The book of Psalm. It’s a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows from the perspective of King David as he writes about his relationship with God. Psalm 51 is the fourth of seven Psalms known as the “penitential psalms” (or those that give expression to feelings of penitence). And if anyone should know about feeling sorrow or regret, it’s certainly King David.
Another David—David Lee from Loft City Church in Richardson, Texas had a great sermon recently about this specific Psalm…
“This Psalm, every single time I read it, it messes me up. There’s no easy way of preaching this Psalm. This Psalm is not meant to draw a crowd.”
But Lee preaches that this passage is absolutely critical in our walk with God. Sometimes strongholds and past regrets can easily hinder our holy relationship and Psalm 51 helps us to overcome that. If you want to watch the complete sermon, click below or read the highlights after the jump.
Strongholds can set in as a result of sin and hold us hostage for years. The typical pattern might even look like this, according to Lee—you sin, you say sorry to God, then you read a book, listen to a sermon or do something else to forget about it. Yet the sin continually haunts you afterwards.
“Sometimes you get sick and tired…of being sick and tired.”
Lee says we often find ourselves speaking or doing the same thing, yet we may not be seeing any real transformation. We come to church where we’re supposed to look the part or act like someone that we don’t necessarily feel like we are.
So how do we change? How do we come to God not just for forgiveness, but for transformation and renewal?
In Psalm 51, we see David share his personal confession with all of us New Testament believers so we can learn the timeless truth of coming before God as broken as we are. Now to set the stage—in the moments leading up to David writing this Psalm, he did a couple of things that he really regretted. To put it bluntly they included adultery, rape and murder. But at the time he did not regret them. And to make matters worse, David even tried to hide his sins by sinning even more.
“I don’t know about you, but I don’t really like all my dirty laundry being out in the open for everyone to see.”
Lee goes on to explain that we like to clean our homes before we invite someone over. We like to look presentable and clean on Facebook before the public ever sees it. We put the best pictures out there and if we don’t like a post or photo, we simply click the delete button. David may have been trying to do that at first by covering up the things that would make him look bad as a ruler, but now here in Psalm 51, we have him putting it all out there for everyone to see.
There may be certain sins that we cannot tell other people—especially at church—because we feel that if those people knew what we did in the past, then they might not love or accept us.
Now imagine being David—the king of Israel and a powerful, public person. And now his most shameful sin is all over the headline news. To put it in perspective, Lee says to imagine if the president of our country was caught in a scandal where he committed adultery, raped a woman, impregnated her and then murdered her husband to get away with it. Think about what that would do on the internet and around the world.
when you have everything
David is called a man after God’s own heart. That’s a pretty impressive title.
After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’
He was also a stud and a warrior—essentially a man’s man and a woman’s dream. The guys were envious and the ladies loved him. He was not only physically attractive, but David also knew how to express his feelings. Lee puts it best by saying that he could beat a person up then write a beautiful, romantic ballad about it. Yes, David was even a talented musician on top of all that. For a while, this guy looked like he could do no wrong. But now, his season had finally come.
He had property and power and wealth and women. He had everything. Some people in our society think that when you “make it” like David did, and you finally get everything you could ever want, then finally everything works out. But Lee argues…
“When you make it is when you better watch it.“
In other words, start watching what actually happens in your own heart after all goes well. Unfortunately, David failed to keep that in mind.
2 Samuel 11:1
In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.
So this event took place in the spring, when kings like David should be out in battle. But instead of him going out personally on the front lines like his people would expect, David decided to send someone else out there instead so he could chill out in the palace.
Have you ever had those moments when you know that you should be doing something else…than what you are doing? Well, Lee warns that that mindset leads to no good as we soon learn from David’s ill-fated error.
2 Samuel 11:2
One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful,
There is a concept taught in churches to the hormonal youths called “bouncing your eyes.” It is a technique that when someone attractive walks by, one immediately averts their eyes. But this is not what happened here. David took note of a woman who was HOT. And women were his achilles heel. Scholars tell us that David had six wives. And that initial peek would turn into a stare, which would turn into a longing, which eventually would turn into a disaster.
2 Samuel 11:3-5
and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”
David knew that this woman was married to one of his loyal warriors. But his desire got in the way. So he used his kingly authority, which God gave him—not to serve—but to manipulate and use for his own desires. David used his kingly authority to essentially order this woman, Bathsheba, to sleep with him. In other words, it can even be made into a strong case that this was essentially rape. But the sin doesn’t stop there…
2 Samuel 11:4-11
So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house. David was told, “Uriah did not go home.” So he asked Uriah, “Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?” Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”
David first flattered Uriah and urged him to go home and spend time with his wife, so that Uriah would sleep with her and it would look like he impregnated her. David even sent a gift to Uriah to further encourage him to do it. But Uriah was a man of integrity and he refused. Why? Because he knew he had his soldier duties to attend to first, and an allegiance to serve King David and his fellow soldiers. What is ironic about this is that the loyalty to David is what David himself was like, prior to his own sin!
I often wonder if this might have been the Spirit of God attempting to convict David in such a way to reach him before things got really out of hand. But in an attempt to cover up the sin, David was much too far away from God to ever hear His warning.
2 Samuel 11:12-13
Then David said to him, “Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home.
So after this failed first attempt, David decided to resort to getting Uriah drunk in order to get him to sleep with his own wife. But Uriah STILL did not go home to his wife. He sticks to his guns and does the right thing.
I wonder if this was really God refusing to let David attempt to cover up his sins any longer. Perhaps this is secretly God slowly trying to break David down in frustration so that he would have no choice BUT to come to Him and repent.
2 Samuel 11:14-15
In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”
Now David had Uriah carry a letter that essentially said “kill the messenger” which instructed Joab to put Uriah on the front lines to die. Little did Uriah know that the same man who had been flattering him earlier was the same man attempting to kill him. Lee warns against people who keep flattering you—this is a prime example.
2 Samuel 11:16-27
So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died. Joab sent David a full account of the battle. He instructed the messenger: “When you have finished giving the king this account of the battle, the king’s anger may flare up, and he may ask you, ‘Why did you get so close to the city to fight? Didn’t you know they would shoot arrows from the wall? Who killed Abimelek son of Jerub-Besheth? Didn’t a woman drop an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you get so close to the wall?’ If he asks you this, then say to him, ‘Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.’” The messenger set out, and when he arrived he told David everything Joab had sent him to say. The messenger said to David, “The men overpowered us and came out against us in the open, but we drove them back to the entrance of the city gate. Then the archers shot arrows at your servants from the wall, and some of the king’s men died. Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.” David told the messenger, “Say this to Joab: ‘Don’t let this upset you; the sword devours one as well as another. Press the attack against the city and destroy it.’ Say this to encourage Joab.” When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.
After Uriah died, David made Bathsheba his wife to cover up the fact that the baby she had was his. One sin on top of another on top of another. We often say one lie and it keeps growing and growing because we don’t want to reveal the truth from the beginning. That is how sin works. It builds and builds.
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
In the next post, we’ll look at the consequences of David’s sin and his four responses to it.