Inspired by Psalm 51
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.” Psalm 51:10-12 (NRSV)
Do you imagine God as someone rooting for your success, or as someone tasked with keeping you in line? How does that impact your relationship with him?
King David used his power to exploit a woman he saw. He summoned her to him and took advantage of the fact that she would never say no to her king. When she later reported she was pregnant, David used his command over the military to arrange for her husband’s death. He abused his power, violated a woman, and murdered a man.
The Lord sent the prophet Nathan to confront David and condemn him for his actions. If David had understood God’s purpose as keeping him in line, then he would have cowered in fear before his Lord, perhaps meekly accepting whatever punishment God administered, but hoping to be away from God’s wrathful presence as soon as possible. Yet instead he prayed to remain in God’s presence. He prayed that God would forgive him his sins, and give him God’s own spirit to enable him to live according to God’s ways.
David understood that even when angry and disappointed in him, God wanted David to live up to the potential God had blessed him with. God was no mere disciplinarian; God was on his side, rooting for his success, and wanted him to understand how his actions had failed to honor God and God’s people. David took that lesson to heart, and cherished the One who was trying to help him.
We have the same God as David, and God cares just as much for our success and wellbeing. Don’t be afraid to recognize and name your sins before God; he knows them anyway. Trust that he is on your side, and that he’ll accept your repentance and help you to live in a way that honors him and all those around you.
Let us pray. Loving God, you desire us to live peacefully with one another. Sustain us with your willing spirit, that we may walk according to your ways and treat others with dignity and respect. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.