Thank you, Mr. Kirsten Walkup, for today's devo!
Create in me a clean heart
David is without a doubt one of my favorite characters in all of scripture. Of course I love Moses, Samson, Ruth, Jeremiah, Daniel, etc, but David stands in stark contrast to most other figures. Whereas we know bits and pieces of most of the major players lives’ in the Bible, virtually all of David’s life is laid bare in scripture, good and bad. With David, nothing is ever done “half-way”. When he’s victorious he’s slaying giants and cutting off their heads. When he fails he’s committing adultery and having the husband of his object of lust murdered. For better or worse, David was an “all in” kind of guy.
It’s been said that the truest test of one’s character is not how they deal with success, rather how they deal with failure. While David certainly had many great victories and was a tremendously successful king, he was far from perfect. David was also a man capable of great sin, a fact that was profoundly exhibited in his dealings with Bathsheba. You probably remember the story. Bathsheba was bathing on her rooftop (a fact that still has me scratching my head) and David was out on his balcony admiring the view when he happened to notice this striking young (married) woman taking a bath. Being the king, David figured, “hey, I could use another wife or concubine” and had her sent for. David became privy to the knowledge that she was married to Uriah, one of David’s most loyal soldiers, but he was undeterred in his lust and took her to bed. This set off a chain of events that led to Bathsheba becoming pregnant, David attempting to cover his tracks, and the eventual murder of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah (it always cracks me up when I hear people describe the Bible as a collection of boring stories).
Of course there was no way that David, king of Israel and servant of God Most High, was going to get away with his great sin. The prophet Nathan confronted David and essentially told him that he (David) had sinned against God and that all sorts of really bad things were going to happen to David and his household as a result of the things he had done, most notably that David would lose the son born to him by Bathsheba. What was David’s response to Nathan’s very stern and dire rebuke? II Samuel 12:13 tells us that David’s reply to Nathan was, “I have sinned against the Lord”.
David’s son would, in fact, die and David mourned his loss. For many people, knowing that it was their sin that caused the death of their own child would be enough to completely destroy their faith. But David was far from an ordinary man. Psalms 51:10-12 captures the essence of David’s heart, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” David’s prayer to God may be the perfect prayer of repentance. David fully recognized that he alone was to blame and his cry to God was completely devoid of any “woe is me” moment. He identified that he had allowed his heart to stray from God and immediately set out to boss his heart and make it right with God again.
Unless you’re reading this from prison (which is entirely possible) I doubt anyone reading this has committed adultery and then had the spouse of your lover murdered. In that, you have a leg up on the mighty king David. That said there is much to be gleaned from how David handled things after his sin had become known. When we stumble, the last thing we should do is try to cover our tracks and hope nobody notices. It didn’t work too well for David and even had his scheming been successful, Nathan still would have shown on up on his doorstep with a similarly dire rebuke because we cannot hide from the Lord, nor should we desire to do so. What we should do is the thing David should have done straight away. We should fall to our knees before God and ask him to purify our hearts and renew our spirits, and then we should immediately boss our hearts into turning course, as reversal of course is the truest definition of repentance.
When most people think of David, the first thing that springs to mind is that he was a mighty giant slaying warrior (never mind that he was a scrawny kid when he did that) or that he was a great king of Israel, which he was. But God saw something different in David from the very beginning when he had him anointed as king. At the time, David was the least of his household and even his own father held him in little regard. Yet when God looked upon the heart of this undersized, red-headed boy, he saw the heart of a man who would follow hard after God’s own heart.
As we go about our week, we would do well to remember it was the fact that David, though imperfect, directed his heart to follow God, and forced it to change direction when necessary. That’s what made David a great king and, more importantly, it’s what made him a man who was tremendously used of God.