“Against you, you only, have I sinned…” (Psalm 51:4).

The omission of that statement is as culpable as the person who expresses it “when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba” (Psalm 51: superscript). The acts amalgamated into this sin are conspicuously against more than only God.

His wives and her husband: the first scene of the act offends at least the six wives of David whose names we know (Ahinoam, Abigail, Maacah, Haggith, Abital, and Eglah) and Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah (2 Samuel 11:1-4).

Bathsheba: because of the patriarchal setting and his role as the chief of living patriarchs, David’s sin against Bathsheba is the same regardless of her undisclosed response (2 Samuel 11:4).

Uriah: David murders him with the sword of the Ammonites (2 Samuel 12:9).

Joab: David makes him complicit in the plot to kill Uriah (2 Samuel 11:14-15).

Israel: He is doing exactly what God forbade to the kings of Israel (Deuteronomy 17:17). The aftermath of this choice plunges Israel into the civil conflict that drives David from Jerusalem at the cost of Absolom’s life.

When David sins, he does it on Adam’s scale. Then why does he say his sin is against God, and God only? For exactly the same reason he makes his choice when confronted by Gad with another mortal error. In that case, he must choose between judgment in the court of nature, his enemies, or Yahweh. His choice: “I am in great distress. Let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is very great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man” (1 Chronicles 21:13).

In our God, and him only, do we always find mercy. Always. So David seeks judgment in Yahweh’s court, and his only.

To a week extending the mercy we find in God’s presence to those who will appear in ours.