2 Samuel 12:1 – 15 (NRSV)
Nathan Condemns David
But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord, and the Lord sent Nathan to David.
Nathan had met with David before, in 1 Samuel 7, and given him a message of blessing. So David might consider Nathan a friend, not a critic, and thus be disposed to listen to him.
He came to him, and said to him,
“There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. 2The rich man had very many flocks and herds; 3but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him.
4“Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.”
5Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; 6he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”
My mother used to say, “We tend to dislike in others our own weaknesses.”
7Nathan said to David, “You are the man!
Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul; 8I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more. 9Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight?
The core of David’s sin, the Lord says, is ingratitude. David had received so much, and had only to ask for more — yet it was not enough, and he sought to get more through his sinning.
You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.
“David demanded fourfold restitution for the man in Nathan’s parable. God exacted fourfold restitution for Uriah from four of David’s sons: Bathsheba’s child, Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah.”
11“Thus says the Lord: I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun. 12For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.”
“Turn about is fair play,” they say. God said the same to David. The king had taken someone else’s wife, so some one else will take the king’s wives. Of course, it will not be a pretty picture when that happens.
13David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
Nathan said to David, “Now the Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child that is born to you shall die.”
15Then Nathan went to his house.
from Experiencing God Day-by-Day
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby
GOD’S MANNER OF FORGIVENESS
What is required for God to forgive sin? Repentance. But even repentance does not ensure the removal of the consequences of sin. The consequences often remain as a reminder of the terrible, destructive nature of sin.
David was forgiven for his grievous sins of lust, adultery, robbery, and murder. God forgave him absolutely and removed his sins from him completely. God did not, however, remover the pain that David would endure as a result of his transgressions. The child born of David’s adultery died. David’s son Ammon raped David’s daughter Tamar. David’s son Absalom murdered Ammon. Absalom brought the kingdom into rebellion. For the rest of David’s reign, violence filled his home and his kingdom. Although David knew he was forgiven, he bore the painful consequences of his sin for the rest of his life.
It is presumptuous to assume that God removes every consequence the moment you repent of your sin. Do not think that the instant you show remorse God will restore everything as it was. He may not. Some sins, such as adultery, come from a flawed character. God forgives sin immediately upon repentance, but it takes longer to build character. It is character, not forgiveness, that determines what God brings next to your life.
Because we know the devastating consequences of our disobedience, let us diligently avoid every sin.
- 1874 The story of Bathsheba, David, and Uriah is echoed in the Thomas Hardy novel Far from the Madding Crowd.
- 1893 The Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of the Crooked Man” uses the David/Bathsheba story as its main structure.
What I did was wrong. I am sorry. Please forgive me.
Such small words, and yet sometimes how hard they are to say!
HERE is “Forgive Me” sung by Rebecca St. James. Lyrics follow.
For all the times I failed You, Lord
For all the ways I’ve fallen short
Lord, forgive me now
God, I’m so in need of grace
I fall upon my face, forgive me
You see the tears fall down my face
Take my fear, Lord, take my shame
Lord, forgive me now
Purify me, make me new
Like only You can do, forgive me now
Lord, we come to honor You
We are forgiven
We bring our love and thanks to You
We are forgiven now
God we praise You for Your grace
Before You we are raised, forgiven
God we praise You for Your grace
Before You we are raised
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.