Today’s passage: Psalm 51
Today’s chocolate: Equal Exchange Organic Very Dark Chocolate (71 % Cacao)
Psalm 51 is another of David’s better-known works. The epigraph provides a quick-and-dirty summary: “A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.” It’s a psalm of confession, and to anyone who’s had The Talk, the verb “had gone in to” leaves no question as to what physical act constituted David’s sin here. The psalm is a confession of adultery, and of all the sins that compounded when David tried to cover the deed up.
You may be familiar with the line “Against You, You only, I have sinned” (4). Pastors, theologians, and such types often refer to this verse to indicate that what makes sin bad is that it violates God’s design for humans and damages or severs our relationship with God–it’s ultimately all against him. But my friend Victoria recently posted a sermon to her blog, Lutheran Moxie, in which she suggests that David, in this line, may be minimizing Bathsheba’s suffering as a victim of his sin. His violation of God’s law left a woman pregnant and mourning, and her husband dead. These were valuable human beings created in God’s image. And sure, if the universe didn’t have an omnibenevolent architect, adultery and murder wouldn’t be sins, but it does, and they are. Is it really fair to say, with David, of all our sins: “Against God, God only, I have sinned?”
So here’s our question of the day: is David portraying God as the only offended party in this scenario? Is he doing a disservice to Bathsheba, her husband, and others in omitting their victimhood from his confession? What do you think?