Image: King David Enthroned, by Jerry Harston
His Best for Our Worst
Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare Your praise.
After at least nine months, when David finally acknowledged his guilt, the prophet Nathan told him, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.” (2 Samuel 12:13-14) The “utter contempt” indicates an unintended consequence of David’s plan to do away with Uriah. He had told Joab, “Put Uriah in the front line … then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.” (2 Samuel 11:15) David’s sin had not only struck down Uriah and shamed Bathsheba, but struck at the honor of God, too. His sin was compounded by a kind of sacrilege. As the appointed representative of God over His people, he had misused Israel’s army for his own ends. The name of God was now dishonored, and Israel’s enemies felt empowered.
The parallel between Israel and the church or David and ourselves, is not exact, but it is helpful for us to think of our fellowship and ourselves in this light. The Apostle Paul says that God’s “intent was that now, through the church the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to His eternal purpose which He accomplished in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Ephesians 3:10-11) Do we grasp that we are His appointed representatives, bearing His name for the sake of His kingdom? How do my sins, my decisions or my plans, effect the spiritual battle in which the church is now engaged? What is my working view of our church fellowship’s significance? The sense, sorrow, and shame of his sin had completely shut David’s mouth. Do any of our sins or the decisions we have made ever cause us to just shut up? They should!
David was a great sinner and so are we. And yet he clings to God, and so should we. The Apostle Paul gives hope to great sinners: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.” ( 1Timothy1:15) David prays, “Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare Your praise.” If God convicts us and shuts our mouths, it is so that He might open them by His grace. In John 15:5 Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” In Psalm 51 David has an “apart from Me you can do nothing” realization. In the book of Psalms such a realization is the sure and certain prelude of praise. It can be so in our lives, too. Consider the opening lines of Psalm 16: “You are my Lord; apart from You I have no good thing.” Apart from God, I am lost. Apart from Him, I am miserable. Apart from Him, I have nothing good. No one but the Son can help me! Let all His fainted and fallen people say it on their knees, “Apart from You, I have no good thing! I have done my worst for You, but You have done the best for me, O Savior. Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare Your praise!”