer of light. He prays for God to use his experience as a moral lesson for others. Perhaps, by reading his story of sin, they might avoid the same pitfalls. Or by reading his confession they might gain hope in forgiveness. David's prayer was fully answered and is his greatest legacy as king. The best king of Israel fell the farthest. But neither he, nor anyone, can fall beyond the reach of God's love and forgiveness.

Point to Ponder: : Would you lose respect for a leader if he or she admitted failures as openly as David did?