Have you ever wondered if you could truly be forgiven by God, our Father? Is your past haunting you? Are the faces of those you hurt in the past etched forever on your memory? Does it seem that nothing you do ever seems good enough, and that you really deserve the blame from others?
Let me share with you the story of a man who was headed for greatness. A man who became king of Israel, but whose life was changed from glory to devastation, blame and haunting memories by a single moment, a single action. Meet King David.
One evening, while contemplating his latest success, his attention was riveted on a woman unlike any other. Although he should have quickly looked the other way, his focus was on that married woman. One thing led to another, and soon that woman was pregnant with David’s child.
Trying to save face, King David tried to entice her husband, a soldier, back home so that he would believe that the child was his. But the husband’s heart was fixed on upcoming battles, and he never came near his wife.
As a last resort King David sent this brave soldier to his death on the battlefield. David ordered his commander to put this woman’s husband in the hottest part of the battle, and then to retreat, leaving him all alone.
David then proceeded to marry the woman, but it was truly a marriage of blood!
David thought he had fooled everyone. No one, he thought, would ever know. But God knew, and when Nathan, the prophet, brought a similar case to David’s attention, King David blurted out: “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die!” (2 Sam 12:5 NIV) Without realizing it, David condemned his very own actions!
Imagine his surprise when Nathan declared: “You are the man!” (2 Sam 12:7 NIV)
It was too late when he finally realized that he had “sinned against the Lord.” (2 Sam 12:13 NIV)
David was never the same after this incident. His bad example led his sons to bad decisions, and one of them even tried to usurp his throne.
David was prone to feel that his actions could never, ever be forgiven. He deceived a loyal soldier, misled his own people, and betrayed his Father in heaven! He had truly sinned “against the Lord”!
Would we be willing to offer pardon to such a sinner? Wouldn’t we urge him to step down from office? After all, hadn’t he betrayed the trust of his people?
This is where many of us can identify with the actions of King David. How could God ever forgive us?
Still, God’s Word surprises us when we read: “I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.” (Acts 13:22 NIV)
But how is this possible? David was far from being righteous! He was an adulterer, a murderer and a liar!
Yes he was, but despite his serious mistakes, his heart was for God. He knew beyond doubt that although he was a complete failure, God had forgiven him. God honors those who trust in Him! And if David was forgiven for his horrendous actions, you can be forgiven as well! It all depends on whether or not you want to believe in what God promised you: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV)
Shortly after this incident, David tearfully wrote Psalms 51.
“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Ps 51:7-12 NIV)
There is hope when we trust in the forgiveness of the Almighty!
While we toured in the southern part of Iceland, we encountered a German memorial in the little town of Vik. The elements that day were wild. It was raining hard, and the wind was steadily picking up speed. Despite the wet conditions, however, I was fascinated by this memorial. It had been erected not only to commemorate the German fishing boat that had been wrecked in the vicinity, but also to thank the many Icelanders who risked their lives to rescue many of their crewmembers.
These Icelanders had been willing to leave the safety of their homes to rescue those who once were considered the enemy of the world (WWII), and though the storm was far worse than the one we were experiencing, they came to the aid of those facing certain death.
This is love, true love! “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 NIV)
If Icelanders can forgive their former enemies and come to their rescue, even more so would God be willing to forgive us, hardened criminals, and come to our rescue.
And God just did that! Jesus left the safe confines of heaven to face the rough elements of this earth, in order to save us from our sins. He took what we deserved and went to the cross, dying in our place, to give us the promise through his resurrection that we, too, could be victorious. He clearly demonstrated how much God loves us, as well as how willing God is to forgive all of our iniquities, no matter how horrendous they may be. If David was forgiven, we can be forgiven too. It’s all a matter of trust!
These German sailors were sure glad to see the Icelanders who came to their rescue. How will we react towards the forgiveness our Heavenly Father is offering us?
(To access the entire “Forgiven” devotional series, please click here.)