049 David & Bathsheba

‘Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile’ (Psalm 32:1,2)

Key Verse:

“Now all these things … are written for our warning … wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:11,12)

(2 Samuel 11,12; Psalm 51,32)

In our last lesson, we saw how David became the King of Israel. David was a just and compassionate king who sincerely loved the Word of God. In this lesson, however, we are going to read something about David which is not pleasant to hear. David did something that was hateful in God’s sight;

he coveted his neighbour’s wife, committed adultery with her,

and then added sin to sin by attempting to cover it up. Some may ask,

“Why is such an awful story found in the Holy Scriptures?”

The Scripture answers this question when it says: 

“For whatever things were written in earlier times were written for our learning!” (Rom. 15:4) 

“Now all these things … are written for our warning … wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:11,12)

In the Holy Scriptures, God does not hide the sins of the prophets because

God wants to teach us valuable lessons.

Now then, let us return to the second book of Samuel and see how David fell into sin. The Scripture says: (2 Sam. 11:1-5) “And it came to pass, after the year was ended, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that

David sent Joab,

and his servants with him, and all Israel, and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David waited still at Jerusalem. And it came to pass at eventide, that David arose from his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof

he saw a woman washing herself,

and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah, the Hittite? And

David sent messengers, and took her.

And she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness. And she returned unto her house. And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child”

Next, the Scriptures describe how David tried to cover up his sin. When David heard that Bathsheba was pregnant, he sent word to Joab, the leader of his army, and ordered him to send to him Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband. Now

Uriah was a mighty man in the army of Israel.

And so Joab sent Uriah to David. (2 Sam. 11:7-12:14) “And when Uriah was come unto him, David demanded of him how Joab did, and how the people did, and how the war prospered. And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet. And Uriah departed out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king. But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house. And when they had told David, saying, Uriah went not down unto his house, David said to Uriah, Camest thou not from thy journey? Why, then, didst thou not go down unto thine house? And Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah abide in tents; and my lord, Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields. Shall I, then, go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As thou liveth, and as thy soul liveth,

I will not do this thing.

And David said to Uriah, Tarry here today also, and tomorrow I will let thee depart. So Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day, and the next. And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him;

and he made him drunk.

And in the evening he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house. And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die. And it came to pass, when Joab observed the city, that he assigned Uriah unto a place where he knew that valiant men were. And the men of the city went out, and fought with Joab, and there fell some of the people of the servants of David;

and Uriah, the Hittite, died also.

Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war, and charged the messenger, saying, When thou hast finished telling the matters of the war unto the king, and if so be that the king’s wrath arise, and he then say unto thee, Why approached ye so near unto the city when ye did fight? Knew ye not that they would shoot from the wall? Who smote Abimelech, the son of Jerubbesheth? Did not a woman cast a piece of millstone upon him from the wall, that he died in Thebez?

Why went ye near the wall?

Then say thou, Thy servant Uriah, the Hittite, is dead also. So the messenger went, and came and made known to David all that Joab had sent him for. And the messenger said unto David, Surely, the men prevailed against us, and came out unto us into the field, and we were upon them even unto the entrance of the gate. And the shooters shot from off the wall upon thy servants; and some of the king’s servants are dead,

and thy servant, Uriah, the Hittite, is dead also.

Then David said unto the messenger, Thus shalt thou say unto Joab, Let not this thing displease thee, for the sword devoureth one as well as another. Make thy battle more strong against the city, and overthrow it; and encourage thou him. And when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah, her husband, was dead, she mourned for her husband. And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and bore him a son.

But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.

And the Lord sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up; and it grew up together with him, and with his children. It did eat of his own food, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and

was unto him as a daughter.

And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and the rich man not willing to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to prepare it for the visitor who was come unto him, but took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared it for the man who was come to him. And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the Lord liveth, the man who hath done this thing shall surely die; and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. And Nathan said to David,

Thou art the man.

Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; and I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would, moreover, have given unto thee such and such things. Why hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do this evil in his sight?

Thou hast killed Uriah,

the Hittite, with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from thine house, because thou hast taken the wife of Uriah, the Hittite, to be thy wife. Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. For thou didst it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun. And David said unto Nathan,

I have sinned against the Lord.

And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall die.”

In the following chapters, the Scriptures show us how David’s sin produced great trouble and many tragedies within his family. But the Word of God also says: “But where sin aboundeth, [God’s] grace did much more abound.” (Rom. 5:20) Thus, we will see how God showed David His grace, and forgave him all his sins.

Why did God forgive David of his sins?

Did you hear how David answered Nathan, when he said to David, “Thou art the man!”? God’s prophet, Nathan, had great courage to say such a thing to the great King of Israel.

How did David answer Nathan?

Did he lock Nathan in prison or even have him executed, as many kings might have done? No, he did not do this. Did David try to justify his sins by saying, “God willed it!” or “God is good, perhaps He will erase my evil deeds because of my good deeds!”? Did David answer Nathan like that? No, David did not say that! Then how did David respond? David responded by saying, “I have sinned!”

I have sinned against the LORD!

To better understand how David confessed his sin before God, we need to read what David wrote in the Psalms after the prophet of God Nathan rebuked him for his sin with Bathsheba. David said: (Psa. 51:1-7,10,17) “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness; according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For

I acknowledge my transgressions,

and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done evil in thy sight, that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shaped in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me … create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part thou shalt make me know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow … the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise”

This is how David repented.

David mourned greatly because of his sin. He had a broken and crushed heart before God. David was not like those who have religion, but continue in sin every day. Truly, David had fallen into the pit of sin, but he could not live in it, because David loved God, and knew that 

“God is light; and in him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)

So then,

after David repented,

what did God say to him through the mouth of the prophet Nathan? Did God tell him, “Go and do some good works and I will erase your sins!”? No, God did not say that! Nathan simply said to him, “The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die!”

After this, David wrote in the Psalms, describing the blessedness of the man whom God has forgiven, apart from his own works. He said: 

“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit!” (Psalm 32:1,2; Rom. 4:7,8) Yes,

God forgave David and judged him as righteous!

That does not mean that God removed the tragedies that David’s sin produced. What it means is that, in the Day of Judgement, God would not remember David’s sins. He had erased them all from His book!

How could God do that?

How could God forgive all the sins of David and yet remain a righteous judge? Could God simply forget, just like that, all the evil which David had done? No! God is a righteous judge, and He cannot merely close His eyes to the sins of the children of Adam. Well then, how could God forgive David, and still maintain His righteousness?

Do you remember what David prayed to God after he recognized his sin? He prayed, “Wash away all my iniquity . . . Cleanse me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

wash me,

and I shall be whiter than snow!” (Psa. 51:2,7) God had commanded the Israelites to use the branch of the hyssop plant for sprinkling the blood of the sacrifices. The sprinkled blood illustrated the great sacrifice of the coming Redeemer who would willingly die, shedding His blood as a payment for sins.

God could forgive David his sins because

David had repented and believed

in God’s power to cleanse him by the work of the coming Redeemer. David might have offered to God a prayer something like this: “Oh God, I am grieved over my sin and ask you to forgive me! I know that you can forgive me of my sins, because one day you will send the Redeemer, who has no sin, and He Himself will endure for me the punishment for my sin once and forever. Therefore Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner! Wash me in the blood of the holy Redeemer, and I shall be completely pure!”

Did God, in His grace, forgive David all his sins?

Did God cleanse David’s heart and judge him as righteous? Yes, He did! On what basis did God do this? God forgave David because he confessed his sinful condition before God, and believed what God had promised concerning the Redeemer, who would come and bear the punishment for sin. The faith he had in the promises of God is the reason David could rejoice, and write in the Psalms: 

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile” (Psa. 32:1,2)

In our next two lessons, in the will of God, we will look into the holy book of Psalms to see what the prophet David testified concerning the Redeemer, who would bear our punishment, so that God could forgive us our sins forever.

God bless you as you think about this verse David wrote in the Psalms concerning one of God’s greatest blessings: 

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile” (Psa. 32:1,2)

We would invite you to answer the questions attached and send them together with any questions that you might have

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