I have been reading through 2 Samuel in my private devotional times and recently came across the well known narrative of David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). Throughout the first twenty seven verses there is a detailed narrative of David’s lustful encounter with Bathsheba, her pregnancy announcement, David’s panicked plot to have Uriah lay with her, and his cold-blooded scheme to have Uriah murdered on the front lines of war. Throughout these verses there is no mention of God. Certainly David did not seek God’s counsel during any of this, but neither is there mention of God’s thoughts about what is taking place. Then, in the very last sentence of the chapter we read, “but the thing that David had done displeased the LORD,” (2 Samuel 11:27). The sentence hangs ominously over the whole narrative as a righteous judgment, leaving the reader to wonder what manifestation of justice will be coming David’s way.
Chapter twelve then opens with the following statement, “and the LORD sent Nathan to David,” (2 Samuel 12:1). Nathan, a prophet of the Lord and advisor to David, was sent to bring a word of rebuke as a means of displaying God’s grace. David’s sin was egregious but there was no sign whatsoever that he had any regret for what he had done. Then the Lord sent Nathan to him, and Nathan told him a parable about a rich man who took the only sheep of one of his poor neighbors in order to entertain an out of town guest. David was duly outraged by the audacity of the injustice done to the poor man, at which point Nathan revealed that he, David, was the rich man from the parable.
God could have forsaken David. He could have left him to his own devices, allowing him to chase after his sin and folly all the more. He could have turned him over to Satan. It certainly would have been what David deserved. But God did not give David the sentence that he deserved. Instead He showed him grace. God, who was displeased with all that David had done regarding Bathsheba, loved him anyway and relentlessly pursued David in order to restore him. It all began with the grace of pointing out his sin. This may not seem like grace to many of us, but as I have said many times the Gospel is bad news before it is good news (actually Frederick Buechner said that first). In order to repent and turn to Christ for the forgiveness and the cleansing, we so desperately need, we must first see our sin for what it truly is – disobedience of God.
Upon being confronted with his sin David responded by saying, “I have sinned against the LORD,” to which Nathan replied, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die,” (2 Samuel 12:13). David could have responded by saying, “Who are you to accuse me?” Or, “It was Bathsheba’s fault! She seduced me!” Perhaps if it was you or me we might have denied it all together, compounding the sin with lie upon lie to hide the truth. But the truth is not hidden from God and David knew that, which is why he confessed and opened himself up to be the recipient of God’s mercy. According to Nathan, David’s sin has been “put away” by the LORD. If we be in Christ, the good news of the Gospel is that our sin also has been put away in Him, through Him, and by Him on the cross.
I would encourage you to go and read 2 Samuel 11-12 and as you do so to ask yourselves the following questions. Do we see it as the relentless grace of God when we are confronted with sin by the Word – perhaps in our own reading of Scripture, in a sermon one Sunday, or by the direct confrontation of a brother or sister in Christ? Do we understand that this is His pursuit of us in order to draw us back to himself as His forgiven ones? I pray that we would all know that grace; for the Lord knows that we have all known the times of wandering from His presence. When He pursues us in such a way, may we always respond as David did by confessing that we have sinned against God, so that we might hear this good news – “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.”