By Henry Mahan
2 Samuel 11 and 12
Two chapters of the word of God are given to the great sin of David in taking the wife of Uriah the Hittite and having her husband murdered. Preachers often refer to this sin of David and rightfully condemn it; but few inquire into the reasons why God permitted David to fall when he could have easily prevented it, as he constantly hedges all believers about and keeps them from the Evil One and from great sin.
1. The first thing to acknowledge in David's rise and fall, in his victories and defeats, in his spiritual success and failure, is the sovereign hand of God.
The hand of God, our Father, is never removed from his child; and God is the first cause of all things (whether he directs it or permits it) for his glory and our good (Rom. 8:28-31). Satan could not attack Job without God's permission (Job 1:8-12).
Joseph's brethren had no power to sell Joseph into slavery without God's permission (Gen. 45:5-8). Paul's thorn in the flesh, called 'the messenger of Satan,' was ordained of God (2 Cor. 12:7).
2. All of the experiences of God's people in the scriptures, both good and bad, are for our instruction and example (1 Cor 10:1- 13).
The word of God is not like the flowery biographies of men.
God's word does not conceal the bad and reveal only the good of his saints. Men are portrayed exactly as they are--sinners saved and kept only by the grace of God. As we read the word of God, we are taken directly into the most intimate and personal lives of men like Noah, Abraham, Lot, Aaron, and Simon Peter. Some of God's choice people are seen in very poor character. Some are permitted to sin greatly before meeting Christ, as Saul of Tarsus; and some are permitted to sin greatly after meeting Christ, as David and Simon Peter. But none are permitted to continue in sin! (1 John 1:8-10.)
3. David's sin clearly sets before us the deceitfulness of the human heart and teaches us to put no confidence in the flesh (Jer. 17:9).
David's fall came after he was what we call 'a father in Israel.' He had walked with God many years, he had endured many trials, he had won many victories, he had written many psalms, and he was a man after God's own heart; yet he fell into great sin. That which is born of the flesh is flesh and will remain flesh until God calls us home. Paul mourned over his fleshly nature and inability to walk perfectly before God (Rom. 7:18-25).
We are foolish to put any confidence in the flesh. Our confidence is only in Christ (Phil. 3:3; Psalm 118:8-9). We are often quick to acknowledge a flaw in the character of another and so slow to recognize the potential to sin in ourselves (Matt. 7:1-5; Gal. 6:1-3). Every believer would be wise to recognize and acknowledge that we all partake, stand, and continue in the grace of God by 'his power and not our own.' 'I am what I am by the grace of God.' 'We are kept by the grace of God through faith' (1 Cor. 4:7).
4. David's sin reveals the grace of God in Christ Jesus to the chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15).
David judged himself when Nathan told David the story of the poor man's lamb (2 Sam. 12:1-6). David became quite angry and declared, 'The man that hath done this shall surely die.' David said in effect, 'This man is a son of death and worthy to die.' Is this not what we are by nature and what we deserve from the hand of God? Nathan replied, 'Thou art the man,' which caused David to exclaim, 'I have sinned against the Lord.' Some believe that Psalm 51 was written at this time, confessing his sin and justifying God in condemning him.
'The Lord hath put away thy sin' (2 Sam. 12:13). Oh, what good news to the heart of David! He wrote, 'Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity' (Psalm 32:1-2). Yet sin is not put away nor forgiven because we confess it, acknowledge it, and grieve over it. Sin can only be put away by a perfect and sufficient sacrifice! Christ put away our sin by the sacrifice of himself (Heb. 9:26; Eph. 1:7; 1 Peter 1:18-19).
David judged himself. David confessed his sin and justified God (Psalm 51:4). But God cannot overlook sin, pass over sin, nor forgive sin apart from the atonement of Christ. He is a 'just God and a Saviour' (Isa. 45:21-22.). He must be 'just and justifier' (Rom. 3:25-26). God saves and forgives by Christ, our High Priest, sacrifice, and mediator (Heb. 10:12-22).