King David knew that his sin had caused him to run up a big debt with God. The man after God’s own heart had turned away from God and gone after his own pleasure apart from God, leading to adultery and murder. And because God is perfectly just, David knew that the debt of his sin had to be paid for him to be at peace with God. But he also knew that he could not pay it, not with any amount of good works, not even with all the wealth at his disposal as King of Israel. And yet he celebrated, with a seemingly settled understanding, that his enormous debt had somehow been cleared: “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!” (Psalm 32: 1-2).
When David celebrated that the long tab he had run up by his sin had been covered and would not be counted against him, it was no small celebration! God had removed David’s sins from his spiritual ledger. David was given a clean slate. But how was this possible? Was his debt merely written off or overlooked?
David’s debt was not merely ignored. Someone else paid it. “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1: 18-19).
Like David, we have racked up a big debt of sin that must be paid. At the cross, Jesus said “hand the bill to me, I will pay it. It’s a debt that you owe, but I will pay it with my own life’s blood.” When King David said, “Oh what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven,” he was celebrating that God had forgiven him on the basis of, and in anticipation of, full payment for sin by Christ on the cross. David received this payment on his behalf by faith. He could not see the cross clearly, but he believed God’s promise to forgive his sin on the basis of the One who would come and make full forgiveness possible. He looked forward to the cross in faith, just as we look back to the cross in faith. It is much clearer to us now then it was to David. We know with certainty that Jesus paid it all.
What freedom and joy we can have by resting in this truth. Let us respond by living a life of thankfulness for this priceless gift. Let us celebrate!
Prayer – Jesus, in your grace, you paid my debt. What a gift! What freedom and joy I receive from this wonderful gift. Now I can truly understand David’s great joy.
Incumbent at St Aidan's Anglican Church,