2 SAMUEL 12
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6 And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.
Strict justice was to regulate the dealings of man with man, even over the behaviour of their animals (Ex 21 verses 28-36). The property of others was to be treated with absolute respect. Theft was condemned as a hateful thing. Any stolen article if found in the thief's possession had, as a minimum, to be restored double (22 : 7): if the thief had cynically proceeded further in crime and had disposed of the stolen article, punishment was again to be adjusted to the crime - if relatively slight, then it was to be four sheep for one
Law and Grace Ch 6
9 Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment [Davar ] of Yahweh, to do evil [the rah] in His sight [eyes]? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword [Uriyah the Chitti with the cherev], and hast taken his wife [isha] to be thy wife [isha], and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon [cherev of the Bnei Ammon].
"Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones which Thou hast broken may rejoice" (Psa. 51:8).
The usual, natural reaction to David's great sin with Bathsheba is that we "just cannot understand how David could do such a thing." Whenever there is anything in Scripture we "cannot understand," it should flash a warning: why cannot we understand? Wherein have we failed in preparing ourselves to understand? Let us in humility examine ourselves and confess our fleshly inadequacies, and not unconsciously assume that our natural capacity to understand is the ultimate standard of judgment.
Paul bluntly told the Hebrew and Corinthian brethren and sisters that there were marvels and glories and beauties and mysteries of God and the Scriptures that he longed to impart to them for their joy and upbuilding, and their deeper and richer communion together -- but that they were utterly incapable of comprehending them. Because of lazy spiritual slothfulness, they were dull of understanding; they were mentally retarded in spiritual things (1 Cor. 3:1-3; Heb. 7:11-14).
When they, through ample opportunity, should have been teaching these deep things to others, they were -- because of sloth and negligence -- needing to be retaught the first principles themselves. Instead of giving their whole life and energy to divine things as commanded, they gave them to present things; saying of the wonders of God's Word: "It is too deep for us" (meaning, rather, "We are too shallow for it").
Our natural shallow reaction that we "just cannot understand how David could do such a thing" should open our eyes to many things. It should show us that we have much to learn, and perhaps vital to our salvation. If we understood sin and human nature as God understands it, we could clearly understand all instances of sin, and we would be wiser and sadder men.
"We just cannot understand how David could do that!"
This is usually a moral judgment, also. Translated into what we really mean, we are saying: "I could never do such a thing! It is unthinkable!" This is what Peter said: "I could NEVER deny thee!" We loudly proclaim our pious shock, which is just a backhanded way of giving ourselves a lift in self-esteem. It's unconscious self-glorification.
Perhaps it would be more profitable to turn the light inward on ourselves: why cannot we "understand" how poor weak human beings can grievously stumble? Are we so perfect? Our difficulty -- our marvel -- should be to understand the greatness of God's mercy and patience and love toward constantly erring man.
But our unconsciously self-satisfied inability to understand the great sin of David -- while partly due doubtless to the physical limits of our basic understanding capacity -- is principally due to our need for learning and instruction from the Word of God. The more we understand the Word, its message of sin and righteousness, of death and life, then the more our shallow "cannot understand" will change from self-congratulation to a humble, sympathetic fellowship with David in his weakness.
Can we understand why the mighty, fearless Elijah should suddenly flee for his life? Why the great John the Baptist should question and doubt? Why James and John should seek the pre-eminence? And why Peter should curse and swear and deny?
We must look upon David's great sin -- as upon the trials of Job, and indeed as upon all the sufferings of Christ -- as the necessary fire of affliction to develop them to the highest beauty in God's sight.
We cannot begin to compare ourselves with Job and David -- rare giants in the eternal purpose of God -- but in our small way we can learn from their experiences the basic lessons of godliness. Job, when his trial was over said "I abhor myself in dust and ashes." So did David.
Sin permeates the constitution of all mankind. It must be burnt out by suffering. And the greater the man, the greater the required suffering -- and the greater the resultant beauty of the vessel for God.
David's great sin, and also his lesser ones, were necessary to his development. He had weaknesses to overcome by bitter experience. He had to be tried to the utmost, to learn his own weaknesses, and the mighty power and terrible evil of sin. He had to be taught, by the bitterest experiences, that man -- however noble, however capable, however devoted to God, however blessed and used in the purpose of God -- is still a very weak, flimsy, erring, precarious creature of flesh, laden with the latent leprosy of sin.
To him was the great promise that the Saviour of mankind should come from his loins, and be known for eternity as his Son. And looking back at his incredible record of faith and courage and suffering, and patience and kindness to his enemies, and his tremendous accomplishments for God in war and government and music and praise, he could almost be entitled to feel that he had earned this high distinction in the purpose of God.
And in a limited sense -- in a relative, comparative sense -- he had. He alone, a boy, had stood in perfect faith when all Israel's mighty men had cowered and trembled before the huge man of the flesh. And from that point on he had served God with unswerving devotion and pre-eminent distinction; and had been made the medium of the Spirit's deepest and most beautiful songs of praise and holiness.
But he must learn to the fullest and bitterest depths and natural depravity and deceptiveness of the human heart, the great need for that Saviour who, by the grace of God, was to come through him -- not only to eternally establish his (David's) kingdom, but to conquer and destroy his sin, and the sin that lies at the root of all mankind's sorrow and suffering and evil.
David was not caused to sin -- either in the numbering or in the case of Bathsheba. But he was permitted to sin. He was put in a position where his weakness would be exposed and tested. God could again have sent an Abigail to stop him, if He had so chosen, but this time he was allowed to fall.
Comparing himself with all around him -- his faith, his accomplishments, his sufferings, his fortitude and obedience under the extremities of totally unjust persecution by the king and people he had selflessly served; and then his great public honour and recognition by God -- he could well feel natural confidence, even complacency, as he settled into his later years; could easily be tempted to relax his guard against the untiring assaults and subtle deceptiveness of sin.
A balance was needed; a thorn in the flesh; something to ever remind him of the pitiful weakness and insecurity of the best and strongest of human nature. This sin changed the whole course and pattern of David's subsequent life, both internally within himself, and externally in his experiences and circumstances--
"My sin is ever before me ... The sword shall never depart from thine house."
12 For thou didst it secretly [baseter]: but I will do this thing before all Israel [kol Yisroel], and before the sun [shemesh.
13 And [Dovid] said unto Nathan [Natan], I have sinned against Yahweh. And [Natan] said unto [Dovid], Yahweh also hath put away thy sin [chattat]; thou shalt not die.
14 Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies [oyevim] of Yahweh to blaspheme [ni'etz (deride, ridicule, revile, blaspheme)], the child [haben (the son)] also that is born unto thee shall surely die.
The jeers of a hundred generations have since attested the truth of this declaration. At the present moment, there is nothing more cutting and withering in the way of infidel opposition to the Bible than the taunts inspired by David's sin. Is there nothing, touching the ways of providence, in the fact that David's sin should be punished by the open exhibition of it to all generations in the full and unvarnished narrative written in the Scriptures?
When David stands before "the great white throne" in the day of the judgment of the living and the dead, he finds that every individual in the mighty assembly is informed of his disgrace, and that the world has in every age resounded with the bitter taunt of the scoffer, shouting and execrating his name.
But David was "a man after God's own heart" notwithstanding, -his broken-hearted submission and abasement in this matter being witness. In the day of recompenses, his, not less than the holiest of the sons of God (and who is without sin?) will be the song:
"Thou hast loved us and hast washed us from our sins in thine own blood."
Ways of Providence Ch 17