Summary: Confess Like King David 1) “I am the problem, Lord.” 2) “You, Lord, are the solution.”
He, a married man with children, seduced and slept with another man’s wife and then arranged to have him murdered. Can you imagine what the headlines would read if the current Prime Minister of Canada was guilty of these sins? He isn’t, as far as I know, but the leader of another country was. I am, of course, talking about the Goliath-slayer, King David. When David’s sins against Bathsheba and her husband Uriah became known, how did the king handle the political fallout? Did he get his chief of staff to deny the charges or call into question Bathsheba’s moral character, as if David’s fall was her fault? No. David openly confessed his sins, not on national television but once before his pastor and then before everyone in at least two poems that he wrote. We’re going to look at one of these poems today, Psalm 51, because it serves as a model confession of sins for us all. We’ll learn that confessing like King David means admitting, “I am the problem, Lord. But you, Lord, are the solution.”
“I am the problem.” How rarely do we admit that when we finally do confess our sins. Like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we find it easy to blame someone or something else for our sin. And so my cutting remarks aimed at my math teacher are blamed on her for giving so much homework. My late-night tirade is blamed on my tiring day. My uncaring attitude towards family is blamed on their unconcern for me. Oh, we know that we’re sinners. We’re willing to admit that and say, “I have a problem, Lord.” But that’s not how David’s model confession went. He said, “I am the problem.” David put it like this: “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight…Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:4a, 5).
In Psalm 51 you won’t find any shifting the blame to Bathsheba for bathing in the open. Nor is there a downplaying of the sin saying that others were doing the same thing so why didn’t God send the prophet Nathan to call those sinners to repentance? There was only an honest acknowledgment by David of what his sin was - not “poor judgment” nor a “mistake” but evil.
David’s model confession should be familiar to Lutherans, for in our worship service we first confess what we are before we confess what we have done. My lack of love for others, my treating God’s Word with indifference only proves that I am a sinner and have been from the moment I was conceived in my mother’s womb.
“So what’s the big deal?” Satan whispers in our ear. “You were born a sinner. It’s only natural that you should sin… Don’t let it bother you.” But David explains well why sin is a problem. In Psalm 51 he used three different picture words for sin: “missing the mark,” “crossing the line,” and “twisting away.” When David lusted after Bathsheba, he had well missed the mark of being pure in all of his thoughts. He crossed the line (again) when he took Bathsheba into his bed, and kept twisting away from God when he arranged to have her husband murdered. In the words of our sermon text last Sunday, David failed to deny himself but instead gave into his sinful passions. He and he alone was the problem.
Because David understood that he was the problem, he knew that there was only one solution. That solution wasn’t promising to try harder to be good in the future. That would be like promising your eye doctor to try harder to read the smallest letters on your eye exam. If you didn’t get it the first time because your eyes are bad, you’re not going to get it the second or third time either. You need outside help. You need a pair of glasses if you’re going to be able to read those letters.
This is why it’s so important that we confess in regard to our sins, “I am the problem, Lord.” Until we do, we won’t ever truly turn to the only solution available to us for our sins. And what is the solution for our sins? Listen to David’s poem: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin… 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow...9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity” (Psalm 51:1, 2, 7, 9).
“I am the problem, Lord, but you are the solution.” That’s what David confessed as he threw himself on God’s mercy and steadfast love. David didn’t beg for a second chance to prove his worthiness of God’s love. Nor did he list the “good” things he had done to convince God that he wasn’t such a bad guy in spite of what he had done to Bathsheba and Uriah. No, the only solution for a problem like David was a God who would blot out his sins.