I messed up big time. Now what?
Enamoured by the beauty of Bathsheba bathing on the roof top, David was drawn into temptation’s lethal clutches and invited her into his bed chamber.
Little did he realise that a moment of weakness was about to change his life forever.
The alarming news of her pregnancy prompted David to set in motion a nasty web of deceit and treachery, culminating in the death of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah the Hittite. Ironically, Uriah was one of the most valiant warriors in the Israelite army. And he was fiercely loyal to David. Yet, David conspired to have him sent to the frontline, knowing there was a great chance of him being killed in action. Why?
David realised that the consequences of his actions were huge. He faced the stark reality of a brewing scandal, waiting to bubble over and rock the nation. It would not only shatter his reputation and integrity as a statesman, but bring untold pain and suffering upon his family. Perhaps lurking in his subconscious was the troubling thought of the Law of Moses, stipulating that adultery meant death by stoning.
David moved swiftly to rectify his disgraceful deed. But, it was a case of taking desperate measures of the wrong kind. So much so that in his mind the only way he could save the day was through a massive covert operation. And he almost succeeded...until about a year later when the prophet Nathan, snapped David out of denial mode, and brought him face to face with his scandalous actions.
No way out
Reality then struck a heavy blow, piercing the very heart and core of David’s being as he became acutely aware of how he had messed up...big time! Psalm 51 gives a stirring account of his emotional outpouring of anguish and despair; “Have mercy on me O God according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion...wash away my iniquity...against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.”
What do you do when, like David, your life goes belly up and there seems to be no way out? Perhaps you are caught in the vice of an affair or addiction of some sort. What about the stuff that may be currently happening to you because of a terrible mistake you made in a moment of weakness? And let’s not forget the bad decision that went horribly wrong and changed your life forever, whether you suffered severe financial losses as a result or other frightening consequences?
Talk to someone you can trust
Psalm 51 continues to provide us with remarkable insight on how David began to piece his life together at a time when his future was looking very bleak. A wonderful testimony of how we can move forward when paralysed by hopelessness.
Firstly, we need to appreciate the help of a close advisor in Nathan, who challenged David to come to terms with the severity of his transgression. Talking to a trusted advisor or friend during a deep crisis of this nature can make all the difference in helping one rise above near impossible circumstances. David only fully grasped that his worst nightmare was not just a bad dream when Nathan courageously confronted him. He then came to terms with the reality of what he had done and accepted full responsibility for his own actions. He became very aware of how he had let God down, and disappointed his family as well as the people of Israel. Taking personal ownership of the harm caused by one’s destructive deeds is a vital first step in the right direction.
Soul searching in the presence of the Triune God is also an essential key in making a life changing breakthrough. David highlights this in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” It is interesting to note how God, who is familiar with all our ways (verse 3), brought David’s blind spots to the surface through Nathan.
Soul searching often helps us identify certain ongoing destructive lifestyle patterns that may be hurting us and others. Recognising and accepting these behaviour patterns offers a unique opportunity to break the cycle of pain through Christ and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. It appears, on examination of David’s behavioural lifestyle, that he had a weakness for women.
We read earlier in the opening passages of Psalm 51 about how David, without hesitation, plunged into the loving embrace of a merciful God who is full of compassion. Drawing close to God and surrendering completely to his unfailing love strengthens us spiritually and inspires hope that God will make a way. He exclaimed, “Wash me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow...let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from me and blot out all my iniquity.”
David desperately wanted to restore the intimate relationship he once enjoyed with God. This undoubtedly suffered during his affair with Bathsheba and all the deceptive machinations that followed. He was mindful of God’s unconditional love and knew that the Lord was ready to forgive and help him move forward, even though he had committed a heinous deed.
In his grief-stricken condition David cried out; “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me...my sacrifice O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” Here is the pinnacle of a beautiful story about how God’s amazing grace heals the broken hearted and transforms our lives in Christ.
Today, we are bombarded by an endless stream of ‘bathing on the rooftop’ scenarios. Temptation beckons around every corner; far more alluring than was ever imaginable during David’s era. Instantly available at the click of a button! Families are being torn apart by adultery and the Christian community is no exception.
A repentant pastor testifies; “My addiction and adultery all took place while serving as a pastor. A 20 year addiction to pornography, chat rooms and illicit phone calls...my wife had had enough...her despair over our marriage and the 8 years of hurt I put her through left her clinically depressed, filled with anxiety and faithless.
I cried out to God and Jesus has done far more abundantly than I could think or imagine. I know today that I am free, redeemed, delivered, unchained...By God’s grace, what I thought was impossible is now my testimony. The chains that bound me for decades are gone. The blood of Jesus has washed me clean! God has even seen fit to restore my dead marriage.”
We are all flawed members of the human race and vulnerable to making mistakes, sometimes of the worst kind.
Consider the comforting words of Hebrews 4:14-16 “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to feel sympathy for our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Jesus abides in our humanity and relates to our weaknesses. His grace is always ready to touch our lives...healing our brokenness in every way, personally, emotionally and psychologically. Proverbs 24:16 says, “For though the righteous fall seven times they rise again” and Micah 7:8 adds, “Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.”
To quote US Judge and Senator, Hugh White (1773 - 1840) “When you make a mistake, don’t look back at it long. Take the reason of the thing into your mind and then look forward. Mistakes are lessons of wisdom. The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power.”
Yes! When we mess up big time, Christ’s unfailing love and forgiveness will bestow upon us a peace of mind that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Jesus has given us the freedom to walk in the melody of his grace, as he empowers us through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to make a fresh new beginning, no matter what we have done in the past.