The Buddhist new-year festival, the most important holiday in Laos, is celebrated in April. An important part of this three-day festival is water. Homes and temples are washed. People drench one another with buckets, hoses, and even squirt guns. The water is supposed to wash away sin and bad luck and give everyone a fresh start for the year.
David knew better. No amount of water could wash away his sins of adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11–12). Only God could cleanse and purify his heart and restore the joy of his salvation. Since psalms are addressed directly to God, we’ve included a handful of them in this month’s study. In these conversations with God, His half of the dialogue is implicit or imagined by the poet, as inspired by the Holy Spirit.
In the story related to today’s reading, we know that God started this particular conversation through the prophet Nathan. David may have thought he had gotten away with sin and a brazen abuse of power, but Nathan’s parable prompted a repentant change in the king’s hard heart.
As a result, in Psalm 51, David humbled himself before the Lord (vv. 16–17). He cried out for mercy and forgiveness (vv. 1–2). He confessed his wrongdoing as heinous offenses against a holy God (vv. 3–4). Though God would be just to cast him aside, he prayed for a restoration of the relationship (vv. 10–12). Knowing God as he did, he had reason to hope for this, and anticipated publicly praising the Lord when his petition was granted (vv. 13–15). And we know that this was indeed what happened. Though the child of adultery died as a witness to the nation that God was not to be mocked, David remained king.
Apply the Word
Do we take sin as seriously as David? Do we trust in God’s justice and mercy as fervently as he did? Sin is serious business—God’s unfailing love is our only hope. Thanks to His mercy and grace, second chances are powerful. The joy of our salvation can be restored! After all, Scripture still calls David a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14).