Continuing in 2 Samuel 12 (where we have been for several articles, now), David spells out judgment for an allegorical rich man who took the lamb of a poor man, and Nathan the prophet explains that David is the one who had basically done the same thing (only with a man’s wife, rather than a lamb). After Nathan enumerates the consequences of David’s actions, David has this response:
Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”
Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.
2 Samuel 12:13 NIV
To David’s credit, he acknowledges his sin. He doesn’t try to justify his actions or deny them. That’s a good example for us: the sooner we confess (admit) our sins, and repent (turn around) from them, the sooner we – and those around us – can have healthier relationships and lives.
Getting a little deeper, though, we can sometimes read the Bible as if events happened right after each other, yet commentators (see references below) point out that nine months have passed since David’s initial sin (because the child born from his adultery with Bathsheba was born before Nathan confronted the king). In that context, do you suppose that David had been living with the guilt of knowing what he had done – maybe trying to keep it hidden – for all of this time? I wonder if he was relieved to have a chance to get it out in the open, even though the fear of admitting it had kept him from doing so in the past?
In fact, being confronted with our sins is an opportunity to become free from them, by confessing what we have done and getting it out in the open, so that we can begin to restore things. Even if others don’t find out on their own, though, we must not let our sins pile up behind what we believe to be a wall of secrecy. The longer they sit, hidden from other people in our lives, the worse things can be when we finally admit them. So, even if something has festered for a long time, and we are afraid of what will happen when the truth comes out, it’s probably still better to confess, rather than waiting even longer, when things might be even worse.
David doesn’t just plead guilty, though. In fact, Psalm 51 is an entire psalm of confession and asking for forgiveness. Let’s consider a few of the verses from this apology:
- Psalm 51:1 – The header confirms the context of this Psalm, and how it fits in with 2 Samuel 12.
- Psalm 51:4 – Note that David understands who he has ultimately sinned against. Any sin is an affront – an offense – to God, whether or not someone else was harmed in the process (although sin usually harms people, too). David didn’t only hurt Bathsheba and kill Uriah; he sinned against the God in whose image they – and he – were created.
- Psalm 51:16-17 – David knows that an external sacrifice, without a heart change, isn’t what God desires. (See Hosea 6:6, quoted in Matthew 9:13 and Matthew 12:7.)
So, confess your sins! We might be tempted to ignore verses like James 5:16, and keep our sins to ourselves. Don’t let them pile up and continue to weigh you down, though. I heard a pastor on the radio, talking about a man who suffered from demonic forces for years, until he finally confessed a past sin and acknowledged that Jesus’ blood paid for that sin. Do you want to run around in shackles (see Hebrews 12:1-3), or to be free from the burden of your sins?
Now, I’m not saying that you need to blurt out your sins right now, but find a trusted friend, family member, believing counselor, or pastor, and stop being the only one to carry those burdens. If you choose your confidant wisely, they can pray with you, remind you of (or tell you about) the salvation that we have in Jesus, and help you remain accountable so that you can stay clean in the future. Even if you stumble again, they can pick you up and help you get back on track.
And, if you’re not sure how to start, read through all of Psalm 51. The prayer and process of David (a fellow sinner, but one who admitted to a grave sin) may be the same one that you need to go through as a template for your own healing. Confession is kind of like spring cleaning: it might be difficult to get started, but you’re going to be better off when you finish.
From Sunday School Lesson for June 6, 2021
- The Lookout, June 2021, © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete). Matthew Henry. 1706, via BibleGateway.com.
- The College Press Commentary, 1 & 2 Samuel, by James E. Smith. College Press Publishing Company, © 2000, p.427-430.