By Chris WittsTuesday 10 Dec 2013Morning Devotions with Chris WittsUncategorizedReading Time: 0 minutes
David is probably the best known Bible personality,and yet his struggle with guilt was immense…
David was known as “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). He was a shepherd,a poet,a musician,a warrior who defeated Goliath and the armies of many enemies. He was a king,a husband and a father. As popular,as powerful,as prominent,as David was,he was a sinful man who could not control his lust. He violated not one,but two of God’s top Ten Commandments in committing adultery and murder.
One spring day,the time of the year when kings go to war,King David was at home. He looked out from his royal palace and saw a beautiful young woman bathing. He learned she was Bathsheba,the wife of one of David’s top military commanders. He had her brought to the palace,where he slept with her. She became pregnant as a result of the affair. David then arranged for Bathsheba’s husband to be slain in battle. The king then married his pregnant friend. Their baby is born and all seems well.
Then a prophet of God shows up at the palace to confront David and to tell the king that all is not well. Nathan uses a parable of greed to convict the king of his selfish evil doing. When confronted and convicted of his breach of God’s law,King David cries out in confession – “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13). But he writes what we have as Psalm 32,and amazing confession of David’s guilt:
1 How happy is the one whose wrongs are forgiven,whose sin is hidden from sight.
2 How happy is the person whose sin the Eternal will not take into account. How happy are
those who no longer lie,to themselves or others.
3 When I refused to admit my wrongs,I was miserable,moaning and complaining all day
long so that even my bones felt brittle.
4 Day and night,Your hand kept pressing on me. My strength dried up like water in the
summer heat; You wore me down.
5 When I finally saw my own lies,I owned up to my sins before You,and I did not try to hide
my evil deeds from You. I said to myself,”I’ll admit all my sins to the Eternal,” and You
lifted and carried away the guilt of my sin.
In verse 1 of Psalm 32,he speaks of “transgression” (wrongs). A transgression is a stepping out of bounds,crossing the line of appropriate behaviour. In the same verse,David uses the word “sin”. To “sin” means to “miss the mark of God’s perfection”,to fall short of the goal. Paul says in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
Then in Psalm 32:2,David employs the work “iniquity”. Iniquity means to “incur guilt” and “to be subjected to punishment”. In the same verse he speaks of “deceit”,which means,of course,”to practice falsehood or deception”,a disregard for the truth. And David was deceitful and guilty of more than lust – he arranged for a man’s murder. Psalm 32 describes quite graphically what happens when we experience guilt. There is a heavy price we pay when we are laden with guilt. Verses 3 and 4 – “…my body wasted away…my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.”
Second,guilt damages our relationships. It alienates or separates us from people we know we have hurt. We may even blame others and condemn them for the wrong we don’t want to face in ourselves. We may even act in vindictive ways towards others.
Third,guilt damages our souls. We are children of God,made in His image. Guilt paralyses our spiritual growth; it is a barrier between us and our heavenly Father.
After experiencing the damaging consequences of significant sin and its resulting guilt,David says in verse 5,”then I acknowledged my sin to you,and I did not hide my iniquity: I said,I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” Ever heard that phrase – “confession is good for the soul? It is true!
The guilt in David’s life served a positive purpose! It brought him back to the Lord. The conviction and consequences of his sin led him to the confession of his sin. David felt guilty because he was guilty. He had done wrong – he couldn’t hide it – and he could not live with the burden of guilt. He had committed adultery and murder.
Sin and guilt go together. Dr Karl Menninger wrote a book over 40 years ago called “Whatever Became of Sin?” He saw the poverty,the war,the assassinations,the racism,the brokenness,the drugs and the sexual revolution of the late 60’s and dared to inquire if there was perhaps,a connection between society’s widespread problems and its letting go of any absolute moral standards of behaviour. I wonder if today,we have lost,not only our sense of right and wrong,but even ignored the inner conscience of guilt that convicts and calls us to confess our shortcomings and change our ways.
Several years ago,The United Methodist Reporter newspaper in the US,put this question in the headlines of an editorial – “Are only 42% of us sinful?” It cited a poll conducted in Minnesota of the beliefs of different Christians in that state. The editorial stated – “One item stood out like a sore thumb. It was that of the United Methodists polled,only 42% considered themselves sinful.”
In a world of violence,poverty,crime,global warming,drugs,war,hunger and disease,nearly 6 in 10 followers of Jesus judged themselves not to be sinful. 58 out of 100 had no sense of corporate guilt,collective responsibility for the decaying conditions of planet earth.
I do not know what sense of guilt you have in your life this morning – good guilt,bad guilt,no guilt – but I do know what the Bible says and what history confirms – “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
We have all sinned – and we pay the price of sin through the presence of guilt. Even when all is well on the outside,there remains an inner aching,a heart breaking,a soul shaking,because we have hurt someone,we have been disobedient to God,we have stepped out of bounds.
God has a solution for our guilt. The man who committed adultery and murder experienced that solution. David wrote in today’s text,”I said,I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven.” (32: 5 and 1).
The One who was called the Son of David,Jesus of Nazareth,said to the paralysed man “Your sins are forgiven,rise up and walk.” He told the woman caught in the act of adultery,”Neither do I condemn you – go and do not sin again.” John tells us “If we confess our sins,God is faithful and just,and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”