A Man After God’s Own Heart. Really?
“‘Well, tell Joab not to be discouraged,’ David said. ‘The sword devours this one today and that one tomorrow! Fight harder next time, and conquer the city!'” – 2 Samuel 11:25 NLT
Unbelievable! Wow! Incredible! I can’t believe what I’m reading! Is this really David – the same David that killed Goliath, trusted God all those years he was running from Saul, wrote a huge percentage of the Psalms, and was referred to by God as a man after His own heart? Really?
These are two of the most sobering chapters in the word of God. They offer one of the clearest representations of the depravity of man and the deceitfulness of the human heart. Here is David, the king of Israel, handpicked by God Himself, and we get a ring side seat to one of the most dramatic falls from grace in history. And with each turn, the story just seems to get worse. It all started out innocently enough. David, who should have been at the battle front with his men, had decided to stay back in the palace. You might say he was in the right place but at the wrong time. Rather than be with his troops, David had chosen to stay home. And while taking a leisurely walk on the roof of the palace one afternoon, he spied a woman taking a bath on a neighboring roof. And his initial look quickly turned to lust. His lust turned into inquisitiveness. He wanted to know who she was and so sent a servant to get the details. You would have thought that when he discovered that Bathsheba was the wife of one of his soldiers, who was off at war, he would have come to his senses, taken a cold shower, and ended the whole thing right there. But instead, David sent for Bathsheba, committed adultery with her, and then began an elaborate, if not inept, attempt to cover up the whole “affair”.
David’s lust turned into action and, ultimately, resulted in the death of Bathsheba’s husband. And David was responsible for it all. He had fallen far and hard. As the chosen king of Israel, he was not immune to temptation or sin. He had within him the whole time the capability of committing the most heinous of sins. In fact, I think David had an ongoing lust problem. He loved women. God had commanded that His kings not have multiple wives. “The king must not take many wives for himself, because they will lead him away from the LORD. And he must not accumulate vast amounts of wealth in silver and gold for himself” (Deuteronomy 17:17 NLT). David had at least eight wives and an assortment of concubines. You would think that this would have met David sexual demands, but it seems that he struggled with lust. When he saw Bathsheba, he had to have her. And he was willing to do anything to get her. Even if it meant having her husband killed.
What is really say is that David was trying to cover up his sin. It does not appear that he loved Bathsheba. He just did not want the truth out that Bathsheba’s unborn baby was his! So he tried to concoct a plan to make it look like Uriah was the real father. But David’s plan backfired at every step. He was left with only one option. Eliminate Uriah. At what point did this unbelievable and repulsive idea begin to sound viable to David? How could he bring himself to kill another man in order to cover up his own sin? And when he took Bathsheba as his wife after Uriah was killed, how could he live with himself? How could he stand to look at himself in the mirror? Somewhere along the way, David had learned to rationalize his behavior and excuse his conduct. After all, he was the Lord’s anointed.
It wasn’t until God sent Nathan the prophet to confront David that he finally confessed to his sin. Who knows how long David might have gone had not Nathan pointed out David’s hypocrisy as he shouted, “You are that man! The LORD, the God of Israel, says, ‘I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul. I gave you his house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more. Why, then, have you despised the word of the LORD and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah and stolen his wife.'” (2 Samuel 12:7-9 NLT). By doing what he did, David had shown contempt for the word of God. He had snubbed his nose at everything God had said regarding adultery and murder. He had taken all that God had given him and said, “It’s not enough!, I want more!” Anytime we sin, we are doing the same thing. We are telling God that what He has given us is not enough. We are telling Him that we know what is best for us. Even if His Word denies it, we will go ahead and grab it. We tell ourselves that we deserve it. We’ve earned it.
David ultimately confessed his sin, and the amazing thing is that God completely forgave Him. “‘I have sinned against the LORD.’ Nathan replied, ‘Yes, but the LORD has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin'” (2 Samuel 12:9 NLT). There would be consequences for David’s sin. He and Bathsheba would lose the child their affair had produced. David attempted to get God to spare the life of the child, but to no avail. And upon hearing that his child had died, David immediately turned to the Lord and worshiped. He returned to the one who offered him forgiveness in spite of his sin. He returned to the one who remained faithful in spite of David’s unfaithfulness. And God would go on to give David and Bathsheba another son – Solomon. God’s grace is indeed amazing. You see it all through this story. In the midst of our greatest failures, God extends grace, mercy, and forgiveness. David could do nothing to earn it or deserve. There was no way he could pay God back for what he had done. He had to rely fully on the forgiveness and faithfulness of God.
This story should give every one of us hope. We, like David, are fully capable of falling, but as God’s chosen ones, we can never fall from His grace. His grace never runs out. He knows our weaknesses. He knows our failings and faults. He offers forgiveness. And all He asks in return is that we return – to Him. That we come back in repentance and dependence on Him – for His grace, mercy, and forgiveness. David would go on to accomplish great things for God. God would do great things through David. His sin did not disqualify him. It simply revealed who he was and what he was capable of when he stepped away from the protective presence of God.
Father, what a story. What a reminder. What a wonderful, gracious, and forgiving God You are. Thank you for this timely reminder. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men