The Inwardness of Morality

KEY VERSE: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” —Psalm 51:10

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Mark 7:1-5,14-23; Matthew 5:21,22

THESE pleading words of David sound a kindred note in the hearts of all who, like David, have a desire to live after the precepts of God. Ah, yes! the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. With all his attainments, his wisdom, skill, and sound judgment, and, yes, his humility and reverence for God, the fallen human nature of this great and good man succumbed to evil temptations. It is hard to account for the fall of one with a character so strong.

But David’s transgressions were not altogether sudden. There had been missteps along the way—the process was gradual with a climax reached almost imperceptibly. As is often the case, David had become quite overcome with a prideful attitude which in this world sometimes attends power, popularity, and success. As a result he was, no doubt, greatly oblivious to his own moral decline. As king, his word was supreme, and the people of Israel waited to do his bidding. Triumph had attended him on the battlefield; his kingdom had expanded and was enjoying a new height of prosperity. But in all this victory and exaltation, there lurked subtle temptations which he neglected to guard against.

He began to think of his privileges in terms of other kings. The Scriptures reveal he multiplied many wives to himself; he resorted to unusual cruelty in battle with the Ammonites, and unnecessarily subjugated those he conquered. And, contrary to the law of God and the counsel of his own advisers, he numbered the people of Israel, resorting to the strength of manpower and much battle equipment, rather than trusting in God’s help for security.

It was in the midst of this outward prosperity, yet decline of inward piety, that David committed the dreadful crime against God and man recorded in II Samuel 11:1-27. Poor, fallen human nature, how weak and prone to sin; how it will blindly lead those under its power to commit acts which in more sober thought would be shunned and despised. And so it was with David—a man greatly beloved and honored by God, yet he fell.

Thanks be to God there is such a thing as repentance and remission of sins! God was exceedingly angry with David, yet in his wrath he remembered mercy, and sent the Prophet Nathan to reprove him. Changing the circumstances, Nathan presented a simile of the king’s own transgressions in the form of a parable, which David thought was an actual case. In righteous indignation he demanded to know the man who had been so cruel, in order that justice might be done. Then came the numbing reply, “Thou art the man.”

There were but two courses before the king: one was repentance, confession, and reformation; the other, to denounce the prophet and misuse his royal power to punish one who presumed to reprove a king. Such was the custom with other kings. After all, what king would need to consider the rights of fellow-man in preference to his own desires? But the deep-rooted nobility of David prevailed, and with anguish of heart, he said, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

The king then meekly accepted the punishment the Lord pronounced against him, realizing his sin was very grievous, and his example very detrimental to the moral interests of the people. He resolved to make the example of his deep contrition and repentance as far-reaching in its effects for good, as his sin had been for evil.

In this victory over his own pride and selfishness, David proved himself a greater hero than in all his previous conflicts and exploits in battle, including his triumph over the giant, Goliath! As Solomon, his son, later reflected, “He that ruleth his spirit [is better] than he that taketh a city.”—Prov. 16:32

In the fifty-first psalm, David makes public confession of his sin, and of God’s great mercy in forgiveness, And he exhorts all sinners to pray to God for this divine forgiveness in a time when they may be found, before their hearts become set in an evil course. “Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about.”—Ps. 32:6,10

As freely as God forgave, so must we; and we rejoice to recognize David as one worthy of our love, our confidence, and a noble example for our imitation. The victory he gained over himself is one of the greatest and grandest achievements in the pages of history, and his course is to be commended to all who have to any degree departed from the ways of the Lord.

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |