“To forgive oneself is like trying to sit in one’s own lap” ~Fredrick Buechner
You know the story of King David, how after being a shepherd boy, he killed the giant Goliath which made him a national hero, Samuel came and anointed him the next King of Israel and because of his popularity, King Saul brought him into the palace where he became best friends with King Saul’s son, Jonathan.
In time both Jonathan and Saul were killed in battle and David became king. He enjoyed military success after success and the years rolled by. One day while his army and best advisors were away battling those pesky Philistines; David, in a fit of boredom, walked out on his palatial terrace and spied a young woman bathing on a roof close by. Because he was King, and had power, brought her to his bedroom, slept with her and sent her home.
She became pregnant from the night with the king and scandal was afoot. David brought her husband home from the army and tried to get him to sleep with his wife to cover up his sin. The honorable husband would not enjoy the conjugal comforts of his own home while his men slept on the battleground away from their families.
David had him killed in battle. Then David kept quiet about it and even began to lie about the incident. This angered God so He brought a prophetic truth-teller named Nathan into his life and pointed out the sin. David is cut to the quick in his heart, sees his own treachery clearly for the first time and begins to write about it in his journal,
I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I have not hidden.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Psalms 32:5
We are experts at minimizing our sin. “I just made a little mistake. I’m only human.” We often deny, hide, refuse, or cover-up before God. Relief comes from telling it to God like it is. David spent a year in silence—speechless and mute before God. When he came to himself he made a confession. And if we are going to be free from our guilt we must do what David did.
…I acknowledged my sin to You… vs. 5
The Hebrew word for “sin” here is a word that means rebellion, revolt, or acts of sedition against the government of God. David broke God’s law, violated his” own conscience, and betrayed other people. But the first step up and out of guilt is to tell God the truth about what we have done.
“…And my iniquity I have not hidden…” vs. 5
Missing the mark. That’s what this different Hebrew word means. We must admit that we have deflected our aim, erred from our own standards. The shepherd boy David never intended to do what the king David did. The author of the 23rd Psalm hardly expected to have to write the 32nd Psalm. He missed the goal that he had set for his own life.
“…I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord…” vs. 5
At the level of doing, we rebel and miss the mark. But that’s not the deepest truth about us. There is something out of alignment that needs to be set straight. There is something warped that needs to be unwarped. David had to admit what he was, not just what he did. The moment we make this three-dimensional confession, we experience the pardon of God.
But we know something better than David knew. He looked back to animal sacrifices and a temple. We look back to Calvary and a Risen Lord. That Lord is now our great Advocate. We need Someone who is worthy to stand before the God of the universe and speak for us.
My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 1 John 2:1
What is an advocate? Someone who pleads your case, someone who speaks for you when you can’t speak for yourself, someone who stands before a judge and makes your case for you. And because of the cosmic nature of our spiritual sedition, we need an eternal Advocate.
We need Jesus.
When we tell it to God like it is and turn to Jesus as our Advocate, our guilt burns away like morning mist in the summer sun. But what do I say, how do I do it?
Let’s say I lied to my wife. Well, first of all, I don’t say I made a little mistake. I say to Jesus, I’ve rebelled against your thrown, I miss the mark, and there is something warped inside of me that only you can plane smooth.
And what does my Advocate say to the God of the universe on my behalf?
He says something like this:
“Father, you see Joe Chambers down there? He has openly rebelled against you, he misses the mark all the time, there is something twisted inside of him that I am working on straightening out.
But Father nearly fifty years ago Joe Chambers gave his life over to my control. And with the help of the Holy Spirit we are changing Joe. Two thousand years ago I left my home in heaven with You and went to earth for him. I left my throne and was born in a feed trough for him. I lived a perfect life for 33 years I taught and lived a life of unparalleled grace and power for him.
When they accused me of open rebellion, I kept my silent, when they said I was missing the mark as a Messiah, I said nothing, when they said something was warped and demonic in me, I picked up a wooden cross and walked up an old rugged hill for Joe Chambers.
I took of my royal crown and put on a crown of thorns, I took off my robes righteousness and died in nakedness. I opened my veins and shed my royal blood. I’ve covered him from head to toe with my doing and my dying and because of that you can forgive him, Father.”
He has a big lap.