Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to the multitude of Your tender mercy and loving-kindness blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly [and repeatedly] from my iniquity and guilt and cleanse me and make me wholly pure from my sin! For I am conscious of my transgressions and I acknowledge them; my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done that which is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified in Your sentence and faultless in Your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in [a state of] iniquity; my mother was sinful who conceived me [and I too am sinful]. Behold, You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart.
The heading under this psalm reads: “A Psalm of David; when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had sinned with Bathsheba.” David cried out for mercy because he had sinned with Bathsheba, and when he learned she was pregnant, he had had her husband murdered in battle.
After David confessed his sin, Nathan said to him, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord and given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child that is born to you shall surely die” (2 Samuel 12:13–14).
That’s the first lesson I want you to grasp from this incident. When you fail God, you harm yourself, but you also bring dishonor to His name. Whenever you take a false step, there are those who watch and gleefully point their fingers. The two always go together. Not only do you bring disgrace on the name of the Lord, but you fail yourself. You knew the right but chose the wrong.
As if that were not enough, the evil one also whispers, “See how bad you are. God won’t forgive you. It’s too awful.” Of course, he’s lying, because that’s what he does best. Don’t listen to those words, because there is no sin you’ve committed that God won’t forgive. You may have to carry scars or pay the penalty, but God wipes away the sin.
There’s something else to learn from this: You need to face reality. You sinned. You disobeyed God. What will you do about your sin? You can plead excuses (and most of us are good at that), or you can follow David’s example. When the prophet said, “You are the man . . .” (2 Samuel 12:7), the king did not deny his wrongdoing or try to justify his actions. David admitted he had sinned and confessed.
He wrote in the psalm quoted earlier: “For I am conscious of my transgressions and I acknowledge them; my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done that which is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified in Your sentence and faultless in Your judgment” (vs. 3–4).
If you follow Jesus Christ, not only are you declaring to yourself, to your family, and to the world your trust in the Savior, but you are also declaring your stand for truth. It’s easy for us to deceive ourselves, but God has called us to be totally, completely, and scrupulously honest in our inner being. Don’t look at what others may get away with or how they justify their behavior. We can’t blame others, the devil, or circumstances.
When you fail, remind yourself that the greatest king of ¬Israel cried out to God and said, “My sin is ever before me” (v. 3). Those sins, failures, or shortcomings (or whatever you may choose to call them) will always be there until you admit them and confess them to the Lord; only then can you know the joy of living with integrity and in truth.
This is the message for you from this final meditation; this is the message of the entire book: Strive to live with truth in your inner being. You—you and God—are the only ones who know what’s in your heart. Live in honesty and truth.
Holy God, David prayed, “You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart.” Through Jesus Christ, I plead with You to help me desire truth in my inner being, to live in such a way that I’m as honest and as open with You as I can become. I know that the life You honor is the life You bless. Amen.