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Prescott Conference 2020: Sunday AM: Summary of David’s life and the psalms that garnished it

Pres Con-4-200906
length: 92:00 - taught on Sep, 6 2020
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Class Outline:

Prescott Conference 2020


Class 4: Sunday Morning, September 6, 2020

 

The Tears of the Penitent, Psa 32, 51, 6

 

Adversity had taught David self-restraint, had braced his soul, had driven him to grasp firmly the hand of God. He had prosperity for nearly 20 years. Gratitude had followed deliverance, and the sunshine after the rain had brought out the fragrance of devotion and the blossoms of glad songs.

 

A good man such as David, especially at his age, seldom falls so low, unless perhaps there has been previous, perhaps unconscious, relaxation of the girded loins.

 

We can scarcely conceive of such a temptation conquering him unless there was a previous decay of his spiritual life, and likely the prosperity of his royal life dulled his eyes to it. Self-indulgence and ease can be mighty dangerous. The narrative tells us that it was the time for kings to go to battle, and this emphasis cannot be randomly placed. David contented himself with sending his troops against Ammon while remaining in the king’s house in Jerusalem. His soldiers are sweltering in the hot sun while David, far behind them, is taking his afternoon siesta in his cool and shaded room. Rather than concern himself with the struggles of his men in battle, he takes a stroll on the palace roof to concern himself with the rooftops of the citizens of Jerusalem. He had fallen to the level of an Eastern despot, and lost his sense of responsibility to his office.

 

The tension of his moral nature has been relaxed. This is presented in sharp contrast to the chivalrous Uriah, in fact, one of David’s mighty men, who, Hittite as he was, was devout, shrinking from ease while his comrades were on the battlefield. David’s letter to Joab is murderous and cynical, which only a hardened conscience could write to purport evil, and put into the very hand of Uriah, whose nobility would not allow him to read. The king’s indifference to the loss of his men so long as Uriah is out of the way.

 

This saint of nearly fifty years of age, bound to God by ties which he rapturously felt and acknowledged, whose words have been the very breath of devotion for every devout heart, forgets his longings after righteousness, flings away the joys of divine communion, darkens his soul, ends his prosperity, brings down upon his head for all his remaining years a cataract of calamities, and makes his name and his religion a target for the barbed sarcasms of each succeeding generation of scoffers.

 

He is not qualified to establish a righteous kingdom forever.

 

Every obligation of his office, as every grace of his character, is trodden under foot by the wild beast roused in his breast. Lust and treason, and craft and murder, are hardly companions for him who had said, “I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set no wicked thing before my eyes.”

 

Part of the story’s lesson is a warning against ease and lust. Another part is how divine love can extract sweet praise from a penitent sinner.

 

And in the latter, the warning still remains, for David and his kingdom suffered terribly because of this one event. Another part, and always a comfort for it is always true, is the forgiveness of God. Penitent psalms, blotted with tears are Psa 51 and 32.

 

Many a believer have followed the footsteps of these psalms through a great and terrible wilderness.

 

Psa 51 seems to have been written first, for in it we see the fallen man struggling up out of the “horrible pit and miry clay;” in 32 he latter stands upon the rock, with a new song in his mouth, even the blessedness of him “whose sin is covered.”

 

The passionate cries of the psalm are the echo of the divine promise - the effort of his faith to grasp and keep the merciful gift of pardon.

 

The consciousness of forgiveness is the basis for prayer for forgiveness.

 

It was about a year between the crime and the message of Nathan. What sort a year it was is related to us in the psalms.

 

Nobody buys a little passing pleasure in evil at so dear a rate, or keeps it for so short a time as a good man. A lower man is contented with his evil history.

 

To the man who loves God, disgust with his sin fills his soul. Such emotion is not at all necessary for forgiveness, but since God hates sin, the lover of God hates it as well.

 

PSA 32:3-4

When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away

Through my groaning all day long.

4 For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me;

My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.

 

The heavy hand of God all day long and a total loss of the freshness of life, turned to arid plains. Body and mind seem both to be included in this wonderful description, in which obstinate dumbness, constant torture, dread of God, and not one softening drop of penitence fill the dry and dusty heart, while body wastes away, sleepless nights, and burning soul agony.

 

Perhaps Psa 6 is of the same period.

 

PSA 6:1-3

O Lord, do not rebuke me in Thine anger,

Nor chasten me in Thy wrath.

2 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am pining away;

Heal me, O Lord, for my bones are dismayed.

3 And my soul is greatly dismayed;

But Thou, O Lord —  how long?

 

PSA 6:6-7

I am weary with my sighing;

Every night I make my bed swim,

I dissolve my couch with my tears.

7 My eye has wasted away with grief;

It has become old because of all my adversaries.

 

There was a year of this anguish.

 

PRO 20:17

Bread obtained by falsehood is sweet to a man,

But afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel.

 

David learned what we all eventually learn, and the more mature we are the more speedily and sharply does the lesson follow on the heels of his sin, that every transgression is a blunder, that we never get the satisfaction which we expect from any sin, or if we do, we get something with it that spoils it all. A nauseous drug is added to the exciting, intoxicating drink which temptation offers, and though its flavor is at first disguised by the pleasanter taste of sin, its bitterness is persistent though slow, and clings to the palate long after that has faded utterly.

 

In his troubled conscience he projects to the selfish man in Nathan’s story with anger and harsh rebuke, only to find out that he was the man and so his projection ironically just.

 

The sinful man becomes a stern judge.

 

Nathan shows the way of divine convincing of sin. First the plain charge is pressed home, “You are the man.” Then follows, not reproach but a solemn question built on the tenderness of God’s graciously given benefits.

 

2SA 12:7-9

7 Nathan then said to David, "You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel, 'It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 'I also gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these! 9 'Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight?

 

The contemplation of God’s faithful love, and the all-sufficient gifts which it bestows, makes every transgression irrational as well as ungrateful, and turns remorse, which consumes like the hot wind of the wilderness, into tearful repentance which refreshes the soul.

 

2CO 7:10

For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

 

David’s two words (in Hebrew: chaa-taa-tiy la-Yavah) “I have sinned against the Lord,” make the transition from the sullen misery of the last year to the beginning of a real, though solemn, peace.

 

There is no need for him to be wordy in his confession, for more would have been less. David, after a year of anguish, self-justification, and painful remorse (yet without acknowledgment of fault), must have found great relief in finally coming clean to God.

 

God’s response to David through Nathan is also terse (three words in Hebrew). There is no need for many words, only to know that you are forgiven.

 

2SA 12:13

Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord." And Nathan said to David, "The Lord also has taken away your sin;

 

How full and unconditional the blessing bestowed in these few words. How swift and yet sufficient is God’s answer. The long estrangement is over.

 

While confession and forgiveness heal the breach between God and David, pardon does not remove the consequences of his actions. Yet, he now faces those consequences with God rather than opposed to God.

 

The repentant sinner faces his consequences with God rather than opposed to God. Still he suffers.  

 

Psa 51

For the choir director. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

 

1 Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness;

According to the greatness of Thy compassion blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,

And cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,

And my sin is ever before me.

4 Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned,

And done what is evil in Thy sight,

So that Thou art justified when Thou dost speak,

And blameless when Thou dost judge.

 

5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,

And in sin my mother conceived me.

6 Behold, Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being,

And in the hidden part Thou wilt make me know wisdom.

7 Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

8 Make me to hear joy and gladness,

Let the bones which Thou hast broken rejoice.

9 Hide Thy face from my sins,

And blot out all my iniquities.

 

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,

And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me away from Thy presence,

And do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation,

And sustain me with a willing spirit.

13 Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways,

And sinners will be converted to Thee.

 

14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,

Thou God of my salvation;

Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Thy righteousness.

15 O Lord, open my lips,

That my mouth may declare Thy praise.

16 For Thou dost not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;

Thou art not pleased with burnt offering.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.

 

18 By Thy favor do good to Zion;

Build the walls of Jerusalem.

19 Then Thou wilt delight in righteous sacrifices,

In burnt offering and whole burnt offering;

Then young bulls will be offered on Thine altar.

 

The psalm begins with a cry for favor, for “Your lovingkindness.”

 

Beginning with God’s mercy, the penitent soul can learn to look next upon its own sin in all its aspects of evil.

 

David loathes his actions with depth and intensity, which is not required for forgiveness, but expresses the heart of the one who loves God’s heart.

 

Iniquity, sin, transgression does not lead us to look at his sins of lust, fraud, treachery, murder individually, but more so knotted together as many forked tongues hissing from one serpent’s mouth. No sin dwells alone; the separate acts have a common root. Disobedience to the standard of his King became a part of David’s will (transgression). This perverted and distorted David’s inner sight of the straight and narrow path (iniquity). And so David’s army went out to war and his own thoughts missed the mark (sin). He slept in leisure while his men suffered in dirt, heat, fatigue, and danger, missing the mark again. He walked up to his roof and had a look around and missed the mark again. This is not a formula. All of it is entangled together. All throughout the NT, the Lord warns us to be alert and sober-minded, for the devil is always prowling about.

 

Sin ever misses the mark; and the epitaph might be written over every sinner who seeks pleasure at the price of righteousness, “You fool!”

 

4 Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned,

And done what is evil in Thy sight,

 

David’s crimes were against Bathsheba and Uriah, but the depth of the crime only becomes apparent in light of God’s law.

 

David was guilty of crimes against Bathsheba and Uriah, and even Joab whom he made his tool, as well as against his whole subjects; but dark as these were, they assumed their true character only when they were discerned as done against God. We hurt one another, but God is the law of the universe, and so we sin against Him.

 

The cunning of the self-justifying mind will want to use this verse to allow a self-deceptive pardon to the one who injures his fellow. He will say, “I have only sinned against God and not against you,” trying to assuage his conscience. One only need look at the passages where God instructs us how to be to one another to know that such thinking is only a smoke screen trying to hide evil from self, the world, and ultimately from God. “You fool!”

 

David understands that he was born a sinner.

 

ROM 5:19

For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners

 

David then continues to look at his tangled evil, perhaps becoming more aware of his failures in the past, beyond the last year, and following that trail of breadcrumbs he comes to the source - his sin nature.

 

5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,

And in sin my mother conceived me.

 

He is evil in nature, therefore he has done evil, but we find not a hint of him removing his own responsibility. The sin is his.  

 

The sin’s foul characteristics declare the inward foulness from which it has flowed - it is himself who is foul.

 

Does he therefore think that he is less to blame? By no means. His acknowledgment of an evil nature is the very deepest of his confessions, and leads not to an alleviation of his guilt, but to a cry to Him who alone can heal the inward wound; and as He can purge away the transgressions, can likewise overcome their source, and give him to feel within that he is healed of that plague.

 

His confession is very short. His examination of himself and God is thorough.  

 

In his confession to Nathan, he uses two words. Nothing else need be said to God. When he reflects upon his fall from his righteous walk before God, he uses many words. He uses many words for his sin and many words for God’s pardon. It is his examination of himself and God, and these should be thorough. But mind, when examining the “self” one can become morbid, too much, or blind, none at all. It is enough to discover the weaknesses of self and then dwell on the solution more so, as David does here.

 

The prayers of Baal’s priests were “from morning till the time of the evening sacrifice,” and all that indicates is the doubt of the supplicant. David’s prayer is thorough, to the point, and ends in faith.

 



 

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