Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression. (Psalm 19:13)
I’d like to make a confession. I thoroughly enjoy what Hollywood refers to as “caper movies,” movies like Ocean’s Eleven. (I think they’re up to about Ocean’s Twenty-Four now, aren’t they?) There’s something that fascinates me about watching these clever crooks plan the perfect crime. They go through all sorts of con games, technological hacks, and bits of perfect timing to steal the diamonds or the gold or the money or whatever. Give me a good caper movie, and I’ll be happy.
You might wonder why I consider that last paragraph as a confession. In a way, enjoying a movie about well considered crime is a bit like enjoying a movie about genocide or carefully planned murder, isn’t it?
By the grace of God, I have never been a drug addict, desperate for my next dose of heroin. Imagination does allow me to comprehend the compulsion that would cause such an addict to smash the windows of a pawn shop, grabbing enough swag to pay the dealer. I don’t condone that action, but I understand how a fierce hunger could put a person into such a place. That’s not the way with the carefully planned crime, is it? The caper movie does not reflect the crime of desperation. With the time and energy that this careful criminal devotes to preparation, he could probably start a new business.
Yesterday, the Hebrew word translated as “hidden faults” referred to unknown or unintentional sins. Today, though, the emphasis is on the intentional, the sort of sin that Danny Ocean commits. The sort of sin that you and I commit when we understand in our hearts that a certain thing is wrong and then charge at full speed into that thing.
How can God forgive us when, equipped with the Holy Spirit and aware of the price Christ paid on the cross for our sins, we look at an action, deem it sinful, and then aim the torpedo of our lives at it? I don’t know how He can do that, but I am confident that He does.
David, here, seems to suggest that the only way to avoid that manner of sin is to lay it at God’s feet. Look at that verse again. “Keep your servant from willful sin.” Isn’t that sort of like asking someone to keep you from willfully eating? That’s exactly what it is. David acknowledges himself not to be the master of his own will. We should do the same, acknowledging our inability not to try to plan the great heist of sin.