Scripture Reading: Psalm 51:1-19
Self-awareness. It’s a funny thing—you either have it or you don’t. And if you don’t, it usually takes a pretty embarrassing situation to make you aware that you are not self-aware.
For instance, have you ever been in a crowded room, talking to a group of friends, telling a fantastic story, having the time of your life, when you realize everyone in the room has quieted down because your enthusiastic voice has filled the entire space, distracting everyone from their own personal conversations and—
No? Just me? Cool.
My point is this: Self-awareness can be hard to come by. And when it “comes by,” it can be… uncomfortable.
David wrote Psalm 51 after being hurled into self-awareness by the prophet Nathan. David had just slept with Bathsheba, gotten her pregnant, and ultimately, had Bathsheba’s husband killed to cover up what he’d done. And somehow, it wasn’t until Nathan confronted him that David was brought to his knees over his sin. Boom. Crippling self-awareness. This is the context for David writing in verse 3, “For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night.”
Awareness of our sin in the presence of a holy God can be an unbearable weight. How could we ever measure up? It’s impossible!
That’s why I’m glad David isn’t only writing out of an awareness of himself and his own brokenness. His self-awareness is accompanied by an acute “God-awareness.” He knows the God he’s approaching. He comes before God as a man in the wrong, but with an expectation that this holy God, who eternally exists in unapproachable light and holiness, also removes sin, erases blame, and restores joy to those who love Him. He is a God who unwaveringly desires to have David in good standing with Him.
I don’t know about you, but being confronted with the awareness of my own sin can be an oppressively cruel experience. Not only am I made aware of how far away I am from the holiness of God (and that distance is light years!), I often compound that feeling by hurling insults at myself, heaping on guilt and shame. I stand before myself as judge, jury, and accuser, certain that God could never accept me or approve of me because I’m just not good enough. And I wouldn’t be wrong. I’m not good enough. I never will be. I could never meet up to the standards of the holiness of God on my own.
But here’s the good news: God knows that. And He’s made a way for those who love Him to have access to Him in order to receive His forgiveness, which He freely extends through Christ. This is the God we serve.
So when I come before God, humbly aware of my sin, I don’t have to abuse myself, bowing beneath the weight of self-hatred and defeat. I can approach Him boldly and with confidence because, just like David, I have a “God-awareness.” I know the God I come before, and He silences the accusations, dismisses the guilt, and loves me out of my shame. Not only that, but every time I approach Him in humility and expectation, He makes me more like Him.
Erin Rose lives and works in vibrant Richmond, Virginia, where she serves as Worship & Teaching Pastor at East End Fellowship. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia, and is currently enrolled as a graduate student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Erin is a member of Urban Doxology, a ministry that is writing the soundtrack of reconciliation for the church. Her greatest joy lies in leading God’s people in authentic worship, and teaching them the truth found in God’s Word. She also enjoys eating delicious food, spending time with loved ones, and indulging in the occasional Netflix binge.