2 Samuel 12:1-15
12 The Lord sent the prophet Nathan to David. When Nathan came to him, he said, “Two men lived in the same town. One was rich. The other was poor. 2 The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle. 3 But all the poor man had was one little female lamb. He had bought it. He raised it. It grew up with him and his children. It shared his food. It drank from his cup. It even slept in his arms. It was just like a daughter to him. 4 “One day a traveler came to the rich man. The rich man wanted to prepare a meal for him. But he didn’t want to kill one of his own sheep or cattle. Instead, he took the little female lamb that belonged to the poor man. Then the rich man cooked it for the traveler who had come to him.” 5 David was very angry with the rich man. He said to Nathan, “The man who did this must die! And that’s just as sure as the Lord is alive. 6 The man must pay back four times as much as that lamb was worth. How could he do such a thing? And he wasn’t even sorry he had done it.” 7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! The Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘I anointed you king over Israel. I saved you from Saul. 8 I gave you everything that belonged to your master Saul. I even put his wives into your arms. I made you king over all the people of Israel and Judah. And if all of that had not been enough for you, I would have given you even more. 9 Why did you turn your back on what I told you to do? You did what is evil in my sight. You made sure that Uriah, the Hittite, would be killed in battle. You took his wife to be your own. You let the men of Ammon kill him with their swords. 10 So time after time members of your own royal house will be killed with swords. That’s because you turned your back on me. You took the wife of Uriah, the Hittite, to be your own.’ 11 “The Lord also says, ‘I am going to bring trouble on you. It will come from your own family. I will take your wives away. Your own eyes will see it. I will give your wives to a man who is close to you. He will sleep with them in the middle of the day. 12 You committed your sins in secret. But I will make sure that the man commits his sin in the middle of the day. Everyone in Israel will see it.’ ” 13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You aren’t going to die. 14 But you have dared to show great disrespect for the Lord. So the son who has been born to you will die.” 15 Nathan went home. Then the Lord made David’s child very sick. That was the child David had by Uriah’s wife.
At least 9 months had passed from when David sinned against God. The baby, living proof of his contempt for God’s law, had been born. Nathan the prophet brings God’s judgment in a parable, and David condemns himself from his own mouth. The rightful punishment was death. David’s heart is convicted, and he recognises that although his sin meant the death of Uriah, the corruption of Bathsheba, and the condemnation of his son, his sin was against God.
Through repentance David comes back to God to seek mercy and renewal. The beautiful Psalm 51 expresses his need for cleansing, his need for the Holy Spirit, and his yearning to praise.
This sobering passage reminds me that repentance demands a deep down change. The very heart, with its motivations, excuses, justifications, needs to be changed, broken – transformed into a
heart full of praise for our loving, merciful God. He doesn’t write his children off when they stumble. He doesn’t give up on us. He wants to restore us, lavishing his love and blessings on us.
Reflecting on David’s repentance turns my thoughts to my own need to repent – not a very popular activity in these days of “self help” and “well being”. There is no need to carry the guilt any more. The wonderful promise is that he has taken away all our sin through Jesus’ death.
Heavenly Father. You are a God who cleanses, restores, revives, holds on. I am so sorry for those actions, words and thoughts which have dishonoured you. Thank you for your wonderful forgiveness I didn’t deserve. Thank you for Jesus.
Written by Claire Moore