In our devotional this morning, we read Psalm 51, David’s words of repentance after his sexual abuse of Bathsheba. He was the king, she was his subject. How could she resist his advances, even if they were gentle.
It was complicated. She was married to Uriah the Hittite. King David had Uriah sent into the thick of battle where he was sure to lose his life. He did.
Then King David was confronted by the prophet Samuel and shown by parable (see 2 Samuel 12:1-13) how great his sexual sin and orchestrated killing of her husband were. This probably was a crushing experience for David. It was humiliating to have his sin brought out into the light.
He couldn’t turn back the clock. He needed to find a way forward. Something told him he could move past the humiliation to the place of forgiveness. Whether it was a whispering from the Lord or something from his past experience, or maybe his realization that he was trapped, something gave him the courage to humble himself with these words:
1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me. (Psalm 51:1-3 NRSV)
Once we have committed what we think is our worst sin or failure, it is easy to stop there and let the storms of guilt and shame rage in our lives. David, on the other hand, found a way to calm the storm and let the gentle rains cleanse the filth from his soul. He moved past the humiliation all the way to repentance.