Summary: difference between hidden and willing sins
September 23, 2001 Psalm 19
12 Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.
Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
In the 1980’s Don Henley sang a song called “the end of the innocence.” It goes,
Remember when the days were long and the road beneath the deep blue sky didn’t have a care in the world, with mommy and daddy standing by. When happily ever after fails and we’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales, when lawyers dwell on small details, says daddy had to fly. Oh we’ll find a place where we can go still untouched by men, and sit and watch the clouds roll by and the tall grass raise in the wind. You can lay your head back on the ground, and let your hair fall around you, offer up your defense, this is the end of the innocence.
He talks about how life changed for him - when dad left his mom, his fairy tales and happily ever after failed. Then he realized he had left his years of innocence, where everything seemed so good in the world. There is a point in all of our lives that we realize that life doesn’t go as cheery as we’d like. It isn’t all happy and fun. The innocent view of life ends.
In today’s text, David dreams of being blameless in a spiritual way, innocent of great transgression. Is such a goal possible? That’s what we’ll look at today as we consider the theme -
Is There An End of The Innocence?
David started out today’s lesson by asking the question, “who can discern his errors?” That word for discern literally means to make a distinction between. It means to look carefully at something and understand what it is. An error is something you do wrong that you’re not trying to do wrong. This might include something like speeding, answering a question wrongly, or daydreaming during a sermon. When David asked, “who can discern his errors?”, he was admitting that it is impossible for a human being to be able to see his own errors.
About two years ago I was pulled over by the Kansas highway patrol. I knew I wasn’t speeding, and I couldn’t figure out what the officer was pulling the over for. He then informed me that my license plate had not been renewed as it was supposed to be. After I received a ticket of about $70, my error was brought to light. But for at least a half of a year I was unknowingly breaking the law. That’s why David asked the question, “who can discern his errors?” There are literally thousands of ways that we can break God’s laws every day without knowing it. Feeling angry can be an error. Looking at someone in the wrong way can be an error. Not saying hello to someone can be an error. We can even be erring by just sitting on our couches at home. Errors are hard to see because we don’t know what an “error” always is.
Even though it is hard to see our errors, many people will admit that they finally have errors. They’ll say, “I know I’m not perfect. I make mistakes like the rest of us.” You see what statements like this do? They admit to mistakes, but then try to minimalize the seriousness of mistakes. But what did David say? Forgive my hidden faults. Even though David didn’t know what his errors all were, he still asked God to forgive them. He realized that even though he was ignorant that didn’t make him innocent. Ignorance was and is NOT an excuse. In Leviticus 4, God said to Moses, If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD’s commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter, they are guilty. Imagine if you got pulled over for speeding and said, “oh, I’m sorry, I wasn’t trying to speed.” Would an officer say, “oh, you didn’t mean to speed - ok, I’ll let you off?” Of course not. Would a holy God who demands perfection really accept the excuse, “I wasn’t trying,” or, “I didn’t know what I was doing.”? No way. An error is still a sin. And God says, “the wages of sin is death.” In other words, an error is still a sin, and a sin is still damnable, intended or not.
How then should we view our errors? The same way as David! In other words, it is a big deal if two consenting adults have sex before marriage - even if no one “gets hurt,” or “nobody knows about it.” It is a big deal for a child to even give his parent a dirty look. If you can think lying to someone is no big deal, it is a big deal. Even watching the wrong stuff on TV is a serious sin. If you’re thinking, “oh come on pastor. Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Remember this saying, “small sins become great when they are regarded as small.”