TODAY’S READING: Psalms 32, 51, 86, 122
Our readings today center on David’s prayers for forgiveness and deliverance. There is a special type of agony when you realize you’re the bad guy and you’ve caused pain. It is one thing to pray for the Lord to deliver you from the bad guys. It is another thing entirely to pray that the other guys will be delivered from you and from your sin. We usually read the Psalms as the one injured, hurt, attacked, and vulnerable. This is right and God be praised that we have His comfort. But from time to time we must also read them as the one doing the injury and come to terms with the reality that we are the ones that have injured others, that have injured God. It is this agony that led David to weep: “My sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned” (Psalm 51:3–4). David certainly sinned against Uriah, the honor of the nation, and the royal throne, and even against Bathsheba, but all those sins pale when compared to the hurt David caused Jehovah. The greatest violation of trust and the greatest offense was by David against the Lord. It was doubly painful as David was so intimate, so close to God.
As David prays for forgiveness (Psalm 32, 51, 86), there is a missiological underpinning to his prayer. The God of Israel is the God of all the nations, unique from all other “gods.” As David cries out for mercy, He acknowledges of Jehovah: “Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord. Nor are there any works like Your works. All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name. For You are great, and do wondrous things; You alone are God” (86:8–10). Christopher Wright points out the missional implications of such statements about God coming in the midst of confessional psalms: “The reason there is no other God like YHWH is because there is no other god, period. YHWH is ‘the God—ha elohim’.” Richard Bauckham explains:
What Israel is able to recognize about YHWH, from his acts for Israel, that distinguishes YHWH from the gods of the nations is that he is “the God” or “the god of gods”. This means primarily that he has unrivaled power throughout the cosmos. The earth, the heavens, and the highest of heavens belong to him (Deut. 10:14). By the contrast, the gods of the nation are impotent nonentities, who cannot protect and deliver their own peoples.
Wright points out that YHWH is both incomparable (there is none like Him) and transcendently unique (there is no other god); therefore, YHWH cannot be just Israel’s God but must be the God of all the nations.
When David repented of the heinous crimes of adultery and murder in light of the uniqueness of Jehovah (“Among the gods there is none like you… You alone are God.”) and established that all sin is first committed against God, he was in fact establishing the universality of sin against the God of Israel, the universal need for all peoples to be reconciled to the God of Israel, and the universal urgency that all nations be told this. So, even David’s repentance is a missionary appeal. What was true for David is true for all men of all cultures of all places—their sin is a grievous offense to the God of Israel and they must be reconciled to this one true God by the means He has established, or perish. The missionary message then is to be sure that all peoples of earth know who they must confess their sins to if there is to be any hope of forgiveness and reconciliation with the only true God.
Our sins and failures can indeed lead us back to the beauty of who the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is. To receive atoning pardon from Him whom we have so painfully wronged is a beauty beyond description. The next time you sin (for who among us does not!) and receive pardon, remember that the One who has forgiven you is not your personal God—He is the God of all the nations and peoples of earth. Remember that the unreached don’t know who they have sinned against, don’t know they are under wrath, don’t know how to repent or to whom. Remember that they have no hope unless you or someone you send lives out before them who to repent to, how to repent, and how to walk in forgiven freedom.
 Christopher J. H. Wright. The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2006. 82.
 Richard Bauckham. “Biblical Theology and the Problems of Monotheism.” Out of Egypt: Biblical Theology and Biblical Interpretation, ed. Craig Bartholomew et al. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004. 211.
 Wright, 82.