Ripples in the Water

Oh that my ways may be established

To keep Your statutes!

Then I shall not be ashamed

When I look upon all Your commandments. Psalm 119:5-6

As we learned in Sunday’s sermon, these verses are the cry of a man who was kept from observing God’s commandments due to oppression and persecution. David, before and after he became king, knew what it was to run for his life and be cut off from God’s holy city. 

First hunted by Saul, David would later be hunted by his own son, Absalom. During both of these persecutions, David was kept from Jerusalem and unable to keep all of God’s commandments. 

However, these verses are also the cry of a man who knew the crushing weight of sin, the loss of his people’s respect and favor, and the far-reaching consequences of his own poor decisions.

Though David was the anointed, chosen, and favored king of Israel—chosen by God himself and anointed by Samuel to replace Saul—David would need to cry these words out to God in the years following his sin with Bathsheba (and his son Amnon’s rape of his daughter, Tamar). He would desperately need God to reestablish his position so that he could keep God’s statutes once again.

Psalm 119:5-6 is the cry of a man who knew the crushing weight of sin, the loss of his people’s respect & favor, and the far-reaching consequences of his own poor decisions. #KingDavid Click To Tweet

Sin’s Consequences

Each of us feel the weight of sin’s consequences at some point. Though forgiveness from God is always accessible to us through the sacrifice of our Lord (1 John 1:9), the consequences of our sin—lost respect and broken relationships—remain in our lives. God forgives us, but we may never receive forgiveness from those we have wronged.

In David’s story, we see that sin is like a rock, tossed into the water of life. The act itself may disappear below the surface of day-to-day living, but the repercussions ripple further and further until they push against the shores of consequence.

What did this look like for David?

Angry currents swirled around him, threatening to sink his monarchy in the persons of Absalom (his son), Ahithophel (Bathsheba’s grandfather), and the rebellion they formed against him.

Reading 1 and 2 Samuel, we see that David was a young man with wholehearted devotion to God. God himself acknowledged David’s heart when the Lord told Samuel, “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 

So did David’s heart change after he became king? Was the Lord wrong about his heart? I don’t think so to the first, and of course not to the second. The proof of David’s heart for God is in his immediate repentance when he was confronted with his sin. 

Perhaps, David became caught up with the pleasures and concerns of life and in doing so let his eyes fall from his Lord. But, just like Peter, as soon as he began to sink, he called back out to the one who could pull him above the waves.

Angry currents swirled around #KingDavid, threatening to sink his monarchy in the persons of Absalom (his son), Ahithophel (Bathsheba’s grandfather) & the rebellion they formed against him. #SinHasConsequences Click To Tweet

God’s View vs. Man’s View

But even within David’s repentance and God’s forgiveness, the consequences of David’s actions continued to ripple. His family was torn. His nation was affected. 

Did Amnon rape Tamar because his father had modeled the idea that he could take what he wanted, when he wanted, and from who he wanted? 

Did Absalom avenge his sister’s disgrace by killing his brother as his father had killed Bathsheba’s husband? Did Ahithophel joyfully strategize rebellious plans against David, seeing it as the perfect opportunity to hurt David through David’s offspring as David had hurt him through his offspring?

Regardless of the motives of the players involved, one thing is certain: David was not forgiven by men and he was no longer his people’s unanimous choice for king. At this point in his life, his identity as a forgiven and chosen servant of God warred with his identity as a fallen and disgraced king of men. 

Moving Beyond Condemnation

The whole of Psalm 51 (written after confronted by the prophet, Nathan) shows that David understood the weightiness of his sin, had truly repented, and had accepted God’s forgiveness and grace. 

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;

According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Psalm 51:1

David asked for, and received, cleansing from God. 

Create in me a clean heart, O God,

And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

And as a man who knew the precious price of forgiveness and the heartbreak of failing God, David was well placed to teach sinners the consequences of sin, admonishing his children and his people to walk in the ways of the Lord.

Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,

And sinners will be converted to You. Psalm 51:13

In humility, David endured the condemnation and cursing of men, accepting it as discipline from God as well as an opportunity to be faithful. (2 Samuel 16:5-14/Psalm 51:14)

David’s Example

What can we learn from David’s example? Many things. The first is that God disciplines those he loves. Nathan was not sent as a punishment, but as a discipline. David endured Shimei’s abuse as God’s discipline and anticipated God’s reward for reacting in humility

The second is that having a heart after God doesn’t necessarily lead to a perfect life. But, when we sin, we must be honest about it. Honest with ourselves. Honest with the people God places in our lives. And honest with God. 

When Nathan confronted David (using a story that surely pulled on the heartstrings of the shepherd-king), David immediately defaulted to repentance and humility. 

There was no blame shifting. There was no running. There was only honest acceptance, repentance, and humility. Within this reaction, I think we see the true heart for which God chose him to be king. I think this humility before God is why David was the apple of God’s eye.

Third, and most important, we learn from David’s example that when we are forgiven, we are wholly, completely, and eternally forgiven. God is faithful to wipe us clean, restore a pure heart within us, and use us once again for his purposes. 

When Nathan confronted #KingDavid, David immediately defaulted to repentance and humility. #HeartForGod Click To Tweet

But this leads to the fourth, and last lesson. Forgiveness can cover the stone of our sin but it cannot erase the ripples in the water. There is no hiding from consequences. Instead, with David, we must patiently endure discipline while putting all our faith in the God who can reestablish our position. 

We can cry out to God with Psalm 119:5-6

Oh that my ways may be established

To keep Your statutes!

Then I shall not be ashamed

When I look upon all Your commandments.

Let’s Talk

Do you struggle to reconcile God’s declaration of forgiven and righteous to man’s (or maybe even your own) view of your sin and failure? I’d love to hear your story. Comment below or email me at steph@nathanfranckhauser.com

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