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Bursting Heart Syndrome

Forgiveness triggering the conscience.

2 Samuel 12:10–15a

Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child who is born to you shall die.” Then Nathan went to his house.

Notice that the first thing Nathan says after David repents is, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.” Having just pronounced a sentence of death on the rich man of the parable, David has to have a knot in his stomach. He’s wondering what God’s judgement will be. So Nathan doesn’t leave David twisting in the wind. God won’t apply David’s judgement to David.

But the first part is even more important. “The LORD also has put away your sin.” The Hebrew word translated as, “has put away” (הֶעֱבִ֥יר, hay-ahvir) is a conjugation of the word for to cross (as in “why did the chicken cross …”). Here, it literally means “made to pass.” “Has put away” is a fair translation. The sin isn’t stuck to David like a permanent tattoo.

It has passed on.

While God has put away the sin, He hasn’t erased it from David’s conscience. This powerful combination presages the gospel. David is intensely aware of his guilt, even though the LORD has put it away. In a sense, this magnifies his feelings of guilt. Grace eliminates restitution, so David feels guilty about that too.

David’s heart has always been in the right place, and now it’s just bursting. Great poetry results.

            Have mercy on me, O God,
                        according to your steadfast love;
            according to your abundant mercy
                        blot out my transgressions.
            Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
                        and cleanse me from my sin!

            For I know my transgressions,
                        and my sin is ever before me.
            Against you, you only, have I sinned
                        and done what is evil in your sight,
            so that you may be justified in your words
                        and blameless in your judgment. — Psalm 51:1–4

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These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday ones are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to the DEEP click here:

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Scripture taken from the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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