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David and The Good Life | Repair
November 6, 2022
2 Samuel 12:1-13
1And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. 2The rich man had very many flocks and herds, 3but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. 4Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” 5Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, 6and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”
7Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. 8And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. 9Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” 13David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.
For the past few weeks at Central we have been addressing the ancient and perennial question: “What is the good life?” by looking into the life of David. Thus far in our examination, we have seen David’s rise from being an insignificant shepherd to the anointed king of Israel. As the man after God’s own heart, David is introduced to the nation of Israel as an ideal king who serves the Lord’s people as the Lord’s representative. In 2 Samuel 7, the Lord makes a covenant with David, promising perpetuity of David’s lineage and kingdom. However, beginning from 2 Samuel 10, particularly in chapters 11 and 12, the narrator shifts our focus from the ideological mountaintop of 2 Samuel 7 by taking us into the deep and dark valley in the life of king David.
How did David—the man after God’s own heart—fall into a downward spiral of sin and depravity resulting in grievous and irreversible consequences? The author gives us a context in 2 Samuel 10. The backdrop has to do with Israel’s warfare. In 2 Samuel 10, we see David, in a friendly act, send emissaries to Ammon to express condolences at the death of the king’s father. The new king of Ammon, at the instigation of his advisers, humiliates David’s emissaries by shaving off half of their beards and by cutting off the bottom of their clothing. The king of Ammon’s shameful treatment of the emissaries dishonored the name of the Lord. David, as the king of Israel, was required to defend the honor of the Lord and his people by going out to battle. However, in 2 Samuel 11, we see David sending Joab to warfare while he remains in Jerusalem. We see the sin of undisciplined luxury at work in David. Instead of resting on the grace and favor of the Lord, David rested on his laurels and achievements. David neglects his duty as the king by remaining in his palace in Jerusalem.
2 Samuel 11 records the infamous story that involves David, Bathsheba, and Uriah. David commits adultery with Bathsheba, knowing very well that she was married to Uriah—David’s loyal servant who was fighting to defend David’s honor. David’s self-sufficiency and lustful desire had blinded his devotion to God, and his duty as the king of Israel. After David finds out Bathsheba is pregnant, he goes to extreme lengths to avoid the shame of being exposed. In a desperate attempt to safeguard his position of power and significance, David orchestrates the murder of Uriah. As a result, David breaks half of the Ten Commandments. 2 Samuel 11:27 captures the grievous nature of David’s sins: “But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.”
2 Samuel 12 deals with the judgment, forgiveness, grace, and restoration of David. By the end of chapter 11 we are left with the question—who could expose the grievous sins of the supreme king of Israel? Chapter 12 answers that question. God sends Nathan the prophet to expose David and execute judgment. Nathan weaves a crime story involving a rich man and a poor man. David takes the bait, and he passionately announces his judgment on the rich man, only to learn that he had just condemned himself. Nathan accuses David by declaring, “You are the man!” Nathan executes a threefold judgment of the Lord. We also see the irreversible consequences of David’s sin beginning from this chapter. David loses his child within a week of his birth. David’s son Amnon rapes his stepsister Tamar (2 Samuel 13), and Absalom kills Amnon (2 Samuel 13). The people of Israel lose their trust in David as their king. However, we also see the beauty of forgiveness and hesed—steadfast love and faithfulness of God. God spares David’s life, and kingship. God restores his favor by blessing David with a son—Solomon. God gives Solomon a new name—Jedidiah, which means the Lord’s beloved.
To discover and experience Jesus Christ in our midst
To cultivate mutually encouraging relationships
To participate in God’s mission to the world
God, we gather as your beloved community in the name of your beloved Son, Christ Jesus. Speak to us with your love and your grace. Part the clouds of our frantic, harried lives, that we may recognize your Spirit moving in our very midst. Speak, for your servants are listening. Amen.
Responsive Prayer—Psalm 51:1-12
1Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
2Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
3For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
4Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
5Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
7Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
10Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
11Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
1. Looking at the Bible
What does the text say? What according to you is the theme of this passage?
- In verse 1, we are told that the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to confront David. What can we learn about the role of prophets in the Bible?
- What do we learn about our need for justice from David’s anger against the rich man (verses 5-6)?
- After reminding David about the presence and providence of God in his life (verses 7-8), Nathan asks a poignant question to David: “Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight?” What does this teach us about the nature and presence of sin in Christians?
2. Looking at Jesus
At Central we believe that all of Scripture points to Jesus. In other words, Jesus is the theological center of the Bible. Every passage not only points to Jesus, but the grand narrative of the Bible also finds its fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus.
- David is introduced to Israel as the man after God’s own heart—an ideal messianic king of Israel. However, after his private sins are publicly exposed by God, the people of Israel lose their trust and hope in David as the ultimate messiah. How does David’s insufficiency point us to the sufficiency of Jesus as the Messiah?
- In this passage we see the grace of God and the justice of God at work. God graciously forgives David by restoring his life and kingship. We see the justice of God in David’s punishment—David loses his child at birth. What can we learn about Jesus upholding God’s grace and justice on the cross?
3. Looking at Our Hearts
- In verses 10-12, we see the outworking of the justice of God. David is punished according to his crime. What can we learn about the sweeping consequences of sin from these verses?
- In this passage, David particularly breaks commandments six and seven of the Ten Commandments. In Matthew 5:21-30, we see Jesus define the sins of murder and adultery as a matter of heart—will and thought—and not just external action. What can we learn about our hearts from this episode in David’s life?
4. Looking at Our World
- How is this passage hopeful for us as Christians living in a postmodern culture where subjective morality perpetuates unbridled lust, and retributive justice?
May the God of mercy keep you, the Holy Spirit cheer you, and Christ in glory greet you, now and at the day of his coming
View Study Guide Notes
Question 1: As mentioned in summary, this passage deals with David’s judgment, punishment, forgiveness, consequences of sin, and the steadfast love of God. In verse 1, we see Nathan the prophet enter the court as a representative of God. Prophets play a vital role in the Bible as the representatives of God. Prophets are called and sent by God to be his instruments of comfort, judgment, and truth. As a prophet, Nathan confronts David by the authority vested by God. Emphasize the fact that pastors, as the ones who are called by God, play the role of prophets in church. Pastors are prophets as they forthtell (proclaim or preach) the truth of God and thereby confront, convict, comfort, and covert the people of God.
Nathan weaves a crime story involving a rich man deceiving a poor man. David’s anger is greatly kindled, and he declares his judgment against the rich man. It is interesting to note that while David himself was guilty of adultery and murder, he still has a deep hatred towards injustice, and a desire to establish justice. David’s reaction reveals to us a vital truth about our own hearts—we hate injustice, and demand justice as long as we are not the perpetrators. The genius of Nathan’s story lies in the fact that while David believed that he was establishing justice, he was actually condemning himself.
Nathan reminds David of his past in verses 7 and 8. David’s life was a testimony of God’s presence and providence. When we read the story of David from his anointing to the point where the Lord made a covenant with David (2 Samuel 7), we might be tempted to conclude that David could do no wrong as he was blessed beyond measure by God. However, that was not the case. In verse 9 Nathan asks a thought-provoking question inviting David to reflect. David’s self-sufficiency and self-centeredness had blinded his devotion to the Lord, and his duty towards the people of Israel. In his sinfulness David rested on his own achievements rather than the grace of God. Sin of luxury and pleasure had deceived David to forget the presence and providence of God in his life.
Question 2: David is called the man after God’s own heart, not for his perfect life, but for his devotion to God expressed in a life of faith and repentance. When confronted by a prophet, David, unlike Saul, immediately repents of his sin. We get a glimpse of the nature of David’s repentance in Psalm 32 and 51. Having said that, David was not the ultimate messiah who could redeem the people from their bondage of sin and death. David anticipated the greater David—the beloved of the Lord, Jesus Christ. David’s insufficiency reveals to us the vacuous nature of earthly messiahs who are utterly incapable of redeeming themselves, let alone others. Only the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus can sufficiently satisfy the righteousness of God and fulfill the demands of the law. We can rest on the work of Christ as our ultimate messiah who once and for all redeems his people from their bondage of sin and death.
According to the Levitical law, David was to be stoned to death for the sins of adultery and murder; however, David is forgiven of his sins, and his life and kingship is spared. Before we question the holiness and morality of God, we are told in 2 Samuel 12:18 that David’s child is dead as a direct consequence of his sin. God’s holiness and righteousness demands that no sin goes unpunished. The beauty of the gospel is that Jesus in his incarnation takes on flesh, identifying himself with the brokenness of humanity. As a sinless Savior, Jesus perfectly fulfills the righteousness of God, and the moral demands of the law. As a sacrificial lamb, Jesus perfectly satisfied the wrath of God by taking upon himself our sins and shame. Paul says that God made the sinless Jesus to be sin on the cross so that in Jesus we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Only on the cross of Jesus do we see both the righteousness of God, and the grace of God at display simultaneously.
Question 3: Verses 10-12 records the sweeping consequences of sin. David’s secret sin was publicly exposed by God. David lost the trust of the people of Israel. David’s grievous sin had far reaching consequences involving his family. His child died in infancy. David’s son Amnon raped his stepsister Tamar, and was killed by David’s other son Absalom. This episode in David’s life teaches us that our private and unconfessed sins have sweeping consequences impacting our loved ones. David’s life is an example and a warning for Christians—the wages of sin is death, and even the Lord’s anointed one needed to guard his heart from sinning against the Lord. The same principle applies to us as Christians as our hearts are as deceptive as David’s.
When we read the story of David, Bathsheba, and Uriah, our tendency is to limit the scope of the sins of murder and adultery to external actions. By limiting sin to external actions, we exclude ourselves from the possibility of committing heinous sins like David. However, according to the Bible, the heart is attributed as the source of sin. In Jeremiah 17:9 we read that our hearts are extremely deceitful, and no one can understand its nature. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus particularly addresses the Pharisees and religious leaders who had twisted the law to mere external actions. Jesus defines the sins of murder and adultery as the matter of heart, and not just external actions. When we foster unrepentant anger at someone, and when we fail to guard our hearts by allowing lust to grow, our sins become tantamount to murder and adultery in the sight of the Holy God. Emphasize on the fact that as Christians we are called to guard our hearts diligently as we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ. When we confess our sins, we are forgiven for the sake of Christ. However, the abounding grace of God is not a license for us to habitually sin and lead an unrepentant life as Christians.
Question 4: We live in an individualistic culture where personal autonomy is held supreme, and morality is subjective. This passage reveals to us the biblical sexual ethic where we are called to find sexual fulfillment within the bounds of marriage. However, this passage does not give us a license to take a moral high ground when it comes to sexual ethic. The reality of sin, and our desperate need for grace humbles us and enables us to be gracious to the ones who are struggling.
New York City values justice. The fact that we live in a culture that demands and desires justice reveals to us our need for justice and equity. In a culture where subjective morality is considered autonomous, justice becomes highly subjective and retributive. The perpetrator is shown no mercy. This passage beautifully displays the heart of God. David receives forgiveness, mercy, and restoration of God. God’s grace is a demerited favor—we receive the exact opposite of what we deserve. As Christians indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we are enabled to show grace, mercy, and strive for restoration in establishing justice in our city. This passage gives us hope in a city without the ultimate hope of grace and justice.