“Deliver me from bloodshed, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.” (Psalm 51:14 from: Psalm 51:1-19)
The New Revised Standard Version introduces Psalm 51 in this way, “Prayer for Cleansing and Pardon. To the leader. A Psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.” It is King David’s plea to God to “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” (verses 1-2) Throwing one’s self on the Lord’s mercy and justice, and seeking a renewal of right relationship with God.
We talk about right relationship with others, and dealing with others according fairly with justice and compassion – because God’s justice is tempered with compassion. But balancing out being in right relationship with others is being in right relationship with God. If one occurs without the other, then we are out of balance. And out of right relationship.
As Nathan explained David’s sin, he did not just sin against God, but also against Uriah and Bathsheba. One sin was not any greater magnitude than the other. David could never make it up to Uriah – he was dead. And nothing he could do could ease the guilt and grief that was laid upon Bathsheba. So David’s only recourse was to plead to God.
Now David says in verse 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.” But I must disagree with David on this point – unless he would claim poetic license. One would hope then that David has already tried to mend other the other relationships that were affected by his actions. In verse 17 he says, “The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” We can only hope and surmise that he presented that “broken and contrite heart” to those around him – especially Nathan and Bathsheba.
You might wonder why I mention Bathsheba as someone David owes an apology to. The sins of another, whatever they might be, do not absolve us of the need to make right what has gone wrong between oneself and others. Do not think, gentle reader, that there is a hierarchy where if someone is a “worse” sinner then us, we do not need to ask forgiveness from that person. Our “broken and contrite heart” may well lead them to God’s mercy seat.
But I have spoken enough on this. It is time to wish you shalom for your day. And with the shalom this day may there be a receiving and giving of forgiveness and mercy between you and all that you encounter. Selah!