By Jerelyn Pearson


Repentance is not my favorite topic to think about. But it is definitely an important part of my relationship with the Lord, and I need to make it an important part of my fellowship with the Lord.

This idea was brought to my attention by a question in my Bible study lesson this week: "What differences exist between the response of David in Psalm 51 and that of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3?"

Both David and Adam and Eve sinned and were confronted by God about their sin. But their responses were very different.

Let's begin with Genesis 3. We are all familiar with the events in Adam and Eve's transgression. Let's begin with verse seven where they become aware that they have sinned and look at their response. The first thing they did was to try to cover up their sin.

Genesis 3:7:
And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Until then they weren't ashamed. At the end of chapter 2 in verse 25, when God made Eve, the Bible says: "And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed."

Genesis 3:8-10:
8: And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
9: And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
10: And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

God gave Adam and Eve ample opportunity to confess their sin even to the point of directly asking them if they ate of the tree. 

v. 11:
And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? 

Even at this point, when directly confronted, instead of accepting responsibility and repenting, they made excuses and shifted blame. 

vv. 12-13:
12: And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
13: And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

At this point God proclaimed the punishment of mankind. "Thou shalt surely die."

Now let's take a look at David's response. There's a longer more detailed version, but we will read the condensed version.

Nathan is sent by God to talk to David:

2 Samuel 12:1-13
1: And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor.
2: The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds:
3: But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.
4: And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.
5: And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die:
6: And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.
7: And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;
8: And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.
9: Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.
10: Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.
11: Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.
12: For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.

David's response when confronted with his sin was repentance. He didn't make excuses or shift the blame. He repented.

v. 13:
And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.

In Psalm 51 we find David's prayer of repentance.  Verse one confirms the situation to which this Psalm refers:

Psalm 51:1-4:
1: [To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.] Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
2: Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
3: For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
4: Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

When we sin against others, we sin against God.

We were born into sin.

v. 5:
Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

The Lord desires truth.  He is Truth. He works in us by his Holy Spirit to shape us into his likeness.

v. 6-13:
6: Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
7: Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8: Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
9: Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
10: Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
11: Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
12: Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thyfree spirit.
13: Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

As we cooperate with God's refining and shaping, we are enabled to share his Truth with others. David isn't bargaining with the Lord here. He is stating how he will be enabled as the Lord works in him.

vv. 14-19:
14: Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
15: O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
16: For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
17: The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
18: Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
19: Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.  

Let's go back to the question posed in the beginning. What differences exist between the response of David in Psalm 51 and that of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3?

Adam and Eve tried to cover up their sin.  They made excuses and shifted blame. They did not take responsibility for their actions. At this point God proclaimed the punishment of mankind. "Thou shalt surely die."

David repented.

2 Samuel 12:13:
And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.  

Psalm 51 is a beautiful scriptural prayer of true repentance which expresses not only sorrow, but also growth and changed behavior.

We too can pray this prayer.