Summary: What Do You Have to Say for Yourself? 1) I am a sinner, totally. 2) I am forgiven, completely. 3) I want to change, radically.
“So what do you have to say for yourself?” If you’ve ever been asked this question, it was probably because you did something wrong. The inventory worker who drops a jar of baby food so that the gooey green stuff splatters the aisle, and the daughter who stays out past her curfew will both be asked: “What do you have to say for yourself?” The butterfingered inventory worker might declare: “This mess isn’t my fault. I tripped over a mop someone left in the middle of the aisle.” And the tardy daughter might mumble: “I don’t know why I have to be back by 10 pm. All my friends get to stay out until midnight.”
Having to explain yourself to a parent or a boss can be quite intimidating. So will having to explain yourself to God. We will have to do this, you know. Some day God is going to ask you to give an accounting of your life. What will you have to say for yourself? I know what King David will say because he wrote a whole psalm on the topic. What David had to say for himself after his sins of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah is what we’ll want to say for ourselves now and come Judgment Day. Let’s find out what that is.
You know well David’s fall into sin with Bathsheba. David saw this beauty bathing when he went for a walk on his palace rooftop one evening (2 Samuel 11). He called for her and slept with her even though Bathsheba was not his wife. I wonder, however, if you know the sin that got David into this mess. No, I’m not thinking of the lust David was guilty of when he saw Bathsheba and desired her. There was another sin David was guilty of even before that. We’re told that it was the spring of the year when kings go off to fight with their armies when David’s tryst happened. David’s army was out fighting but he wasn’t with them. Why not? Did he feel as if he was getting too old for combat? Was he nursing a wound from a previous fight (if so, it must not have been very serious considering what he was still capable of doing)? Whatever the reason, David didn’t do what God had called him to do as king: lead his army. But because of this compromise, David’s life was turned upside down.
It always works this way with compromise. The confirmand finishes with his Bible instruction and says: “I’ll put the Bible and the catechism on my shelf for now. I need a little break from them. I’ll get back to it after summer.” But two months stretches into three and then the busyness of school gets in the way of the personal devotions the confirmand had planned on doing come September. Before he knows it, he’s finished high school and doesn’t even know where his Bible and catechism are anymore. Not a great way to start college or work where his faith will come under even harsher attack.
What are the compromises you’ve made that are hindering your walk with God? Is it a compromise in regard to ethical business practices? Is it a compromise made to a friend who is only interested in what kind of physical satisfaction you can give him? Compromise is never a small matter. It will lead to sins with more serious consequences, as David found out. Not fulfilling his kingly duty as head of the army led David to lust, then commit adultery, and then murder when David sent Bathsheba’s husband to battle with a note to the commander to put him on the front lines where he would be sure to die. And that’s what happened.
Although David’s sins bothered him, as another psalm (Psalm 32) makes clear, he didn’t repent of them. He may never have repented of them had God not been merciful and sent the prophet Nathan to confront the king. About a year after David’s sin with Bathsheba (reminding us that sin doesn’t have a statue of limitations), Nathan appeared in the court and with a clever story got David to see the gravity of his sins. So what did the king have to say for himself? In a song meant to be used in public worship (!) David confessed: “I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge” (Psalm 51:3, 4).
What David had to say for himself was “I am sinful, totally.” There was no shifting the blame to Bathsheba for bathing in the open. There was no downplaying the sin saying that others were doing the same thing so why didn’t God send Nathan to call those sinners to repentance? There was only an honest acknowledgment of what his sin was - not “poor judgment” nor a “mistake” but rebellion (the meaning of one of the words David uses for “sin”) against God who blessed him with so much.