Psalm 41: Flawed But Forgiven

Read Psalm 41:1-13

Flawed But Forgiven

O LORD, have mercy on me; heal me, for I have sinned against you…
In my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever.
(Psalm 41:4,12)

The juxtaposition of these two verses presents a problematic incongruence. It appears that David is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. On the one hand, he is connecting his personal sin with physical malady and public hostility. But on the other hand, he claims that it is his personal integrity that gives him favored status before the Almighty.

However, there is no incongruence for David—or for you and me. Yes, we are all helplessly flawed, but there is hope! You see, we can also be fully forgiven, and as a result, live under the high favor of God, if we are sincerely repentant for our sinfulness.

Living within God’s favor is not about sinless perfection. None of us will reach that lofty plane in this life. I wish we could—I especially wish I could. But because I have been fundamentally infected with sin, that will not happen until I reach heaven. I—and you—will continue to, as a good friend of mine was fond of saying, “dip ourselves in the yogurt” of sin until the day we die. And that sin will bring uncomfortable if not outright tragic consequences into our lives.

So how then can we claim a personal integrity that invites the attention, honor and favor of God? I would suggest there are three characteristics we can, and should cultivate, as David did, that will allow us as flawed people to be fully forgiven and highly favored:

First, we must cultivate self-awareness. Not an over-indulgence in introspection and self-absorption, but a healthy consciousness of both our strengths and weaknesses. I was recently speaking with a person about a relational crisis they were experiencing, and they were pouring out their heart about how difficult the other person was. When I asked them to share what flaws they brought into the troubled mix, I got a blank stare and an admission that they couldn’t think of any. That is not all that uncommon in troubled relationships. Although people are not always willing to be as honest as that person I had interviewed, many times they are simply unaware or unwilling to consider the pain and problems they are contributing to the situation. David was incredibly self-aware…and he often asked God to make him even more aware, painfully aware of his own flaws (see Psalms 26:2, 139:23-24). Maybe you should too!

Second, we must cultivate godly sorrow. Not self-pity, but godly sorrow. Self-pity leads only to depression; self-awareness without sorrow for sin brings only hopelessness, unproductive navel-gazing, and a pessimistic approach to life. However, as the Apostle Paul taught in II Corinthians 7:10-11, godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, while worldly sorrow brings only death. I think that was the secret to a seriously flawed David’s favor with God—he experienced deep sorrow for his sins. Perhaps we should ask God to break our hearts quickly anytime we think, say or do anything that breaks his heart.

And third, self-awareness and godly sorrow must lead to sincere repentance. I’m not taking about feeling bad that we’ve been caught in a goof or are having to “pay the piper” for our imperfections. I’m talking about confessing our offense, making amends when we should and can, and turning from our sinful actions by walking an opposition line toward holiness and kingdom fruitfulness.

Well, that’s a mouthful—but I think you get the picture. That’s how you can be a “deeply flawed person of integrity” and live under the full forgiveness and high favor of the Almighty. And hallelujah, that is only possible with the God we serve!

“God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He
has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.”


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