He had been in caves, but never in one this dark and deep. Unlike Adullam, this was a spiritual cave of his own making. Shame, anger, and loneliness were his only companions. Questions reverberated in his head increasing the pain in his heart. “Why did I sin with Bathsheba? How could I have stooped so low as to kill her husband, a loyal soldier?”
Each sin to cover up the previous one only made his guilt grow. Then, Nathan the prophet stared him down, declaring, “Thou art the man!” The prophet knew. Bathsheba knew. Others would soon know. But worst of all, God knew. David sank into despair, feeling dirty, disillusioned, and doomed as his sin was ever before him (v 3). How could he lead the people anymore? How could he write another Psalm?
Been there? Ever let God down? Ever brought shame on yourself, your family, your assembly, or your God?
David hit bottom at the floor of repentance. Tears must have flowed as he wrote, “Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned” (v 4). He got past embarrassment and blaming. The raw facts screamed with deafening shrillness. David had rebelled and hurt his God. It was iniquity. It was transgression. It was sin (vv 2-3). All against God!
God. God. Suddenly a little light shone into his darkness. God. Someone was turning the blind slats allowing more light to come from above. God! The God of mercy – tender mercies! More light. The God of mercy and loving-kindness. Suddenly, the night light turned to a flood light and David began to see. His future depended on God.
Suddenly, David saw his past and his future as God saw it. He pleaded for purging, forgiveness, restoration, and joy. His failure was not final. He was not on God’s shelf. God was not mad at him.
David saw that God could give him joy (v 12), clean him white as snow (v 12), share communion with him (v 8), change his attitudes (v 10), and let him enjoy successful spiritual service once more (v 13). Thanks to God, the sweet Psalmist in Israel would sing again (v 14).
Failure and sin are costly. Lingering guilt is worse. It breaks communion, steals joy, stops usefulness, and blocks vision. No wonder Paul warned, “Make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Rom 13:14).
Thank God, though, that when we fail, He loves to clean us up, stand us up, and sign us up for service and usefulness for him. His forgiveness is full, His cleanliness is complete, His fellowship is fantastic, and His song and service can be sweet again.
So if you have fallen and you can’t get up, please learn the lesson. If your eyes are on yourself, you will keep wallowing in the stifling, stinking caves of guilt and shame. Your only hope is to get your eyes on God – the Father Who forgives, the God Who creates fantastic futures, even for failures like David.