In the 1880’s, educators predicted dire consequences from an innovative gadget. Leaded pencils were already standard classroom equipment. But the newest addition, an eraser attached to one end, had teachers clicking their tongues.
Some believed an eraser encouraged children to make mistakes. The schoolmarms and masters of the nineteenth century would surely gasp if they knew how quickly a computer keyboard delete button can scrap paragraphs and whole pages of text.
Call me modern, but I like erasers. I especially like the way God scrubs clean my past. All of us need forgiveness, and that’s probably one reason Bible hero King David’s story of sin, repentance, and forgiveness are included in the Bible. He gave in to lust and adultery which led to the murder of a trusted officer and soldier.
Here’s the timeline of his temptations and sin: At a time of war (kings usually accompanied their armies into battle), David sent his army and its commander Joab into battle, but he remained at his palace where he became restless. Sleepless, pacing the palace roof, the king saw a woman bathing on her rooftop, and he didn’t look away.
He allowed his lust to rule and summoned her to his palace, where he slept with her and she became pregnant. That’s when he schemed to get her husband Uriah, one of David’s 30 Mighty Men, to return from battle so he would be back in the arms of his wife. David hoped to deceive the husband and others through this ruse.
However, Uriah -- the more honorable soldier and man -- refused to go to his house and enjoy the comforts of home saying, “My master Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife?” (2 Samuel 11:11).
That’s when David’s sin branched and turned another wicked corner. He ordered Joab to place Uriah in the fiercest battle. Within range of enemy archers, Uriah died. Later, a prophet told David a tale about man who only had one lamb and someone stole that lamb. Almost immediately David realized the parallel, saying, “I have sinned against the LORD.”
At once, the prophet replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin” (2 Samuel 12:13). Erased. Gone. Forgotten. Forgiven. David marveled at God’s lavish forgiveness and responded by writing the tender words of repentance and gratitude “create in me a pure heart” and “restore to me the joy of your salvation” (Psalm 51:10,12).
Although forgiven, David’s sin caused extreme consequences. God wipes slates clean, but residue remains. Old felt erasers scattered chalk dust. Rubber erasers leave dregs, and sin leaves scum in the life of the perpetrator and far too often the innocent.
No one escapes sinning, but thank God that cartoon-depicted-lightening isn’t zapping our lives each time we sin. Jeremiah said, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Just as God pushes the dark of night into the folds of the horizon and allows the brightness of dawn, he is ready to brighten days with forgiveness through Jesus.
I’m not fond of the consequences of sin that sometimes remain long after the forgiveness -- but I surely do love God’s erasures.
(A special Thank You to the McKinleys of Willis, TX, who greeted me in Sam’s Club, and introduced themselves. You blessed my day.)