David is broken in spirit. His sin has been found out and he cries out to God, “Clean Me!” And he prays God will answer his pleas.
This is a psalm David wrote after being confronted by Nathan about his sin with Bathsheba. He KNOWS he is guilty and has no excuse for his behavior. His sin stares him in the face and separates him from God. All he can do is cry out for mercy and forgiveness. He cannot and will not try and defend his actions.
Verse four has me scratching my head. David says that his sin is against God “only.” I would say his sins were against Bathsheba and Uriah at the very least. I would count his people as another group he had sinned against since he kept on leading them while this division remained between him and God. But his GREATEST sin was against God; breaking faith with His commands. He is right to ask for God’s forgiveness for his actions but isn’t there others he should be asking forgiveness from too?
I’m also a little curious about David’s statements in verse five. Is David calling all sexual relations sin or was there something ‘off’ in relation to his conception? I heard once from some source I have already forgotten that David might have been illegitimate and that was the reason why he couldn’t build the Temple or enter the Tabernacle. I DO NOT lay any stock in this story. David’s hands were stained with blood as he was a man of war. God chose Solomon whose hands never shed blood instead. And David did go to the Tabernacle when he was on the run from Saul and received the show bread WITHOUT being stricken for this deed; even though he lied to the priest to obtain it.
I think David’s comment here reflects on the fact that people were VERY private about matters of intercourse. A LOT of people still are today. I would say most but I have lived in, and heard of, places where sexual relations were out in the open so to speak. Fasching week in Germany and even Carnival in New Orlins spring to mind in the ‘open’ relations list. BOTH festivals revel in free sexual exchanges with a suspension of marriage vows. NOT something I would EVER engage in. Also NOT something God would approve of!
So David knows that his heart is ‘dirty’ for his own actions. He feels the shame of what he has done clinging to his spirit. Not only has he had relations with another man’s wife but he had that man killed in order to keep her. He might not have had Uriah killed except that Uriah refused to avail himself of the pleasures with his wife when he was in town. David needed plausible deniability when Bathsheba finally started showing signs of her pregnancy. Who knows how the story might have turned out if Uriah had ‘cooperated’ with David’s plans. David’s hands would still have been dirty though for the first act even if the second never happened.
I can imagine that David’s relationship with God was strained during this time. From the moment he acted on his lust for Bathsheba until confronted by Nathan, David’s heart was at war within him. I’m pretty sure he had to work hard at silencing it during those months. I wonder if he was praying that people wouldn’t notice. Ironic if he was.
David didn’t just want God to ignore his sin. He wanted a complete change in heart. He needed a clean heart and a renewed spirit of dedication to the Lord. He asked God to create this change in him. He was asking for more than forgiveness for his past sins. He was asking God for a new beginning. A fresh start.
None of the rituals David had observed or participated in during the interval between first sin and confrontation had worked to remove his sin. David says that his sacrifices weren’t acceptable. I believe this was because he was trying to ‘paint over them’ without really addressing them. It’s like slapping paint on a wall with mildew. It bleeds through eventually. The portion with the mildew MUST be removed or it will never be clean. David is asking God to cut out the sin from his heart.
This ‘cutting away’ will change David and Bathsheba’s relationship too. God would take the tainted product of their union and sanctify it instead. I wonder if Bathsheba blamed David for the death of their first child or if she felt she shared in that blame.
In his prayer/psalm, David didn’t address anyone else’s sin. He focused on his own. And he focused on the only remedy for it; a complete change in heart. Only God could do this for him. Afterwards David could share his experiences with God’s forgiveness as a lesson to others. In fact, he did just that when he shared this psalm with the congregation. He knew that they too would find themselves in like situations. ALL people fail at some point in their lives. ALL of us have stood in David’s shoes; maybe not the same sin but the same heart condition. David is teaching us along with countless others before us how to handle the sins in our lives. Let God do a restoring work on our hearts and make us new again.
Father God, make me new again! My heart has been struggling with ‘food sins’ again lately. Thanks to Your strength, I have been able to tell Satan to SHUT UP but my heart still has longings for those ‘skinny times’. Create in me a CLEAN heart that sees this issue as You do. Help me with the motivation to exercise again. Help me put food in its proper place. Renew a right spirit in me that does not look to obsessions. DO NOT let food become my god again!!! Make me a woman after Your own heart.