Forgiveness is Hard

When I think of the story of David and Bathsheba, I am amazed that someone considered so holy could fall so far. And in that falling could still be the one chosen by God to do great things. How could God forgive such a deliberate, repetitive, and public offense? He did something wrong, multiple things wrong, yet once he repents, God forgives him. And more than that God forgets it. He chooses him to be anointed, to be king, to be a mighty warrior, a writer of Psalms, even though he knew David would commit such a horrible series of acts. And he calls us to do the same: forgive and accept forgiveness.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

Yes, sure, let’s forgive each other just as God forgave us in Christ. It sounds so simple, but it’s not that easy. Because of sin, it is so much more complicated. We can see this from the beginning of life. In our house, when an offense is committed we make the offender apologize. The second step to this reconciliation is to make the offended say “I forgive you.” My children grumble, fake it, scoff, roll their eyes, and eventually utter the words. They don’t really feel it; they stay angry. And we, as adults, do exactly the same. We may be way better at faking it than our children, but how many of us say the words “I forgive you” and still hold the anger in our hearts? And sometimes we really want to forgive, we really want to get over it, but we also really want the person that hurt us to pay.

And I think maybe even harder than forgiving others, is accepting forgiveness for ourselves. But God forgives us. God forgives us no matter the offense, no matter the amount of times we hit our head against the same sinful wall. He calmly takes our hand, dusts us off, turns us around in the right direction, and immediately forgets. And when we go running back towards that wall he doesn’t sigh, and rolls his eyes. He doesn’t say “Oh here we go again.” He just takes our hand again, turn us around, and sends us on our way. If anything he loves us more, trusts us more, protects us more every time we confess our sin to him, and accept his forgiveness. When we take the steps to be closer to him, he is there waiting. He is always there, but we sometimes ignore him, or sidestep his love to get to the sin we want so badly.

David stayed home from war, saw a pretty lady, and avoided God in order to get what he wanted. It never says that David felt guilty, or that he even paused to consider the repercussions of his actions. However, we just read about him praising God, and bringing his presence to Jerusalem in the form the of Ark of the Covenant, so he obviously knew God; he knew God wouldn’t accept this but he did it anyway. He had several opportunities to consider the cost, to quit while he was ahead, but his sinful nature took over. We always have opportunities to bow out before our sin gets the best of us, but sometimes it’s easier just to soldier on. We’ve started this, let’s just see it through. And it builds, and it builds, and our sin gets worse and worse. And the need to hide from God, from others, from ourselves becomes so great that we literally cannot stop. David had to have Bathsheba, and once he had her, he had to cover his tracks. Not once did he consult with God, or with a friend. His story began with a glance in the wrong direction, and ended with him being an adulterer and a murderer. 

Our sin can sometimes become greater than us, and we can get caught up, and we can feel guilty, but like I said before God forgives. God forgives no matter what the sin. There is no sin greater than the forgiveness of God. There is no amount of the same sin, over and over, that God won’t forgive. Every day as I lay down to sleep I ask the Lord to forgive me for losing my temper with my kids. And I think God just listens and loves, and pulls me closer because I’m being honest. I’m being honest that I screwed up, that I need him and his forgiveness to continue. If I don’t ask, if I don’t admit that this is a sin I struggle with everyday, I can spiral. I can get caught up; the sin can get bigger than me. I can let the sin control me: “I’m a terrible Mom, my kids are terrible, my life is terrible.” It’s not. Eve ate the apple, that’s it. We’re stuck here, but not forever. I can ask forgiveness and the sin is gone. 

And God doesn’t look at me and say “There’s the girl that always yells at her kids, ugh.” He looks at me as a child that he loves. He looks at all of us and sees our beauty, our kindness, our goodness, our humility. If we can repent (admit our sin to God), and ask his forgiveness, the sin is gone, like it never existed.

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

The east and the west never meet, so this distance is far. It’s not measurable; it’s infinite. Once we ask forgiveness from God, our sins are gone. Once David repented (in the next chapter) God no longer sees David as an adulterer, a liar, a schemer, a murderer, he sees  a man after his own heart. When he looks at us he does not see our sin; he does not see liars, gossips, addicts, wanderers, bad parents, thieves, etc. He sees his children whom he deeply loves. He doesn’t forgive us and then hold onto his anger like we do. He doesn’t forgive, and then remember. He sees our potential, our future, our wins. He doesn’t hold past sins over us, and just wait for us to do it again. He walks with us, helps us, and holds us up. And he’s always there to forgive when we need it. 

David sins over and over in this story. We see that he is weak, that he is human, and in that last stinger of a verse we see that God knows it. David’s elaborate cover up doesn’t work on God. In contrast, we also know that God chose David, anointed him, called him, blessed him, and used him for God’s glory. Sometimes our greatest sin, our greatest weakness can be God’s greatest glory. So let’s repent, accept forgiveness, and let God’s glory shine in our weakness. 

Week 8 Reading: Psalm 51, 2 Samuel 12

  1. How does Psalm 51 connect with David’s experience with Bathsheba, and with Nathan?
  2. Have you ever been caught in sin? How did you respond? Who called you out?
  3. Who is your closest friend? Do you think they’d call you out? Why or why not?

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