When my child was stricken, I David, with fasting and deep humiliation, pleaded for its life. I put off my royal robes, I laid aside my crown, and night after night I lay upon the earth, in heartbroken grief interceding for the innocent one suffering for I guilt. I just want to tell you that this was the greatest pain I ever experienced. Do you have the faintest idea what I went through?
“The elders of my house arose, and came to me, to raise me up from the earth: but I would not.” Often when judgments had been pronounced upon persons or cities, humiliation and repentance had turned aside the blow, and the Ever-Merciful, swift to pardon, had sent messengers of peace.
Encouraged by this thought, I persevered in my supplication so long as the child was spared. Upon learning that it was dead, I quietly submitted to the decree of God. The first stroke had fallen of that retribution which I myself had declared just. But I David, trusting in God’s mercy, was not without comfort.
Many reading my history and fall, have inquired, “Why has this record been made public? Why did God see fit to throw open to the world this dark passage in the life of one so highly honoured of Heaven?”
The prophet, in his reproof to me, had declared concerning my sin, “However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.”
Through successive generations infidels have pointed to my character, bearing this dark stain, and have exclaimed in triumph and derision, “This is the man after God’s own heart!” Thus, a reproach has been brought upon religion, God and His word have been blasphemed, souls have been hardened in unbelief, and many, under a cloak of piety, have become bold in sin.
But my history does not sanction or excuse sin. It was only when I was walking in the counsel of God that I was called a man after God’s own heart. When I sinned, this ceased to be true of me until by repentance I had returned to the Lord. The word of God plainly declares, “The thing that David had done was evil in the eyes of the Lord.” 2 Samuel 11:27, margin.
And the Lord said to me by the prophet, “Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? Now 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.’ Though I repented of my sin and was forgiven and accepted by the Lord, I reaped the baleful harvest of the seed I myself had sown. The judgments upon me and upon my house testify to God’s abhorrence of my sin.
Just before all this happened God’s providence had preserved me against all the plotting of my enemies, and had been directly exercised to restrain Saul. But my transgression had changed my relationship to God. The Lord could not in any wise sanction my iniquity.
He could not exercise His power to protect me from the results of my sin as He had protected me from the enmity of Saul.
There was a great change in me. I was broken in spirit by the consciousness of sin and its far-reaching results. I felt humbled in the eyes of my subjects. My influence was weakened. Hitherto my prosperity had been attributed to my conscientious obedience to the commandments of the Lord.
But now my subjects, having a knowledge of my sin, would be led to sin more freely. My authority in my own household, my claim to respect and obedience from my sons, was weakened. A sense of my guilt kept me silent when I should have condemned sin.
It made my arm feeble to execute justice in my house. My evil example exerted its influence upon my sons, and God would not interpose to prevent the result. He would permit things to take their natural course, and I was severely chastised.
For a whole year after my fall, I lived in apparent security; there was no outward evidence of God’s displeasure. But the divine sentence was hanging over me. Swiftly and surely a day of judgment and retribution was approaching, which no repentance could avert, agony and shame that would darken my whole earthly life.
Those who, by pointing to my example, try to lessen the guilt of their own sins, should learn from the Bible record that the way of transgression is hard. Though like me they should turn from their evil course, the results of sin, even in this life, will be found bitter and hard to bear.
God intended my history and fall to serve as a warning that even those whom He has greatly blessed and favoured are not to feel secure and neglect watchfulness and prayer. And thus it has proved to those who in humility have sought to learn the lesson that God designed to teach.
From generation to generation thousands have thus been led to realize their own danger from the tempter’s power. My fall one so greatly honoured by the Lord, has awakened in them distrust of self. They have felt that God alone could keep them by His power through faith. Knowing that in Him was their strength and safety, they have feared to take the first step on Satan’s ground.
Even before the divine sentence was pronounced against David, he had begun to reap the fruit of transgression. His conscience was not at rest. The agony of spirit which he then endured is brought to view in the thirty-second psalm. He says:
Psa 32:1 A Psalm of David. A Contemplation. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered.
Psa 32:2 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit.
Psa 32:3 When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long.
Psa 32:4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputes not iniquity,
And the fifty-first psalm is an expression of David’s repentance, when the message of reproof came to him from God:
Psa 51:1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David When Nathan the Prophet Went to Him, After He Had Gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.
Psa 51:2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.
Psa 51:3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me.
Psa 51:4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight—That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.
Psa 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.
Psa 51:6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
Psa 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Psa 51:8 Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
Psa 51:9 Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities.
Psa 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Psa 51:11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Psa 51:12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
Psa 51:13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You.
Psa 51:14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation, And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
Thus in a sacred song to be sung in the public assemblies of his people, in the presence of the court—priests and judges, princes and men of war—and which would preserve to the latest generation the knowledge of his fall. The king of Israel recounted his sin, his repentance, and his hope of pardon through the mercy of God.
Instead of endeavouring to conceal my guilt I desired that others might be instructed by the sad history of my fall.
My repentance was sincere and deep. There was no effort to conceal, to hide my sins. No desire to escape the threatening judgments, inspired my prayer. But I saw the enormity of my transgression against God.
I saw the defilement of my soul; I loathed, detested my sin. It was not for pardon only that I prayed, but for purity of heart. I did not in despair give over the struggle. In the promises of God to repentant sinners I saw the evidence of his pardon and acceptance.
Psa 51:16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering.
Psa 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.
Although I had fallen, the Lord lifted me up. I was now more fully in harmony with God and in sympathy with my fellow men than before I felI. In the joy of my emancipation, freedom release I sang:
Psa 32:5 I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
Psa 32:6 For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You In a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters They shall not come near him.
Psa 32:7 You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah
Many have murmured at what they called God’s injustice in sparing David, whose guilt was so great, after having rejected Saul for what appear to them to be far less flagrant sins. But David humbled himself and confessed his sin, while Saul despised reproof and hardened his heart in impenitence.
This passage in David’s history is full of significance to the repenting sinner. It is one of the most forcible illustrations given us of the struggles and temptations of humanity, and of genuine repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Through all the ages it has proved a source of encouragement to souls that, having fallen into sin, were struggling under the burden of their guilt. Thousands of the children of God, who have been betrayed into sin, when ready to give up to despair have remembered how David’s sincere repentance and confession were accepted by God.
Notwithstanding he suffered for his transgression; and they also have taken courage to repent and try again to walk in the way of God’s commandments.
Whoever under the reproof of God will humble the soul with confession and repentance, as did David, may be sure that there is hope for him. Whoever will in faith accept God’s promises, will find pardon.
The Lord will never cast away one truly repentant soul. He has given this promise: “Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with Me.” Isaiah 27:5.
“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:7.
The rebellion of Absalom.