If King David were writing his Psalm 51 today, instead of praying, "Lord, blot out all mine iniquities," he would pray, "Lord, erase all those video and audio TV and Internet clips! Please blot out all the newspaper and magazine reports so I can go down in history with a clean moral record!" But God is not a magician--even He cannot erase electronic media, or at least, He won't. And although David prayed, "Blot out all my iniquities," the fact is that the full sordid record of his sin of adultery and cover-up crime of murder is printed there in the Bible for billions of people to read in all ages since, even for children to see. King David has been twisting in the wind of public exposure ever since.
Didn't God answer his prayer?
It depends on what he meant when he prayed. If he wanted only a divine cover-up so he could be spared the embarrassment, the answer is No. But fortunately, what David really wanted was something better: he craved a clean heart. He was willing to take any punishment, even endure the horror of hell, if only he could be "washed thoroughly" from sin itself. "Deliver me from blood-guiltiness," he begged. Like the famous Prodigal Son, he was tired of wallowing in guilt-filth with the pigs. He wanted a clean conscience, let the record or the consequences be as they may. Don't abandon me alone in outer darkness forever, "take not Thy Holy Spirit from me," he prayed in verse 11.
In full, open, voluntary confession (not forced by evidence!) he found what he was praying for: "I acknowledged my sin unto Thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin" (Psalm 32:5). And then he adds in verse 6 the Good News that every sinner longs for: "the floods of great waters" will not drown the repentant sinner. "He that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about" (vs. 10).
If you know anything about what it feels like to be a sinner, you'll rejoice at that Good News!
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 25, 1998.Copyright © 2011 by Robert J. Wieland.
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