We could take this account and go in numerous directions. However, as I read it today I want to focus on 4 aspects:
First, despite David’s position as King Nathan confronted him with his sin. There is a lesson in that. We do not stand as judge and jury to condemn others. All of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God. However, we do bear the responsibility to declare God’s truth in love, desiring that people make things right with God. And we need to let people know that God forgives them completely when they (we) repent of our sin.
Second, we must understand that despite God’s forgiveness for our sins, there are consequences to our sin. We see those consequences described briefly in a “summary statement” in 2 Samuel 12, but detailed vividly throughout the scriptural accounts of David and his family. Our sin impacts our lives and the lives of others, not necessarily s punishment but as consequences of our disobedience. I wondered as I read these scriptures this morning as David lived through/realized the consequences of his sin what he remembered.
· Did David remember he had been forgiven by God for his sin?
· Did David understand and accept the consequences of his sin?
· Did he remember these events and so vividly that they strengthened him to the point that he did not yield to future temptations?
As humans, we know we yield to temptation often. Hopefully, our relationship with the Lord has grown to a better understanding and helped us both reject the temptation to bring God sorrow more and more, but also to understand consequences to our past failures/sins.
I am reminded of a conversation with a man several years ago, that had been charged and convicted of a terrible crime. This crime requires him to account for his whereabouts and restricts his movement legally to this day. He volunteered to assist me in my ministry and a thorough background check revealed his past (he did not give me the information voluntarily). I shared with him that he could not volunteer to assist me as he had volunteered because of the restrictions placed upon him as a result of his previous conviction, etc. I quickly added that there were other ways he could assist in the ministry, but not in ways he was volunteering to minister.
His attitude became one of anger. He justified/defended his actions against his victim. He blamed the victim and declared that others around him would give testimony to support he was not 100% “at fault” and that he should be allowed to work where he wanted to work. I remember him making the statement that most people were guilty in their hearts - if not in their actions – of similar crimes as he, but we were not restricted in our actions. He may be correct, but the law is clear – his conviction and the conditions of his release did not allow him to serve in this capacity and I could not ignore the law. I will also state that – if indeed his life had been transformed by the power of God, it is my belief he would understand and gladly accept any position of service where he could serve.
Third, I want to emphasize David’s immediate response to Nathan’s confrontation of his sin. It is recorded in 2 Samuel 12: 13, “Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” David did not try to justify his actions or defend himself in any way. He acknowledged his sin by declaring to Nathan he had sinned against the Lord. He further acknowledge his sin in Psalm 51 (read if you have not read lately). He understood there would be consequences to his sin.
Did it hurt when his child died? Did he hurt when turmoil permeated his household? Did his heart ache when he reflected and realized that he – a man described as being “after God’s own heart” would not be allowed to build God’s temple as a result of his sin? I believe he did, but he understood – he had sinned against God and there are consequences to pay.
Each of us have actions (sins) that impact what we can do. We have to understand that there will be people hurt as a result of our negative witness. Though God forgives, the consequences – even those that we might think are invisible – interfere with our ability to be used mightily.
Let me give a personal example – my career as a spokesman for Weight Watchers. Wait – you say you haven’t seen my commercials. Could it be that the consequences of my spending more time at BoJangles and enjoying their cheddar bo biscuits (along with other less than healthy eating habits) interferes with my ability to be a good spokesperson for Weight Watchers? When we sin against God, we need to understand that EVEN THOUGH God forgives and can use us, there will be lots of times when the enemy will use that stuff against us to hinder the work of the Lord. Our heart’s desire is to advance the work of the Lord and, though it grieves our heart that we cannot always be in the role we wish we could be because of our previous actions, we do not want to hinder the work of the Lord.
Finally, I want us to see David’s actions after the confrontation with Nathan and the death of his son. 2 Samuel 12: 20 reads, “Then David got up from the ground. He washed, anointed himself, changed his clothes, went to the Lord's house, and worshipped. Then he went home and requested something to eat. So they served him food, and he ate.”
David knew life would go on after the death of his son and after his horrible sin. The hard part was how he would live: in remorse, mourning, and defeat? Or in confident faith? Though we may not be guilty of such sin as David, we are guilty of sin. Though we may not have paid such dearly consequences as a result of our sin, we have paid consequences of some kind. And though we may have never experienced the death of a child or other great loss, we have experienced loss. The difficulty is not that we have endured such, rather it is HOW we have endured. Like David, there is a choice on how to live. Will it be remorse, mourning, or defeat? Or will it be a life of confident faith?
Every day there are things that test our faith and affect our walk with the Lord. Some of those tests are difficult! Some of those tests we have failed miserably! However, that is not the end – we have the whole counsel of God before us and that has assured us we have God with us at ALL times , Despite our circumstance and our failures, we are being confronted with God’s truth and we must respond with a life of confident faith in Him!
There should be remorse for our sin, but joy (therefore victory) as a result of our forgiveness! There should be mourning, but we – as Christ-followers, do not mourn as those without the hope of Christ! There should NOT be an attitude of defeat, for we have been given victory through Christ Jesus! Respond to God with a confident faith in Him to use you and be the faithful witness God has called you to be in Him! “Forgetting the past…press on” in obedience to the call of God to be His faithful witness in the days ahead!
I read this prayer in a devotional: “Forgiving God, forgive my sin and my willingness to wallow in defeat. Give me confident faith to continue in spite of my shortcomings. Amen”.