An Adulterous, Murdering Man after God’s Own Heart
2 Samuel 12:1-14
Psalm 51 is one of my favorite psalms. It’s poetic and beautiful. The story behind Psalm 51 is found right here in 2 Samuel 12. It’s the time when kings go off to war, only King David isn’t off at war with his troops, he’s safe at home. One day he’s walking out on the roof of his palace and what should his wandering eye behold? A beautiful woman bathing on the top of her roof. David can’t help himself, so he sends for her and knocks her up. In an attempt to cover his tracks, he invites her husband home from the war. Only Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, has more honor than David and refuses to go into his wife. So, it’s back to the war for Uriah. Poor Uriah is placed in the heaviest part of the fighting and ultimately loses his life.
Today’s passage starts with the words, “But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.” I should say so – adultery and murder. The prophet Nathan goes to David and tells him a story about a poor man, a rich man, and one little sheep. The sheep was part of the family for the poor man; it was like a daughter to him. The rich man, who had many sheep, didn’t want to kill one his own livestock to feed a visitor to his house, so he stole the poor man’s sheep.
The injustice in the story enrages David, so much so that he’s ready to kill (again!). In David’s mind, there’s no way that the rich thief should continue to live. In a way that only a story can, David is entrapped and convicted of his sin. Nathan tells David that the unjust man in the story is actually him. God is not happy, and there’s going to be some consequences. The nature of part of the consequence, the death of the baby that will be born to Bathsheba, is a topic for another day.
Immediately, David repents. His repentance won’t clear him of the consequences of his wrongdoing. No, those things will follow him the rest of his life, but there is forgiveness. Nathan says it like this, “Now the Lord has put away your sin….”
The only thing that makes this story bearable is the fact that it demonstrates for us God’s faithful forgiveness. We can do some fairly horrific things, yet if we are repentant, if we truly seek to turn from those things and travel in a genuinely new direction, we will again be embraced by the loving arms of God.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God… Then I will teach transgressors your ways.” (Psalm 51:10, 13) The path back to becoming a person after God’s own heart moves through repentance and a desire to be cleansed to a willingness to help others do the same. If you’re caught in sin, if you feel like you can never be forgiven for the things you’ve done, you’re wrong. God will clean your heart, renew your spirit, freeing you to help others find forgiveness and freedom from their sins as well.
Prayer: Oh God, thank you for your faithful forgiveness. Help us to desire clean hearts and renewed spirits. Empower us to help others to desire the same things. Amen.