David in denial


by Stan Mitchell

I have always been puzzled about David’s state of mind when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and tried to hide his actions by murdering her husband Uriah the Hittite. It’s not as if David, brought up in Jesse’s godly household, the man “after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14) was unaware that adultery and murder were wrong!

How long, one wonders, did David intend to carry on as if nothing had happened? For months? Years? Indefinitely? How does someone do this?

Counselors these days talk about people being adept at “compartmentalizing” their lives. So, for instance, a student might be facing a huge test for which he ought to study, yet be able to block that out of his mind while playing video games until late at night. Or a preacher might find himself in an adulterous relationship, somehow putting that side of his life, the one where he’s a worldly ladies’ man, in a different compartment from the one where he is a man of God, preaching God’s word.

I wish I could tell you that this brand of self-deception was unusual, but it’s not. It’s about as unusual as a cactus in West Texas, or a Crimson Tide fan in Tuscaloosa. This is so common, so human!

It seems likely that David would have gone to his grave convinced that he was just fine in God’s sight, had Nathan the prophet not confronted him.

Have you ever wondered why Nathan resorted to telling that heartbreaking story about the poor man and his ewe lamb who was victimized by the rich man who stole his lamb and shared it with his guests?

Was criticizing the king a dangerous occupation? Perhaps. But Nathan faced a more critical task. He had to get David to see David for who he was! The story of a rich and powerful man who felt he was entitled to do as he pleased to the poor and helpless allowed David to see what he had done. It seems it was a moment of revelation – so that’s what I look like to God!

The poet Robert Burns once declared, “Lord give us the grace to see ourselves as others see us.” The real trick, of course, is to see ourselves as God sees us.

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