Psalm 51:4 “Against You, You only, I have sinned.”

Observation: David’s adultery with Bathsheba had resulted in her pregnancy (see 2 Samuel 11, 12). In an attempt to cover his sin, David called her husband Uriah from the battlefield for a home visit, hoping it would deflect from David any suspicion as to the parentage of her baby. Uriah, though, in an act of supreme loyalty to his fellow soldiers and to the ark of God on the battlefield, refused the offered leisure with his wife. A frustrated David then ordered Uriah to the area of fiercest fighting, that he might be killed. Confronted and condemned by the prophet Nathan, David quickly repented of his sin, penning Psalm 51. The heart-searing language of David’s anguish is rightly summed in these words, “Against You, You only, I have sinned.”

Application: Perhaps more than any other passage of Scripture, this single verse reveals understanding of the fulness of God’s sovereignty. Had David truly sinned only against God? Not really. There was an adulterous affair with Bathsheba and deceit behind his summons of Uriah for some home-based R and R. There was subterfuge in his attempt to trick a drunken Uriah into bedding Bathsheba and in Uriah’s subsequent assignment to a place of likely death in battle. And what, by the way, was the ark of God doing on the battlefield while David lounged at home? Surely there had been sinful affronts all around, yet David had the prescience to say, “Against You, You only, I have sinned.”

This profound understanding of God’s sovereignty brings me up short. There may be a whole host of justifications I hope to rely upon to explain present sinful behavior—generational shortcomings leading to my present hardened heart. But with each attempt at blame shifting I must realize, as David understood, that it is God I am judging. I sin against Him, for it is by His sovereignty that I am in the place I now find myself.

The only possible alternative is to view His sovereignty as stunted. Has He yet been heard to say, “Oops, I planned for you to be a Jones, but your mother’s promiscuity made you a Smith instead—you lose”? None of the things against which my heart may take offense are outside His abilities to work in and through. Ultimately, then, my every judgment, my every sin, is against Him and Him alone.

Prayer: Father, thank You that as I know You better, I find my heart tenderized toward those I formerly judged. Thank You that in every sinful circumstance I can better identify with Your pain; I can forgive even as I receive Your great forgiveness.