I think one of the strangest verses in the Bible is Psalm 51:4. David has just been exposed by Nathan for committing adultery with Bathsheba and for killing her husband to cover it up. So he sits down and writes, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.”
David made his men complicit in his sin by sending them to get Bathsheba, he at least tempted – if not forced – Bathsheba to have sex with him, committed adultery against his wife, killed Uriah . . . and he thinks God is the only one he’s sinned against? I’d say there’s a few other people he’s sinned against as well.
But I think that God was just so big in David’s life (even when he was sinning!) that it was like he couldn’t see around Him. There were a bunch of people who should have been in David’s view, but all he could see was that he had sinned against his God.
When I ask people who are caught in sin to tell me the story of what’s happened, one of the things I really listen for is if God shows up in their story. Do they mention how they’ve hurt God, how they’ve been wrestling with God, what God must think? If so, I think that’s a good sign.
If not, that really concerns me. And I’ll point it out to the person. I’ll talk about David’s reaction and how all he could talk about was how he had sinned against God, “but you’ve just told me your whole story and you barely mentioned God at all. Could you please share your story again, but this time tell me how God fits in. Were you ignoring Him? If not, what was He saying to you? If you were leading people during this time, how could you continue doing that without feeling the heaviness of God’s hand on you?”
It’s really interesting to see what happens at that point. Most often people start stammering about, “Oh yeah, of course, yeah, I was praying…” but it appears obvious from their reaction that they had pretty much been ignoring God for a long time…