I went with a good friend to a Sting concert way back in the early 90s… amazing music, amazing musician… it was a great night. But something Sting said that night has troubled me for the last 19 years. At one point in the concert, Sting was giving commentary to his life and to his song, Mad About You, a song from the perspective of King David. He said, with very colorful language, that if King David was a "man after God's own heart" then he couldn't believe in God. David had committed adultery and then murder to cover up the adultery. If David reflected God's heart, then Sting declared he could not accept God. I remember many in the crowd cheering his statement. It may have been the first time I truly related how a believer's sin so easily leads others away from God. It is a natural conclusion for many to make: If God's followers are phony, then perhaps God is phony too.
I can understand Sting's frustration… but won't accept his logic. Just because humans mess it all up… that doesn't mean God does. Paul writes:
3 What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? 4 Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written:
“So that you may be proved right when you speak
and prevail when you judge. (TNIV)
God had made a mutual promise with Israel. And although many people in Israel had broken their end of the promise, Paul assures that God would never break His end. Even if everyone lied, God would still be true.
Paul is quoting from Psalm 51, a dramatic cry from the devestated heart of King David. He had been a boy and a man with a heart after God. But he allowed corruption to take root… and was caught in sin. What Sting failed to consider almost 20 years ago, was David's remorse… and the kind of response God gave a man who broke his promise. David realized his fault and so pleaded with God for mercy. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love!” Psalm 51 is one of the most raw, honest, and vulnerable moments in world literature. Amazing passage. No arrogance whatsoever. Just humility. So David prays to God, without any hint of conceit or indignancy, “Against you have a I sinned… so you are proved right when you speak, and justified when you judge.” David realized his blame, felt his shame, and accepted his deserved sentence.
But what kind of heart does God have? Does God have a heart reflected in David's unfaithfulness as Sting assumed? Or is this faulty human thought? Perhaps God has a heart reflected in David's contriteness, in David's humility, in David's desire for purity and truthfulness and mercy and joy and gladness and deliverance… and brokenness.
God will keep His promise. Paul wants us to remember that. Even when humans don't, God will. Yes, it is true. God will judge the world… and He will be right to pronounce it. But God will judge the world by carrying their sins and offering forgiveness to the contrite (those who are after God's heart)… and this is the promise He made, and has kept, with Israel.
Look, just because humans mess up, doesn’t mean God does. Let God be God! And this is such Good News! In our society, when people have turned their backs on God because of how messed up Christians have been, we must remember—and we must help share— that God is God. Don’t assume that God is like us… unfaithful. God keeps His Word. And His Word is love.
Note: Psalm 51 is a rather famous one… David has been caught in adultery (unfaithfulness)… and he asks God, with amazing sincerity, to be made new. "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." David is asking God to make him faithful once more… to blot out his unfaithfulness and restore the joy of knowing God in a committed, unbroken relationship. But this time, David is realizing, that he must have God's sustaining promise to keep him on target. Give Psalm 51 a read today.