King David had sinned – adultery, murder, lying – and he thought he had gotten away with what he had done. Several months had passed, yet David seemed to have no remorse. But the Bible tells us, ‘The Lord was displeased” (2 Samuel 11: 27). So God sent the prophet Nathan to David to share a word. Nathan told David a parable designed to help David see the evil he had done by committing adultery with Bathsheba and by having her husband, Uriah, killed. And when David saw himself in Nathan’s parable, his heart was broken by its own corruption.
David confessed his sin and was forgiven and was justified in the presence of God. Later he put this life-saving, heart purifying experience into poetry:
Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. (Psalm 51: 1-2)
David knew and loved God’s Word. As he penned this psalm in the agony of his guilt, he recalled the words of God’s revelation of himself from Exodus 34: “Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin” (34: 6-7).
David understood that there are some who are guilty and never turn to God for forgiveness. But there are some who are guilty, and by a mysterious act of mercy on the part of God, are not counted guilty, but instead are forgiven. David sought to lay hold of the mercy of God by faith, even though that mercy remained to him a mystery.
What David couldn’t see clearly became clear: “When God our Savior revealed His kindness and love, He saved us, not because of the righteous things we have done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit; He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3: 4-6).
King David experienced clearly that there is no sin too far from God’s forgiveness. May we all appreciate this truth - we are never too far from God’s mercy.
Prayer – O merciful God, have mercy on me with your unfailing love. Blot out my sins with your great compassion. Wash me clean from all the heavy guilt that burdens me. Purify me from all my sin. Thank you for your incredible mercy. Help me to be merciful to others.
Song: Mercy by Amanda Cook
Incumbent at St Aidan's Anglican Church,