Housebroken or heartbroken? ∙

Housebroken or heartbroken?

Let me again experience the joy of your salvation! Sustain me by giving me the desire to obey! – Psalm 51:12

Psalms 51:9-12

 9 Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt.

 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.

 11 Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.

 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey you.

What does it mean to rub someone’s nose in it? A working definition is to remind someone of their failures or wrongdoings. To bring something, especially an error or fault, repeatedly and forcefully to someone’s attention. It appears that as sparks fly upwards, people are born to do this.

The origin of this phrase comes from housebreaking pets. Traditionally when new puppies make mistakes on the floor, their human has been conditioned to think that rubbing their nose in it will help fix the problem. Does this really work? Not too much. Dog trainers have provided a lot of information to the contrary.

Housebreaking has also been applied to people, particularly men. It refers to trying to train them to behave in a more socially acceptable manner [whatever that is ;-)]. Again, does this is work? Not too much.

For both pets and people, rubbing their noses in the messes they have made, accomplishes little or nothing. Rather, shaming and blaming seem to elicit squirming, discomfort, irritation, resistance, defiance, and ultimately rebellion. There has to be a better way.

Imagine the Father gently, wisely, and compassionately dealing with His wayward children. Seek to emulate Him. Positive reinforcement is far more effective than negative reinforcement.

King David was well aware of his error, moral failure, and sinful rebellion regarding Bathsheba and her husband Uriah. He does not need any additional reminders. He is racked with guilt and shame. He pleads with the Father not to rub his face in it. Rather than more reminders, he seeks relief and restoration. He had brought disgrace and embarrassment on himself and his nation. And what of his Father in heaven with Whom he is bonded and identified? Can you hear the scandalous gossip, “Have you heard about David, king David, the man after God’s own heart? What kind of a God would allow his cherry-picked man to be the leader in king of Israel will allow such a thing?”

His sinful behavior could well have ruined his life or even ended it. Both adultery and murder were capital crimes under the law of Moses. The death penalty is indicated for both of them. Of course, David knows this.

David knew all too well the pain of unconfessed sin. It ate away at him spiritually, mentally, and physically. It drove a wedge between him and the Father. But the Father never moved. His loving heart and outstretched hands were waiting.

Finally, the time comes for David to make things right. He boldly pleads for mercy and restoration. He appeals to the Father’s gracious character and loyal love.


The Father sees all, knows all, and sent His Son the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive all and restore all.

Father, I fail you so often. Thank you for forgiving me. But more than forgiveness, I ask for inner transformation. Give me a willing, dependable, and resolute spirit. Create an inner determination to follow Your ways.


David had discovered and knew all well one of the open secrets of the Father’s heart. The Father set up the sacrificial system. But animal sacrifices did not bring the Father pleasure. The Father had no desire to see animals killed. Why then sacrifices?

The death of innocent, unblemished animals was intended to be an object lesson. What are we to learn from this bloody, somewhat gruesome course of study?

Sin is grievous and requires action, in some cases even death. The Father does not desire or look forward to the death of animals. Rather He desires repentance, and in particular a broken and contrite heart.

The Father does not overlook or coddle sin. He does not want His children to do so either. He wants us to confront it, to deal with it head-on. Outward action is not as critical as inward reflection. We are to search our hearts and recognize the wickedness of our iniquitous behavior, the Father desires that each child of the King gets their heart right.

The Father wastes nothing in our lives. Each of us has countless shameful acts and memories from the past. Our recollections often trouble us while we are awake and haunt us while we sleep. We cannot undo or redo the past. But we can do better going forward.

Housebroken or heartbroken? The choice is ours.

Psalms 32:1-5

 1 Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!

 2 Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!

 3 When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.

 5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.

The Father sent the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin (John 16:5-8). The Holy Spirit simply exposes our sin, He brings it to light. The Holy Spirit’s purpose is to help us to realize we have done wrong. He does not come to condemn, shame, or rub our noses in it. He is firm but gentle. His purpose is to encourage us to make things right.

And what about us? How do we treat others? Do we deal with others in the same way as the Father does? Are we nose rubbers?

Galatians 6:1 Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path.

¯\_()_/¯ 11-30-9

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