Prayers for Help, Even After Sin

As I have said the other day, I am using The Bible in One Year. This morning, the Psalm for the day was number 3. I don’t often take notice of the ascriptions at the top, but as I read Psalm 3 I went back to the ascription to read it again. It reads simply, ‘A Psalm of David, when he fled from his son Absalom.’

What made this stand out to me is that it is a prayer for help during the rebellion that Nathan told him would happen! After David’s sin with Bathesheba (2 Samuel 11), Nathan the Prophet confronts him with the story the exposes David’s sin. This sin will cost David, and Nathan tells him the Lord says, ‘I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house’ (2 Samuel 12:11). Not long after, Absalom tries to overthrow his father and David must flee for his life.

Yet, in the dark where David is hiding, the Bible gives us this Psalm where despite all the daft things that David did (including the aforementioned sin and his refusal to bring another son to justice over the rape of his daughter), David still has the gall to pray to God for deliverance.

But you, O Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head. I cry aloud to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy hill. (Psalm 3:3-4, NRSV)

One has to wonder what the relationship David had with God. In situations I bring on myself, I tend to think this is what I deserve and God wouldn’t likely help me anyway. But not David. He didn’t sit in the cave thinking, ‘Well, Nathan said it would happen! My own family has turned against me and each other.’ Instead, he prays that God will save him. And he expects God will do so.

Perhaps I won’t have the confidence that David had, but I can learn from his not ending the relationship with God because he sinned. We can question his brashness (!), but he doesn’t assume God has given up on him. He keeps talking to God. He doesn’t risk delving further away from the one who can save him. This is something I need to learn, rather than simply giving up or going further my own way.

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