For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart (Psalm 51:3-6).
Knowledge of our sin, if God is at work, will bring guilt of our sin. And I submit to you that having guilt over your sin is a gift. Think about it: how many psychology books are out, how many talk shows are on the air, how many water cooler conversations take place that try to get you to get over your guilt? Some find distractions to take their minds of unconfessed sin. Many have taken to the bottle or to other substances to try to escape that guilt. Some even go the route of suicide.
Rather than running from guilt, we need to own it for what it is. David knew his sin—he couldn’t hide from it. And even though Nathan brought it out to the light of day, that did not mean that God wasn’t bringing it out of the privacy of his heart and soul. I think of Psalm 32, where David wrote: “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer” (Psalm 32:3-4). It’s the old adage, “Wherever you go, there you are.” Another one is there, “Wherever you go, you can’t get away from you.”
Why? You say, “My sin is a personal thing—it doesn’t affect anyone else.” I direct you, then to verse 4: “Against you and you alone have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” How does this happen? David sinned against his country, his army, against Bathsheba, against Uriah—a lot of people. But David didn’t just add God to the list, but said, “Against you and you only.” How is this?
I’ve heard folks over and over talking about revival (I don’t know if they mean revival meetings or if they are talking about revivals as movements of God—and I would suggest that the latter is the only true definition of revival). When talking on revival, Stephen Olford once said, “Revival is an invasion from heaven that brings a conscious awareness of God.” We realize that anytime we sin against one of His imagebearers (another human), we’ve sinned against God. This conscious awareness of God is also a conscious awareness of our sin and a conscious awareness of those around us whom he has created.
This comes to such a crucial point. In the backhalf of verse 4, David finds himself rejoicing greatly that God was true to His Word. God, you are just! You are right! I have sinned! Thank you for staying consistent in your judgment and not letting my sin go by the wayside.
So what is the manner? “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (51:5). Is this an indictment of his mother? No, this is an indictment on all of humanity. In our day, the conscious awareness of God and the conscious awareness of sin are not married. Yet, Scripturally and for the majority of church history, theologians recognized that the more you are consciously aware of the holiness of God, the more consciously aware of your lack of holiness—that is, your sinfulness—before God.