He had been found out! By the time he decided to confess his sin the entire nation was already talking. Unfaithfulness, adultery, lies. How could the leader of the nation, the man everyone admired, allow himself to stoop to such depravity and decadence?

All of the evening news anchors had hinted at improprieties happening in the most revered office in the land, but nobody had come forth with any evidence. All of the King’s staunch supporters were horrified with the rumors being spread by the “conservative right wing fanatics.” They knew in their heart of hearts that the King had shown special interest in the woman because of her difficult situation. She was vulnerable. She was young. She was alone. He brought her into his residence as one of his own. Such an act of heroism wasn’t hideous, it was honorable. The King wasn’t nefarious, he was noble.

Regardless of what the King’s supporters believed, the talk persisted. The tabloids chronicled the exploits. Editorials excoriated the King. His detractors denounced his lack of morals at every turn. The pressure kept coming, but inside the pressure cooker the King was cool, calm, and collected carrying on the business of the country.

It was a strange situation. The King’s number one nemesis didn’t hang out outside of the King’s royal residence and demonstrate. He never showed up at political rallies to shout catcalls at the King. He never toted a placard implicating the King. He didn’t make crank phone calls, write demeaning letters, or have petitions circulated denouncing the King’s alleged improprieties.

One day the King’s unknown nemesis showed up at the royal palace and asked to speak to the King. He was escorted in, offered a warm handshake, and given a smile that had lit up many a room full of supporters. The King asked, “What can I do for you today?” The man spoke and told the King a story. When the King responded in anger because of the horrific actions of the main character in the story, the man reached out his hand, pointed his finger at the King, and said, “You are the man!” You are the man. You are the one who has acted in such a reprehensible, repugnant, irresponsible, sinful way! You are the man!

For those of you who think that you have been reading in the paper about the story I have just told – think again. For those of you who believe that Kenneth Starr is the number one nemesis – think again. For those of you who think President Bill Clinton is the immoral, despicable King – think again. The story I shared with you isn’t unfolding before our eyes today, it happened almost 1000 years ago when another leader found himself in deep trouble because of his immorality and sin.

I would like to take just a minute, for those who may be unfamiliar with the story of King David, to hit the lowlights of a sordid story of deceit, adultery, lies, manipulation, and murder. While David’s fighting men were out defending the freedom of the citizens of Israel David was back at his royal palace just relaxing. One day he saw a beautiful woman taking a bath and he continued to look until he lusted. His lusts led to his having her brought to the royal palace where David had sex with her. When he found out later that she was pregnant David became preoccupied with what he should do to cover it up. You see, the woman’s husband was out fighting for David and his country so there is no way that he could have gotten her pregnant. David was in a jam.

David, the smooth man that he was, sent for Bathsheba’s husband. When Uriah arrived David said, “You are a good soldier. I hear that you’ve been working too hard. Why don’t you go home to your wife for a couple of days and relax.” Uriah would have none of it. He had too much character to enjoy the company of his wife while the other men of the country were out risking their lives. David did everything he could to get Uriah to go home, but he would not.

When Uriah went back out to the field to fight, David sent word to the leader of his army to have Uriah put on the front line where the fighting was most fierce. Well, you know what happened – Uriah, a man of character who willingly went to the front line for the King, was killed.

When Uriah was killed on the field of battle King David paid a personal visit to Bathesheba, the widow of Uriah. I’m sure he pulled her out in the streets for photo opportunities for all of the press from Jerusalem. I can hear him now: “Bathsheba, you have suffered far too much for our country. Your husband was a hero that we can all look up to, a model for our young men. We want you to know that you and your unborn baby will be taken of. We will not forget you. As a matter of fact, we want you to come and live with us in the royal palace.”

The little old ladies dabbed the tears from the corner of their eyes hoping their mascara wouldn’t run. Men, burly, war-weathered, John-Wayne-type men stuck their chests out with pride over their King. Mothers prayed that their daughters would be blessed with such a husband some day. The entire nation was at rest because of the noble deeds of the King!

Then talk began to swirl. Somebody had seen Bathsheba slip into the royal palace. Uriah had told a buddy that King David had called him in to spend some time with his wife, but that he had refused. People began to put two and two together and they didn’t add up. The rumor mill was working in three shifts, but David remained composed. That is until he was found out by a humble, quiet, yet steeled man of God. David was exposed for what he truly was – a manipulative, lying, adulterating, murder.

All of Israel found out that David was less than they thought. Their King had feet of clay. Their King was a sinner.

I sat Monday night and listened to the confession of another “King,” our President, as he told the nation that he had been having an “inappropriate” relationship with Monica Lewinsky. My mind jumped back to the story of King David immediately. The more I listened to President Clinton’s confession the more I thought of David. I had heard the rumors for quite some time. How could you not hear the stories circulating? They were in every magazine, on every television station, and in the newspapers. The President had denied the rumors looking straight into the camera, pointing his finger at the American people, you and me, and saying with intensity – “I did not have sexual relations with that woman!” I had heard the denial coming from every corner of the Presidents palace – his wife, staff, supporters, ministers who were friends. With the rumors and the rigid denial you don’t know what to believe.

Monday night the confusion was cleared away and the truth came out. The President had lied when he pointed his finger at us and told us that all of the rumors were false. Those who had been labeled as evil, right-wingers and even worse had been proven right. The President had been found out and he was guilty as charged.

It was strange listening to the five-minute speech on Monday night. It was not the confession that was strange to me, it was the way that King David was so prevalent in my mind. After the President finished his speech and we got the kids in the bed for the night, I read Psalm 51, the confession of King David after he had been found out. There are some important lessons you and I can learn from this gut wrenching, honest, humble confession of a King who had been found out. Take a look.

For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba. Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. {2} Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. {3} For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. {4} Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. {5} Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. {6} Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. {7} Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. {8} Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. {9} Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. {10} Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. {11} Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. {12} Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. {13} Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. {14} Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. {15} O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. {16} You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. {17} The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. {18} In your good pleasure make Zion prosper; build up the walls of Jerusalem. {19} Then there will be righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings to delight you; then bulls will be offered on your altar. (Psa 51 NIV)

Psalm 51, David’s confession of his sin to God, is one of the most beautiful and powerful sections of Scripture in the entire Bible. None of David’s detractors could pick it apart because David directs all of the guilt at himself. This past week I have been reading David’s confession alongside of President Clinton’s confession. They are very different.

I want to say that I believe every word of Scripture. I believe that there is no government leader who is seated in their seat of power who has not been put there by God. I know from reading Scripture that some of the leaders have been put their to bless the nation and some to bring judgment on the nation. As far as President Clinton is concerned, I am not smart enough to know which of the two apply, but I do know that I am called to pray for him. I have no desire to trash President Clinton. I am saddened and sickened by what he has done. My family has talked about subjects that we should not be talking about, but we have been forced to talk about them because of President Clinton’s behavior. I have been praying for him and his family. I pray that God will heal the hurt that comes about when any marriage faces such insurmountable odds. God’s desire is that President Clinton would repent, be broken by his sin, and trust God to bring healing to his marriage.

I am not a politician, nor a political commentator – I am a preacher. I want to talk about my Savior and His matchless grace. I try to avoid talking about political matters and the eight years that I have been here serve as a testimony to my commitment. The reason I am speaking as I am this morning is so that you and I can learn about confession.

We have two leaders who have been found out: King David and President Clinton. Their confessions are drastically different and we can learn some important lessons about what to do with our sin when it is brought to our attention if we will only pay attention. In comparing the two confessions it is interesting to notice that David’s confession is held up to us as Holy Scripture and President Clinton has been ridiculed all week because of his confession and his willingness to point out the evils of others.

Let’s take a look at the lessons God has for us this morning. I want to take just a moment and give you a biblical understanding of what confession is all about. The word has become so diluted today that even when we use the word “confession” it is a far cry from what God means by confession. The Greek word for confession, o`mologe,w (homologeo) means, “to acknowledge a fact publicly, often in reference to previous bad behavior – ‘to admit, to confess.'” It is a word with great depth and great emotion attached to it. When we confess we feel for our wrongdoing. We do not confess flippantly or nonchalantly, we ache with the sin we acted out.

For many today, confession is only practiced when we get caught. Getting caught does not necessarily nullify the quality or genuineness of our confession if we are truly remorseful and broken for what we have done. There are many in society who believe that confession after getting caught totally invalidates our confession. That could not be further from the truth. King David was found out and yet his confession is held up to us as the model for confessing our sins before God.

There are many lessons that we can learn from David’s confession found in Psalm 51. Let’s take a look at these lessons and see what the Lord desires for us when we sin and experience brokenness in our relationships because of our sin.

David talks only of his sin, he takes full responsibility for what he had done. In King David’s confession there is no mention of Nathan the prophet, Bathsheba, Uriah, or any other citizen of Israel. David is to blame. He did it. He sinned against God and he is worthy of whatever punishment God desires to give to him. David says in verses 1-5,

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. {2} Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. {3} For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. {4} Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. {5} Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

“I have sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” David doesn’t conclude that his actions are sin because of what the polls show, but because of what God says. When you and I sin and our sin is brought to our attention, either by God in our spirit or by a friend who sees what we are missing or hiding, we need to own up to our sin totally. That is so much against the grain of our society today. A person who is willing to make a full confession, a total acknowledgement of our sin, is an endangered species these days. I will tell you that if you and I abandon the Christian practice of confession we do so at our own risk. A famous theologian once said,

Man does not like to admit that his sinfulness and rebellion are at the heart of the problems of society. He’s much more comfortable discussing imperfections, weaknesses, mistakes, and errors in judgment. These terms are socially acceptable, and almost everyone identifies with them. But an outright acknowledgment of guilt before a holy God, a 100-percent acceptance of responsibility for wrong-doing, runs against the grain. Yet this kind of honesty is the first step to the freedom from sin and guilt that God longs to give us and has provided in the death of Christ.

Our confession is the first step towards freedom. Freedom from the guilt that acts as a poison to our system. Freedom from deception that keeps us out of fellowship with God and our brothers and sisters. We need freedom, freedom from sin, freedom from guilt, but we can only obtain it by confessing from a posture of brokenness.

Scripture testifies to this truth as John writes in 1 John 1:8-9, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. {9} If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9 NIV)

David realizes that his sin is first and foremost sin against God. There is a deep truth buried here in this powerful little Psalm that might not make much sense at first, but if we will seek understanding from God we will gain a deeper understanding of confession. David says, {4} “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.” (Psalm 51:4) What may be confusing to you at first, when you consider David’s sin, is this; David sinned against Bathsheba and Uriah. Bathsheba and Uriah paid dearly because of David’s sin, but ultimately David’s sin was against God. How can that be? Great question!

There is a teaching that runs throughout the Bible that makes it clear that if we wrong another person we sin against God. When we take advantage of another person, we take advantage of God. When we steal from our neighbor, we steal from God. When we abuse our children, we abuse God. God will not stand for it! Our sin will not go unnoticed. In Ezekiel we find evidence of this teaching.

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. {50} They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen. (Ezek 16:49-50 NIV)

The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the alien, denying them justice. {30} “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. {31} So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign LORD.” (Ezek 22:29-31 NIV)

When Joseph was serving in Potiphar’s house Potiphar’s wife approached him. She seduced the young man, but Joseph knew that to indulge in the pleasures of sin for an afternoon would be sin against the Lord God Almighty. We can read about the story in Genesis 39.

{7} and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!” {8} But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. {9} No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Gen 39:7-9 NIV)

Joseph knew that to give in to Potiphar’s wife would be to sin against God Himself. I was thinking this past week, if you and I could be cognizant of this truth every moment of every day we would refrain from treating folks the way we do. I might want to mess you over if I can get ahead, but if I know that I am messing over God then I might think twice. I might want to spread malicious rumors about you to damage your character and reputation, but if I know that I will be damaging God’s reputation then I might think twice. We need to know that we sin against God Himself when we sin against one another.

This knowledge will change the way we confess our sins. By knowing that we sin against God, our sin will break us and cause us to confess with deep regret and repentance. Without this understanding we will “sin” against one another until the cows come home because we are just people

David seeks to be restored by God. It is very easy these days to obtain a scarlet letter than you and I can never be freed from in the eyes of man. David was forgiven for his sin, but the fact is that David is remembered to this day for his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba. David couldn’t shake it in the eyes of people, but he could be restored in the eyes of God.

When you and I sin, and our sin is made known, we may very well suffer for years or even our entire lifetime because of our sin. The forgiveness of people may never come, but God will come to us and not only forgive us, but restore us in His sight. Do you see how priceless a gift this is for us? I know that there may be people who will never find it in their heart to forgive me, they may say all kinds of things about me, but I can wake up each new day and face it with hope because I know what the Father says about me. I know where I stand with God when I confess my sin, am filled with sorrow, and ask for His restoring arms to lift me up.

Confession is an odd quality to many people today, but I believe that confession is a key to health and wholeness for you and me. We must first know what confession is, then practice it each day of our lives. Our first act of confession should be our acknowledgement of our sin against God and our desperate need for His forgiveness which comes through accepting His son Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Won’t you acknowledge your need to God and ask Him into your heart.

A Lesson In Confession
Psalm 51