For the past couple of weeks my devotions have been in 1 and 2 Samuel. I have always enjoyed the drama of the stories in the two books of Samuel. I do not know if it has something to do with my first name or what, but I sure do appreciate these accounts of God working through people to glorify His name.
David is one of the best known of the Biblical people. He is called a man after God’s own heart. He is known to the Jews as the Sweet Psalmist of Israel and to most of us as the boy who killed a giant with a sling and a stone.
However, in some of David’s actions and reactions we are sometimes forced to ask ourselves, “How could he be a man after God’s own heart?” We know that in 2 Samuel David committed adultery and murder; both of which required the death penalty in the Old Testament. In Leviticus 20:10 (ESV) it says, “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” In Leviticus 24:17 (ESV) it says, “Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death.”
After telling David a parable, Nathan pronounces that David is the man in the story. ”Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul,” 2 Samuel 12:7 (ESV).
He then tells him God’s sense of what he did. “Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites,” 2 Samuel 12:9 (ESV).
David’s immediate response is to confess. “David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’ God knew David’s heart, thus; And Nathan said to David, ‘The LORD also has put away your sin; [you shall not die],’” 2 Samuel 12:13 (ESV).
This is God’s response of mercy to David’s repentant heart. The exciting thing is despite the law and the immensity of David’s sin God, extended mercy to David.
Remember, MERCY = NOT GIVING US WHAT WE DESERVE.
“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy,” Proverbs 28:13 (ESV).
“Who is a God like You, Pardoning iniquity and [passing over] the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in [mercy],” Micah 7:18 (NKJV).
Mercy differs from grace in that mercy does not give us what we do deserve, and grace gives us what we do not deserve. Mercy pardons and forgives our sin; we deserve to be punished for our sin. Grace saves us and makes us children of God with all the blessings that entails; we do not deserve to receive all the blessings this entails.
Back to my question earlier, “How can David be a man after God’s own heart?”
Psalm 51 is one of the best answers to this question. In this Psalm, the first thing you want to look at is the heading. “A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone into Bathsheba.” This is David’s prayer! Look at it and see the crying out after God, the petitions, the humility, and the openness to God.
In verses 1 and 2, you have David’s cry for mercy based of God’s steadfast love and abundant mercy; cries for God to blot out his transgressions, to wash him from his iniquity, and cleanse him from his sin.
Verse 3 shows David’s heart burdened by the knowledge of his sin. Then in verse 4, you have the acknowledgement that really this sin was not against Uriah or Bathsheba but against God and only God. Therefore God was justified and blameless in His judgment of David.
Going on in the passage in verse 5, it shows David’s understanding of his original state as a man while verse 6 declares David’s grasp of what God desires from him. Then again in verse 7-9, David cries out for God to purge and wash his sin, allowing him to hear again the joy and gladness he knew before and restore his broken spirit. In the final gasp and cry for mercy, he cries out “Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.” The summation of verses of 1-9 is David crying out to God to NOT do to him that which he deserves. MERCY!
Is there a sin in our life that you have kept hidden or refused to acknowledge? Stop reading right now and confess it to God and ask for His mercy to cover you. Then continue to read.
David is so confident that God has heard his plea for mercy that he continues to pray and ask God for Grace. Remember, grace is God giving us what we do not deserve.
He begins by asking for a clean heart and a right spirit saying, “Cast me not away from your presence and take not your Holy Spirit from me.” David does not deserve this. He has grievously hurt God and sinned against Him, why should God do this for him?
David is asking for grace! The rest of verses 12-17 are a prayer for grace. Verse 17 is the reason David can be called a man after God’s own heart. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (ESV).
You have asked God for mercy, for forgiveness of sin, to overlook all that you have done, and asked for Him to not give you what you deserve (punishment). Now you are asking for Him to give you what you do not deserve, which are all the blessings of the redeemed. If you know what the sacrifices of God are, He will give you GRACE and you will rejoice and share all He has done for you.
The hope seen in Psalm 51 is a very basic one. If we ask God to forgive our sins, He will do it! Not just forgive, but He will add blessing after blessing after blessing after blessing to us as we learn to walk with Him as David did.