"If that had been too little, I also would have given you much more!" 2 Sam. 12:12
Perhaps you recall that an actress was convicted for shoplifting (taking items from a store without paying for them) back in 2001. This was quite surprising considering her income. It is also quite surprising that David coveted Bathsheba.
Recall that David, in an unguarded moment, forgot the "don't commit adultery" command, and brought about a devastating series of events; his was a precipitous fall. He fell again when he tried to cover up his deed instead of owning up to his failure. Then he married Bathsheba and pretended all was well. No one would know—beyond Joab of course, who was his trusted commander and understood such things. But God knew and was unwilling to close His eyes. So God sent Nathan the prophet with a story of a rich man and a poor man
The story described how the poor man only had one ewe lamb (a young female lamb which had not given birth yet) which he had bought and nourished and raised up, while the rich man had great flocks and herds. When a traveler came along, the rich man, being unwilling to give of his own bounty to prepare a meal, seized the poor man's little ewe lamb and prepared it for the traveler
David, recognizing the gross injustice, immediately decreed that the rich man die and that whatever had been taken should be restored fourfold
, because "he did this thing and had no pity."
David correctly first noted that a rich man—"he"—had done this
. If the rich man had been a poor man, it might have been more understandable, but because of his great wealth in flocks and herds, he was beyond excuse so far as need was concerned
David also recognized that taking the one prized possession of the poor man indicated an astounding lack of pity.
Nathan responded by telling David: “You are the man!" and delivered God's thoughts on the matter. He began by reminding David of the unmerited blessings God had sent his way: "Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more!"
How could David have ignored such blessings when taking Bathsheba? I wonder what thoughts were crossing David's mind as Nathan rehearsed all the blessings God had directed his way, to say nothing of the "much more" that could also have been sent?
Then Nathan sharpened his words: "Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord to do evil in His sight?" (2 Sam. 12:9) He went on to tell David that the sword would never depart from his house and that he would be publicly humbled for having so dishonored God
We can't tell what what kind of inner turmoil David had been experiencing relative to Bathsheba up to that time, but when Nathan identified him as the rich man
who had heartlessly stolen Bathsheba—the ewe lamb, from Uriah—the poor man, he immediately acknowledged his guilt:
"I have sinned against the Lord!" (2 Sam. 12:13) Nathan immediately responded to David's admission with, "The Lord has also put away your sin; you shall not die."
Though forgiveness had been granted, it did not mean there would be no consequences. Unfortunately, apparently more people know about what had happened than David realized, and they were using his failure to blaspheme God. As a result, God had no choice but to allow the child coming out of that relationship to die.
As you may know, David fasted and prayed for seven days while the child's life hung in the balances. Eventually the child died, and David "arose... washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes, and went into the house of the Lord and worshiped" (2 Sam. 12:20). After that he went to his home, ate, and resumed normal life, including having another son with Bathsheba.
Several things strike me.
(1) God does not forge
t, at least so long as we have not repented and acknowledged our sin and attempted to make things right
. (Isa. 49:15) David may have moved on but God had not.
(2) David was far more guilty than the rich man
. (Ps. 32:3-5) Nathan's story was about taking an animal and giving it as food to a traveler, David's sin was about adultery and murder. One can hardly equate Nathan's story with David's actions. If seizing the lamb and preparing it was worthy of death and required a fourfold restoration, how much more unpardonable and worthy of death was David's sin!
(3) God's bountiful generosity is beyond compare
! (Ps. 84:11) David had been a poor shepherd when God had chosen him to lead Israel. God had overcome his enemies, given him his throne, blessed him in abundant ways, and was willing to grant even more blessings if necessary. God is just as generous in our day. Are we enjoying His blessings? They come to those who "trust and obey."
(4) The problems we bring upon ourselves can be hard to untangle
(Gen. 21:9-11). I don't think it was ever God's intention to have David struggle with the family and other issues that came as a result of his fall, yet they came—God could not prevent them. David would have to learn how to be godly in less than ideal circumstances. I suspect many are learning how to be godly in less than ideal circumstances in our day.
(5) In ignoring what God says, we are "despising the commandment of the Lord
" (Amos 2:4). This despising not only includes rejecting the command but also the reasons for giving the command. It also sets up our wisdom as being greater than God's wisdom. When we seek happiness in ways of our own choosing and ignore what God has said, we are repeating the "did God say" challenge first expressed by Satan in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:3-5).
(6) God is even more willing to pardon than we are, if His conditions are met
. (Ps. 103: 11,12; Lam. 3:22) If the rich man in the story was worthy of death, then David was even more worthy of death. Yet, God was immediately willing to pardon.
(7) Prayer and fasting sometimes averts disaster but not always. (
Matt. 17:21) The fasting and praying of the Ninevites averted the disaster foretold by Jonah, but David's efforts did not change what was foretold in his case.
(8) Regardless of how God responds, we need to accept His verdict and continue worshiping Him
(Eph. 5:20). David was a wise king. Though he made awful mistakes, he was willing to be corrected and learn. Therefore instead of being angry with God for not sparing the child, he accepted God's verdict, then he went and worshiped God—a needed part of being in a good relationship with God, which enabled him to move on in life.
(9) In moving on, David fully re-engaged with life
. (Prov. 3:5,6) Sometimes relational and other painful events block a person's ability to fully participate in life. Such individuals are blocked in "relational adolescence" so to speak, and many years are wasted in the paralyzing unreality of "what could have been"! Because David made sure he was back in right relationship with God, he was able to be in right relationship with the other members of his family including Bathsheba. We must not let the errors of the past keep us from fully experiencing all that God has planned for us. The painful experiences may not have originated with God, but by the time they come to us, they are to be accepted as being used for our good.
(10) We need to help those affected by our mistakes move on as well
. (2 Cor. 1:2-4) It says that "David comforted Bathsheba." He could have treated her as a despised pariah, but he rather affirmed her and helped her move on too. In their case she soon conceived another child. Leah was not so lucky with Jacob!
(11) God can make all things new
! (Ps. 43:5; 2 Cor. 5:17) The story concludes with David and Bathsheba naming their little boy Solomon, meaning peace. Because the "Lord loved him," God wanted to have the last word, and sent word by the hand of Nathan the prophet to call Solomon Jedidiah, which means "beloved of the lord." (2 Sam. 12:24-25)
I don't know what is going on in your life, but it can't be worse than what was going on for David
. Fortunately, he accepted the straight testimony of God's prophet, repented, returned to a good relationship with God, accepted and worshiped God in spite of the consequences that he was experiencing, and became re-engaged in life. If we respond the same way, God will also make all things new in our life
Father, please be honest with us today, and help us hear your "you are the man" message if we need one. Then instead of being defensive, help us to acknowledge what has gone on and repent. Help us to also make things right as much as we can. Please help us make sure we are in good relationship with you and with the people around us. And help us to fully engage in life, helping those who are still struggling move on in godly ways, as we are able. This may not be an easy message for my friend today, but I trust that You will be as clear and as gentle as You were for David back then. Please send Your message of love as You did to David and Bathsheba. Bring worship no matter what is going on; bring about full engagement in life no matter what has gone on. And might the members of my friend's family and circle of influence be blessed as a result of Your work. I ask this in Jesus' name, Amen.
God bless you, Dan