David, Bathsheba and forgiving ourselves

READ 2 Samuel 11:1-12:15 (Don’t worry, it’s not that long)

The story of David and Bathsheba is one of the most popular stories in the Bible. It’s a tale of lust and conspiracy and ultimately, murder. David, the king of Israel, is a cad of the first order who commits a string of heinous deeds, then gets caught and confronted. It has all the juicy makings of a Hollywood blockbuster… except for one thing. It isn’t a story about sin, it’s a story about forgiveness.

Okay, it’s a story about both. Unfortunately, all most people see is the sin. They see the lascivious David, spying on Bathsheba while she takes a bath. Pervert. They see the lecherous David who sleeps with a friend’s wife. Adulterer. They see the scheming David who tries to hide his sin. Weasel. They see the ruthless David who has his friend killed. Murderer. And then we see the dramatic confrontation when Nathan faces David with the truth and declares God’s judgment.  Justice prevails!

But then there’s this huge plot twist that seems anti-climactic, but really is the point of it all; instead of killing the prophet (which was a viable option for the king in those days), or suffering a huge emotional breakdown or making a dramatic scene, David simply confesses and moves on. And it’s that ‘moving on’ part that really amazes.

David hears judgment and confesses. Nathan says that God forgives him, and it’s over. Just like that.  Weird! At the climactic moment of the story, David just… moves on.

Most people don’t. They expect penance of some kind. They demand it. In fact, many people are so adamant about it that they will hold on to their feelings of guilt and shame long after God has forgiven their wrongdoings.  They have a hard time forgiving themselves, even after God has forgiven them, and they beat themselves up in all kinds of ways until they resolve their feelings.  But David knew better than to hang on like that.

Was David forever tainted by what he’d done?  Of course.  (Read Matthew 1:7 if you want proof of that).  His confession didn’t change God’s judgment.  The punishment promised by Nathan was still carried out and the consequences of his sin were still in effect, but once he accepted his fate, David had the good sense not to hang on to something God had let go of.

A wise man once said, “Never remember what God forgets.” But we do. God might wash us clean of our sin, remove it as far as the East is from the West, but sometimes we hang on for dear life.  It’s time to let go.

READ: Psalm 103

THINK: David sinned on a far greater scale than most of us will ever understand, yet he enjoyed a walk with God that led him to be called “a man after God’s own heart.” What keeps you from such a title? What is keeping you from enjoying the feelings David expresses in Psalm 103?

PRAY: Confess any sin that you haven’t yet given over to God. Thank Him for forgiving it. Ask Him to help you let go of any inappropriate feelings of guilt or shame you might have, to help you move on and enjoy freedom in your walk with Jesus.

ACT: Confessing to God is one thing, but the Bible also tells us that we need to confess before men. If your sin has effected other people, make sure you ask for their forgiveness as well. Apologies cost you nothing, but yield joy, respect and healing…

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