Everyone makes terrible decisions. We sin. We put ourselves in positions of temptation— temptation toward sexual sin, dishonesty, abuse of power or position, hypocrisy. And then we’re tempted to cover it all up. We do exactly what we know we ought not to do, just like David did. We’re no better or worse because of our different sins, anymore than one mud puddle is cleaner than another.
With that said, we must look at what happens after sin. We have two paths available, two choices: ruin or restoration. David chose ruin. He chose to hide and deny his sin, and then to pompously judge the unjust man from Nathan’s parable. It was a profound display of God’s mercy when Nathan declared, “You are that man!” It was the slap across the face David needed to snap him from his sin-induced stupor. It turned him from ruin to restoration.
In that moment, David saw that he had sinned against the Lord. Yes, he had sinned against Uriah, against Bathsheba, against Israel, against his family. But he stood guilty before God. If he’d take an entire lifetime to try to make things right—to pay penance, to work at being a better man—but had never fallen on his knees before God, crying out for mercy, David never would’ve been made right. He would have rotted from the inside out.
That was his turn from ruin to restoration, but restoration did not mean hugs and affirmation. It meant facing the dire consequences of his actions, without indignation or grumbling. David pleaded with God to save his child, but it was not a plea for an easier punishment or a lack of consequences. It was a plea for life, a plea on behalf of someone else.
When his prayers were not granted, we see David’s true heart; he got up, cleaned up, and moved forward. He poured out his soul before God, saying, “Against you alone have I sinned,” and “Create a clean heart in me” (Psalm 51). These are the groanings of a broken man—a man who knows God’s mercy and knows God will not “extinguish the smoldering wick,” but instead will breathe that flame back into life again (Isaiah 42:3).
Ruin or restoration: those are the options after sin. The only way to find restoration is to recognize against Whom we’ve sinned and cast ourselves on His mercy. When we do, we are purged, purified, and, by Christ’s blood, made whiter than snow. Here we rediscover the joy of salvation from which sin blinded us.
Written by Barnabas Piper