This morning I experienced a deep grief as I scrolled through my Facebook timeline. A married man who I treated as a brother in Christ posted a note celebrating the one year anniversary of connecting with a woman not his wife. Instead of celebrating he should be grieving, too.
Here is a shocking reality: the Prodigal Son is not merely a picture of the worst of sinners; he is a symbol of every redeemed sinner–alienated from God and without a hope in the world. He is a precise and living effigy of the entire human race–fallen, sinful, and rebellious.
–John MacArthur, A Tale of Two Sons.
The Return of the Prodigal Son – Rembrandt
Normally when we think of somebody as a prodigal son or daughter, we think of somebody like me. I had previously enjoyed the delights in the Father’s house, but then went astray. I knew better, but still took the path that led from the Father and into a far country. There I indulged my evil passions in riotous living.
When the prophet Nathan confronted King David about his prodigal or riotous actions, David cried out to God in Psalm 51. His prayer included confession and asking for God’s forgiveness. But the question must be asked, upon what basis could David make such a request?
King David was forced to face his death deserving sin by the confrontation of the prophet Nathan. Deep conviction stirred the heart of the one who God would later call a man after my heart (Acts 13:22). David would cry out to God by confessing that he was guilty of transgressions, iniquity and sin.
Since God is holy, wicked men cannot hope for fellowship with the Creator…unless this holy God grants forgiveness. The penalty for sin is death, alienation or separation from God. By his own words to Nathan, David knew that he deserved death.
In Psalm 51 David repeatedly asks for forgiveness. Let’s examine the eight lines David employs in this request.
“You are the man (2 Samuel 12:7)!” These words from the prophet Nathan pierced to the core of King David. The Lord exposed David’s adultery with Bathsheba and the murderous coverup. What would David, the prodigal king, do?