What's In Your Closet

by
Charles Martin

He is face down.  Nose to the stone.  He's torn his clothes.  Hasn't eaten in a week.  By now, the whole town knows.  David, the Great and Conquering King of Israel is a lying, scheming, conniving, backstabbing, murdering, adulterer.  Some of his own men are calling for his head on a platter.

Next door, his wife presses the newborn to her bosom but he will not eat.  Failure to thrive.

Last week, Nathan the prophet came to see him.  Told him a story.  About two men in a city.  One rich.  One poor.  And how the rich man took from the poor man the one ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished, which had grown up together with him and with his children.  That had eaten of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. David took the bait, hook, line and sinker.  He was incensed.  He feigned indignance.  He said, "As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! [6] And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity." [7] Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man!

I imagine that stung.

Now, as his world is crashing down, he lies there remembering.  Samuel had anointed him King.  He killed the lion and the bear.  He defeated Goliath.  Then the Philistines.  Took Saul's place.  Brought the arc back into the city of the Great King in triumph.  But last Spring, when the Kings had gone to war, he had not.  Instead, he walked the rooftops of his palace and spied on bathing women.  One in particular.  Now, he's paying the price.  A steep one.

Behind him, David hears weeping.  Gut-emptying sadness.  Reluctantly, his servants approach.  "You son is dead."  David knows that he alone is guilty.  He alone is to blame.  

He peels himself off the floor, and wipes his face on his sleeve.  Over his shoulder, Bathsheba's cries echo off the stone walls.  Cradling the limp body of her dead son, she is unconsolable.  David bathes, anoints himself, changes his clothes and walks face first into the Holy Tent.  Scripture records an amazing thing here.  It says when he walked into the tent, "David worshipped."

Really?

Break that down for me.

David's heart has been rent down the middle.  He is shredded.  He's betrayed a lot of people but none more so than The Lord.  So he walks into the tent.  Into the very presence of The Lord Almighty.  The word for 'worship' means, to depress, i.e. prostrate (especially reflexive, in homage to royalty or God).  To bow your self down.  Crouch.  Fall down (flat).  Humbly beseech.  Stoop.  To worship.

The other day, I was running, thinking about this whole transaction.  About David not going to war.  Spying on Bathsheeba.  Ordering the murder of Uriah.  I mean, the whole messy thing.  And I asked The Lord, "Lord, when David came to you in the tent, what'd he say?"

I really wanted to know.  I mean, just what'd that conversation sound like.  A few minutes passed.  When the answer came, it came in the form of a number.  Not a word.  I felt like The Lord said, "51."

I nodded.  "Of course."   Everybody knows David wrote Psalm 51 after "he sinned with Bathsheba."  But, when?  When in that timeframe of this whole mess did he write it?  Months after? The next year?  I don't think so.  I think it was a good bit sooner.  I think David heard Bathsheba weeping, heard the words, "Your son is dead," and then bathed, clothed himself, stumbled into that tent, fell on his face and wrote Psalm 51 through tears -- while the snot ran down his face.  No, I can't prove it, but look at it.  Where else would he have written it?

Psalm 51:1-19 NKJV
[1] Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. [2] Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. [3] For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. [4] Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight- That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. [5] Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. [6] Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will 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 hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. [9] Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. [10] Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. [11] Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. [12] Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. [13] Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You. [14] Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation, And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. [15] O Lord, open my lips, And my mouth shall show forth Your praise. [16] For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. [17] The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart- These, O God, You will not despise. [18] Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion; Build the walls of Jerusalem. [19] Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, With burnt offering and whole burnt offering; Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.

Books are written on this Psalm.  Let me comment on just one word.  "Wash."  The Hebrew word used for 'wash' is not the one used for the cleaning of dishes in water.  But the washing of clothes by beating and pounding.  Like folks do with rugs strung on lines.

Around the Martin house, this is our prayer of repentance.  "Creat in me a clean heart.  Renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Cast me not from Your presence and take not your Holy Spirit from me."  My boys can quote this.  It's dear to me.  To us.  

My Bible says that Psalm 30 was written during the dedication of the house of David but I wonder it if doesn't have its roots in this moment.  When I get to heaven, I'll ask Him.  Look at what it says:

Psalm 30:2-3,5,11 NKJV
[2] O LORD my God, I cried out to You, And You healed me. [3] O LORD, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit... [5] For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning... [11] You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,

For me, the roots of Psalm 30 lie in the soil of Psalm 51.  But, that's my opinion.  Until then, I am left with the picture of King David -- a wretched, black-hearted sinner like me -- who even at his worst, walked in behind the curtain, fell face down, hands raised.  And worshipped.  And God, who is Faithful, who's mercy is everlasting, who stretched out the heavens with His Word, who told sea where to start and stop, who hung ten trillion stars, met him right there.  In that muck and mire.  That tearful, wrecked, snot-flowing, bloody hands raised sinner is a picture of both repentance and worship.

If that's not enough, here's the part that gets me.  Four words.  In the very beginning.  Go back and read it.  No, before the first verse.  The words, "To the Chief Musician."  Let that sink in.  David, King of Israel, defeater of the Philistines, the one who cut off Goliath's head with his own sword, who brought the arc back into the City of David dancing with all his might, wearing nothing but a loin cloth, who told Michal 'I will become even more undignified than this,' this great King, mandated that what we call Psalm 51 be used as corporate prayer and praise in the temple.  Translation? He added it to the hymnal.  Then printed millions of copies and sprayed them across the globe.  When scripture says David "was a man after God's own heart," Psalm 51 is exhibit A before the jury.

If you read further, you'll see that David never escaped the consequences of his sin.  The sword never left his house.  He paid a steep penalty.  But here we are three thousand years later, and that shepherd boy with a stringed instrument is still leading us in praise before His God and King.  He is leading my boys.  Me.  You.

The word 'repent' was the first recorded public statement made in the ministries of John The Baptist.  Jesus.  Peter.  Paul.  And in John's letter of Revelation, God commands repentance from five of the seven churches.  Repentance may be taboo in 2015 as we bathe ourselves in the half-truth of the gospel of uber grace, but despite what is popular and what makes people feel good, repentance is still the foundation of authenticity with The Father.  Without it there is no intimacy.  No deliverance.  David said, "Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed."  He doesn't get to ask that without having first repented.  It's the prerequisite.  Step one.    

When we hear the word 'Repent,' we think about some Bible-thumping preacher spewing fire and brimstone or some dude at a football game with rainbow hair.  Maybe a billboard on the interstate.  But we would well to listen.  Starting with me.  God told the Israelites, "If my people who are called by My name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and heal their land."  His hearing of us, and His healing of our land, begins and ends with our humbling, praying, seeking, and turning.  In short, our repentance.  When Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, the Lord required that Israelites had to publicly walk forward and look up: admit, acknowledge and confess.  That IS  repentance.  Same applies today.  When we refuse, we make a mockery of The Cross.  Don't miss this.  If you skip repentance, you are thumbing your nose at the Savior with holes in his hand and feet.

What's the closet you want to keep closed?  Locked.  Dark.  What's the thing you're taking to the grave?  Yes, I think highly of David for his Kingliness and his life as warrior, but my deep admiration and great affection for him comes in the picture of the broken-hearted and contrite man who walks into the Holy of Holies, falls on his face, raises bloody hands to a spotless King and empties himself in repentance.  But the story doesn't end there.  When he walks out, he hands that written confession to the worship leader and says, "Sing this.  Before everyone."  It was as if he walked down into his basement with a news crew, to the hole where he hid the bodies, violently tore open the doors, and screamed with a bullhorn, "This is the truth of me!  The stuff I don't want you to know."  I think the reason David had the courage to do this is because he knew he couldn't tell The Lord anything The Lord didn't already know.  His sin wasn't news to The Lord.  His sin was simply silent.  We have an enemy who prowls around like a roaring lion and he likes it that way.  he is fist-pumping over your and my silence.  his plan is to stuff our sin in dark closets where the doors are triple locked.  Lightbulb burned out.  Power cut.

So, who knows what you hide in your closet?  Is there anyone that you've led into your basement?  I meet with a group of guys on Thursday nights.  Have for years.  We try to do this.  With each other.  Sometimes corporately.  Sometimes individually.  We admit things like porn, lust, adultery, self love, anger, hatred.  We have a pretty long list.  And when we do this, we are on our faces.  Nose to the mat.  We do this out of obedience to our King.  In worship.  Because, "His lovingkindness is better than life."  Because, "better is one day in His courts than a thousand elsewhere."  And because we're sick and tired of putting on the mask of the fraud which we are all so good at wearing.  I also do this with Christy -- and no, that's not fun either.  And no, I don't do it enough.

One last time.  Who have led into your basement?  Will you?  Why not?  Jesus said, "the truth will set you free."    Not your new year's resolution.  Not your behavior modification.  Not your therapist.  Not your 'just say no' campaign.  Not your seven habits or your twelve steps or the purposes that drive you.  I'm not knocking those things.  But, let's don't complicate it.  Peel away the fluff.  Reduce it to the nugget.  What truth about you are you afraid to speak?  If you're anything like me or the guys on Thursday night, you will not want to do this, but then what do we do with Psalm 51?

You and I are enslaved by the stuff we keep dark.  Silent.  It holds us in chains, until we turn on the light.  Until we speak the truth of it.  Words like, "Guys I drink a bottle of Vodka a week."  "A six pack a night.  Twelve pack even."  "I look at porn. Daily."  "I had an affair.  More than once."  "I'm arrogant.  All the time." "I think I'm better than others.  Constantly."  "I had an abortion." "I'm involved in some pretty sick sexual sin..."  I don't care who you are or what you've done, there is no chain, no matter how thick, that the truth won't cut.

Not only will the truth set you free, it is THE ONLY THING that will set you free.  When The Word says, "Confess your sins to one another," He is not kidding.  And he's not saying this for His benefit.  It's for ours.  Our backs were not designed to carry all the stuff we shove in our backpack.  His on the other hand...

Don't think I've somehow got a handle on this.  You think I want to write this?  Post it on my blog?  Today is Thursday.  We meet in a few hours.  There is a part of me right this very second whispering, "control-alt-delete."  But that whisper is not Jesus.  That's my enemy.  Same old tactic.
 
Scripture also says, "The goodness of God leads us to repentance."  David knew this.  I've seen this in my own life.  In others.  He's a good God.  We can trust Him.  "We loved Him because He first loved us."  Let that sink in, too.  He loved us when we were way past unlovable.  "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  Right now, chances are good, if you've got some stuff in your basement, that the enemy is whispering in your ear, "Don't do it.  Just let it go.  Start over.  Take that stuff to the grave.  Nobody will ever know and if you do tell folks, it'll only hurt some people.  Better to just keep your mouth shut."  There is no Biblical model for this.  No where in scripture can this silence be justified.  On the contrary: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (I Jn 1:9)  

You want to be a man after God's own heart?  Want to know intimacy with the Father?  Want to be delivered from the chains that enslave you?  Want to render a spine-shattering defeat to the enemy that torments you?  Want to know the childlike purity of forgiveness received. Want to sit in the Holy of Holies and know the tender fellowship of The Father?  Want to feel His breath on your face?  

Walk down into your basement.  Take somebody with you.  Somebody you can trust with your heart.  Then rip the doors off the hinges, turn on all the lights...and worship.

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