Psalm 32 (NRSV)
The Joy of Forgiveness
1 Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2 Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 While I kept silence, my body wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.Selah
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,”
and you forgave the guilt of my sin.Selah
6 Therefore let all who are faithful
offer prayer to you;
at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters
shall not reach them.
7 You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.Selah
8 I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
9 Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle,
else it will not stay near you.
10 Many are the torments of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.
11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.
2 Samuel 12:7-13 (NRSV)
7 Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul; 8 I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more. 9 Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. 11 Thus says the Lord: I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun. 12 For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” 13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan said to David, “Now the Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die.
“I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13)
Sometimes our decision making is bad, and sometimes it’s just plain awful. In today’s Scripture lesson from 2 Samuel, David’s was awful. He committed adultery with Bathsheba. Then, when he found out that she was pregnant, he tried to convince Bathsheba’s husband to have relations with her so that he would be convinced he was the father. However, Uriah was too loyal to David to do it. Finally, David ordered the man to be killed in battle.
David’s story offers us some crucial lessons. First, we should be alert. Temptation is all around, and it can be very easy to succumb to it. Second, it tells us how, once we have fallen, we can go to great lengths to cover up our sin. But that strategy often leads to more and more sin. As the poet Walter Scott wrote, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!”
But God was merciful to David, and that is the third lesson. When the prophet Nathan confronted David, he acknowledged his sin and repented. God was merciful to King David and he is merciful to us. He is merciful to everyone who comes to him! So whether your sin is large or small, don’t be afraid to confess it. Let God’s mercy wash over you and set you free.
When you read Psalm 32, it traces David’s experience of forgiveness. He “kept silent” but it didn’t help (Psalm 32:3). “I groaned all day,” he confessed (32:3). But then he encountered a merciful God and discovered that he is a “shelter” to all who turn to him (32:7). Pray this psalm today, and let God fill you with his mercy and love.
Lord, have mercy on me. Cleanse me that I may be pure of heart. Amen.