David and Bathsheba. What a twisted tale! Yet one that ultimately can be an encouragement to us.
Chapter 11 opens with these ominous words:
In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.
David’s attention and purpose had drifted. The man who had wandered the countryside and even gone to live with the Philistines rather than lay a hand on God’s anointed king Saul now has time on his hands amidst success and opulence.
His attention now has turned to a woman. A married woman, as one of his aides subtly notes for the king. But David is set on a path to satisfy himself and he will not turn away.
As David realises his actions are bound to come to light with Bathsheba’s pregnancy, he attempts cover up after cover up. Finally, rather than risking the truth he turns to murder. One despicable action to cover another!
How David has fallen! And this has not escaped the attention of the Lord. Nathan appears on David’s doorstep and shrewdly gets him to convict himself.
God’s words show the depth of pain and disappointment David’s actions have caused him:
‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more.
The consequences for David were severe:
Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house
So why can we take encouragement from such a sorry and sordid tale? It is because of what happens next.
David does have to live out his days with the consequences of his actions. But he turns to the Lord, not away from him.
David is always referred to as the model king. We see verses like this repeatedly with the kings that followed:
I tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, but you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commands and followed me with all his heart, doing only what was right in my eyes.
1 Kings 14:8
What does this mean for us? It means that God’s grace is greater than any transgression that we can commit! As our Corinthians passage concludes:
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 Cor 3:17-18
So whenever you feel discouraged or despondent over your own or someone else’s actions, just remember that there is no sin too great to be covered by the blood of Jesus! When God looks at you, just as he looked at David, he sees someone who “kept my commands and followed me with all his heart”.