We often think of being a rebel as heroic – for the rebel stands against authority and rails against the oppression of ‘the man’; an independent carver of his or her own path, the master of their own fate, the captain of their soul. Teenagers especially, as they try to find their own way in life as an autonomous being, rebel against everything that seems to stand in their way (even though their parents generally want the best for them, and have themselves travelled that dusty, fruitless and perilous road ahead of them). Psalm 51 gives us a glimpse of the heart of a foolish, but contrite, godly man, who comes before a gracious and merciful God when he had deliberately rebelled against Him.
“In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem.”2 Samuel 11:1
We hold David up as an example, a paragon of virtue and as a type of Christ. And he is – but he is still a sinful human being and even godly men can err. If you read the back story in 2 Samuel above, you might be horrified at what David was capable of in the interests of personal gratification and self interest: committing adultery, plotting a cover up and then murder by proxy to cover his tracks upon finding out that Bathsheba is pregnant.
How did David get himself in this mess? After all that he had accomplished, due to his integrity and trust in God, in establishing his kingdom, David became complacent. He sent his armies to fight on his behalf and as a result he was left back at the palace with way too much time on his hands. Maybe he felt that he had deserved a break from his kingly duties; after all what’s the point in being a king if you can’t enjoy the fruits of your labours? He saw Bathsheba bathing one day, and the rest, as they say, is history.
“The Devil makes work for idle hands.”
How important it is for us to maintain a momentum in our work for the Lord, especially those in ministry (it has been said that a worker for the Lord does not retire, they re-tread); we must be diligent, do the work and fulfil our ministries (2 Timothy 4:5). How easy it is to be sidetracked by non Gospel related issues, worldly living or an emphasis on our own wants and so take ourselves temporarily out of the real battle.
But David, when confronted by Nathan the Prophet, realised that he had sinned against God and repented because he recognised his own rebellion:
“For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.”Psalm 51:3-5
David recognised his own weakness as a sinner; a rebel by nature from birth. Isn’t that what all sin is – rebellion against God. We were made to reflect God’s image in all that we were and in all that we did. And just like Eve, in like fashion, we rebel against this every day; in the face of all His goodness, we say, “I want to go my own way” – we seem to think we know better than God!
“It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate I am the captain of my soul.”William Ernest Henley
How arrogant people can be when they deliberately ‘thumb the nose’ at God!
However, godly people may sometimes find they forget themselves temporarily, not meaning to go their own way, but find themselves doing so anyway – it seems to be a propensity at the very core of our rebellious hearts. But it is no less a sin against God. We cannot say, “I didn’t mean it” or that, “the Devil made me do it”. We must instead learn to cultivate good habits and guard ourselves against error and not allow the Devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:27f). If we allow the Devil a foothold, the door is soon open enough for him to squeeze in and before long he is sitting in our lounge, at our dinner table or in our bedrooms. For the godly person, when it comes to knocks on the door, it is Jesus we must invite into our homes and lives, not the Devil and all his deceptive and destructive trickeries.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”Romans 3:23
We are all rebels from birth – it’s hard to imagine our babies as rebels, but do we have to teach a child to do good or to do bad? We are all rebels and deserving of the just punishment for our rebellion.
The great news is that our rebellion can be answered, because we have a compassionate Heavenly Father who does not want us to remain as rebels. God in His mercy, is able to forgive them and remove the guilt of their rebellion through the blood of the Cross; once we repent, turn to Him for mercy and believe on His Son, Jesus for the forgiveness of our rebellious sin, He will have mercy and forgive us.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”Romans 6:23
It should be a great encouragement and relief to us that we can call upon a loving, merciful God when we mess up. There is hope for the rebel caught in mischief and the rebel who snubs God, just like there was hope for King David who sinned against God (there were many repercussions because of his indiscretions. We never get off the hook completely – even though our rebellion no longer counts against us – the consequences don’t necessarily go away). But the great news is that we, like the rebel David, can likewise call upon the Lord:
“Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.”Psalm 51:1-2
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