In 2 Samuel 12, God uses Nathan the Prophet to confront David about his sin. Rather than a direct approach, Nathan uses a story of injustice to prime David’s thinking about what is right and wrong. David is infuriated by the injustice he perceives in Nathan’s story and thinks the wrong-doer is deserving of death, but then Nathan says:
“You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. … I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite… and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’ …
When Nathan finished,
Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
David realized that what he had done not only offended and hurt people under his rule, but was offensive to God Himself, who had made him king, and that his actions put his reign and his life in danger.
Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.”
The consequences for David’s great sin were great, but he himself was spared because of his repentant heart. He turned from his sin to follow God with his whole heart again, just as God knew he would when He chose him and called him to be king, and to be the ancestor of the King of kings, the Messiah (Prophesied in 2 Samuel 7).
David noticed that his servants were whispering among themselves and he realized the child was dead. …Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.
His servants asked him, “Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!”
He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”
David knew that he could do nothing to revive the dead child, because God had decreed it. He recognized God’s authority and sovereignty in keeping His word and worshiped Him, despite the pain of this great loss.
Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and lay with her. She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The Lord loved him; and because the Lord loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah.
God used this word from Nathan to indicate to David that he had been fully restored to favor with God. His marriage to Bathsheeba was now blessed, for it was from the line of this son that God would bring the Savior, not just of the Israelites, but of the entire world. This is the Holy and Righteous One (Acts 3:14) whom David spoke of in Psalm 16, when he said “nor will you let your Holy One see decay.”
I encourage you to read in Acts 3 about Him. It is in His name that the lame beggar at the beginning is healed, and as Peter speaks about it, he explains the relationship between Jesus and His people, the Jews. Peter tells how he and many others were witnesses of God raising up this Holy One, Jesus, from the dead (not left to decay in the tomb) and then finishes with this:
Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”
God is ready to turn each of us from our wicked ways, if only we will trust Jesus as the Author of Life (Acts 3:15), the Supreme Authority (Matthew 28:18), who is able to give life–
But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:10,11)
David expected God incarnate to come through his descendants and that is why he could say in Psalm 16:
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
So, is David the Upright King or the Scoundrel?
The answer is both! Chosen by God, not for perfection, but for a heart that would continually return to Him (1 Samuel 16:7), this king did many upright things. None of those was enough to secure the favor he spoke of in Psalm 16, for he wrote in verse 2:
I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”
It was God Himself who imparted that favor by turning David from his scandalous behavior and causing him to trust in the Promised Savior to come. (2 Samuel 7:11-15,28,29; Jeremiah 33:14-22, Psalm 2)
God can turn you to Himself, no matter how small or big your sins may seem to you. You cannot win His favor, but He will freely impart it upon His conditions (Ephesians 2:1-9, 1 John 5:11-13). May you be able to rejoice with David at the eternal pleasures which await you after this life, secured (Ephesians 1:13,14) upon placing your faith in God’s Holy One, Jesus the Christ (Messiah, Anointed One), Savior of all mankind.
In His name,