I enjoy watching Scandal, a show on ABC that features the character of Olivia Pope. She is a “fixer” in Washington DC. In it, she helps out many a politician or celebrity by manipulating the situation or media so that the scandalous situation is no longer a problem. People in power often make mistakes. Sometimes very large mistakes. And they try to “fix” them. Isn’t that what we all do to some extent? When we make mistakes, we try to deny, fix, or avoid responsibility.
After David beds Bathsheba, and she tells him she is pregnant, David tries to use his position to “fix” the situation. He first tries to send Uriah home so that he can sleep with his newly pregnant wife, and no one would know the difference. When that doesn’t work, he resorts to putting Uriah on the front line of war … Killing him, without responsibility … Or so he thought. David didn’t realize how he had abused his power and hurt people through his actions. It takes Nathan, the prophet, to open David’s eyes. In order to be a good leader, David needs to see himself as others see him and as God sees him. “Fixing” it cannot be manipulating the forces of war to murder and steal people. Fixing it means doing the internal work and offering repentance … Saying he’s sorry.
I was listening to an episode of Radio Times on WHYY a few weeks ago. (I really appreciate that show, by the way). The topic was “apologies,” and one of the guests said that an apology allows people to know that someone in authority has a heart.
In David we see that a King has a heart, not just an army. The humanness of David, the brokenness of David, the sinfulness of David … They are not hidden. In fact, the transparency allows us to see what a man of great faith and integrity looks like. David was not a stoic, warrior. He was a mourner, a singer, a dancer, a reveler, a womanizer, a murderer, a coveter, a schemer, a lover.
We know David has heart. In his song of repentance he asks God to make in him a clean heart. To make him right, clean, and good. A good apology, the Radio Times show said, includes the ability to listen, to see things from the other’s perspective, and to make amends.
God can see the good heart of David despite his sinfulness. And God does wipe away his guilt, but not without consequence. David, too, needs to give up something in order to make the relationship right.
In the end, David, in all of his power, is not the “fixer”. God is. But God can only make things right when we allow others to see our hearts, and are willing to see ourselves clearly. This is the act of confession … and repentance …. so that God can forgive.