The Challenge of Holiness

John Maclaughlan asks what we can learn from the witness of our ‘inward parts’

We know from the heading of Psalm 51 that David composed the Psalm after Nathan had confronted David with the fact of his sin regarding Uriah the Hittite and Bathsheba his wife. In the first four verses of the Psalm, David is acknowledging his sin before the LORD and is looking to the LORD for His mercy. David knows that the sins that he has committed should lead to his execution and he can only cry to the LORD for His mercy.

It appears in verses 5 and 6 that David starts to contemplate more than just what he has done. It is as if David starts to see that the issue is not just what he has done but, rather, who he is! It is too easy to put our sinful actions behind us and ‘move on’; I think that a word used for this today is ‘closure’ . We put the issue behind us and then we intend to go forward having learned from our mistakes. If only we could do that, and if only it were that easy! Such actions can completely miss the root of the problem. What David had done caused him to seriously question himself: How could he have done such things to one of his special ‘mighty men’ (2 Sam 23:39), and with such callousness? How could he show such disregard for the LORD’s Law? David had done what he had done even though, after Samuel had anointed him, we read that “the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward” (1 Sam 16:13). David may well have been completely shocked at what he saw in himself. How could he have stooped to such a depth?


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