The Painful Price of Pride

1 Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman. And they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it. Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth. And suddenly the Lord said to Moses and to Aaron and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting.” And the three of them came out. And the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the tent and called Aaron and Miriam, and they both came forward. And he said, “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them, and he departed.

10 When the cloud removed from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, like snow. And Aaron turned toward Miriam, and behold, she was leprous. 11 And Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord, do not punish us because we have done foolishly and have sinned. 12 Let her not be as one dead, whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes out of his mother’s womb.” 13 And Moses cried to the Lord, “O God, please heal her—please.” 14 But the Lord said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be shamed seven days? Let her be shut outside the camp seven days, and after that she may be brought in again.” 15 So Miriam was shut outside the camp seven days, and the people did not set out on the march till Miriam was brought in again. 16 After that the people set out from Hazeroth, and camped in the wilderness of Paran. Numbers 12:1-16 ESV

Moses was the God-appointed leader of the nation Israel and Aaron, his brother, had been set apart by God to serve as the high priest. And even when God had agreed to provide His chosen leader with administrative assistance, God poured out His Spirit on 70 men who would serve directly under Moses. They were not to replace him or to assume they served on an equal standing with him. These men were supposed to assist Moses in his oversight of the nation, wisely administering justice and handling disputes among the people so that Moses would not become overwhelmed.

Yet, this chapter introduces a new form of leadership struggle that rose among the people and it started with those who were closest to Moses – his own family. It seems that his brother and sister took issue with a marriage arrangement he had agreed to with a Cushite woman. There is some debate as to the identity of this woman, but it would appear that she was of a foreigner of Ethiopian descent. It could be that Moses’ first wife, Zipporah, had died some time during the last year, and he then married this Ethiopian woman. But whatever the circumstances, Miriam and Aaron took issue with the marriage and used it as an excuse to question Moses’ qualifications to lead the nation.

They saw the marriage as evidence of Moses’ lack of discernment and questioned whether he was really hearing from God. In fact, they claimed to be on an equal standing with Moses when it came to divine insight.

“Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t he spoken through us, too?” – Numbers 12:2 NLT

Miriam was older than Moses and had been the one who helped secure his safety when Pharaoh had ordered the murder all the male babies born among the Israelites living in Egypt (Exodus 1:15-16). Miriam had arranged with the daughter of Pharaoh to have the infant, Moses, nursed by one of the Hebrew women, who just happened to be her own mother (Exodus 2:7-9). Exodus 15:20 refers to Miriam as a prophetess of God, and Micah 6:4 lists her as one of the three individuals whom God appointed to lead the nation of Israel from Egypt to the land of Canaan.

“For I brought you up from the land of Egypt
    and redeemed you from the house of slavery,
and I sent before you Moses,
    Aaron, and Miriam.” – Micah 6:4 ESV

But in Numbers 12, Miriam attempted to convince her brother, Aaron, to join her in staging a coup against Moses. It seems rather odd that she would target Aaron for participation in this little insurrection because he was already second-in-command and served as the high priest of the people. Even before Moses had successfully led the people of Israel out of Egypt, Aaron had served as his second-hand man. God had appointed him as Moses’ mouthpiece.

“What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he speaks well. And look! He is on his way to meet you now. He will be delighted to see you. Talk to him, and put the words in his mouth. I will be with both of you as you speak, and I will instruct you both in what to do. Aaron will be your spokesman to the people. He will be your mouthpiece, and you will stand in the place of God for him, telling him what to say.” – Exodus 4:14-16 NLT

But Miriam and Aaron had decided that they were just as qualified as their brother to serve as the de facto leaders of Israel. After all, they too had been born into the tribe of Levi and had every right to serve in a leadership capacity. And it didn’t help that Moses was a very humble individual who had no desire for the limelight. Of his own admission, he was far from charismatic or overly eloquent.

“O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.” – Exodus 4:10 NLT

His lack of self-esteem made him an easy target for Miriam’s attacks. She believed that Moses had been a poor choice by God and the Cushite marriage agreement had proven Moses’ lack of discernment. But God disagreed with their assessment and ordered the three siblings to meet Him at the tent of meeting, located just outside the camp.

And the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the tent and called Aaron and Miriam, and they both came forward. And he said, “Hear my words…” – Numbers 12:5-6 ESV

God wanted a word with these dissatisfied siblings and, when He was done, they were going to wish they had never opened their mouths against Moses. The first thing God cleared up was His divine right to choose whomever He wanted as His leader. Miriam may have been a prophetess of God, but that did not put her on equal footing with Moses. In fact, God seems to be taking a dig at Miriam’s prophetess status when He states, “If there were prophets among you, I, the Lord, would reveal myself in visions. I would speak to them in dreams” (Numbers 12:6 NLT).

Miriam had experienced no dreams or visions from God. Her demand for equal status was a figment of her own overactive imagination and over-inflated sense of self-worth. And to make sure she understood the vast difference between His relationship with her and the one He shared with Moses, God declared:

“Of all my house, he is the one I trust. I speak to him face to face, clearly, and not in riddles! He sees the Lord as he is.” – Numbers 12:7-8 NLT

That had to have hit Miriam like a brick to the forehead. God’s words stung and burst the bubble of her own sense of self-importance. And, to make matters worse, God demanded to know why she had shown no fear to criticize Moses. Who did she think she was?

Having stated His case against Miriam and Aaron, God departed from them. But He left an unsettling reminder of His displeasure. When Aaron turned to look at Miriam, he was shocked to discover that her entire body was covered with leprosy. And fearing that he was next, he called out to Moses to intervene on their behalf.

“Oh, my master! Please don’t punish us for this sin we have so foolishly committed.” – Numbers 12:11 NLT

The sudden and unexpected sight of his sister covered with leprosy must have reminded Aaron of another day when something similar had happened to Moses. Back when God had called Moses to be the chosen deliverer of the people of Israel, He had given him a series of signs that were intended to prove to the people of Israel that Yahweh had sent him.

“Put your hand inside your cloak.” And he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. Then God said, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. – Exodus 4:6-7 ESV

Now, more than a year later, Moses and Aaron were staring at their sister, Miriam, whose entire body was covered with this hideous disease. But this time, there was no quick fix. Moses desperately pleaded for her immediate healing.

O God, please heal her—please.” – Numbers 12:13 ESV

But God refused to grant his request. Instead, He graciously announced that her punishment would not match the gravity of her crime.

“If her father had done nothing more than spit in her face, wouldn’t she be defiled for seven days? So keep her outside the camp for seven days, and after that she may be accepted back.” – Numbers 12:14 NLT

In essence, God is declaring that Miriam had defiled herself through her actions. And while God could have left her to suffer from the hideous effects of leprosy for a lifetime, He mercifully restricted her period of suffering to only seven days. But she would be required to spend the entire time on the outskirts of the camp, suffering the indignity of the disease and the social stigmatization of ceremonial impurity. She was to be treated as unclean and unwelcome among the people of God – until God had healed her. And during the seven days of her punishment, the entire nation of Israel was forced to delay their journey to the land of promise. Everything came to a halt because Miriam had decided to question the will of God and the authority of His chosen leader. And this painful punishment from God should have served as a powerful reminder to the entire nation that no one was immune to God’s discipline against disobedience. Even the sister of Moses.

English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Sin Against God.

And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”

Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.” 2 Samuel 12:1-14 ESV

When David had received the news from Joab that Uriah had been killed in battle (just as David had commanded), he responded in very flippant manner: “Do not let this matter displease you…” (2 Samuel 11:25 ESV). The Hebrew word he used, yara`, can also mean “evil”. So in other words, David was telling Joab not to see what he had done as evil or sinful. He wasn’t to grieve over it or be upset about it. The prophet, Isaiah, wisely wrote, “What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter” (Isaiah 5:20 NLT). David was attempting to negate the gravity of his sin and was even unwilling to see what he had done to Uriah and with Bathsheba as sin. He didn’t want Joab to be displeased about his role in the affair. But David forgot about the displeasure of God. What he had done was sin and God hates sin. He is the holy and righteous God who must deal justly with sin. He can’t ignore it, excuse it, or turn his back on it. And because David was the king of Israel, he was held by God to an even higher standard. He was God’s chosen representative. He was the leader of God’s people. And as the old proverb states: “As is the king, so are the subjects.”

What is amazing about this story is that it took a third party to bring David to a point of repentance. It was not until Nathan, the prophet, showed up at David’s doorstep, that David had second thoughts about what he had done. Even Psalm 51, written by David as a result of this whole affair regarding Bathsheba and Uriah, was written after Nathan had been used by God to convict David. The description attached to the psalm explains this fact: “A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.” It was because God had sent Nathan and Nathan had exposed David’s sin, that David realized the gravity of what he had done. It took the rather deceptive tactics of Nathan to get David to recognize the reality of his sin and the depth of God’s displeasure.

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgment. – Psalm 51:1-4 ESV

While David may have been able to dissuade Joab from being displeased with his role in Uriah’s death, David had not been able to convince God that what he had done was a good thing. God was displeased. He was angry, and His was a righteous indignation. He had taken David’s actions personally.

“Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.” – 2 Samuel 12:9 ESV

God reminded David that He had been the one to put him on the throne. David’s reign had been God’s doing. “I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul” (2 Samuel 12:7 ESV). God even reminded David of what had happened to Saul, who had also multiplied wives for himself, in direct violation of God’s command.

“And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more.” – 2 Samuel 12:8 ESV

This was not God giving approval of Saul’s collection of wives. And it cannot be used to say that God was transferring the rights to Saul’s many wives to David. This would be in direct contradiction to God’s own commands regarding the king and his wives (Deuteronomy 17:17). God was simply stating that the sins of Saul had led to his fall. David had taken ownership of all that had belonged to Saul, all because God had made it possible. And David’s response had been to disobey God.

And God gave David the very bad news regarding his sin: “Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife” (2 Samuel 12:10 ESV). David’s sin was going to have dire consequences. He was going to receive forgiveness from God, but that would not change the fact that he would also be punished by God for what he had done.

“Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun. – 2 Samuel 12:11-12 ESV

This very devastating news got David’s full attention. As a result of what he heard, David responded: “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13 ESV). He owned up to his sin. He admitted that what he had done had been a sin against God Himself. He had violated the law of God. He took responsibility for it, and repented of it. But Nathan would give David a good-news, bad-news report:

“The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.” – 2 Samuel 12:13-14 ESV

Years later, in one of his psalms, David would say of God, “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12 ESV). David would come to love and appreciate the forgiveness of God. But he would also know the discipline of God.

The most difficult thing about this passage is the death of the child born to David and Bathsheba. This innocent child had been the result of their adulterous affair, but had played no part in it. He had been the unwitting byproduct of their sin. And yet, it was the child who died. We must always keep in mind the passage regarding sin found in James, chapter one.

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. – James 1:14-15 ESV

To blame God for the death of the child would be wrong. It was the sin of David that caused the child’s death. The sad reality about sin is that the innocent always suffer the most. When we sin, we almost always try to justify or rationalize our actions by claiming that we are not hurting anybody else. But sin always has a victim other than us. If we look at the list of sins listed in Galatians five, we see that they are all other-oriented. Our sins are always damaging to others. And it was David’s sin with Bathsheba and his role in the death of Uriah that led to the loss of his own son. He could not point his finger at God and attempt to blame Him. As we will see in the rest of the chapter, David would pray to God for his son’s healing, but he would not blame God for his sickness. He knew where the blame belonged. David had taken another man’s wife and shown no pity. He had arranged for the murder of that very same man, and had shown no remorse.

But David was going to learn a powerful and life-changing lesson from this dark moment of the soul. He would later write these words that reflect his new understanding regarding sin and repentance.

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
    you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. – Psalm 51:16-17 ESV

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Prayer For Guidance.

Then all the commanders of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest, came near  and said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the Lord your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us—that the Lord your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do.” – Jeremiah 42:1-3 ESV

Have you ever been at a loss as to what to do? Maybe you have found yourself going through what appears to be the discipline of God for something you have done and you want to know what your next steps should be. The people of Judah found themselves in that very predicament. They were surrounded by the military forces of Babylon and under the disciplinary judgment of God for their persistent sin and rebellion against Him. In fact, Jerusalem had already fallen to the Babylonians and thousands of their friends and fellow countrymen had already been taken captive to Babylon. They were the remnant that had been left. Their king, Zedekiah, had been captured by the Babylonians as he attempted to escape the city at night. He was taken to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylonian, where he was forced to watch as all his sons were killed right in front of him, then he had his own eyes gouged out. The remnant that had been left knew their days were numbered. They had no king, no army, and no hope. There were some among them who wanted to turn to Egypt for help. Rather than take their problem to God, they thought they could solve it themselves with a little outside help. Others were recommending flight. We should just run away, they counseled. Some were even suggesting Egypt as the destination for their flight. So what should they do? Wisely, if not a bit too tardily, they decided to ask God. So they asked Jeremiah to go to God on their behalf and ask Him for guidance. What did He want them to do? You see, they were confused and divided. They asked, “that the Lord your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do.” Now that all was in a shambles and they had no other viable options, they suddenly decided to take their problem to God. They even promised to do whatever God said, if only He would answer them. “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the Lord your God sends you to us. Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God” (Jeremiah 42:5-6 ESV). But would all this prove to be too little, too late? Would God refuse to answer their request because of their consistent refusal to listen to His prophets and their call to repentance?

God answered. He made them sweat it out for ten days, but He answered. “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your plea for mercy before him: If you will remain in this land, then I will build you up and not pull you down; I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I relent of the disaster that I did to you. Do not fear the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid. Do not fear him, declares the Lord, for I am with you, to save you and to deliver you from his hand. I will grant you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and let you remain in your own land” (Jeremiah 42:9-12 ESV). God’s answer was conditional. It contains an if-then statement. God promised to build them up, to plant them, to relent, to be with them, to save and deliver them, to show them mercy and allow them remain in the land – IF they would simply remain in the land and trust Him. Everything in them said to run and God knew it. He knew what they were thinking. He knew they were wanting to turn their attention to Egypt and place their trust in them. But while everything around them looked bleak and beyond hope, God wanted them to know that He was not done. He would even cause the king of Babylon to show them mercy. But if they refused to listen to God and took matters into their own hands, God would punish them just as He had their friends and neighbors. “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: If you set your faces to enter Egypt and go to live there, then the sword that you fear shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine of which you are afraid shall follow close after you to Egypt, and there you shall die. All the men who set their faces to go to Egypt to live there shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. They shall have no remnant or survivor from the disaster that I will bring upon them’ (Jeremiah 42:15-17 ESV).

Even in the midst of our most difficult situations, including those that are the result of our own sin and rebellion, we can call out to God for help and guidance. But we must be willing to listen to what He has to say. God will answer. He will give us direction, but we must obey Him – even when it seems to make no sense. Fear and flight may seem the most logical next step, but if God says, “Stay!”, we must stay. There is only one thing worse than refusing to seek guidance from the Lord, and that is to refuse to obey His guidance once you have sought it. God’s will may not make sense to us. His guidance may seem counter intuitive. Everything in us may scream that our way makes more sense, but we must obey. God answers when we call. But the question is whether we will obey when He answers.

A Global Blessing.

Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem;  then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar. – Psalm 51:18-19 ESV

Psalm 51

David had sinned against God. What he had done had been a personal affront to the sovereignty and holiness of God. David had disobeyed God’s commands and he had come under the judgment of God for his actions. But as the king of Israel, David’s sins had a far more global impact. As the nation’s divinely appointed leader, his actions would have far-reaching ramifications. Not only would David lose the son born out of his illicit affair with Bathsheba, he would endure years of watching his family implode. The prophet, Nathan, had warned him. “Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun’” (2 Samuel 12:10-11 ESV). And these intra-family disputes would end up having a dramatic influence on the entire nation of Israel, because they would lead to the eventual takeover of David’s throne by one of his own sons. David’s sin would end up negatively influencing the entire nation of Israel, and he knew it. So David closed his prayer with a request that God would “do good to Zion” and “build up the walls of Jerusalem.” He was asking God bless the nation and protect it. He knew that, in reality, it was God who had made Jerusalem great and had turned the people of Israel into a powerful nation. David’s selfish, passion-driven sin with Bathsheba had put the entire nation at risk. As the king went, so went the nation. His leadership set an example for good or bad. We see over and over again in the history of the kings of Israel and Judah, that when they served the Lord faithfully, the people followed their example. But when they rebelled against God, the nation did as well.

David’s own son, Solomon, would prove to be a prime example of this truth. Late in his reign, in his old age, after having given in to his love affair for women and having amassed for himself 1,000 wives and concubines, he began to worship their false gods. Solomon had disobeyed God’s explicit command forbidding the kings of Israel to marry multiple wives. He had also disobeyed God’s command to not marry outside the nation of Israel. “For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done” (1 Kings 11:4-6 ESV). And the people would follow their king’s example, worshiping false gods just as he had done. As a result, God split the kingdom of Israel in half. He divided the nation and a long line of kings would rule and reign over the divided kingdom, many leading the people into further sin and rebellion against God.

So David prayed. He begged God to bless the nation in spite of him. He realized that Israel’s glory was the result of God’s goodness, not his effectiveness as a king. Any blessings that Israel enjoyed were the result of God’s goodness. Any military victories they had experienced had been God’s doing, not his own. David knew that, without God’s help, Israel was defenseless and his leadership as king was ultimately useless. They needed God. And David was not content to simply pray for himself. He felt a strong responsibility to lift up the entire nation and intercede for them before God. David knew that he had let his people down. He had failed to lead responsibly and had put the nation at risk with his actions. They needed a righteous ruler and a faithful sovereign, and David knew that God was the only one who fit that description. God’s blessing of the nation would result in the people turning back to Him. They would recognize His sovereign, powerful hand and once again offer Him the sacrifices and offerings He demanded and deserved. David understood that if God could create a new heart for him and renew a right spirit within him, God could do the same for the nation of Israel. He was asking God to do what only God could do: Restore and renew the nation. He wanted God to bless and protect them. David may have failed, but he knew His God never would. David may have proved himself unfaithful, but he was counting on the fact that God never would.