Read 2 Samuel 12:13; Psalm 51
The apostle Paul wrote, “Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:9-10).
When the prophet Nathan confronted David about the king’s sin, he humbly acknowledged his wickedness and said, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13). It was not mere lip service, but true contrition. He knew he had done something evil, and he knew he had to behave more properly in the future.
David composed the fifty-first Psalm after these events. A 16th-century writer said, “This psalm is the brightest gem in the whole book, and contains instructions so large, and doctrine so precious, that the tongue of angels could not do justice to the full development.”
The king pleaded, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions” (Psalm 51:1). This was no mere lip service; David was truly sorry for the things he had done. It pained him so deeply that he wrote, “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight” (Psalm 51:4).
While it is true that he sinned against Bathsheba and Uriah, the greater sin was against God Himself. In similar fashion, the patriarch Joseph declined Potiphar’s wife’s advances by asking, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9). Certainly, Joseph would have sinned against Potiphar as well, but he recognized that all sin is truly against God above all else.
Perhaps if we had this view of sin we could more easily combat temptations. Considering what God has done for us and how much He loves us, how could we commit sin so easily and so frequently? When confronted with our failures, may we have the same penitent attitude as David, who cried, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7).