When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. After the time of mourning, David had her brought to his house and she became his wife and bore him a son. The thing David had done displeased the Lord. 2 Samuel 11:26-27
We saw last week how David failed to overcome temptation and committed adultery. To cover up his sin, he then had Joav, his commander, place Bathseba’s husband, Uriah, in the thick of the battle to assure his demise.
One thing David forgot: his sin was clearly apparent to God. No cover up would work in the eyes of the Almighty. It startles us when we think about it for here is a ‘man after God’s own heart’ who not only sinned grievously but appears to have no remorse! How can that be? It was because the most blatant sin is also the most blinding. The conscious mind has a defense mechanism that blanks out information too painful to deal with. Psychology calls this ‘repression’.
However before we wag our heads or point a finger at David, we must look at ourselves. The prophet Isaiah said: We all, like sheep, have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way. Isaiah 53:6 We often need someone else to help us see through ourselves and the humility to listen and receive their correction.
David was blessed with such a person. Nathan, the prophet of God, came to the king and confronted him with his sin by telling him a ‘parable’ which is recorded in 2 Samuel 12: 1-7
‘There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a large number of sheep and cattle but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb that he had bought. He raised it and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own shepp and cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the one ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.’
David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan: ‘As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.’
Then Nathan said to David: ‘You are the man’.
Nathan models for us what a true man (or woman) of God is like. This is the kind of person you want for a friend.
First, a true man/woman of God knows how to be objective and will confront people with their sin, not with harshness but in a spirit of humility, knowing full well that they can also be tempted. They will also do so in God’s timing. Nathan confronted David nearly two years after the affair. God’s desire and expectation is that when a person ‘after his heart’ sins, repentance would follow quickly. David had time to repent. God was patient. But when repentance was not forthcoming, he sent the prophet. If we are to walk in the ways of God and sincerely long to have an intimate relationship with Him, then we must be willing to listen when a caring friend brings correction. That is wisdom – and, by the way, humility which is a virtue near and dear to the heart of God. At that moment, your friend is doing you a great favor.
Second, a true man/woman of God is concerned with God’s honor. In vs. 14, Nathan said to the king, ‘By doing this, you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt.’ Nathan was grieved that God’s enemies had heard what David had done and scoffed at him.
Third, a true man/woman of God will apply the Word of God to the situation, not his or her personal feelings or opinions. The chief aim of Nathan’s parable was to expose David’s sin and he had the grace to know that it would be easier for the king to repent if he approached him with a story rather than a harsh confrontation.
It is amazing that David didn’t see the point right away! However, he was oblivious to his sin. Could it be because of self-righteousness? Had he justified (rationalized) it?
David’s initial reaction to Nathan’s parable teaches us three things about people who are self-righteous.
They are judgmental. David was quick to point the finger at the rich man in the parable.
They are quick to see sin in others but often fail to see their own sin. Self-righteousness blinds us to the truth about ourselves, making it easy to criticize others.
They are unforgiving. David said the rich man ‘deserves to die’. Note this: the inability or unwillingness to forgive is a sin just as heinous in God’s eyes as the person whose sin we are condemning.
God has three methods for disciplining His children.
First, He has told us in His Word what He expects of us so that we will recognize our own failures and repent.
Second, if we’re not paying attention to God’s Word, He may use adverse circumstances or difficulties to get our attention. Jonah experienced this when he refused to go to Nineveh.
Thirdly – and sadly – if we persist in our self-righteous rationalizing, we will face God’s judgment eventually when we stand before Him. By then it will be too late to repent and we will have forfeited many blessings that could have been ours.
Let us be quick to repent, slow to justify our failures and seek after God with everything in us.
In a few days, some of you will celebrate Hanukkah while others will celebrate Christmas.
To all of you, I send my warmest wish that in your celebrations you remember most the Holy One of Israel Whose love, kindness and compassion is new every morning for great is HIS faithfulness to His people.