Psalm 19:12-13 - Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless and innocent of great transgression.
"Who do you think you are?" can be a stated as a gentle psychological probe in the hands of an astute counselor, or "Who do you think you are?" can be an accusation of arrogance by someone offended by your behavior or speech. Arrogance presumes entitlement as if to say, "I'm entitled to favoritism because of my great contributions to society! I'm a cut above prime, smarter than the average bear!" Such souls believe the world owes them a favor, and the size of that favor is proportionate to the arrogance they possess. Perhaps you know those whose arrogance strains your ability to be civil in their presence. Even their saccharine humility rubs you the wrong way. It reminds me of a quote attributed to Golda Meir, former prime minister of Israel, who once said to a visiting dignitary, "Don't be so humble; you're not that great."
Are we guilty of similar haughtiness? Does it derail our witness to others?
"Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins," pleads the psalmist. What are "presumptuous sins"? This speaks to our insistence on sinning, believing that God will forgive us in the long run and that in the meantime all is well with our souls. Lutherans, oddly enough, may be particularly susceptible to this kind of sinning.
Why? Because our pious confession and absolution of sins which inaugurates every worship service can give one the idea that God forgives sins weekly regardless of our intent to amend our lives. "Let them (those presumptuous sins) not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless and innocent of great transgression," begs David the psalmist. Presumptuous sinning is a "great" transgression because it possesses the ability to dominate and ruin the sanctified life in Christ.
Consider the author of this psalm: David the King, the sweet psalmist of Israel; David the victor, over all God's enemies from his youth on up; David blessed with wealth, wives, and children in abundance; David, God's right-hand man on earth, specifically chosen above his brothers to lead all Israel; David, surely, David must have felt special, set-apart, and favored by God. With this shower of heavenly blessings, David presumed God would always be gracious to him despite the wanderings of his own heart. Such presumption mistakenly believes the merit for God's graciousness belongs entirely to David and not to God.
Then along came Bathsheba: David's presumptuous sin.
We know the rest of the story: trouble everywhere. It never left David's house. The lesson here? Be wise, fear God, turn away and spare yourself the inevitable chastisement that will follow. Yes, God's grace in Christ Jesus is unconditional, eternal, and greater than our presumptuous sinning, but when temptation strikes, look at the cross! Count the cost and declare, "How can I sin presumptuously in the face of such love? Who do I think I am? How can I deliberately sin first and presume His forgiveness later?
Instead, let us seek God in His Word, repentant of our errors, earnestly entreating Him for grace and the forgiveness which is only available through His Son Jesus.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, the next time before I intend to sin and presume upon Your forgiveness point my heart to the cross of Christ and grant me true repentance. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Mark Schreiber.
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