I recently re-discovered the joy of the jigsaw puzzle. After many years in the jigsaw wilderness, I’m back in the swing, spending many a contented hour scouring the box for the last piece of that turquoise macaroon. And, as the evening draws in and the daylight has long since passed, it’s easy to carry on regardless, pretending that I can still pick out the subtle variances in shade and pattern needed to identify the correct piece. In fact, as I discover the next morning when I find that elusive piece in a matter of seconds, artificial light is no substitute for daylight. Hold that thought.
And then my car is in desperate need of a wash, after the battering from salt and grit it has taken after the recent snows - caused by The Beast from the East doing a Pas de Deux with Storm Emma! I once heard a talk where the speaker likened sin to a dirty car. Wash it regularly, and the dirt is easy to get off. Leave it for a month and it needs a lot more elbow grease. After six months, you’ve lost the battle - the dirt has become immovable grime!
What do these random observations have to do with Psalm 51, where King David is confessing his sin before God? Well, I would suggest that they can help us to get a grasp of what was going on in David’s life in the run up to Psalm 51.
David had committed adultery with his beautiful neighbour, Bathsheba. He thought he could get away with it but, when it became apparent that he couldn’t cover over the consequences, her pregnancy, he resorted to an even worse misdemeanour - he arranged for Bathsheba’s military husband to be killed in battle. Yet, David still thought he could get away with it - that is, until he was confronted, some time later, by the prophet Nathan. It was only then, when he came to see the magnitude of what he’d done, that he realised his sin was primarily against God, even more than against Bathsheba, her husband or, indeed, David’s God-ordained position as King of Israel.
Jigsaw puzzles and dirty cars? The longer I let the light fade, the more difficult it is to see what’s before me and I convince myself (erroneously) that the descending gloom makes no difference to my discernment. The longer I leave it to ‘fess up my sins, the more they will get a hold of me and the harder it will be to throw them off.
In plain English, we need to take sin seriously and be alert to what is likely to ‘lead us into temptation’.
Now, where’s that bucket and sponge?!