David was in a season of turmoil. His family was a mess; there were many reasons for the messiness, and one of David’s advisors wanted to help him clean it up. He drafted a woman to tell David a parable.
The parable consisted of a widow with two sons. One son murdered the other, and the community shouted for the murderer’s head. If he was convicted, the widow would have no hope of continuing her family line. She pleads for mercy from the king.
David compassionately says she should receive mercy. Then, the woman applies the parable to David’s situation.
She points out David has a banished son needing reconciliation, and reminds David God himself makes plans to enable a banished person to be reconciled to the Lord. 2 Samuel 14:14 says, “All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again, but God does not just sweep life away. Instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.”
Mistakes; they have been made. Regrets exist. The list of things we would not do or redo can be extensive, but God knows how to handle all of it.
God has devised a plan to restore us to the family.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only son, so everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his son into the world, not to judge the world but to save the world through him,” Jesus explains in John 3:16-17.
Jesus also says in John 10:10, “The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”
Jesus is the plan which enables man and God to reconcile.
Isaiah writes, “Yet it was our weaknesses that he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down, and we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins. But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole; he was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own, yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all” (Isaiah 53:4-6).
All of this was so he could bring us grace. “But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief, yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants, he will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied, and because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous. For he will bear all their sins” (Isaiah 53:10-11).
Jesus came knowing all of this was going to be done, and he didn’t back away from any of it. He went through with the Lord’s plan so he could bring us grace, and he invites us to come and find peace with him.
He was innocent, yet the people brought many false charges against him. The Roman official couldn’t find any reason to charge him, so he gave the people a choice. Who did they want released? The innocent or a known murderer were the options, and the people shouted for the murderer to go free.
The trial came, and he remained silent. He offered no defense or accusation against his accusers. He was silent through it all: the trial, the verdict, and the punishment. He was innocent, but he remained silent for us.
Why did he remain silent?
“He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream, but he was struck down for the rebellion of my people” (Isaiah 53:7-8).
His silence was a gift to us. He was innocent, but no one else was, so Jesus exchanged places with the guilty; Jesus exchanges places with all of us so we could find peace with God. He did this all for us.
He came from the Father full of grace and truth. He was full of mercy and love. His compassion ran deep, and his actions for us were bold. For us, his love was immeasurable, and he did what only he could do.
For us, he carried weaknesses and sorrows that did not belong to him. They were ours, but he carried them for us (Isaiah 53:4).
For us, he was beaten so we could be whole; he was whipped, so we could be healed (Isaiah 53:5).
For us, he was pierced and crushed (Isaiah 53:5).
For us, he was unjustly condemned (Isaiah 53:8).
He is Jesus, and his love for us compelled him to help us by doing what only he could do. He took our guilt so we could have peace.
We kick ourselves when we’re down. We beat ourselves up today for yesterday’s mistakes. We know we’ve messed up, so we feel guilty. Having feelings of guilt is certainly a shared experience.
A Psychology Today post reports, “We experience 5 hours a week of guilty feelings. One study found that if you add up all the moments you spend feeling mildly or moderately guilty, it adds up to a pretty significant chunk of time.”
It is not that we experience Guilt which causes a problem. It is our handling of the guilty feelings which makes a difference. Guilt is a trigger that can lead us to action, and it can be used by the Lord to help us discover true peace.
Guilt can be the tool which drives us to the Lord. Our guilt can push us to fully accept the Lord’s grace. Those mistakes, those failures of the past can create much guilt, but we can be set free in God’s grace.
Notice the words of Psalm 103:12, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”
Look to the east. Now, look to the west. The horizon stretches as far as we can see. Through Christ, that is how much distance there is between us and those mistakes of yesterday. The Lord offers us peace through his grace, and he invites us to rest in his peace rather than wrestle in our guilt. Challenge yourself to rest rather than wrestle today.
Offer this post to a friend as a source of encouragement.
Rejection. This is one of our deepest fears; we all want to belong, and the fear of someone rejecting us keeps us from moving. It may keep us from asking for that date or applying for that great job. And, it may be keeping some of us from asking for the Lord’s forgiveness.
We feel our lives are too messed up; there is no way the Lord wants to mess with someone like us. But, we are assured that is not true. We can be confident the Lord will never reject our request for forgiveness.
He was taking a stroll on the rooftop, looking over the kingdom he ruled, when someone caught his eye. She was beautiful, and he longed to spend some time with her. He sent for her, and she spent the night with him in the palace. The next morning, with the one-night stand over, he sent her home.
Some time later, she sent him a message informing him they were expecting a child. This was a problem because her husband had been on the battlefield for a long period of time, so the king thought he could trick the man into coming home and spending the night with his wife. After all, this would keep their affair secret. It didn’t work, so David eventually gave orders for Uriah to be killed in battle, and Bathsheba became his wife.
The Bible tells us the Lord sent Nathan to David to deliver a rebuke for his sins. It seems David is filled with guilt and shame because of his actions, and after Nathan’s visit, David pleads for forgiveness as he writes Psalm 51.
“Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love, because of your great compassion,” David writes. “Blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean of my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion, for it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, I have sinned. I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just…. Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean. Wash me and I will be whiter than snow. O, give me back my joy again. You have broken me, now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins; remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God, renew a loyal spirit within me.”
David realized he messed up. In recognizing his mistake, David understood the Lord would forgive him, so David asked for forgiveness. We read in the Bible the Lord did forgive David, and he will forgive us as well.
We know we’ve messed up, and the Lord invites us to exchange that guilt for the peace he offers. Jesus invites us to exchange our heavy load of guilt for his light load of peace (Matthew 11:28-30), so make that exchange today.
“Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!
The Lord gives righteousness and justice to all who are treated unfairly.”
Think about the picture these words paint of God. Dwell on his forgiveness and mercy. This Psalm goes on to remind us the Lord can take away our guilt, so challenge yourself to allow the God described above to be the Lord of life today.
They were afraid. The last hours and days have been anything but restful. Some in the group narrowly escaped fighting and arrest a few nights ago as an angry mob arrested their leader Jesus. They watched as the mob had him tortured and executed. They know his tomb is empty, but they are unsure of how or why. Thoughts of peace are replaced with a constant wondering about the next happening and how to get away from those who are against them. They do not know who is the next to be arrested or even worse, so they are gathered behind locked doors in a secret location plotting a path forward.
The disciples are consumed by fear and anxiety, but Jesus does not leave them alone. John 20:19 says, “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
As the disciples are sitting in an anxious and fear-filled room, Jesus shows up to bring peace. The peace Jesus brings to the disciples is for the past, present, and future. They are surrounded by uncertainty, yet Jesus says they can have peace. And, the peace Jesus brings on this night is the same peace he offers to us.
We live in uncertain times. Some folks struggle with letting go of past mistakes, while others are fearful of the future. To all though, Jesus says, “Peace be with you.”
Jesus offers peace with God. Through his work on the cross, Jesus bridged the gulf between man and God. Scripture helps us understand.
“Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us,” points out Paul in Ephesians 2:18.
He writes in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”
And Romans 8:1 proclaims, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”
Because of Christ, we can have peace with God. Yesterday’s mistakes are forgiven and forgotten, so we don’t need to feel guilty any longer. Just look at what he did for Peter.
Peter boldly stated he would never deny Jesus; he would follow him to the very end, but when pressure mounted, Peter crumbled. He denied Jesus not once but three times, and after the third time, Mark says, “Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept.” Peter knew he made a mistake. The Lord also knew Peter made a mistake, yet Jesus brought Peter peace. He was present when Jesus appeared to the disciples, and the Gospel writers tell us Jesus appeared to Peter earlier in the day, restoring their relationship. Peter did not have the power to make peace with God, so Jesus did it for him.
To spite his failures and all that Peter had done wrong, Jesus brings him peace with God. Can you imagine the relief Peter must have felt?
What about you? You know you’ve made mistakes; perhaps you remind yourself of it daily. The Lord also knows you’ve made mistakes, yet Jesus comes bearing the greeting, “Peace be with you.” You and I did not have the power to make peace with God, so Jesus did it for us. To spite the failures and mistakes of the past, Jesus gives us peace with God, and he freely gives it to us. In John 14:27, Jesus says, “I am leaving you a gift,” and that gift is peace with God.
It is in knowing the Lord is walking with us that we find peace for the future. Again, Scripture helps us understand.
“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus,” writes Paul in Philippians 4:7.
Notice again Jesus’ words in John 14:27, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
Because of an empty tomb, you and I can have peace even if it is a turbulent time. The world may be swirling around us, but no matter what happens, the victory is ours through Christ. Remember the promise of Romans 8:37, “No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” Jesus isn’t leaving us alone to struggle. He is coming along side us and saying, “Peace be with you!”
This was the message that came to David. Ordinarily, these are exciting words, but for David, they are frightening words. It is going to be clear he committed adultery. It is going to be clear he slept with another man’s wife. It is going to be clear he sinned.
So, David tries to fix it himself.
2 Samuel 11 records David sending for Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, and having Uriah come home from the battlefield. If Uriah sleeps with Bathsheba, then everyone will assume Uriah is the father of the child. This doesn’t work though; Uriah is so loyal to his comrades that he refused to go home.
David tried getting Uriah drunk. If a sober Uriah wouldn’t go home, maybe a drunken Uriah would desire his wife’s company over loyalty, but Uriah still did not go home.
Another failure didn’t stop David. 2 Samuel 11 records his next move:
14 So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver. 15 The letter instructed Joab, “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.” 16 So Joab assigned Uriah to a spot close to the city wall where he knew the enemy’s strongest men were fighting. 17 And when the enemy soldiers came out of the city to fight, Uriah the Hittite was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers.
The Lord was displeased.
2 Samuel 11 tells us the Lord was displeased with David’s actions, and he summoned Nathan, a prophet, to pay David a visit. This was an unwelcomed visit filled with bad news. It thrust David’s sin with Bathsheba right in front of his face; he could not ignore it. It also served as a reminder of the Lord’s grace.
Not our actions, but God’s grace.
After chatting with Nathan, David wrote the words of Psalm 51. This is a great reminder of the Lord’s gracious response to us. Notice verse 1:
Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins.
David wasn’t appealing for mercy and forgiveness based on his own actions. His request had nothing to do with what he had done; it had everything to do with the Lord’s character. David’s hope was in God’s unfailing love and great compassion. Left alone David made a bigger mess, but with the Lord, David found true forgiveness.
The same unfailing love and great compassion David saw in the Lord is there for us. Perhaps we’ve tried fixing our mistakes only to make a bigger mess, but the Lord can wash away our guilt just like he did David’s.