David And Bathsheba

David and Bathsheba

Psalm 51

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not bare false witness. David does all these.  Nathan the prophet added that "you have despised the word of the LORD" (2Sam. 12:9). Yet, he is able to continue to walk with God. What to me is so interesting is the reaction of David when Nathan condemned saying: "Thou art the man."  No excuses. No killing the messenger. Rather his heart was smitten with godly sorrow.

In the NT Paul would write about such godly sorrow that works repentance that leads to salvation (2 Cor. 7:9-10). Such godly sorrow is clearly exemplified in David's episode with Bathsheba. Look briefly at Psalms 51 which we think was written as a response to such godly sorrow.

David's concept of what he had done is seen in the words he used to describe it. In response to Nathan's charge David says: "I have sinned against the LORD" (2 Sam. 12:13). He called it transgression which means defection from God or rebellion against him; iniquity meaning the perversion of right, depravity of conduct; sin which means to error or miss the mark.

David acknowledges that God in his holiness would be completely justified in condemning David. What he did was evil. In condemning him God would be completely blameless.

David realizes not only that he has done wrong, but that he could only be restored by the mercy and kindness of God.  "Have mercy on me, O God according to your steadfast love, according to your abundant mercy…" 

What David pleads for is to be washed, cleansed from such sin. He asked that God would blot out his transgressions - clear them from 'the record'. He needed to be purged from his iniquity. He wants God to hide His face from the sins and NOT from David. He pleads not to be cast out of the presence of God and not to have the Spirit taken from him. David KNEW he was in trouble with God.

Such guilt can produce godly sorrow that works repentance in one's life as it did David. Yet, with such godly sorrow one can be restored, washed, purged, and cleansed. David looks forward to again rejoicing in God's salvation. He longs to once again hear joy and gladness in his relationship with God. He longs for a clean heart.

One can only imagine the joy that must have filled David's heart when Nathan said that "the LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die" (2 Sam. 12:14). With the Lord there is forgiveness. With forgiveness comes joy of salvation and hope for the future. As David also wrote during this time: "Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit" (Psalms 32:1-2).