“For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me. Against You—You alone—I have sinned and done this evil in Your sight. So You are right when You pass sentence; You are blameless when You judge.” (Psalm 51:3–4, HCSB)
If you are at all familiar with the stories of the Old Testament, then you know of King David’s lust for the bathing Bathsheba. (See 2 Samuel 11) David sees her bathing, calls her to his home, forces himself on her and sends her away. When she tells him that she is pregnant, David decides to cover up the consequences of his lust by recalling her deployed husband, Uriah, from the battlefront. David’s plan fails when Uriah’s integrity is greater than his. Uriah doesn’t go home, doesn’t sleep with his wife and David’s plan fails. Finally, in an act of selfish and cold-blooded murder, David sends orders for a mission where Uriah is sure to die in.
With the death of Uriah, all seems to be right. That is, until David is confronted by Nathan the prophet with a disciplining word from God. Truly, we learn from David’s story the truth of the New Testament writer James: “But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.” (James 1:14–15, HCSB)
Psalm 51 is David’s prayer of repentance for his rebellion to God. In it, we discover the catastrophic effects of rebellion and lust, as well as the hope in God’s grace once there.
- Rebellion’s stain on the soul can only be removed by God. (Psalm 51.7) David’s life is shattered by the reality that the consequences of his sin are deep within. He longs for the cleansing only God can produce (1 John 1.9). Lust’s stain is so indelible, only the cleansing power of God can remove it.
- Rebellion’s effect on the soul crushes the life out of you. (Psalm 51.8-9) Guilt tears joy from one’s life. Until the cleansing power of God is realized in the life of the rebellious, the consequences of one’s actions sap the very life from each moment. Who can live knowing they have failed God so much when He has entrusted them with so much?
- Rebellion’s effect on the heart dirties and creates unfaithfulness. (Psalm 51.10) The weakness of one’s character is now reflected in the mirror each time we look. The shame of our sin and disloyalty to God and all we say we have held dear now haunt us. No matter where we go, we cannot escape the failure that is within us.
- Rebellion’s effect on the mind causes fear of banishment from God’s presence. (Psalm 51.11) In the night watches, when sleep evades us, we wonder how God could ever forgive such a heinous act? We know the character of God is forgiving, compassionate, but surely those are for people whose sin is much less than ours. Gnawing away at our mind, these destructive thoughts are like mice in an attic.
- Rebellion’s effect on the emotions produces a loss of joy and a feeling of dishonor. (Psalm 51.12) The wilderness of waste. How can there be joy and gladness when we have thrown away the blessings of God on the momentary satisfactions of our self? How can my compliance with culpability ever find a path back into His presence of pleasure? Day after day the horror of my “have-to” nature drains the fuel of my once-joyous faith.
If only I choose to return to God. Confess it all and plead His mercy and grace. Then, and only then, can I escape this pit of pain. And so, David instructs us to make the only choice available to us:
“The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart.” (Psalm 51:17, HCSB)
- Rebellion’s effect on the future can create an opportunity to teach other rebels God’s ways, if one repents and is forgiven. (Psalm 51.13) And with confession comes restoration to God’s side. Battered and bruised, stricken and now scarred, this forgiven child can once again be useful to the Master.
After walking through the process of restoration, once regaining his integrity through transparency, accountability and humility, David assures us we can become an object lesson and the teacher of others who are lost in the lure of their lust. Truly the rebellion of lust has consequences that will span generations. However, once returned and restored, the humble child of God can take on the mission of prevention in the lives of others.