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The bible never shies away from putting on display the sins of its heroes. One of its greatest heroes, King David, committed one of the most disturbing sins found in the midst of its pages (2 Samuel 11-12). One day David was standing on his roof at a time when he should have been at war with his soldiers. While shirking his duties his eyes fell upon a beautiful woman bathing. He lusted after her and arranged for his servants to bring her to him. Her name was Bathsheba, and she was the wife of Uriah the Hittite, who was one of his soldiers. David slept with her, and she became pregnant. To hide his sin, he arranged for Uriah to be assigned to the frontline where he was killed. After Uriah’s death, David took Bathsheba to be his wife.

David’s murder of Uriah did not go unnoticed. He was confronted by Nathan the prophet who bluntly pressed upon him the weight of the sin he had committed, and then informed him that because of that sin, violence would never leave his house. His offense against God would also cause him to lose a child. The horror and ugliness of David’s sin immediately struck his heart and mind, and he confessed that he had wronged the Lord.

It is against that backdrop that David writes Psalm 51. He sets to music and poetry his confession of sin, and the painful reality of his missing the mark. One of the more interesting elements of his song is that in his confession he states, “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” (Psalm 51:3-4). He doesn’t confess his sin against Uriah, or his sin against Bathsheba, or his sin against his soldiers, or his sin against his kingship, or his sin against his nation. He only confesses his sin against God. So what do we make of this? Should we be disturbed by it? Is David trying to avoid culpability against people? Is he dodging responsibility? No to all of those. He is going straight to the top of the hierarchy and publicly acknowledging the depth, gravity, and root of his sin. Had he kept his mind Godward, it would not have been sinward, and no one would have been hurt. To sin against God is to sin against people, and to sin against people is to sin against the image of God. The uncomfortable and disturbing truth is that our sins, even those we think we commit in secret, have an impact on those around us. To sin against God is to sin against people. Depending on their nature, our secret sins may not have an acute impact on the people around us, but they will bend the way we interact with them. The more we sin, the more injuries to those relationships appear. All sin, no matter how great or how small, has an impact on our relationship to God.

David gives us much wisdom when he tells us that God will not despise a broken spirit and a contrite heart (Psalm 51:16-17). This is because our loving and forgiving God recognizes that a broken spirit and a contrite heart is one that is ready to be reshaped, that will recoil from sin, and that will seek him for renewal and transformation. Like faith, a broken spirit and a contrite heart will produce action and behaviors that bend toward God and his desires.

Do your sins burden you? How do they impact the people around you?

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