God gave us a great gift in the book of Psalms. Every person who has ever lived can relate to the expressions of anguish and confusion found in this collection. Each Psalm is formed by words that illustrate the reality of a soul in search of God. Psalm 51 is no exception. It was written by David after he confronted his own deep, dark sin previously hidden from himself and everyone around him.
David was living his life as King of a World Power with little thought of his sin. He had recently married a beautiful widow who was pregnant with their first child. His heart was full of pleasures and comfort. He was living the good life that God has promised him. It wasn’t easy to get to this place. On his journey to becoming a king, he had been ostracized from his country and had lived with a target on his back, a wanted man, miraculously protected by God. He had been a mighty warrior, the first Hebrew to conquer the high and mighty city of Jerusalem where he built a castle for himself and his large family. His heart, mind and spirit were so full of the pleasures and necessities of this world that he had little time to think about sin. If he did think about God at all, he most likely thought God was pleased with him to grant him such a good life.
Like Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent, something stirred his soul in the midst of his distracted spiritual state of mind. It was a visit from the prophet Nathan who cleverly exposed the secret sin David had committed. It was a forgivable sin, however, it prevented him from being able to build a permanent Temple for God. Sin has consequences. Sin distances us from God. The distraction of sin can be such that, like David, sin can find us the middle of an active happy life where we and those around us have grown accustomed to our sin.
When we become sin-blind; we need a visit in Lent to draw us back to the spiritual reality. David experienced the harsh consequence for his personal sin through the loss of his baby who died at birth. Though he grieved greatly; his experience of despair straightened out his heart. His experience inspired his deep yet short dissertation about sin recorded in Psalm 51. There is so much to learn from this chapter. One thing we learn about sin from David is found in verse four: 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.
David had sinned against his country by allowing himself to be in a position of God deserving God’s wrath. He had sinned against a young couple just beginning their love story—breaking up a marriage and causing the death of a young husband. He had sinned against his servants whom he ordered to carry out his sinful actions. Ultimately, his sin was against God. The bottom line of all sinning is that it is against God. The only answer to all sinning is the forgiveness of God. In Christ we discover that the only way for all sin to be forgiven is the death of God. In Christ our sin is overcome.
1 Corinthians 5:7 charges us with this truth: Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
As you really are, means that you are in Christ without sin. Lent invites us to get serious about our life in Christ; as we really are. Look at yourself clearly. See the truth that all sin is against God because it is against who God died to help you become. See the connection to your sin and not fully participating in the freedom from sin that God’s sacrifice made possible in you. Don’t get stuck on regret or avoidance of sin. Look at your sin full-on as rejection of God’s provision through Christ. See your sin as against God and God only, like David taught in Psalm 51.