I have always been so drawn to the way the Bible portrays David. As Rusty said in this past weekend’s message, David was “a Renaissance man generations before the Renaissance.” He was a poet, writing much of the book of Psalms; he was a musician, a warrior, a shepherd and a king. But the thing about him that I love the most is that God referred to him as a man after His own heart. In Acts 13:22, Paul tells us this: 22 But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’ (See 1 Samuel 13:14 for the story this is taken from) I think the last few words of that verse are the key to God’s heart: “he will do everything I want him to do.”
Psalm 38 is one of the psalms of lament, specifically a psalm of petition for God to remember him. David is so aware of his sin that he is suffering physically as a result of it. We don’t have the details surrounding what was going on at this point in David’s life, but whatever he felt he was being chastised by God over, was causing him physical pain.
The beginning and ending of Psalm 38 have David requesting God to remove His discipline and rescue him. Sandwiched in between are two verses that stuck out to me:
4 My guilt overwhelms me— it is a burden too heavy to bear.
18 But I confess my sins; I am deeply sorry for what I have done.
David feels the full weight of his sin and the guilt of it is too much. That guilt leads him to confession and sorrow for what he has done. As hard as this psalm is to read, it is such a beautiful picture of what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 7:10:
For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.
To be a man or woman after God’s heart is to be broken over our sin because we recognize that sin always causes distance in our relationship with God. David knew that well and he also knew that what God wanted most from him was a heart that was willing to follow God’s lead.
16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. Psalm 51:16-17
Executive Director of Education and Outreach