2 Samuel 11 - 12
When all was seemingly going well for Israel’s anointed king, we arrive at the point in David’s narrative that seems to define his legacy more than any other episode in his life: his great adultery. The entire account of David’s sin is wrought with irony that explores the depth of human depravity. In a time where David was supposed to be on the battlefield with his men against the Ammonites, he remains behind in Jerusalem (11:1). To this point, the author has built up David’s integrity and honor as requisites to the throne, only to have them crumble at the sight of a bathing woman (11:2). Instead of confessing his sin and owning up to his disgrace, David seeks to cover up his misdeeds. David’s ploys to “legitimatize” Bathsheba’s conception fails because of Uriah’s unwavering morality toward the Jewish conduct during wartime (11:11). David, the anointed shepherd-king of God’s covenant people, was supposed to be demonstrating the very resolve upheld by Uriah, the Hittite and foreign-born, servant mercenary. Unable to break Uriah’s loyalty, David then has him carry the very message sentencing him to his death in battle (11:14-15). Unphased by his adultery-fueled murder, David encourages his army commander, Joab, to not let this matter displease him (11:25). David fails to see the gravity of his own actions and how they were displeasing, not only to Joab, but to the LORD (11:27).
One after the other, David falls down a slippery slope of committing transgression after transgression. Beginning with his coveting, then to adultery, and finally to eventual murder, David’s heinous breaches of God’s law cries for the death sentence to satisfy his bloodguilt. But God intervenes yet again through the prophet Nathan How starkly different would Nathan’s tone have been towards David this time compared to his last prophecy speaking of the everlasting throne. We see irony again as David knows exactly to how respond to the parable of the unjust rich man (12:5-6). David has an immense discernment for justice when it isn’t clouded by his passion. Unlike David’s encounter with Nabal (1 Sam. 25), there was no Abigail-like figure to quelch the temptation of his carnal desires. All of this goes to show the brokenness of mankind rooted in sin. The Israelite cries and demands for a man-king in 1 Sam. 8 prove all the more short-sighted when even David falls short of perfection.
The adultery committed with Bathsheba doesn’t define David by the depth of his sin, but by the grace that was shown to him in spite of it. After Nathan utters the words “You are the man!” (12:7), David’s heart is cut to conviction and repentance (Psalm 51). Without any qualification or explanation, we simply read “’The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die…’” Not only does God spare David’s life, but the grace found in the promise of the everlasting throne still remains. The offspring of David to continue the legacy of this prophecy, Solomon, comes from none other than Bathsheba. The sole reason that there is access to fellowship with God from the depths of evil is simply because God allows for it.
Following David’s pardon, we read of his reflections on the forgiveness of his sins in Psalm 32.
1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
5 I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
6 Therefore let everyone who is godly
offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
surely in the rush of great waters,
they shall not reach him.
7 You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
9 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you.
10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.
11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
- Rev. Nameun Cho
This blog is part of the ministry of City Reformed Presbyterian Church. Unless otherwise noted, the entries are written by Matt Koerber. This is part of a project that our church is doing as we read through the narrative sections of Scripture between early January and Easter 2020. New entries will be scheduled to drop automatically at 5:00 am on the scheduled day.