David welcomed Nathan warmly. He was glad the man of God had come for a visit. Let’s not forget, David loved the Lord and the Lord loved David.
“God gave [Israel] judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. After removing Saul, he made David their king. [God] testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’” (Acts 13:20-22, NIV)
Don’t miss the love in those words. God knew David’s heart. He knew the king’s desire was to obey. He sent Nathan to David to bring his man to repentance.
Nathan told the king a story.
“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.
“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.” (2 Samuel 12:1-4, The Message)
David leapt from his throne enraged as Nathan’s tale came to a close.
“As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die!” he shouted. “He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.” (2 Samuel 12:5-6, NIV)
Nathan looked into the king’s eyes. He opened his mouth and spoke the most devastating words David had ever heard. “You are the man!”
David’s head spun as the Lord’s rebuke spilled from the prophet’s lips. “I gave you the throne. You despised what I gave you. You took another man’s wife and had him killed to cover up your sin.”
Nathan spoke of the lasting judgment that would rest on David. He would be shamed. His wives would be raped by one from his own household. “You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.”
At last Nathan stood silent before David.
Imagine for a moment you are in the king’s shoes. What are you feeling? Shame? Guilt? Remorse? Rebellion?
There are many in this world who reject God’s standards and balk at his rebuke. “You can’t tell me what to do!” they shout. “It’s my life. I’ll do as I please.”
Can that kind of defiance be found in your heart?
There wasn’t any in David’s heart. He dropped to his seat. Quietly, sadly, the humbled, broken king confessed: “I have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Samuel 12:13, NIV)
David knew he was guilty. He had no place to hide. Where could he run?
God had caught him.
Israel’s ruler admitted his fault. The words here don’t tell the whole story though. They seem so cold. There’s no real sense the deep grief David felt.
For that we have to go to the song he wrote about this incident – Psalm 51. The title says it all.
For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. In your good pleasure make Zion prosper; build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then there will be righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings to delight you; then bulls will be offered on your altar.” (NIV)
Can you hear David’s deep sorrow in this song? “Have mercy on me…Wash away all my iniquity…cleanse me…Hide your face from my sins…Do not cast me from your presence…Restore to me the joy of your salvation…”
David was filled with remorse. He hated his sin. He was begging for mercy. God listened. He forgave. His grace was greater than David’s sin. He mercifully blotted out his servant’s iniquity. He honored the king’s contrite heart.
There were consequences for the king’s sin. His baby died. A son would one day rebel against him. But he was forgiven.
Do you hate your sin? Does it grieve you when you sin against God? Do you recognize your sin as an affront to his holiness? Are you quick to turn away from your sin and run to God for mercy?
I’m afraid some of you may have a far too casual attitude about your sin. When you fall you are not grieved. You do not hate your sin. You do not go to God in prayer. You just shrug your shoulders and say, “Oops! I did it again,” and give your offense not one more thought.
That, my friends, is not the attitude of a child of God when they sin against their Father. The child of God grieves when he breaks God’s law. The child of God hates sin. The child of God repents.
I’ve read and reread James 4:7-10 over the past few months. Parts of this passage troubled me. I didn’t like it. I thought it was too strong. I have come to realize that it is the proper response to sin.
Listen with your heart as you read.
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (NIV)
Isn’t that exactly what David did? He submitted to God. He washed his hands and purified his heart. He grieved. He humbled himself. And didn’t God lift him up?
If you have sinned against God, I urge you to turn from your wickedness. I urge you to confess your sin to God, humbly admitting your offense. Take your ungodly behavior and attitudes and words seriously. They are an affront to your Father. They grieve him. He will rebuke you. He will correct. Listen to him. Let your sin grieve you. Take your sorrow to God.
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10, NIV)
You will have no regrets when you repent of your sin. Grieve your sin and hate it.
Paul did. In Romans 7:15 we find these words: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (NIV)
Let that be your attitude. Seek God for the strength you need to conquer that which you hate.
“What a wretched man I am!” Paul confessed a little later in Romans 7. “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” he asked. And the answer? “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25, NIV)
Salvation and forgiveness are in our Lord Jesus Christ. Both are freely given to those who confess their sin and turn from it. Let your godly sorrow bring repentance and freedom today.
What sin do you need to turn away from? What sin do you need to hate? Ask God, as we close, to give you his attitude toward your every sin and grant you forgiveness.
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