David is remembered as a beloved and devout king. He was known for having faith enough to stand against Goliath. He was famed for his bravery and fidelity to cause, as well as his trust in God’s care. David was beloved by his men and his nation for his excellence in every field of his life. It was said that David was so skilled with the harp that he pleased both God and man. Yet, in Second Samuel, the Prophet Nathan comes to David in his court not to praise him, but to challenge him. You see David for all the good that he did was not perfect.
Remember the story of Bathsheba. With her, David committed adultery and tried to hide it. For his pride, David betrayed Uriah, a mighty leader of his armies, a man who placed his trust in his commander and king. A man who David lead into treachery, unto death. And when David believed that he had silenced those who could accuse him. When he believed he got away with murder and his sins were hidden, the Prophet Nathan enters the picture and confronts David with the undeniable truth of his sin. Sin the weight of which crushes David’s soul and threatens to break his sense of self. The truth of his imperfection is exposed and his need for redemption is made evident. The truth that in God there is no hiding from the consequences of our actions. Through Nathan’s words David’s eyes are opened and he knows that the founder of the universe, the King above all kings, that God is not deceived by our machinations. David sees that he has fallen short of the man of God that he was called be. But with the guidance of Nathan David also finds God’s mercy.
When David writes Psalm 51, he knows the depths of his sin. He tried to hide from what he had done. Yet now he has been stripped from the pretext of his delusion. And so, with no place left to run, with no covering by which to obfuscate the truth, David bares his soul before God, acknowledging his impropriety and the damage of his actions. Through the language of the psalm, we see that he holds nothing back. He does not make excuses or complain or blame others; for his guilt is clear. David takes ownership of his actions and with great faith accepts God’s righteous judgement.
For it is only through God’s righteousness, through truth, that justice can spring forth. God’s justice might seem to be an insurmountable burden. Because, let’s just say it: confronting, or worse, being confronted with our weakness, our failures, our brokenness, our sin is one of the most painful things we can do. Which is why most people try to avoid it. But this is the path, the only path that can lead to redemption. That is what we hear in Psalm 51. If we, like David, acknowledge our sin, the harm we do towards others and ourselves, with honesty, with vulnerability, but, most of all, with a broken spirit and a contrite heart, if we let pride fall away and stand in the truth, we can begin the long journey toward wholeness and redemption. This is the power of the psalm: that amid turmoil and suffering, David knows that God will work to create in him a clean heart. May you hear and know that his mercy is offered to each and every person who comes to God in humility and truth.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, as Lent begins may you know that God is calling you. Calling you to truth, calling you to justice, calling you to life and calling you into His Grace. You who are broken, know there is healing in His love. You who wander in darkness, know that God is seeking you out as a lost lamb. All of us who have sinned and recognize our need for redemption, know that it can be found here in the mercy of God. But it requires the true sacrifice of a broken spirit and a contrite heart. So be true, walk in righteousness and know that Christ is the redeeming word of God given flesh.