David, though he was a man after God’s own heart, who did all of God’s will, also sinned. Sin can really throw us for a loop, especially the “big” ones. Those sins that affect other people, those sins that affect our entire lives, and those sins that could label us as just as evil as the rest of the world can stop our forward progression with Christ if we let them. It depends on our response to our sins. We’ll begin today reading in 2 Samuel 11. Verses 1-4 read,
In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.
2 It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king's house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. 3 And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.)
David, for whatever reason was denying part of who he was in God. Instead of leading his army in battle as was the norm for the spring, David was in Jerusalem. He was walking on his roof and there she was, this beautiful woman bathing and purifying herself. David was tempted. He could have gone inside and laid with one of his wives. He could have gone inside and written to Joab to find out how the battle was going. He could have embraced who he was as a mighty warrior and joined Joab in the battle. He had many doors out of the sin he was about to commit but he didn’t take the way out. He ordered her to come to him and she did.
Whenever we are tempted as David was, there is a way out. God will not let us be tempted beyond what we are able to withstand. He will always provide a way out of the situation so we won’t have to sin. 1 Corinthians 10:11-14 says,
Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
We don’t have to sin; we can avoid it. But we all do anyway. We close our eyes to who we are in Christ. We close our eyes to the ways out. We give in to our flesh and satiate those desires, and we sin. But sin has consequences. Bathsheba, the woman David took found out she was pregnant. She sent a message to the king and now he was stuck. Her husband Uriah was at war and that meant he couldn’t be the father. He would find out what Bathsheba had done and might disgrace her and divorce her or even kill her. David panicked. He didn’t pray about it and ask God what to do. He came up with a plan. He called Uriah to him. Verses 8-13 record what happened.
Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” And Uriah went out of the king's house, and there followed him a present from the king. 9 But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. 10 When they told David, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “Have you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?” 11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.” 12 Then David said to Uriah, “Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 And David invited him, and he ate in his presence and drank, so that he made him drunk. And in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.
David was desperate to have Uriah sleep with his wife so that he would assume the baby was his. But Uriah wouldn’t give himself that pleasure when the rest of the army couldn’t enjoy their homes and wives. Even drunk, Uriah did not go see Bathsheba. So David had to come up with something else to save Bathsheba and to keep his secret safe. He wrote a letter to Joab to put Uriah with the stronger more valiant men in the frontlines. Uriah was not the same caliber fighter as the men on the frontlines. His experience was further back. And so being less of a warrior, he was killed in battle.
Joab, perhaps didn’t know why David wanted Uriah dead but it was clear to him that he did. He, himself had murdered someone and when he sent his message to David letting him know how the battle went and that men had died with a postscript “and by the way Uriah died too” he let David know that his murderous plan had succeeded. Verses 26-27 read,
When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she lamented over her husband. 27 And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.
David and Bathsheba’s reputations were safe. 2 Samuel 12 continues the harrowing tale. David had sinned and that sin had snowballed into more sin. David had lied, brought people into his lies, murdered a man, and spread the blood guilt to another person as well. David had stopped pursuing God’s heart. But God had not stopped pursuing David’s heart. God does not give up on us. He knows who we are truly meant to be, because He made us. He loves us deeply and so He will discipline us and bring us back to Himself. Proverbs 3:11-14 reads,
My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.
13 Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who gets understanding,
14 for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
and her profit better than gold.
The Lord loves us and He disciplines those whom He loves. He disciplines because He wants our faith perfected, He wants us to be the image of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:3). He wants us to know the joy of that profound unity with Him (Romans 6:5). Hebrews 12:10-11 says,
For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
So while David lived satisfying his flesh, God did not give up on Him. Verses 1-12 in The Message read,
1-3 and sent Nathan to David. Nathan said to him, “There were two men in the same city—one rich, the other poor. The rich man had huge flocks of sheep, herds of cattle. The poor man had nothing but one little female lamb, which he had bought and raised. It grew up with him and his children as a member of the family. It ate off his plate and drank from his cup and slept on his bed. It was like a daughter to him.
4 “One day a traveler dropped in on the rich man. He was too stingy to take an animal from his own herds or flocks to make a meal for his visitor, so he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared a meal to set before his guest.”
5-6 David exploded in anger. “As surely as God lives,” he said to Nathan, “the man who did this ought to be lynched! He must repay for the lamb four times over for his crime and his stinginess!”
7-12 “You’re the man!” said Nathan. “And here’s what God, the God of Israel, has to say to you: I made you king over Israel. I freed you from the fist of Saul. I gave you your master’s daughter and other wives to have and to hold. I gave you both Israel and Judah. And if that hadn’t been enough, I’d have gladly thrown in much more. So why have you treated the word of God with brazen contempt, doing this great evil? You murdered Uriah the Hittite, then took his wife as your wife. Worse, you killed him with an Ammonite sword! And now, because you treated God with such contempt and took Uriah the Hittite’s wife as your wife, killing and murder will continually plague your family. This is God speaking, remember! I’ll make trouble for you out of your own family. I’ll take your wives from right out in front of you. I’ll give them to some neighbor, and he’ll go to bed with them openly. You did your deed in secret; I’m doing mine with the whole country watching!”
David had been so wrapped up in his own desires that he had not even seen his sins. But when God showed it to him, he humbled himself and was convicted! And He immediately confessed and repented of his sins. Verses 13-15a read,
David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.” 15 Then Nathan went to his house.
God forgave David, but He knew full well that His punishment had to stand. David and Bathsheba’s child would die. It is a horrible and severe penalty but God knew best. Verses 15b-20 continue the narrative.
And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and he became sick. 16 David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. 17 And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. 18 On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us. How then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.” 19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” 20 Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate.
David knew why the child was sick and he knew that the child’s death would be his penance. Yet he prayed hard that the Lord would let his beloved son live. But God did not change his mind. David’s servants couldn’t understand why David had lamented and fasted while the baby was alive and stopped at the baby’s death. So David explained in verses 22-23,
“While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”
When David stopped pursuing God and began chasing his own desires, God remained faithful, He did what David needed Him to do and brought Him back. 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 reads,
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
God loves you! He wants you to be blameless on the Day of Jesus Christ. He wants you to live up to the purpose He has for you. When we are faithless, He is faithful ( 2 Timothy 2:13). When we are weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9). He disciplines but never without a purpose. That purpose is your perfection and His glory. Being a man after God’s own heart meant that when David realized his sin, he was convicted. He didn’t wallow in guilt and shame. He confessed and repented and turned back to God. Being a person after God’s own heart means we too will confess and repent. Rather than flounder about in condemnation, we’ll turn back to the Lord and keep walking, keep letting Him perfect us, and keep glorifying Him.