In Acts 13, as Paul was speaking at the Jewish synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia, he made this statement about King David: “God raised up David their king. He testified about him: ‘I have found David the son of Jesse to be a man after my heart, who will accomplish everything I want him to do.’” (Acts 13:22 NET). What higher praise could anyone have than for God to describe them as someone who is “after my heart.”
Yet David was far from perfect. We read in 2 Samuel 11 about his affair with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, one of his inner circle of warriors (he was one of the thirty listed in 2 Samuel 23). But that wasn’t the end of the story. Bathsheba became pregnant and when David couldn’t get Uriah to sleep with his wife to cover up the pregnancy, he set it up so that Uriah would be killed in battle, in reality committing murder. He then sent for and married Bathsheba who, in due course, gave birth to a son.
It is sad that this “man after God’s heart” does not seem to have had much remorse over what he had done. So God sent Nathan, a prophet, to confront him. Nathan told David a story:
“There were two men in a certain city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a great many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing except for a little lamb he had acquired. He raised it, and it grew up alongside him and his children. It used to eat his food, drink from his cup, and sleep in his arms. It was just like a daughter to him. When a traveler arrived at the rich man’s home, he did not want to use one of his own sheep or cattle to feed the traveler who had come to visit him. Instead, he took the poor man’s lamb and cooked it for the man who had come to visit him” (2 Samuel 12:1-4).
David was immediately very angry. Such an injustice had been committed! “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die! Because he committed this cold-hearted crime, he must pay for the lamb four times over!” (2 Samuel 12:5-6).
It must have pierced his heart when the next thing Nathan said was, “You are that man!” (2 Samuel 12:7). Nathan told him that what he had done, in killing Uriah and taking Bathsheba, was showing contempt for the word of God.
Sin has consequences. God’s message to David was that “the sword will never depart from your house” and one from his household will “go to bed with your wives in broad daylight” (2 Samuel 12:10-12).
It is worth noting that David himself had said that the man in Nathan’s story “must pay for the lamb four times over.” As we shall see as we continue reading through David’s life, this is exactly the price David had to pay: he lost four of his children.
The first child he lost was the one who was conceived the night he spent with Bathsheba. God struck him with an illness and a week later the child died (2 Samuel 12:15-18).
Although David sinned and had to pay the consequences, God can take a bad, even sinful situation and bring something good out of it. David and Bathsheba had another son who was named Solomon. He did become king and it is through this son that eventually the Messiah came into the world (see Matthew 1).
The lesson for us: even though David tried to cover up his sin, God still knew about it. When we sin we need to deal with that sin so that we can be forgiven.
Readings for next week:
15 October – 2 Samuel 12; Psalm 51
16 October – 2 Samuel 13
17 October – 2 Samuel 14; Psalm 36
18 October – 2 Samuel 15; Psalm 3
19 October – 2 Samuel 16; Psalm 7