Today’s scripture: Psalm 51 (NRSV) (The Message) (KJV) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Vivian Wyatt):

We all know the story of David and Bathsheba; how David stayed home from battle and wandered onto his rooftop and saw Bathsheba bathing. He lusted after her and had her brought to his palace where he had an adulterous liaison with her. When Bathsheba told him she was pregnant, David had her husband, Uriah, brought home from the battle field so that Uriah could sleep with her and cover up David’s indiscretion. But Uriah had too much integrity to sleep in his warm bed with his wife while his men were still in battle. So David sent him back to war with a message for his commanding officer to place him in the most fiercely fought part of the battle…ensuring that Uriah would be killed.

But, did you know that tradition has it that Psalm 51 was written by David after he had been confronted by Nathan, the priest, about his behavior with Bathsheba and Uriah?

In the beginning, David comes off as arrogant; can’t you see him strutting on his roof thinking “it’s good to be king.” He had many wives and concubines, but he couldn’t resist acting on his desire for Bathsheba. I imagine he felt entitled. After all, he had done so much for Israel. But when Nathan points out the harm he has done, he is broken and contrite, realizing that he had behaved abominably. Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love.

We can take a lesson from David on how to ask for forgiveness from someone we have wronged. David knew he was wrong and he did not try to rationalize, explain or excuse his actions. Neither did he try to blame anyone else. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

Remember Adam and Eve? When God confronted them about eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Adam said “The woman whom YOU gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree and I ate.” Eve said “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.” Adam blamed God and Eve blamed the serpent. David could have said “I was just minding my business on my roof, Bathsheba should have been more careful of where she was bathing” but he blamed no one but himself.

“If Mary Jane hadn’t burned dinner, I wouldn’t have hit her.” “If my company paid me more money, I wouldn’t have to take these supplies home.” “If she had not dressed provocatively…” And on and on. We rationalize and explain to minimize our guilt. When we blame others we give up the power to change. When we blame others we usurp the role of victim, instead of being who we are…the victimizer. We are responsible for our actions…recognizing that is the first step toward being forgiven.

Thought for today: We talk a lot about forgiving others; do you know how to ask for forgiveness when you have wronged someone? Do you blame someone else for “causing” you to behave badly? Take a cue from David, when you are wrong, admit it and ask for forgiveness.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.