Confession and Relief
If we stop seeking to cover up our sin, God is willing to cover it over.
David’s sin of adultery with (or very possibly even rape of) Bathsheba was compounded by his cover-up of it, arranging for her husband, Uriah, to be killed. But the plan seemed to have worked masterfully. David married Bathsheba, and no one was any the wiser. A time of deceit and silence followed. David believed he had it covered. Sin frequently deceives us into thinking that. But what others think of us and what God says of us are often very different.
God knew what others did not. He sent a prophet to the king. Yet Nathan didn’t show up at David’s door to jump straight to bold accusations. He simply told him a story about a rich man with many flocks and herds unjustly taking a poor man’s only lamb, which drew out David’s sympathy for the wronged man and rage over the rich man’s actions. Then Nathan delivered the devastating punchline: “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7).
“The LORD sent Nathan to David.” Those six words are words of amazing grace! Yahweh would not allow His servant David to settle down comfortably in his sin. As unpleasant and difficult as it may have been for the king to face his sin, the reason why God sent the prophet to David was because He loved him. God granted David something he did not deserve, and David responded to Nathan’s words with humility and repentance. Because God intervened and David confessed, the story ended not with despair and guilt but with deliverance and grace (see Psalm 32:5-6). As Derek Kidner writes, “The relief of climbing down, and the grace which meets it … altogether outweigh the cost.”
That is true for us no less than it was for David. We may fear that if we quit our own cover-up games with sin, then our reputations will suffer. But if you are accommodating immorality in your life, it doesn’t matter how well you can conceal it from the watching world. Ultimately, the watching world is irrelevant: God knows your heart. It is on account of God’s faithfulness that He pursues us and won’t let us remain comfortable in our disobedience and rebellion. While we may not have a prophet like Nathan sent to us, we do have God’s word to open in front of us; it is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword … discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight” (Hebrews 4:12-13)—including both the creature writing these words and the one reading them. God exposes our sin that we might bring it to Him to cover it over with the blood of His Son.
What is He pointing out to you right now? Are you seeking to excuse or justify or hide it? It’s time to climb down and stop covering it up. The cost of sin is far outweighed by the benefits of forgiveness.
2 Samuel 11:1-27
David and Bathsheba
1In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.
2It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king's house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. 3And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. 5And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.”
6So David sent word to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David. 7When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab was doing and how the people were doing and how the war was going. 8Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” And Uriah went out of the king's house, and there followed him a present from the king. 9But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. 10When they told David, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “Have you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?” 11Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.” 12Then David said to Uriah, “Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13And David invited him, and he ate in his presence and drank, so that he made him drunk. And in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.
14In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 15In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die.” 16And as Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew there were valiant men. 17And the men of the city came out and fought with Joab, and some of the servants of David among the people fell. Uriah the Hittite also died. 18Then Joab sent and told David all the news about the fighting. 19And he instructed the messenger, “When you have finished telling all the news about the fighting to the king, 20then, if the king's anger rises, and if he says to you, ‘Why did you go so near the city to fight? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? 21Who killed Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Did not a woman cast an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died at Thebez? Why did you go so near the wall?’ then you shall say, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.’”
22So the messenger went and came and told David all that Joab had sent him to tell. 23The messenger said to David, “The men gained an advantage over us and came out against us in the field, but we drove them back to the entrance of the gate. 24Then the archers shot at your servants from the wall. Some of the king's servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.” 25David said to the messenger, “Thus shall you say to Joab, ‘Do not let this matter displease you, for the sword devours now one and now another. Strengthen your attack against the city and overthrow it.’ And encourage him.”
26When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she lamented over her husband. 27And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.
2 Samuel 12:1-25
Nathan Rebukes David
1And the Lord sent Nathan to David. 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. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms,1 and it was like a daughter to him. 4Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” 5Then David's anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, 6and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”
7Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. 8And I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. 9Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? 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, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of 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 sun. 12For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” 13David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord,2 the child who is born to you shall die.” 15Then Nathan went to his house.
David's Child Dies
And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and he became sick. 16David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. 17And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. 18On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us. How then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.” 19But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” 20Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. 21Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” 22He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”
24Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the Lord loved him 25and sent a message by Nathan the prophet. So he called his name Jedidiah,3 because of the Lord.
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