The Lord sends Nathan to call king David to repentance, saying, “Thou art the man.” David had committed the sins of murder and adultery: “Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight; thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon” (2 Sam. 12:9). David’s sin is fourfold. By sinning against the Lord he has shown contempt for the Word of God. His sin rises from his heart in purposeful action before the very face or presence of the Lord whom he has been serving. He has committed murder in order to have Bathsheba as his comments on his latter action, saying, “Thou hast most cruelly given him in the hands of the enemy.” David is a king who seeks victory from the Lord over his enemies. He then turns his enemies into an instrument to kill one of his faithful soldiers, that the lust of the flesh may be satisfied.
Sin is not a mistake that men can easily erase from the blackboard. As one of our leaders said of his faith, “I’m taught that all of us are … prone to the mistakes that flesh is heir to.” His rationalization for another’s sin is this, “Whatever mistakes he made in his personal life are … balanced against what he has done in his public life …” In other words, if there is enough good in a persons life, it will over balance the mistakes made. If there is anyone who served the Lord with zeal and righteousness, it is David. However, his sin had to be dealt with by the Lord against whom he had sinned. He had to be confronted with the nature of his sin, as well as the only way of reconciliation to the Almighty Lord. The Spirit convicts us of sin: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). -5; Ephesians 1:7; Romans 6:23.)
When sin enters the heart and it is not dealt with there, it becomes an action of both mouth and deed. Jesus said, “those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornicators, thefts, false witnesses, blasphemers” (Matt. 15:18-19). Sin rationalizes behavior as well as it being thought out and practiced in the sight of our Lord. David waited for the mourning period of Bathsheba to be over before sending for her to become his wife who in time bore him a son. What “David had done displeased the Lord” (2 Sam. 11:27).
David found no time to repent of his deeds. However, the Lord did not allow his chosen servant to continue in his sin. “And the Lord sent Nathan unto David,” who said to him, “There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds: but the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children: it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. And there came a traveler unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd to dress for the wayfaring man that was came unto him; but took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.”
David, after hearing the story, his “anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” How easy it is for man to judge others while hiding their own sin. Nathan, by the parable, “drew from David a sentence against himself. For David supposing it to be a case in fact, and not doubting the truth of it when he had it from Nathan himself, gave judgment immediately against the offender, and confirmed it with an oath, That, for his injustice in taking away the lamb, he should restore four-fold, according to the law” (M. Henry). How easy it is to condemn others for not having compassion when we ourselves show no compassion.
Discussion: What was the purpose of the Lord sending Nathan to David with a parable?
David has a special place in the covenant promise of God. The prophet Samuel had been sent to anoint David as king: “The Samuel took the horn of ail, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward” (1 Sam. 16:13). The Promise of a Messiah, whose name would be “Jehovah is salvation” would come as a “seed of David” – “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David” (Luke 1:32).
Thus the convicting words of Nathan came to David, “Thou art the man!” These words were followed by the words of the Lord through Nathan: “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; and I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and I gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.” Therefore, why did David despise such blessings that he would sin the sight of the Lord who gives the greatest of blessings? Straightforward Nathan brings David’s sin before his face: “Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight? Thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.” Contempt for the Word of God and his Christ is revealed in the transgression of his moral Law.
David’s place in redemptive history is seen in both his transgression of the moral Law, and is the grace of God in redeeming him whom God was pleased to choose him through whom the Messiah would come. “For had not Christ satisfied for our sins, he could not be said to have appeased God by taking upon himself the penalty which we had incurred. To this corresponds what follows in the same place, “for the transgression of my people was he stricken,” (Isa. 53:8.) We may add the interpretation of Peter, who unequivocally declares, that he “bare our sins in his own body on the tree,” (1 Pe. 2:24,) that the whole burden of condemnation, of which we were relieved, was laid upon him” (John Calvin, The Institutes).
Discussion: What does it mean for the Lord to reveal our sins?
Our Lord does not overlook sin. As to the nature and depth of such transgressions, the Lord will bring a punishment that can be revealed and recorded in history. This he does to show both the horror of sin and the grace of the Lord in his acts of redemption. The prophet Nathan brings the Lord’s judgment upon David that reveals that to sin is to sin against the Lord: “Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. For thou didst it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” David responds to Nathan, confessing, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replies, “The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.” However, the consequences of David’s sin will be seen by all: “Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.” If it seems that we are getting away with our sin, it will encourage others to blaspheme the Lord in transgression of his law.
Though David sinned he, by the grace of God, received forgiveness, and therefore, eternal life. Calvin wrote in his Institutes, “He indeed freely forgave David the guilt of his sin; but because it was necessary, both as a public example to all ages and also to humble David himself, not to allow such an offense to go unpunished, he chastened him most sharply with his whip. We ought also to keep this in view in the universal curse of the human race. For since after obtaining grace we still continue to endure the miseries denounced to our first parent as the penalty of transgression, we ought thereby to be reminded, how offensive to God is the transgression of his law, that thus humbled and dejected by a consciousness of our wretched condition, we may aspire more ardently to true happiness. He indeed freely forgave David the guilt of his sin; but because it was necessary, both as a public example to all ages and also to humble David himself, not to allow such an offense to go unpunished, he chastened him most sharply with his whip. We ought also to keep this in view in the universal curse of the human race. For since, after obtaining Grace, we still continue to endure the miseries denounced to our first parent as the penalty of transgression, we ought thereby to be reminded, how offensive to God is the transgression of his law, that thus humbled and dejected by a consciousness of our wretched condition, we may aspire more ardently to true happiness.”
Discussion: How does God work his punishment and grace in our lives?
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