Read Psalm 51:3-4
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgment. (NRSV)
For many of us, saying Sorry is very difficult. It involves vulnerability. It forces us to face our weakness and admit to others how weak or wrong we are. To get out of it, we may excuse our behaviour, blaming others, shifting responsibility. I may not be perfect, but I’m not helped by being around so many other imperfect people!
For some, this means that our apologies come with an afterword—an ‘if’ or a ‘but’:
- “I’m sorry I said that but you made me so angry that it just came out.”
- “I’m sorry I let you down but if I didn’t have so much on my plate I may have remembered to call you.”
- “I realise you are upset at me but you really shouldn’t be so sensitive.”
Such qualified apologies are barely worthy of the name, though they may do a bit of healing in our dealings with others. Yet they can’t fool God. When David did wrong, he admitted it. None of this blaming Bathsheba for bathing in the wrong place. No reminding God that it was he who put the male hormones in his body so it is really his fault.
David’s confession is genuine because it is unconditional. He did wrong, no-one else was to blame, no-one else takes responsibility. No ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’. The devil didn’t make him do it: he did it. Very uncomfortable, very bold, but ultimately very healing.