Scripture Reference: 2 Samuel 11-12
The Bible does not paint perfect pictures of the faith heroes. It is filled with honest accounts of the lives of great men and women of God. Reading about them shows us that God could still work through people today. We can relate to them on so many levels. These were real people, loving God with all their heart, though far from perfect.
Here we have David –a man after God’s own heart. He made horrible mistakes, but never denied committing them. We take a look at David’s repentant heart and see that he never took his sin lightly. He understood the weight of his offenses.
This account of David’s life begins as he, a king known for being personally involved in his country’s battles, decides to stay at home as his men fight the Ammonites. His decision to stay in Jerusalem would change his life forever. With nothing better to do, he happens to see an unusually beautiful woman named Bathsheba. Only problem was that Bathsheba was married to Uriah the Hittite –one of the men fighting his battle against the Ammonites. This didn’t stop David from pursuing what he wanted. He was the king after all. In no time, Bathsheba is in the king’s bed.
The plot only thickens when Bathsheba later discovers she is pregnant. It clearly couldn’t be Uriah’s child, since he’s already been away for months fighting for his country. David makes a plan: He invites Uriah to his palace under the premise that he wants an update on events on the battle field. David pretends to be kind to him by telling him he can go home and relax with his wife and even sends him a gift later. Uriah, however, didn’t do as the king commanded. Instead of going home, he slept with the king’s guards at the palace entrance. He figured that it would be disloyal to the rest of his fellow soldiers if he sleeps in the arms of his wife in the comfort of his home, while the rest of the men are sleeping in tents or out in the fields.
This noble characteristic of Uriah only meant further complications for David. He wanted Uriah to sleep with his wife so that it may appear he is the father of the child she’s expecting. When he realized his plan wasn’t working, he does the most unconscionable thing. He sends instructions to Joab about how to get rid of Uriah. David sends his instruction for murder via the unsuspecting man he plans to murder. The letter said “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.” Joab did as he was instructed and Uriah was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers. These other soldiers also had to pay with their lives because of the king’s murderous plot. With Uriah out of the way, David married Bathsheba as soon as her period of mourning was over.
Months passed and then God decided it’s time to address the horror of David’s actions. Nathan the prophet confronts David, but he does this in an unusual way. This was to ensure that David understood the full weight of the atrocious thing he did. He starts by telling David a story. There was once a rich man and a poor man. The rich man lacked nothing and possessed vast amounts of sheep and cattle. The poor man owned nothing except one pet lamb he dearly loved and treated like it was his child. However, when a guest arrives at the rich man’s house, he does not kill one of his own livestock, he slaughters the only lamb of the poor man and serves it to his guest. This hit right home. David, having been a shepherd himself, was sickened by this story and exclaimed, “The person who does such a thing deserves to die!” Then, the bombshell: “You are that man!” Nathan said. He then relays God’s message to David:
“I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more. Why, then, have you despised the word of the LORD and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Ammonites and stolen his wife.”
Immediately the weight of his terrible actions became clear to David, and in response he exclaims that he has sinned against God. As soon as David confesses and repents of his sin, God is ready to forgive. He says that David won’t pay with his life for his actions –a sentence David had himself pronounced –but is forgiven.
I believe here is another reason why David was a man after God’s own heart. If one compares him to Saul the difference becomes quite a stark one. When the prophet Samuel confronted Saul about his sin, Saul firstly tried to hide behind the cloak of sacrifices and offerings and he tried to downplay what he had done. When he discovered that he has been found out, Saul begged for another chance so that he may not lose face in the sight of the people. Saul regretted being found out more than he regretted sinning in the sight of God. David, on the other hand didn’t attempt any such cover up and he truly repented because he sinned against God.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge. (Psalm 51:4)
It is believed that David wrote Psalms 6:1-10; Psalm 32:1-11; Psalm 38-40 and most notably Psalm 51 in response to these events. In psalm 51 it is evident that David clearly understood that although we desire to do something to make things right with God for sinning against Him, it is not offerings and sacrifices God is after. Our good deeds cannot make up for our sins.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. (Psalm 51:16-17)
David understood that God looks at the heart. He understood that we need forgiveness and we are at the mercy of God’s grace and kindness when we sin. It is offensive to God when we try to cover up or make up for our sin with religious actions. It’s our heart God is after.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me (Psalm 51:10)
We all sin and are in need of God’s forgiveness. May we have hearts that are quick to repent and come before our God humbly seeking forgiveness. God understands our condition and has been very gracious to us for it is written,
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. (Romans 3:23-25a).