For example, how does perfect unity with God differ from repentance or even from God’s never-ending love? How would you classify the following verses?
“For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness. I do not sit with men of falsehood, nor do I consort with hypocrites. I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked. I wash my hands in innocence and go around your altar, O Lord, proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds” (26:3-7, ESV).
Taken alone, these verses start with steadfast love, move to describing temptation and disobedience, but then describe perfect unity with God. But taken in context, they may represent something very different.
A number of David’s psalms are similar, where he is trapped in hiding from enemies. In Psalm 26, it is likely the enemy is Saul, and David is still quite young and relatively innocent. How else could he claim such perfect behavior in the eyes of God, as he does in the first two verses of the psalm?
On the other hand, David begins pleading with God:
“Do not sweep my soul away with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men, in whose hands are evil devices, and whose right hands are full of bribes…redeem me and be gracious to me” (26:9-10, 11b).
If David is so holy, why is he pleading for restoration? Doesn’t the need for restoration rise in the soul only through crisis and pending judgment, followed by repentance? But instead of groveling in the dirt to beg deliverance by God from a horrendous situation, David spends the dark hours of anguish reciting the good things about his relationship with God that he desires to have restored.
Psalm 27 follows the same pattern:
“One thing I have asked of the Lord, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple…And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me…Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me” (27:4, 6a, 7)!
And Psalm 28:
“Bless the Lord! For he has heard my pleas for mercy. The Lord is my strength and shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him” (28:6-7).
So maybe repentance is not so hard after all. David teaches that it can be a form of great praise in the midst of big trouble, deserved or not. It is also part of our perfect unity with God and God’s never-ending love for us!
The Cycle is a repetitive journey through life for all of us. Try thinking about repentance daily as a source of praise and of peace!
“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord” (27:13-14)!
Although he had inklings of the Messiah, David knew only the God of Israel and the Law of Moses; repentance meant deliverance from certain death and darkness.
But repentance for those who accept Jesus as Lord and savior means being welcomed home into the warmth of a giant hug in the mighty arms of our dearest friend.
That’s not so hard!