David’s Repentance (2Sam.12)

David sinned by committing adultery and then the cover-up. What a sad picture of that great man of God is presented to us. But we must beware. “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1Cor.10:12). Satan is cunning and knows where and how to attack. The world is seductive and indwelling sin leaves us feeble. In humility “watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mt.26:41). A few moments’ pleasure can produce years of trouble.

God is Angry

What David did displeased the Lord (2Sam.11:27). The king forgot that there is a higher King to whom he was answerable. He quietened his conscience with excuses and Satan’s lies. Surely it’s just a little sin, but the only little sin is a sin against a little God. It’s a wonderful thing to please God. This is the whole purpose of our existence. But it is an awful thing to make God angry. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God … For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb.10:31; 12:29). Some think that because “God is love” (1Jn.4:8) He would not hurt a flea, but He hurts David very sorely. Scripture makes plain, “Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” and “no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous” (Heb.12:6,11).

Between the date of his sin and that of his repentance David was not a happy man. He says “My bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long: for day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer” (Ps.32:3-4). This is a picture of the deadness, coldness and hardness of heart that David felt. His peace, joy and assurance were gone. It was difficult for him to pray and in contrast with the past he found no enjoyment in worship. This period would be more than nine months because the child of adultery was born before the repentance came. Have you forsaken your first love (Rev.2:4) and are you seeking satisfaction from the broken cisterns which can hold no real living water (Jer.2:13)?

God is good to David

David is not left in a backslidden state. God cares and so brings back the lost sheep to the fold. Nathan is sent with a parable. A poor man had one little lamb which he loved and treated as his daughter. His rich neighbour having a visitor, grudged to kill one of his own sheep and instead slaughtered and cooked the poor man’s lamb for his guest. The king’s sense of justice was outraged and he quickly decided on the death of the rich man and a fourfold restitution to the poor man. Nathan responded with a hammer blow, “Thou art the man”. David had been the youngest son, the shepherd boy, yet God had chosen him. Initially he felt unworthy to be the king’s son-in-law. Marvellously protected from Saul’s javelins, surviving many traps he now has his master’s house and wives and throne. How good God has been to him yet he despised God’s commandments, killed Uriah and took his wife! Think of your sins in the light of God’s goodness to you.

God Punishes

What trouble David’s sin brought upon himself and his family. He did not die and was forgiven, yet the pain he and others suffered was immense.

  • Although David himself will not die the sword will not depart from his house for ever. Amnon, David’s eldest son, is killed by Absalom his brother. Absalom dies in a revolt against his father. David’s surprisingly great grief at Absalom’s death is because he felt his own sin was the cause for this tragedy: “Would God that I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son” (2Sam.18:33). Adonijah, another son, dies for rebellion against Solomon. Zechariah cried out with regard to David’s greatest son Jesus “Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd” (Zech.13:7).
  • Evil would arise out of his own house. Amnon incestuously forced his sister Tamar. Absalom lay with his father’s wives. David did it secretly but Absalom did it before all Israel and before the sun.
  • The child born to Bathsheba dies.
  • All will know and talk about what David did. The cover-up was a total failure.

David’s Repentance

For months David suffered from a guilty conscience yet hardened his heart. God could have left him to perish in his sins but God loves His people: “What son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye are without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons” (Heb.12:7-8). David has now confessed his sin. He makes plain that he sees his sin as not merely against Uriah: “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned”. In faith he pleads the blood of Christ for pardon “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean” (Ps.51:4,7). God has forgiven him yet he still suffers. He had given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme and God must clear His own and His church’s name. David must continue to feel the pain of his sin so that he will truly hate sin. Some think that if they confess and repent the matter is closed but this is not always the case. Here chastisement follows true penitence. The child becomes ill. David watches it suffer. He fasts and prays with great earnestness hoping in the mercy of God that the child will be spared. But the child dies after seven days of suffering. The servants fear to tell David but when he realises what has happened he arises, washes, dresses and goes into the house of the Lord to worship. He is reconciled to the will of the Lord. He knows that he has suffered less than he deserves. He comforts Bathsheba his wife. She has another child, Solomon, and the Lord loved him and called him Jedidiah. Things will never be the same again but yet there is hope, for “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Rom.5:20).

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