- The Explore the Bible lesson for July 8 focuses on 2 Samuel 12:1-14.
Murder. Pride. Adultery. Based on where we left David in last week’s lesson, it seems difficult to imagine these three actions could be part of his story. However, the reality of being human is that we all are susceptible to things that are less than noble.
The story of David and Bathsheba is likely one of the most well-known corruption stories in the Bible (see 2 Samuel 11). The sinful stains marred David’s promising rule, showing him as less-than-perfect. How do we tend to respond when seemingly upstanding rulers commit a moral failure? Do we really expect leaders to be above imperfection?
Clearly, David wanted his reputation to appear clean, so after conspiring to murder Bathsheba’s husband, he made himself to be the hero who brought her “home,” giving her a “new life.” All of this was a cover for their adultery that led to pregnancy. When we try to cover our sin with the appearance of being noble, only trouble will follow.
Nathan Confronts (2 Samuel 12:1-4)
No matter how favored a person may be, God does not slack in keeping each person accountable for his or her actions. Thankfully, in God’s kindness, he sends a messenger—in this case, a prophet—to confront the sinner. Can you imagine what it would be like to face God’s confrontation directly?
When reading the fable Nathan tells, one can see how Nathan’s story is identical to David’s actions. The heartbreaking story shows the unjust rich man stealing what was not his, just as David unjustly stole Bathsheba. Ask: How do you see 2 Samuel 11 portrayed identically to Nathan’s story?
David Judges (2 Samuel 12:5-6)
While David was guilty of injustice, his heart and emotions were reacting greatly to the injustice he thought someone else had committed. His actions spoke one way, but his words cried out for justice to be done. Ask: How is it possible that we can be blind to what we are guilty of doing?
Notice how David “burned with anger,” which is not dissimilar to God’s reaction to sin. In Exodus 32:10, God told how his anger was burning against Israel for its idolatry. The requirements of the Law called for recompense.
Perhaps the greatest irony in this section is that David commanded his own “sentence” for sending Uriah to his death (Robert B. Chisholm Jr., 1 & 2 Samuel, 239). The sinner is fully capable of being his or her own executioner. All that was needed was the conversation to begin so David could condemn himself by his own words.
God Punishes (2 Samuel 12:7-12)
As you read the bold accusation, this could be labeled as what some would call an “Oh, snap!” moment. The lowly prophet called out David, the anointed king, and David knew Nathan was right, because Nathan was delivering God’s words.
What do you think was going through David’s mind as he heard this? How would you respond to the questions God posed to David? One thing seems certain: David was in a humbling place where he had to listen fully to God’s words.
Notice verses 10-12: God, rather than pouring out a blessing upon David for good leadership, proclaimed the curses due him for his sin. What he “sowed” would be “reaped.” What he “did in secret” would be done “in broad daylight.” While blessings are visible, it is the cursing that gets greater attention.
David Responds (2 Samuel 12:13-14)
When reading David’s confession here, be sure to continue reading what transpired next in verses 15-25. If this is not somber enough, consider also looking to Psalm 51, which includes a full confession to God related to David’s sin. In all this, David admitted he had sinned against his God, above all.
Let us be clear: David responded as he needed to. He confessed his sin and showed repentance and remorse. Although his cries on behalf of the child were not answered as he asked, he also accepted God’s will. This was not—and is not—easy, but it was necessary. When we are confronted by our sin, confession is our next step.
Accountability sounds like such a challenging idea, but it really is the healthiest part of a relationship. When it comes to friendships, friends call each other to task. When it comes to marriage, spouses should hold each other accountable to their vows. While it may be uncomfortable, it is necessary for healthy relationships.
Ask your group to talk about the benefits and challenges of accountability. When it comes to God holding his children accountable, it is the most loving thing he does for us, because it draws us closer to him.
Perhaps that is our biggest lesson from David’s sin. No matter what it takes, we need to be drawn back to God. No mater what it costs, being closer to God is worth the challenge and pain. God’s greatest desire is for his children to be closer to him.
Heath A. Kirkwood is lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Lorena.