Sunday School Lessons

Sorry Not Sorry

Have you ever given (or received) an apology that wasn’t really an apology?  I think of young siblings whose fights are broken up by a parent.  When compelled to apologize, the grumbled “im sorry” is often less than sincere.  There are also those who make public “apologies”, but seem to be sorry that they were caught, rather than regretting that they hurt others.  And, some apologies are proven to be fake, when the offending behavior doesn’t change (even in the short term).  Regardless of their form, these insincere apologies often do little to mend relationships or ease hurt.

In that light, let’s continue in Psalm 51, as David asks for God’s forgiveness.

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
Psalms 51:3‭-‬4 NIV

David doesn’t try to minimize or hide his sin.  He admits that he has done the wrong thing.  He made a sinful choice (several, actually – see 2 Samuel 11:1-12:25 for the whole sordid saga), and he confesses his sin.

Notice, though, how he doesn’t lead with the sins that he’s done to Bathsheba or to Uriah.  He doesn’t say here how he forced Joab to get one of his soldiers killed, or how David’s instructions probably led to other Israelites getting killed.  David doesn’t even mention how his sin led to the death of his son, as a consequence of David’s selfishness.

Instead, David acknowledges how he has sinned against God.  And, ultimately, aren’t all of our sins transgressions against God?  We can see that if we rebel against Him and disobey Him, we’re sinning against Him directly.  However, if we sin against another human being, we’re sinning against someone who was created in God’s image.  In the same way, if we sin against creation (abusing the world that God gave to humankind to steward), we’re sinning against what God has created.  All sin is ultimately an offense to the holy God of the universe.

While confessing, David also doesn’t try to bargain or negotiate with God.  He doesn’t try to explain away his sin, or try to justify why he did it.  He doesn’t make excuses.  Instead, David admits that God is correct to judge him.  When Nathan the prophet brought the parable to David, and told David “You are the man!” (i.e., the rich man in a parable who had unjustly taken something that the poor man loved; see from 2 Samuel 12:7), Nathan – delivering a message from God – was spot-on in his accusation, and David knows it.

Here, David was guilty, and he admits it.  We might say that he is in court, and he is pleading guilty to the charges against him.  A commentary puts it this way, “I have confessed my sin; now you are justified in any sentence that you may pronounce” [Tesh & Zorn, p.369]

In fact, verse 3 suggests that David is living with this sin right “in his face”, we might say.  After trying to hide and cover up what he had done (for 9 months, no less), not only did others become aware of David’s sin, but he had to deal with the consequences (beyond just trying to keep secrets).

In verses 5-6, David also acknowledges that he is sinful in general.  As fallen human beings, we often sin when we have the chance (especially without God’s help to do better).

When we have sinned – whether merely against God, or against both Him and others – may we be honest and up-front about what we have done, and not come across with a “Sorry Not Sorry” attitude.  A meaningful apology must be sincere, and clearly acknowledge that we understand that we did something wrong – not merely that someone else was offended.

Are there any apologies that you or I need to make today, or recent apologies that we need to repeat (sincerely, this time)?  Don’t wait to share those, whether they are to God, or to a fellow human being who was created in His image!

From Sunday School lesson prepared for October 16, 2022


  • The Lookout, October 16, 2022, © 2022 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.
  • The College Press NIV Commentary, Psalms, Volume 1, S. Edward Tesh and Walter D. Zorn, © 1999, College Press Publishing Co., Joplin, MO.

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