ARDAVID’S REPENTANCETo what lengths would you go to cover up your sins? Do you really think you can hide them from God? Why are confessions so important?Through the story of David and Bathsheba, the author reminds us that confessing our sins restores us to the joy of God’s salvation. Repentance is an important step to putting away wickedness and moving forward towards a future hope.
It was springtime—a time for war. King David had sent the entire Israelite army off to battle against the Ammonites. All the able men had gone and left their women at home.
Instead of going off with the rest of the men, David stayed behind in his palace. It so happened that one fateful evening, as he was strolling on the roof of the palace, he saw a woman bathing.
And she was breathtaking—a lovely vision. Taken by her beauty, he asked about her and found out that she was the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite. Bathsheba was her name. David sent for her and took her into his bed.
If Hollywood was to remake the story of David and Bathsheba, how wonderfully romantic it would be. Two beautiful people falling in love on a warm spring evening. Imagine that. Throw in an exotic place like the Middle East, and it would probably be a box office hit, too.
But this wasn’t a movie, and God’s wrath was real. Human standards do not reflect the standards of God. And God was angry.
Everyone struggles with his or her own weaknesses, and David’s weakness was women. Handsome and charming, it is not hard to see why women loved him. Being the king of God’s chosen people, David could have anything he wanted. Anything.
That night, catching a glimpse of Bathsheba, he wanted to have her for himself. So much that when he found out she had conceived, David sent word to Joab, his commanding officer at war, to put Uriah in the frontlines so that he would fall at the hands of the enemies.
For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. (1 Jn 2:16)
Giving in to the lust of his eyes, David coveted another man’s wife. He committed adultery to satisfy the lust of his flesh. Taking advantage of his authority and power, he sentenced a good man to his death.
In a whirlwind of sins, David broke three of the Ten Commandments and stirred up the wrath of God. He did not even realize that he had done such an evil thing. Not until the Lord sent Nathan, a prophet, to rebuke him.
Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel. (2 Sam 12:10, 12)
God’s punishment of David was fierce and quick, and His wrath cost David the life of his baby son. No matter how much David mourned and fasted in front of the Lord, God’s rod was unrelenting. No more Hollywood ending for this love story.
Blinded to His Own Sins
When Nathan told David the story of the rich man who took the little ewe lamb belonging to the poor man instead of offering one of his own, David was furious. He immediately judged the rich man harshly for his mistake (2 Sam 12:1-4).
The reason David did not realize that he had sinned against God was because he thought his decision to send Uriah to his death was the best way to solve his own problem.
We take matters into our own hands because we are impatient to wait for God’s timing. And for some of us, we probably learn this lesson the hard way, just like David.
Our transgressions always carry consequences, and even when it seems we’ve “gotten away with murder,” God remembers and will hold us accountable.
The problem with getting away with murder is that we think we are clever enough to pull it off. It is also an indication that we have misplaced God in our lives and forgotten that we can hide nothing from Him.
And in the process of pulling it off, we probably will hurt others. There is always a high price to pay in self-protection because selfishness comes to the fore.
A KING AFTER GOD’S HEART
And when He had removed [Saul], He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all my will.” (Acts 13:22)
When God first chose David, he was only a boy in his youth. But from his youth, God saw that David was a boy who sought to delight in Him, whose heart was after God’s own heart.
Throughout his entire life, David never forgot that God was the center of his faith. In whatever circumstance, good or bad, he rejoiced in the glory of the Lord and praised Him with the praises of his lips in song, in Psalm, and in prayer.
Make no mistake that David had done a terrible thing, but God would be forgiving because He saw David’s heart—a heart that sought after His delight and His mercy. As a father loves a child, God did not refuse David when he humbled himself.
David Confessed His Sin
As soon as David recognized his sin, he was not afraid of what people might think. Immediately, in front of Nathan, David said, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Sam 12:13).
Almost as immediately as David pleaded for forgiveness did the Lord blot out David’s iniquities, because he held steadfastly onto the Lord and sought Him first. For to David, to lose God was to lose everything.
David faithfully held onto the love and mercy of God because he knew that life would be meaningless without Him. For that, God loved and blessed him. Just as immediately as God’s anger came upon David, His forgiveness and mercy followed.
When we confess our sins before the Lord, there must be a sense of urgency. No one seeks to dwell under the wrath of God because this is much too unbearable.
Recognizing our sins helps us understand that we are weak individuals who need the guidance and mercy of the Lord. It is a form of self-examination and humility that we must often exercise, so that we do not stray too far from the true path of God.
The closer we are to God, the more we are attuned to His presence in our lives. We are aware that following His commands please Him, and we know that the transgressions we commit prompt His rebuke.
Confessing sins is an important practice for a Christian. By asking for forgiveness, we take the time to reflect upon our mistakes and to purify ourselves in front of God. In doing so, we are also taking refuge in Him.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.
David meekly reflected upon himself, and his repentance has touched many of our hearts through the fifty-first Psalm. So sincere and honest was his confession that many of us turn to his words in our own repentance.
As ageless as David’s sin with Bathsheba was, so was his intimate and beautiful relationship with the Lord.
GOD’S GRACE AND RESTORATION
God did not send Nathan solely to punish David. Yes, God was angry, but His anger was the result of His disappointment and grief (2 Sam 12:8, 9).
While Jesus was on this earth, He addressed the issue of sin and restoration. To those whose sin were great and small, He warned them saying, “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Lk 13: 3).
The Lord Jesus warned us that we are all sinners and that we must all repent if we want to receive His salvation. This is not a choice but a commandment. It’s not just in the big things that we must pray for forgiveness—it is also in the little things that we do that displeases God, which we need to seek after His mercy.
When we sin against God we pain His heart. If He did not love us so deeply, our sins would not grieve Him. And He patiently teaches us His love by showing us His grace, through which we are restored (Eph 2:7).
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
Our sins cause a divide in our relationship with God, and we are aware of this divide because our sins strike us with spiritual turmoil and unrest. To be restored to Him—to have the reassurance of His salvation—is the source of our joy.
This is a key element of repentance. If we examine ourselves regularly and bring our sins before God, His forgiveness allows us to move forward as Christians, so that with this continual hope of salvation we might be filled with spiritual joy (Ps 139; 2 Pet 3:9).
We are not deserving of God’s great mercy, and it is by His grace that we are able to strive onward in our Christian path—even with all our weaknesses.
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me…For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:9, 10)
The Lord forgave David, but He did not let David’s sin go unpunished. In His wrath, God took away the baby that Bathsheba conceived. Devastated, David fasted, mourned, and prayed before God for the life of his baby son.
He held tightly to the grace of God because he knew that God was merciful and compassionate. But when his tears and prayers went unanswered and the child died, David accepted God’s way and moved on.
And he said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now that he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” (2 Sam 12:22, 23)
Moving forward is a necessary step in our repentance. It shows that we recognize that God is the director of our lives and that His larger will is something we have to yield to with submission.
Though God may have forgiven David of his great sin, the study of this famous story by no means encourages that committing adultery is tolerated by God. Do not put God to the test when His commandments have been clearly set before our conscience and ascribed in Scriptures.
In fact, the Bible warns that those who do such wicked things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:19-21). Rather, this is a story about sincere repentance, so that we might all learn to return to God when we recognize that we have sinned against Him.
In 2 Tim 2:25, 26, it says that repentance leads us into the truth, and it will bring us to our senses so that we might escape the entrapment of the devil. If we continue to return to our past wrongs, we still are not free of the devil’s snare—leaving him footholds to corrupt us.
More than ever, we should be determined not to make the same mistakes again, for the fear of incurring God’s wrath. This is part of appreciating that God’s anger and His punishment is an expression of His love.
Pressing on with a determination to put away sin, to repent and correct our wrongs and hold firmly onto God’s commands, is a sign that we are growing in the grace and knowledge of God (2 Pet 3:18).
Then David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in to her and lay with her. So she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. Now the Lord loved [Solomon], and He sent word by the hand of Nathan the prophet: So he called his name Jedidiah, [beloved] of the Lord. (2 Sam 12:24, 25)
After David’s relationship with God was made right again, he was able to go to Bathsheba and comfort her. She later conceived Solomon, whom God loved and through whom He reaffirmed His promise and covenant to David (2 Sam 7:12-16).
This is the pattern of God’s anger, mercy, and grace—the complete depiction of His love. God’s way is beyond our understanding, and how He disciplines us only goes to show the greater capacity of His love.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy towards those who fear Him;
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
For He knows our frame
He remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.
But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them.