Lesson 24: “Create in Me a Clean Heart”

Old Testament: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (2001), 111–16


Purpose

To encourage class members to be chaste in thought and action and to repent of their sins.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prayerfully study the following scriptures:

    1. a.

      2 Samuel 11. David commits adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah (11:1–5). David fails in his attempt to hide his sin (2 Samuel 11:6–13). He arranges for Uriah to die in battle (11:14–17). David marries Bathsheba, and they have a son (11:26–27).

    2. b.

      2 Samuel 12:1–23. The prophet Nathan teaches of the severity of David’s sins by telling David a parable (12:1–6). David is told that he will be punished because of his sins (12:7–14; note that in the Joseph Smith Translation of verse 13, Nathan states, “The Lord hath not put away thy sin that thou shalt not die”). The first son of David and Bathsheba dies in infancy (12:15–23).

    3. c.

      Psalm 51. A repentant David seeks forgiveness.

  2. 2.

    Additional reading: 2 Samuel 2–10.

  3. 3.

    If you use the attention activity, bring a spool of thread and a pair of scissors.

Suggested Lesson Development

Attention Activity

You may want to use the following activity (or one of your own) to begin the lesson.

Have a volunteer stand at the front of the class with his or her hands held forward. Tie a strand of thread loosely around both of the class member’s wrists. Explain that this one thread represents an unclean thought. Then have the class member break the thread by pulling his or her hands sharply outward.

  • What should we do when an unclean thought enters our mind? (We should dismiss it immediately.)

Ask the class member to hold out his or her hands again. Wrap the class member’s wrists with a few strands of thread—enough to make it more difficult to break them. Then ask the class member to try to break the strands of thread. Repeat this process using enough strands of thread to make it impossible to break free.

  • What happens when we allow unclean thoughts to stay in our minds?

Free the class member’s hands by cutting the thread with the scissors. Explain that part of this lesson deals with the consequences of dwelling on unclean thoughts. The lesson also discusses ways to free ourselves from unclean thoughts.

Scripture Discussion and Application

As you teach the following scripture passages, discuss how they apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles. Because it would be difficult to ask every question or cover every point in the lesson, prayerfully select those that will best meet class members’ needs. You may need to adapt some questions to fit class members’ circumstances.

1 Samuel 25 through 2 Samuel 10 provide important information about the historical setting for this lesson. Since these chapters are not covered in this manual, you may want to summarize them as follows:

Soon after David spared Saul’s life, Saul sought David’s life one more time. Again David had the opportunity to kill the king, but he refused to do so. Battles continued between the people of Judah and the surrounding nations, and Saul and Jonathan were killed in one of those battles. David succeeded Saul as king and became one of the greatest kings in the history of Israel. He united the tribes into one nation, secured possession of the land that had been promised to his people, and set up a government based on God’s law. However, the last 20 years of his life were marred by the sinful decisions that are discussed in this lesson.

1. David commits adultery with Bathsheba and arranges the death of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband.

Teach and discuss 2 Samuel 11.

  • David was walking on his roof when he saw Bathsheba and was tempted to commit adultery with her (2 Samuel 11:2). What should David have done when he saw Bathsheba? What did David do that led him to sin with her? (See 2 Samuel 11:2–4.) What might lead people to be tempted to commit sexual sins? What can we do to avoid being tempted to commit sexual sins?

    You may want to list class members’ answers on the chalkboard using a chart like the one below. Answers may include the following:

    Things to avoid

    How to avoid them

    Unclean or immoral thoughts

    Fill your mind with uplifting thoughts.

    Television shows, movies, magazines, books, and music that are pornographic or suggestive in any way

    Choose media that will inspire you to do good.

    Unwholesome dating activities

    Follow the dating standards taught by latter-day prophets and outlined in For the Strength of Youth.

    Flirting after marriage

    Love your spouse with all your heart. Continue to “court” (develop your relationship with) your spouse.

    Places or activities that will not enable you to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost

    Ensure that the places you go and the activities you participate in will enable you to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.

    You may want to use the first additional teaching idea to discuss ways to dismiss unclean thoughts.

  • What did David attempt to do when he learned that Bathsheba was with child? (See 2 Samuel 11:6–13. He tried to get Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, to return home to her. Then it would appear that the unborn child was Uriah’s.) Why did David’s plan fail? (See 2 Samuel 11:11. Uriah would not return home at that time because he was true to his battlefield companions and felt that he should stay with them.)

  • What more serious sin did David commit in an attempt to hide his immorality? (See 2 Samuel 11:14–17.) From whom do you think David thought he could hide his sin? How do people try to cover up sins today? What happens when we try to cover our sins?

    Elder Richard G. Scott said:

    “Do not take comfort in the fact that your transgressions are not known by others. That is like an ostrich with his head buried in the sand. He sees only darkness and feels comfortably hidden. In reality he is ridiculously conspicuous. Likewise our every act is seen by our Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son. They know everything about us. …

    “If you have seriously transgressed, you will not find any lasting satisfaction or comfort in what you have done. Excusing transgression with a cover-up may appear to fix the problem, but it does not. The tempter is intent on making public your most embarrassing acts at the most harmful time. Lies weave a pattern that is ever more confining and becomes a trap that Satan will spring to your detriment” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 103; or Ensign, May 1995, 77).

    You may want to use the second additional teaching idea to illustrate the danger of trying to cover our sins.

2. David is told that he will be punished because of his sins.

Teach and discuss 2 Samuel 12:1–23.

  • What parable did the prophet Nathan tell to illustrate how displeased the Lord was with David? (See 2 Samuel 12:1–4.) What did David think about the rich man’s actions against the poor man in the parable? (See 2 Samuel 12:5–6.) How had David’s actions been like the rich man’s? (See 2 Samuel 12:7–9.) How did David react to the Lord’s rebuke? (See 2 Samuel 12:13.)

  • Why do you think David failed to recognize that he was represented by the rich man in the parable? Why are we sometimes unable to recognize our own sinfulness?

  • What were the consequences of David’s sins? (See 2 Samuel 12:10–14. The fulfillment of these prophecies can be found in 2 Samuel 12:15–23 and subsequent chapters of 2 Samuel and 1 Kings; see also D&C 132:39. Note that adultery is a serious sin, but David forfeited his exaltation because the Lord held him accountable for the murder of Uriah.)

    President Marion G. Romney said: “David, … though highly favored of the Lord (he was, in fact, referred to as a man after God’s own heart), yielded to temptation. His unchastity led to murder, and as a consequence, he lost his families and his exaltation” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1979, 60; or Ensign, May 1979, 42).

  • What are some of the immediate consequences of immorality today? What are some long-term effects for the unrepentant?

3. A repentant David seeks forgiveness.

Teach and discuss Psalm 51.

In a psalm to the Lord, David expressed a desire to help others repent, saying, “I [will] teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee” (Psalm 51:13). Even though David forfeited his exaltation because he arranged the death of Uriah, we can learn from his repentant attitude as he sought forgiveness for the sin of adultery. His words in Psalm 51 teach many aspects of true repentance. As you study the psalm with class members, discuss how we can apply David’s repentant example to our lives.

  • In Psalm 51, David first acknowledged God and His mercy (Psalm 51:1). David also acknowledged his own sinfulness (Psalm 51:1–3). Why is it important that we recognize God’s greatness and our own sinfulness when we repent of our sins?

  • What must we sacrifice in order to receive forgiveness of our sins? (See Psalm 51:16–17.) What do you think it means to have “a broken and a contrite heart”?

  • How are our sins “ever before [us]” before we are forgiven? (Psalm 51:3). How does that change after we have been forgiven? (See Psalm 51:10; Alma 36:17–19.) How does God look upon our past sins after he has forgiven us? (See Psalm 51:9; Isaiah 43:25; D&C 58:42.)

  • David described forgiveness as a cleansing (Psalm 51:1–2, 7, 9–10), a restoration (Psalm 51:12), and a deliverance (Psalm 51:14). Why are these appropriate descriptions of the blessing of God’s forgiveness?

Conclusion

Explain that no matter how successful or strong we may be, we are not above temptation. Encourage class members to make any necessary changes in their lives that will help them be chaste in thought and action. Express your love for Jesus Christ and your gratitude for his Atonement. Testify that because of the Atonement, we can be forgiven of our sins.

Additional Teaching Ideas

The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use one or more of these ideas as part of the lesson.

1. Dismissing unclean thoughts from our minds

In your own words, share the following statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer about how to dismiss unclean thoughts that have entered our minds uninvited:

“The mind is like a stage. Except when we are asleep, the curtain is always up. There is always some act being performed on that stage. It may be a comedy, a tragedy, interesting or dull, good or bad; but always there is some act playing on the stage of the mind.

“Have you noticed that without any real intent on your part, in the middle of almost any performance, a shady little thought may creep in from the wings and attract your attention? These delinquent thoughts will try to upstage everybody. If you permit them to go on, all thoughts of any virtue will leave the stage. You will be left, because you consented to it, to the influence of unrighteous thoughts.

“If you yield to them, they will enact for you on the stage of your mind anything to the limits of your toleration. They may enact a theme of bitterness, jealousy, or hatred. It may be vulgar, immoral, even depraved. When they have the stage, if you let them, they will devise the most clever persuasions to hold your attention. They can make it interesting all right, even convince you that it is innocent—for they are but thoughts.

“What do you do at a time like that, when the stage of your mind is commandeered by the imps of unclean thinking, whether they be the gray ones that seem almost clean or the filthy ones which leave no room for doubt? If you can control your thoughts, you can overcome habits, even degrading personal habits. If you can learn to master them, you will have a happy life.

“This is what I would teach you. Choose from among the sacred music of the Church a favorite hymn, one with words that are uplifting and music that is reverent, one that makes you feel something akin to inspiration. Go over it in your mind carefully. Memorize it. Even though you [may] have had no musical training, you can think through a hymn.

“Now, use this hymn as the place for your thoughts to go. Make it your emergency channel. Whenever you find these shady actors have slipped from the sidelines of your thinking onto the stage of your mind, put on this record, as it were. As the music begins and as the words form in your thoughts, the unworthy ones will slip shamefully away. It will change the whole mood on the stage of your mind. Because it is uplifting and clean, the baser thoughts will disappear. For while virtue, by choice, will not associate with filth, evil cannot tolerate the presence of light.

“In due time you will find yourself, on occasion, humming the music inwardly. As you retrace your thoughts, you discover some influence from the world about you encouraged an unworthy thought to move on stage in your mind, and the music almost automatically began.

“Once you learn to clear the stage of your mind of unworthy thoughts, keep it busy with learning worthwhile things. Change your environment so that you have things about you that will inspire good and uplifting thoughts. Keep busy with things that are righteous” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1976, 99–100).

2. The danger of trying to cover our sins

In trying to hide his sin of adultery, David committed an even greater sin. To discuss the danger of trying to hide our sins, compare sin to a mound of dirt. Illustrate this concept on the chalkboard as shown in the first drawing on page 116.

covering our sins
  • What will happen if we try to cover a small mound of dirt? (The mound will become larger and more visible. Illustrate this concept as shown in the second drawing above.)

  • How is covering our sins like covering a mound of dirt? (Our sinfulness becomes greater and more serious when we try to cover our sins.)

  • If we do not want people to see a mound of dirt, what should we do? (We should remove the mound rather than cover it.) How can we remove sin from our lives?

3. “Then Amnon hated her exceedingly” (2 Samuel 13:15)

2 Samuel 13 contains the story of David’s son Amnon and David’s daughter Tamar. Amnon was attracted to Tamar and forced her to commit fornication with him.

  • 2 Samuel 13:1 says that Amnon loved Tamar. How did Amnon’s feelings for Tamar change after he had sinned against her? (See 2 Samuel 13:15.) Why does hatred, rather than love, often result between people who violate the principles of morality?

    President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “I heard Elder John A. Widtsoe … say, ‘It is my observation that a young man and a young woman who violate the principles of morality soon end up hating one another.’ I have observed the same thing. There may be words of love to begin with, but there will be words of anger and bitterness later” (“True to the Faith,” Ensign, June 1996, 5).

4. Hope for the repentant

If you emphasize that it is never too late to repent, you may want to share the following statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer:

“The discouraging idea that a mistake (or even a series of them) makes it everlastingly too late, does not come from the Lord. He has said that if we will repent, not only will He forgive us our transgressions, but He will forget them and remember our sins no more. … Repentance is like soap; it can wash sin away. Ground-in dirt may take the strong detergent of discipline to get the stains out, but out they will come” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 72; or Ensign, May 1989, 59).