King David: Create in Me a Clean Heart

When King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, and then ordered the death of her husband, Uriah the Hittite, the king’s life never would be the same (2 Samuel 12:9, ESV).  The prophet Nathan informed the king that perilous times lay ahead for him and his family as a consequence of his sin (2 Sam. 12:10-12, ESV).  I do not know if David found the Lord’s words frightening that the sword would never depart from his house (2 Sam. 12:10a, ESV).  The text is silent on the matter.  Perhaps that is for the best.  The fallout from this one moment of sin forever marks a turning point in the life of King David.

To the king’s credit, he repents of his sin and submits to the discipline of the Lord.  Psalm 51 provides the basis for this assertion.  Most Old Testament (OT) scholars attribute this Psalm to the pen of King David.  It represents one of the most heartfelt confessions ever written.  One of the things emphasized by the king in Psalm 51 is that his sin with Bathsheba ultimately was against the Lord (Psalm 51:4, ESV).  This is the sort of admission that runs counter to human notions of right and wrong.  How could the sin really and solely be against the Lord of heaven and earth?  At no point in Psalm 51 or in 2 Sam. 12:13, do we see David pointing the finger at others for his mess.  He accepts the full responsibility as a man.

Today’s culture and society needs a few more men like King David.  Women need men who own their crap and everything that results from it.  Children cannot afford men who run away when the going gets tough.  A man is not only someone who makes wise choices, but who takes responsibility for his mistakes.  He does everything in his might to set things right with his family.  Much of this might come off as pure poppycock.  Everywhere one turns, there are reminders to take what’s yours.  There are only so many hours in the day.  I am not promised tomorrow, next week, next month, or the next few hours.  Admittedly, this was the heart attitude of King David before Nathan confronted him.

According to Psalm 51, the king underwent a massive, spiritual transformation by acknowledging that he sinned against the Lord and only him (Psalm 51:4, ESV).  Some of the most amazing words in all of Scripture occur in Psalm 51:6-11.  King David pours out his heart to the Lord for redemption, for the forgiveness of his sin.  He yearns for the inner restoration or cleansing that only God can provide through the person and work of the Holy Spirit.  What fascinates me about Psalm 51 is that more than likely David wrote it after Nathan confronted him.  Everything that the king expresses in this Psalm already has taken place.  The reason that I point this out is that back in 2 Samuel 12:13, Nathan proclaims to King David that the Lord has dealt with his sin in such a way so as to spare his life.  I think this echoes Christ dying in David’s place for his sin.   Let me develop this a little bit.

In some sense, Nathan’s words that God has put away David’s sin foreshadows Christ’s atoning death on the cross.  It is through the Son that the Father deals with sin once and for all.  Jesus is King David’s sacrificial substitute as well as ours.  From the Triune God’s eternal perspective, he already solved King David’s sin problem before the foundation of the world (Acts 2:23, ESV).  If this was not the case, then Nathan never could have told the king “the Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die” (2 Sam. 12:13b, ESV).  At some point, King David embraces this marvelous truth because he writes in another Psalm that “blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity…” (Psalm 32:2a, ESV).  The king rests upon the reality of his promised justification, which has nothing to do with him but everything to do with the Lord (see Romans 4:5-8, ESV).

One more thing, I say promised justification in relation to King David only from the standpoint of human history.  1000 years still needed to transpire before Jesus came on the scene in the first century A.D.  Like I mentioned earlier, King David’s justification was a done deal from God’s perspective.  This should build our faith and hope in God and his promises.  When he declares something, it is a reality.  His word does not return to him void no matter how long it takes to unfold from my time-bound perspective (Isaiah 55:10-11, ESV).  There are some things that the Lord has set in stone.  One of those things is the justification of sinners based upon Christ’s atoning work on the cross.  It is a glorious message of good news.  If this was not good news in any tangible sense, then King David never would have written Psalms 32 and 51.

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