4th Week in Ordinary Time
The Lord forgave him his sins and exalted his strength.
What a shining portrait Ben Sira, the author of Sirach, paints for us of King David! “As a youth he slew the giant and wiped out the people’s disgrace. . . . When he assumed the royal crown, he battled and subdued the enemy on every side. . . . With his whole being he loved his Maker and daily had his praises sung” (Sirach 47:4, 6-8). This is a bright picture of a great warrior, a mighty king, a renowned musician, and a great lover of God.
But what about David’s adultery with Bathsheba? His conspiracy to have Uriah abandoned and killed in battle? Wouldn’t this suggest a darker portrait, stained with sin? It seems as if there are two faces to David.
David truly was a “man after [God’s] own heart” (Acts 13:22). But there’s no denying that his sins had a terrible impact on himself, his family, and all of Israel. Ben Sira was a masterful portrait artist, and he knew what he was doing when he chose to highlight David’s love for God over his grievous sins. When David fell into sin, he turned back to God, and “the Lord forgave him his sins” (Sirach 47:11). David still had to live with the consequences of what he had done, but he didn’t have to do it alone. God kept his covenant with David and with Israel. The Lord never forgot his promises. Eventually, he even established Jesus—a descendant of King David—as the One to bring redemption and healing, not only to Israel, but to the whole world.
Our lives may not hold the radical contrast of light and shadow that David’s did, but we all have our bright and dark “faces.” Even so, we can all experience the mercy that David experienced. That’s because God has made provision for our waywardness. He has given us the great gift of repentance in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
We often think of repentance and going to Confession as a burden, or at least an embarrassing inconvenience. But David’s story tells us that it is nothing less than a path back to the Lord and a protection against crippling guilt. Just as God forgave David, he is eager to forgive you. He wants nothing more than to shower you with his mercy and strengthen you!
“Lord Jesus, thank you for forgiving me and welcoming me back!”
Psalm 18:31, 47, 50-51