On this Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent, I continue my journey through Scott Hahn’s book, Lenten Reflections from A Father Who Keeps His Promises.
As noted in my previous posts, David is a Man After God’s Own Heart. Clearly, this means David is not susceptible to temptation as we mere mortals are. Surely, he cannot sin, right? Wrong! In fact, when David sins, he does it BIG!
First, David sleeps with a married woman.
Then he tries to cover up his sin by arranging for Bathsheba’s husband to sleep with her.
When this deceit fails, David murders her husband. Not directly: David schemes. He arranges for Uriah’s death on the battlefield.
Finally, on top of the adultery, conniving and murder, David has the audacity to become outraged over allegations that a rich man stole a poor man’s single lamb. What chutzpah—after all he did!
But I think what is most revealing—what explains best why David is a Man After God’s Own Heart—is not his sins, but his sorrow.
When Nathan the Prophet explains that the rich man’s theft of the lamb is really a metaphor (or is it analogy?) for David’s sins, David is sorry. Not just, “Gee, I’m sorry.” Deeply remorseful. Repentant. So sorry that he writes a Psalm expressing his sorrow.
In Psalm 51, David provides a great template for our Acts of Contrition. It contains everything needed: recognition of God’s mercy and justice, acknowledgment of his transgressions, expression of sincere sorrow, petition for forgiveness and cleansing, and praise.
David recognizes what God wants from us in our repentance: true sorrow, true contrition:
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn. Psalm 51:19.
And because David is sorry, God forgives him. God doesn’t remove the effects of the sins.
David’s infant—conceived in sin—becomes “desperately ill.”
David’s reaction? Total fast in a sackcloth. Not “woe is me!” Not blame or anger, but an appeal to God’s mercy. In his heart, David knows that God can still save his son.
But the child dies. Despite David’s appeal to God’s mercy, God takes the child. David’s reaction? Worship.
Rising from the ground, David washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes. Then he went to the house of the LORD and worshiped. 2 Samuel 12:20.
This is the model I need to emulate.