Against you only have I sinned

King David sinned. Big time. 

He committed adultery with Bathsheba. She became pregnant.

Her husband Uriah was in David’s army and away at battle. David invited him back with the hopes that he would sleep with his wife making people think the baby was from him instead. 

But in an act of solidarity with his fellow soldiers on the front lines, Uriah wouldn’t go into his house. The next day David tried again. He got Uriah drunk to weaken his resolve. But it still didn’t work.

So David sent word to his commander to send Uriah to where the fighting was most fierce so that he would die. He did. Bathsheba mourned for her husband. And then David married her.

Perhaps David thought he got away with it. But then the prophet Nathan confronted him. David came face-to-face with the fact that nothing is hidden from God’s sight.

Psalm 51 is David’s heartfelt plea for mercy and forgiveness. In verse 4 he says this to God: “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight…”

Um, pardon? Didn’t he sin against Bathsheba, Uriah and the people of Israel?

Yes he did. But David is making a point. He is acutely aware that he has sinned first and foremost against God. All sin is primarily against him.  

Tim Keller expressed this sentiment in a prayer inspired by this psalm: “When I sin I don’t just break your laws but trample on your heart.”*

There are times when we think that our actions are okay “if it doesn’t hurt anybody.” But that’s a secondary issue. All sin is primarily against God. 

Whenever we break God’s commands or teachings—whether another person is hurt or not—we are sinning directly against God.

Take sin seriously. Be honest. Seek God’s forgiveness. And let him change you.

The God who received David with grace is the same God who receives you.


–“True repentance: Create in me a clean heart.” Sermon on Psalm 51. May 21, 2023. Click here to watch or listen.

–*Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller, The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Devotions in the Psalms (New York: Viking, 2015), 108.

-Bible quotes are from the NIV.

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