Is God a far-away authority in the sky, ready and waiting with a God-sized ruler when we step out of line? It doesn’t seem like that’s the kind of God the psalmist David knew. David writes, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want” (Psalm 23:1). In another psalm David writes, “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I am far away…You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head” (Psalm 139:1-5, NLT).
David had a special relationship with God.
But that wasn’t because David was special. David had a problem with sin. He was born with it, as we all are, and he had some pretty significant struggles with it. The penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23), that is, eternal separation from God.
David was, at one time, separated from God. He writes in Psalm 51, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (51:5, NIV). Every one of us is. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
So how did David end up with God’s hand of blessing on his head? How did he end up being called “a man after God’s own heart” (I Samuel 13:14)? Did God just overlook David’s sin and decide it didn’t really matter? Did he weigh David’s performance against others of his day and decide David was pretty good in comparison? Did God make David pay for his sin, meting out slaps with that divine ruler when David veered off course?
God cannot overlook sin; His holiness will not allow it. David’s sin was not compared to others; the tiniest sin is too much sin for a truly holy God. God did not make David pay. Because David could not. “Cleanse me,” David cried out to God, acknowledging his inability to do this for himself (Psalm 51:7).
The cost of sin was the death of one who was without sin. The only One capable of paying the price was God Himself. And so He did.
Our part is to come to Jesus, accepting His work on our behalf, admitting, as David did, that there is nothing we could do for ourselves to make us acceptable to a holy God.
We can come to the Father through Jesus. Only through Jesus. Because of His work on the cross in our place. Because of His love. Not because of anything we could do. Just because of His grace—the blessing of a restored relationship with God, offered to us at Christ’s expense. “I am the good shepherd,” said Jesus. “The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep” (John 10:11).
Jesus, whom we refer to as Emmanuel at Christmastime, is truly “God with us.” God came, in human form, to pay the price for our sin. “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” said Jesus. “No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, NLT). Like David, we must accept God’s gift of grace on our behalf. And then, like David, we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my shepherd…His hand of blessing is upon my head.”
Dear Jesus, I acknowledge my sin before You, a holy God. I realize that even the smallest sin on my part is enough to separate me from You forever, and there is nothing I can do to fix things between us. Nothing, except to trust that Jesus’ death on my behalf was enough. God, You know everything about me. You know my heart. You know that I desire to have a relationship with You. Thank You for making it possible through Jesus.