A Contrite Heart

November 8, 2009 ()

Bible Text: 2 Samuel 11


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David & Bathsheba

Psalm 51 & 2 Samuel 11-12


Even if not familiar with this particular story, you’re familiar with this type of story.  A man accepts a powerful, high-ranking public office, the public puts tons of hope in him, he has a major moral failure, calls a press conference, cries on TV and apologizes to his family. This is a modern epidemic, but an ancient problem.

Examples: Bill Clinton, Elliot Spitzer, Jim McGreevy, John Edwards, Ted Kennedy, Richard Nixon, etc. 


          -Grumbling of Israel and appointment of a King (Saul)

          -Saul: Gets off to a quick start; eventually falters and is dethroned

          -A new king emerges (David)

          -David falls into adultery and murder

          -(Read 11:26-27) “Displeased the Lord”

          -David continues in an unrepentant manner for 7-9 months

          -(Read 12:1-7, 13-14) Eventually the prophet Nathan confronts him –

            “You are the man”

          -All hope is lost; complete despair and brokenness – David hits rock bottom

          -Its out of this place that David writes psalm 51


Man after God’s own heart?  Must look at Psalm 51 not just 2 Samuel 11

  • Difference between David and Saul is that David immediately confesses when confronted (12:13), while Saul repeatedly tried to justify himself upon being confronted (1 Sam 13:11-12; 15:10-23)


3 Elements of True Repentance:

I)   Relies Solely on Mercy (v. 1-2, 7-15)

  1. How can God show mercy? This appears to be an injustice. Penalty for David’s sin: Gen 9:6, Ex 21:23, Lev 20:10b
  2. Calls out to be cleaned with hyssop (Passover blood, cleansing – hyssop: Ex 12, Lev 14, Num 19, 1 Kings 4, Ps 51, John 19, Heb 9)

II)  Confesses Sin (v. 3-5)

  1. Saul didn’t admit sin, instead self justified.  That’s our initial response usually.
  2. Recognizes complete depravity
  3. Puritan prayer: “I need to repent of my repentance; I need my tears to be washed” (from The Valley of Vision)


III)  Abandons Works (v. 16-17)

  1. Law called for animal sacrifice to atone for sin – to give people forgiveness before God (Leviticus 16)
  2. Understands that religious ritual, even his best deeds wouldn’t be enough to cancel what he had done (Isaiah 64:6)


This wasn’t just a personal prayer, but a song of corporate worship – Israel entered into it and shared in it.

Just like David couldn’t write Psalm 51 until he recognized that he was the man, we can’t read Psalm 51 until we realize that we are the man.  We have to enter into this psalm and make it our own confession.

You are the man

  1. Some people will object to sharing in David’s guilt: “sure we’re not perfect – but we’ve never killed anybody, we’ve never committed adultery” (Mat 5: 21-22, 27-28)
  2. In the outrage David felt at the rich man in the story, he rightly identified his own condemnation. 
  3. In the outrage we feel towards David in this story, we rightly identify our own condemnation


Purpose of this Story:

  • Not to avoid David’s sin (we’ve already fallen to it), but to share in David’s forgiveness
  • Points to Jesus
  • We’re often tempted to read this story set 1,000 years before Jesus was born as something frozen in distant history to glean moral lessons, and in so doing we miss the point.   


How does this story point to our need for Jesus?

  • Consequence of David’s sin, a son must be put to death (2 Sam 12:14)
  • Hyssop in John 19:28-30
  • Rom 3:21-26 passed over – God perfectly and beautifully displays both his mercy and His justice.


David took for himself what wasn’t his at great cost to others

Jesus gave to others what wasn’t theirs at great cost to himself


Jesus is our only hope.  He is the truer and better David, he is a righteous and sacrificing King, not a sinful and selfish king.  He is the one who took the sin of the world upon himself, so that the righteousness of God could be placed upon the world. 


Easiest way to identify our own sin is to examine the ways that we’ve judged others.  We’re great at identifying sin, we’re just not always great at identifying our own sin.  To see where we need forgiveness, we need to ask the question, “where am I condemning/judging others/”

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