Sometimes our decision making is bad, and sometimes it’s just plain awful. In today’s first reading, David’s was awful. He committed adultery with Bathsheba. And when he found out she was pregnant, he tried to convince Bathsheba’s husband that he was the father. Finally, he ordered the man to be killed in battle.
David’s story offers us some crucial lessons. First, we should be alert, temptation is all around and it can be very easy to succumb to it. Second, it tells us how, once we have fallen, we can go to great lengths to cover up our sin. But that strategy often leads to more and more sin. As the poet Walter Scott wrote, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!”
But God was merciful to David, and that is the third lesson. When the prophet Nathan confronted David, he acknowledged his sin and repented.
Dorothy Day, who was involved sexually with a number of men, had a child out of wedlock, and had an abortion after she became pregnant with another man. But when Dorothy turned to the Lord, God did more than forgive her. He inspired her to become a champion of the poor. God was merciful to King David and Dorothy Day, and he is merciful to us. He is merciful to everyone who comes to him!
So whether your sin is large or small, don’t be afraid to confess it. Let God’s mercy wash over you and set you free. Today’s responsorial psalm traces David’s experience of forgiveness. But then he encountered a merciful God and discovered that he is a “shelter” to all who turn to him. Pray this psalm today, and let God fill you with his mercy and his love.