I have…it feels awful.
…that pit in your stomach, fear of being found out…avoiding mirrors so you don’t have to face yourself, and then getting busy doing the “good things” to try and make up for the really bad ones?
I have lived here, with the ugliness and weight of my sin pressing down on me…
…despairing, ashamed and running –in my pride & fear of being found out
…sorrowful and seeking the face of God- in my humility & security in God’s love for me.
Can you relate?
Maybe it is just me… but I am comforted that the man after God’s own heart, a hero of the bible did this too.
Read: Psalm 51:16-17
Today’s passage looks at David who has really messed up! He commits two major sins breaking Commandments #6 and #7. And then he tries to hide it, as if God doesn’t see and know!
(we read this with a shocked look on our faces… clucking our tongues at his sin and then his foolish efforts to cover it up..)
We do this too though…don’t we?
We are sinners … just like David; we have broken the laws of God and rebelled against Him, however subtly.
And…We try to hide our sin. Like the toddler who covers his face with his hands and says you can’t see me.
Or…We work extra hard, try to make up for our sin- “offer sacrifices, do penance” and maybe even feel better…briefly.
Until we pause and allow the Holy Spirit to get though all our trappings of pride, self-sufficiency and fear, with the conviction that it is quite simple, we have sinned against God
And there is only one way to deal with it—a broken and contrite heart. A heart “bruised”” by our sinfulness, we face our choice to rebel and act of our own accord and we “come apart” in the face of God’s holiness.
David says, “against You Lord only have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight.” Ps 51:4
Yes, David has wronged Uriah and Bathsheba.
But David’s (capital) S.I N. is against God –whose laws he has broken, whose goodness he has questioned. David’s heart is broken and contrite because he realized and admits that he has SINNED against God.
Sin, by definition in the Bible, is not wronging another person. It is an assault on the glory of God, rebelling against God. Sin, by definition, involves a relationship with God, who is our Lord.
David isn’t minimizing the impact of his actions here. He is actually magnifying them as true rebellion against his God. It is in the face of this reality David realizes there is nothing he can “do” to make it better. .. No sacrifice, burnt offerings, good work, or effort will make a difference in his relationship with God- only a broken and contrite heart…
David expresses his deep sense of guilt and his desperate need for God’s forgiveness and cleansing. As he grieved over his sin, he came to the Lord with the sacrifice of “a broken and a contrite heart.”
David says he is the one who is ‘crushed and beaten down’ –weighed down by his guilt and sorrow over the sin again a holy and loving God.
Have you ever felt that way? The weight of sin that clings so closely…like the oppressive heat on a humid summer day sucking air out of you- making it hard to breathe? It is a hopeless and helpless feeling.
David’s hope is based not in his evaluation of self, but in his evaluation of God. Because God remains faithful, hope is possible. The broken and contrite heart is one that is thankful for forgiveness. The joy of forgiveness doesn’t end the sorrow over our sin, but the more we are forgiven, the greater the depth of our gratitude.
I picture it looking a bit like this…
We come to God with the mess we have made and admit our failure, rebellion, selfishness to Him and repent of our hardheartedness. Our ego, our pride and self-sufficiency are humbled, broken crushed in the face of our sin.
...this is scary at first, can I trust that God will be gentle with me?… not everyone has, specifically those I have harmed…
exposure is hard… admitting the ugliness in my heart out loud to God, (even though He knows it anyway) makes me uncomfortable…I am tempted to minimize or justify my sin.
brokenness and repentance come when I allow the Holy Spirit to convict my heart and I am truly crushed by the reality of my sinfulness…
then… my plans, attempts , rebellion are shattered to pieces- my heart is broken and contrite as I acknowledge and admit that I have sinned against a Holy God…
We seek forgiveness with a humble and broken heart, no excuses, raw honesty about our motivations and subsequent actions…
With open hands… we allow God who knows us and sees us to take the burden of our sin and because of the blood of Christ we are forgiven, redeemed and restored. We add nothing to the transaction.
We have hope because Jesus came to bind up the broken hearted. Literally “to put together” that which is broken. Because of the cross, “It is finished” and we can rise from the ashes and begin again.
Imagine if we did this as soon as we realize our sin, instead of hiding and hoping we don’t get caught?
What freedom would we live in if we stopped trying to “make it right” and just fell on our faces before God with broken and contrite hearts confessing: I need saving and I need mercy…
Listen to: Have Mercy on Me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbs9wOOkwpM
I love this reflection from Warren Wiersbe: a bible scholar & theologian.
Have you ever studied the broken things in the Bible? A woman broke a vessel at the feet of Jesus and anointed Him. Jesus took bread and broke it as a picture of His body given for us. God uses broken things, and He starts with broken hearts. This is what repentance is all about. God doesn’t listen to the lips. He doesn’t measure a material sacrifice. He looks at the heart and says, “If your heart is broken, then I can cleanse it.”
When David sinned, he could have brought all kinds of sacrifices. But they would not have pleased the Lord. God was waiting for the sacrifice of a broken heart. That’s why David said, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart–these, O God, You will not despise” (v. 17). David’s sins should have brought him condemnation and death. He committed adultery, and he murdered a man. No sacrifice could be found in God’s sacrificial system for this kind of flagrant, rebellious, deliberate sin. But David did not die. Even though no sacrifice was available for his sin at the time, God looked down the corridors of time and saw a cross where Jesus Christ would die for David’s sin.
God looks at the heart, not the hand. He wants sincerity from the heart, not religious routine.
A broken heart is not remorse, nor is it regret. It is repentance, a turning away from sin. It’s telling God you hate sin, are judging it and claiming his forgiveness. Bring to Him the sacrifice of a contrite heart.
broken -(shabar) means to break into pieces, to hatter, smash, to cause to come apart
“The broken person is one who responds to the convicting ministry of the Spirit by turning from self and unto God and manifesting this change of heart in their thoughts, words and deeds (repentance). The antithesis of a broken person is the self-centered, self-made, hard hearted individual who refuses to humble themselves and repent. The fundamental distinction between a hard heart and a broken heart is seen in how one reacts when confronted in their sin. The contrite heart chooses to be humbled and to repent.” (J.J. Stewart Perowne)
contrite: (dakah) means to crush to break into pieces, smash, hammer or beat out.
dakah is used figuratively in this passage to describe David who is crushed, beaten down, bruised emotionally and spiritually because he is weighed down with his sense of guilt, and his recognition that his sin is clearly against a holy and loving God.
“The crushing events of life do not automatically make one contrite. They may result either in bitterness or genuine contrition. Broken/contrite must therefore be distinguished from actions that leave one devastated, immobilized, crushed, hardened or embittered. The contrite, the person broken in the right place, has been bruised or crushed in a way that results in true humility. This person does not carry the anger, fear of punishment or lowered self-esteem that characterize the bitter person. Adversity or a heightened awareness of sin can result in a stripping away of the natural pride, leaving a tender and contrite heart.” (Dictionary of Biblical Imagery)
“The idea of these two words (shabar and dakah) deals with humility, submission, shaping and surrender. An object which has been broken has succumbed to the power of a greater force. The blacksmith with his hammer molds and shapes the metal into his image and will. The metal yields to the flame and the hammer over time. The broken and contrite heart is one that is yielded to the will and power of God in his life.
The flame of trials, trouble, and tribulation and the hammer of hurt, pain, suffering, and chastisement bring the person to a point where he raises the white flag of “repentance and surrender” to the Lord. The spirit of humility, openness, and teachableness of such a person says, “I repent. Here am I. Do what you wish in my life. Mold me, make me, or break me into what you want me to be. Lead my life and I will follow and trust in you.” This is the sacrifice and offering that God wants from us. He wants us to offer a heart that is tender and yielded to Him. This is what He values. He will not despise or treat with contempt someone who has a heart like this.” (Ron Matton, Treasures from Treasures Psalms)
Daily Lectionary Readings:
Jonah 3:1-10; Psalm 34:8, Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 16-17; Luke 11:29-32
If you want to read through the New Testament during Lent (about 1/2 hour a day)
Read on Day 8: Mark 1-5