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Confession

July 4, 2021



As you may remember from a year or so ago, when the pandemic first began last Spring, we as a church worshipped on the radio and the radio only for about 2.5 months. And during that time we tried to recreate the service as best as we could, with hymns, prayers, readings and a message just like a typical service. And one Sunday I added a Prayer of Confession followed by a time of silent confession. And when I sent the recording to the radio station I forgot to mention that I had built in an intentional 15 seconds of silence for us to pray prayers of confession from home. Yet of course, in the radio world, dead air is frowned upon, maybe we could even say borderline sinful and so naturally they cut the intentional silence out and the service simply transitioned immediately to the next part. And I was talking to someone from our church later that week, and they commented on the lack of confession time and they jokingly said to me, “You know that wasn’t nearly enough confession time for my spouse.”


Pretty good, right? And I’ll never tell you who told me that, otherwise they might be the doghouse for eternity. Anyway, though this person wasn’t trying to be funny, truth is, it’s hard to capture a better way to summarize our culture’s understanding of confession. Where confession is good and needed from time to time, sure, but for everyone else of course, not so much for me.

This spring (and now into summer I guess) we’ve been doing a series on the Life of King David, and today’s message will be our final sermon of the series. Next week we’ll start a summer sermon series on the “I am” statements of Jesus, and next week one of our elders, Russ Richardson will kick off that series on “I am the good shepherd,” but of course, as I’ve said before, we’ll save next week for next week. As for our series on King David, last week, we looked at the tragic and sobering account of David’s adultery with Bathsheba followed by his desperate attempts to cover up his sin, culminating in the death of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband. And from where we left things off last week, David believes he’s gotten away with it all and that he has successfully covered up his sin. But yet, David could not have been more wrong.


To David’s surprise, God sends the prophet Nathan to confront David in his sin. And Nathan confronts David in a rather strange, but ultimately effective way, (you can read the whole account in 2 Samuel 12) To summarize, Nathan shares a parable in which a rich and powerful man acts unjustly towards a poor and powerless man. And hearing this parable, David is furious, saying the rich man should be punished and deserves to die.


And Nathan, with the final reveal says, to David, “David, you are that man!” For David acted unjustly and abused his power in sleeping with Bathsheba and then tried to cover it up with Uriah’s death.

All of a sudden, through Nathan’s parable and forceful confrontation, David is seeing the weightiness and devastating effects of his sin like never before and says to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”



And it’s in response to all this that we find ourselves with Psalm 51, the Psalm that Aaron read just moments ago. Here we have some of David’s first words after being confronted with his sin. And it’s in this Psalm that we’ll camp out for a few minutes today.



Here in Psalm 51 we find what is in the many ways the essential aspects and components of true and genuine confession. Through this psalm can learn from David’s example of what true confession looks like in our everyday life, for sins both big and small. And so for today, four things I want us to see in David’s confession, and each one will be rather brief.

Here’s the first:

Sorrow and Ownership

Within David’s words here are genuine sorrow and contrition. He says,

3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight,

He acknowledges the gravity and ugliness of his sin. As we discussed briefly last week, to confess simply means “to agree with” and here David is agreeing with God that what he has done is both sinful and evil. And this is a full 180 from what we see in David after finding out about Uriah’s death, where he says to the messenger who relayed the message to him, “Do not let this matter trouble you, for the sword devours now one and now another.” He’s effectively saying, “People die war, that’s what happens, carry on now.” Those are compassion-less words that show just how nonchalant and numb David had become to sin and death. But no longer, here he’s showing genuine sorrow for his sin and seeing it for what it truly is.

In addition, David takes full ownership of his actions. There is absolutely zero blame shifting or excuse making. Nothing like, “Hey, it was a rare slip up. I get it right most of the time” or even worse, “Hey, Bathsheba’s beauty made me do it. I couldn’t resist.” No, no. None of that. Instead, total and complete ownership.

Earlier this week, Callie and I were putting in a window A/C unit in one of our upstairs bedrooms and it turned out to be tougher to install than we both thought. On top of the 90 heat, Caleb was crying, Noah was yelling, and meanwhile Callie and I were trying to read the directions that I swear were written in 6 point font and diagrams that might as well have been from a ROAR - SHARK test. Now, do all those factors make it tougher to install the AC? Absolutely. But do they justify me being short tempered and snappy towards my family? Absolutely not. And afterwards, when I finally came to my senses, I confessed my sin to Callie and to the Lord as well.

David shows genuine sorrow and takes full ownership over his sin. That’s the first takeaway here’s the second:

Forgiveness and Transformation

Notice what David hopes for and is asking of God as he confesses his sin. On one hand, he’s asking for God to forgive him and cleanse him from his sin. He says,

2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

David’s hope and prayer is that God would wash him from his sin, so clean that as David says that he would be whiter than snow. And that God would forgive him of his sin and see his sin no more. And seeking God’s forgiveness is a central part of what we hope for when we confess our sin to God. But yet notice that David hopes for something beyond that as well. He wants to be transformed by God from the inside out. Saying,

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

You see, David doesn’t simply want to be forgiven of his sin, as critical as that is. He also wants, through God’s help, to become a different person, to be transformed into the kind of person who would love God with all his heart and desire to sin no more.

You all, when we confess, are we only asking for God’s forgiveness, as if God was some kind of divine police officer, pleading with him to give us a warning and not a ticket, or are we also asking that God would change us? That he would give us a new heart, with new wants and new desires? Where we pray, 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Confession is powerful when we begin to see that we aren’t simply in need of new habits and behaviors, but rather a new heart. Where the goal is not simply behavior modification but absolute transformation.

Confession is both about seeking forgiveness but also heightening our awareness of our need for transformation. That’s the second thing. Here’s the third: In it are a couple words you probably won’t see coming:

Joy and Gladness

This is one of the seeming counterintuitive parts of David’s confession. One of David’s hoped for outcomes in his confession is that he would experience both joy and gladness. He says,

8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.

I think often times I think of confession as the vegetables of the Christian faith. Where I know it’s good for me, but gosh, it doesn’t taste very good and I’d rather be eating something else. But yet, there’s a real joy and gladness that comes from true and genuine confession.

On one level there’s a real sense of relief when we confess and come clean with our sin. Even the secular world understands this. Michael Slepian, a professor at the Columbia Business School found in a study that when people were thinking about their secrets, they actually acted as if they were burdened by physical weight." In a very real sense to confess our sin before God is to be released from that weightiness and to experience the joy of our salvation in Christ.

One diagnostic question in the Christian faith that’s important us to ask from time to time is - how’s your joy? Would you describe yourself as joyful these days? And would you say you have joy in the Lord, when you read the bible or when you pray, or in worship right now?

Pastor Ray Ortlund once made this provocative claim. Saying “Half-hearted Christians are the most miserable people of all. They know just enough about God to feel guilty, but they haven’t gone far enough with Christ to be happy.”

Woah. Think about that for a minute. Many Christians know enough about God having growing up in church or through a basic understanding of scripture to know that sin is something that God takes incredibly seriously, but yet haven’t gone so far as to pursue real forgiveness and transformation through Jesus, which in turn, would bring them real joy and gladness. Instead, they find themselves wading in misery.

True and genuine confession results in joy and gladness. That’s the third and here’s the fourth takeaway. And this is where we’ll finish for today.

Love and Mercy

Here I’m talking about God’s love and mercy. After all, how else could we finish?

David says,

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.

Here David gets it absolutely right. He knows he has no argument. That he can’t justify his actions. He knows he must take full ownership and he knows that forgiveness can only be found on the basis of God’s steadfast love (yes, there’s that word hesed again) and according to God’s abundant mercy. God’s love and mercy is David’s only hope and it’s our hope too.


In some ways, this may be an anticlimactic way to end a sermon series and conclude our study of David, a story about confession and repentance of all things. But yet this seems to be as good of a place as to finish any.


Throughout the last couple months, we’ve seen that there’s much to be admired in David and we would be wise to follow his example. And that’s true even from the narrative arc that we’ve seen play out these last couple weeks. Here was this man who committed these grievous sins, who did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord, and yet here he is again now confessing his sin before the Lord. And in our own sins big and small, may we too follow his example, echoing David’s words from long ago, words that ultimately fix our eyes on our Savior,


Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.


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