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God’s Grace toward Sinners
#1 David’s Sin
2 Samuel 11
Who agrees that fast food advertising looks a lot nicer than the real thing? Have you noticed that the advertising pictures of the Big Mac–they look so nice, but they never really match what you get in real life, do they? In real life, the Big Mac is a floppy pile of moist carbs that can’t help but turn sideways inside the box, because the box is three times bigger than the Mac!
And the Taco Bell taco doesn’t really look like its picture either. It’s more like a limp piece of tree bark with spindly pieces of week-old iceberg lettuce flailing around in the bottom of the curve! Advertisers make all kinds of promises that don’t always live up to our expectations!
Have any of you bought ab machines and gym memberships that promised the world, only to find out that your six-pack was just as elusive as ever? How many men bought scientifically-proven, guaranteed, hair restoration products, only to find out their baldness was permanent? You see, not everything that is promised in this world actually comes true.
It’s really sad when I read on Facebook of my high school friends who have had failed marriage after failed marriage. Wedding day promises don’t seem to mean much anymore. “Till death do us part” is completely hypothetical these days.
But you see, God is not like that–God always keeps his promises! When God says He’s going to do something, He does it. He doesn’t give empty assurances. When He promises His grace toward someone, He always keeps His promise. When He promises to bless someone He has chosen, He always follows through.
When He promises forgiveness, He grants it over and over and over again. When He promises eternal security, He provides it eternally. One of the most amazing things about God’s grace is that He keeps His promises to sinners, no matter what we do. He is the ultimate promise keeper.
I don’t care who you are. I don’t care what kind of background you have, what kind of lifestyle you come from, who your parents are, what kind of sins you’ve committed, how bad you think you are, how unlovable you feel–if God has chosen you to be His, He will not fail to follow through on His commitment to draw you to Himself, to save you, transform your heart, and in His time transport you into His presence where you will be with Him forever. God keeps His promises no matter what!
That’s what I want to talk about over these next four weeks. I want to speak about God’s grace. And I’m really excited to do it, because God’s grace toward sinners is awesome! It’s one of the most exciting themes of the Bible. God’s grace is what we sing about so often in our worship. God’s grace blows my mind when I consider the depths of my own sin.
I think one of the best examples of God’s grace is found in the life of David. And so he’s the one I want to focus on today and for the next three Sundays. King David experienced the wonderful highs of walking in step with God–he was known as “a man after God’s own heart.”
But David also experienced the deepest lows of sinful choices that upset his communion with the Lord for huge chunks of his lifetime. And of course there is one specific event that we are all familiar with that especially highlights God’s gracious hand toward David the sinner–and that is when David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then murdered her husband, Uriah.
At the time, David tried to cover up his sin and he went through a year of turmoil until he was confronted and confessed it all. And then after he confessed his sin to the Lord, he wrote two psalms. The first is Psalm 51–the entire psalm is dedicated to recording David’s confession of sin. We’ll focus in on that psalm in two weeks.
And then in three weeks from today, we’ll take a look at Psalm 32 in which David identifies some of the lessons he learned about guilt and the confession of sin. In Psalm 32, David becomes the teacher and he passes on his personal lessons about sin and confession.
But before we get to Psalm 51 and Psalm 32, I want to set the scene. And so today and next Sunday, I just want to tell the story. I want us to go to 2 Samuel 11 and 12. In 2 Samuel 11, we’ll read about David and Bathsheba. And then in chapter 12, we’ll read about the prophet Nathan who confronted David about his sin and pronounced a judgment upon him.
Chapter 12 is for next week. But for today, our focus is 2 Samuel chapter 11. Listen–if we really want to come to grips with God’s grace in David’s life, we must first understand the depths of David’s depravity. If you want to know how good God is, then you first have to understand how bad David is.
So please turn to 2 Samuel 11 and we’ll take the bulk of our time this morning just reading through this chapter together. And while you’re turning there, maybe I can give you some historical context. The year is about 1000 BC. King David has been ruling in Jerusalem now for ten years. And so far, everything about David’s walk with the Lord has been spotless.
At a very young age, Samuel anointed him as Israel’s king, but David waited patiently for the Lord to formally establish him in that position. He was tremendously gracious even to his enemy, Saul. He had many opportunities to kill Saul, but refused to do so without the Lord’s approval.
David had been ruling as King over Israel with faithfulness, doing everything the Lord had commanded him. And so, in the early years of David’s kingship, David had been the epitome of godliness. So much so that in 2 Samuel 7, something pretty special happened. In chapter 7, God established a covenant with David. Today, we know it as the Davidic Covenant.
In fact, keep your finger in chapter 11 and go back just for a minute to chapter 7. Look at chapter 7, and you’ll see the promises that God made to David. In the middle of verse 9 it says, “I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth.” Wow! And in verse 12 God says, “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.” That’s King Solomon, right?
Verses 13 to 15, “He [Solomon] shall build a house for my name [that’s the temple in Jerusalem], and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you.”
In other words God says, “Here’s my promise to you David–I’m going to treat you and your descendants (i.e., Solomon) very differently than the way I treated Saul. When Saul sinned, I removed him from the throne, but I am never going to remove Solomon from the kingly throne.” That was God’s promise to David’s posterity.
And then to cap it all off, God promises David in verse 16, “And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.” So in the Davidic Covenant, David was promised some really cool things: a royal dynasty that would be established forever and would never come to an end, his throne would be protected by God, his name would be famous, and his descendants would continue in these covenant promises.
These are serious promises made to David and it seemed that in every way David deserved to receive these special blessings–he had been the perfect king. He was doing everything right. But now as we come to chapter 11, we find that David is making a right royal mess of things.
And it’s here that we get to see God’s grace in action. The Lord shows Himself to be a covenant-keeping God, who keeps His promises no matter what trouble David gets himself into. And that’s the lesson that we will learn from 2 Samuel 11 and 12–God is eternally gracious to those He has chosen.
He’s gracious even when they sin. He keeps His promises to them even when they mess up big time. He is forever gracious toward chosen sinners like David. He is forever gracious toward chosen sinners like you and me.
Well let’s read 2 Samuel 11, and as we do, let’s separate the chapter into eight scenes. Just like a movie script, the narrative moves from scene to scene to tell the story. And in your handouts, you’ll find spaces to fill in these eight scenes which will serve to divide up the passage for us and make it easier to see the flow. The first scene is found in verse 1. We’ll call this . . .
Scene 1 David’s Inactivity (11:1)
Verse 1, “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.”
In the Middle East, springtime is the best time of the year to conduct warfare. The rainy season is over, the roads are in good condition–not too much mud, and there is plenty of food in nearby fields for both the soldiers and the horses and other pack animals to eat as they travel along.
So since the conditions for warfare are perfect, David sends his top commander off to Rabbah to take the city. And David’s servants go into the battle too, and all of Israel–that would be all the able-bodied men who were fit for battle. You can see here on this map that Rabbah wasn’t too far off. This enemy city was about 45 miles away from Jerusalem. That’s a good bike ride–not too far at all.
Now typically, when an army chose to besiege a city like Rabbah, the best way to do that was to surround the entire city with troops, and prevent the people of the city from escaping, and then they would just wait until the people became hungry and thirsty. If you could cut off food and water supplies, you could weaken the people of the city and then they would become sick, some would even die, and the battle would be over much more quickly and without severe casualties.
So that’s what Joab was doing. He had surrounded the city walls at Rabbah and he was guarding the city. And he was waiting to make his big move at the right time. But it’s the last phrase of verse one that is key. Look at it–it says, “But David remained at Jerusalem.”
Isn’t that kind of a surprise? Is that really where David should have been? While Joab and all the men of Israel are away killing the enemy, David is back at home killing time. He should have been on the battlefield with his people. He should have been leading his army.
I mean, that’s why Israel wanted a king in the first place. If you remember years before this, before Saul was on the scene—in 1 Samuel 8:20, the people had desperately wanted a king. And the reason why they wanted a king was to have a leader, and I quote, “To go out before us and fight our battles.”
The people wanted a king like all the other nations—a king who would lead them on the battlefield. But in this instance, David was back at Jerusalem taking it easy. He was on the roof sunbathing. He was on a staycation. And that was David’s first mistake. He sent all the men away, and he stayed at home with thousands of women. He hadn’t necessarily sinned yet, but boy did he set himself up for failure big time. He was a fool to think that this was okay.
Now if you’re taking notes, here’s your first principle. If you want to avoid sin, make wise choices. Make wise plans. Don’t place yourself in a hotbed of temptation. Avoid laziness. Stay busy. Take care of life’s responsibilities instead of lying around with nothing to do.
Don’t trick yourself into thinking that you can handle temptation. Don’t risk it. Flee even the chance of sin. David was a fool to stay in Jerusalem and it led to dire consequences. The second scene begins in verse 2 and we’ll call this . . .
Scene 2 David’s Iniquity (11:2 to 5)
Verse 2, “It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful.”
In David’s day, houses had flat roofs. And it seems that when the day was hot, people would go up onto their roofs to find a cool breeze blowing across the tops of the houses. Most of these roofs had a low parapet wall around the outside of the building, and even though you were outside in the open so to speak, there was still a sense of privacy on a roof because of that low wall. You could even bathe on a roof and a passerby down on the street would be none-the-wiser.
But that was not the case for this woman, because David’s house was higher than hers. And so when he walked out onto his roof he could look down and see her below. Now people often ask about Bathsheba’s motives–did she know David would be watching her? Some people wonder if she deliberately chose to bathe on her roof wanting David to see her.
Sadly, there isn’t really any clear answer in the Bible text. Certainly nothing suggests that she deliberately tempted David. In fact, we aren’t really told anything about Bathsheba’s thoughts at all. But nonetheless David spotted her, and so in verses 3 and 4, “David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, ‘Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’ 4 David sent messengers and took her.”
This is shocking! They told David Bathsheba was married, but he still pushes forward in his lustful ways anyway. It didn’t matter to him that Bathsheba had a husband. He didn’t care at all. And that’s in spite of the fact that he already had many wives of his own. In fact he had wives and concubines. According to chapter 3, when he was still in Hebron he had seven wives and he had added more after coming to Jerusalem in chapter 5.
And so you have to wonder what on earth is going on in David’s thick head at this point. If he already had so much female companionship, why does he now take another man’s wife? But that’s what it says in verse 4, “David sent messengers and took her.” That Hebrew verb “to take” is a forceful word–it implies that David was really driven at this point.
He had no inhibitions. He didn’t care about rules. He didn’t care about honor. He didn’t care about consequences. He didn’t care about the Lord–he just acted. He took Bathsheba in verse 4, “and she came to him, and he lay with her.”
Then in verse 4 comes this weird statement–it is a kind of parenthetical thought. In some translations it is even inside brackets. The narrator explains, “Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.” What on earth does that mean? Why do we need to know that? At first glance, it seems like a random comment, right? So why tell us that Bathsheba had been purifying herself from uncleanness?
Well, it seems the narrator (that’s the one who wrote 2 Samuel) wants us to know something important! He wants us to know that Bathsheba had just finished her period and now she is going through a ritual purification. In other words, he wants us to know that Bathsheba was not already pregnant when she slept with David. She can’t have been pregnant, because she had just had her period. That’s the point of this weird statement.
And so David slept with her and then it says in verse 4, “Bathsheba returned to her house.” And again, we have no clue what Bathsheba was thinking. We don’t know if she cooperated willingly that night. Maybe she was the victim of an abusive king.
I don’t think we are meant to know the answer to that question. Bathsheba is not the focus of the passage–David is. And the one thing we can know for sure is that David, the covenant king of Israel, has sinned. He is the one who rejected the law of God, and did what he wanted. He is the rebel here. He is the sinner in God’s eyes.
And the result of his sin is found in verse 5, “The woman conceived, and she sent and told David, ‘I am pregnant.’” Whoa–what a message! David thought he could get away with it. He thought his adultery would go unnoticed. But now it turns out there are consequences for his actions and in nine months from now a baby will be on the scene, and then David will need to answer some serious questions.
So David gets this message from Bathsheba and he’s like, “Oh man, what am I going to do now?” He thinks about his predicament. I mean, he’s in serious trouble, and so he hatches a plan. He’s got a remedy to the situation and we find it here in the third scene. We’ll call this . . .
Scene 3 David’s Ideas (11:6 to 8)
In verse 6 it says, “David sent word to Joab, ‘Send me Uriah the Hittite.’ And Joab sent Uriah to David.” So David immediately jumps into action. He needs to tidy up this situation, and so he calls Bathsheba’s husband home from the battlefield. He’s just 45 miles away and Uriah gets the order to come back to Jerusalem.
In verse 7, “When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab was doing and how the people were doing and how the war was going.” Now isn’t that a weird question? Doesn’t that strike you as strange? Uriah comes in from the battlefront, and David engages in small talk.
David’s like, “Oh, gidday Uriah, good to see ya! So um, so how’s our friend Joab? Is he good? Good, that’s great. And um, how’s all the dudes? Are they doing alright? Yep, yep. Oh fantastic. That’s great to hear. . . And um, is the war going well? Yeah? That’s cool. . . Thanks for coming back and chatting for a while.”
And Uriah’s got to be standing there thinking, “What on earth is going on here? David called me back for this?! You’ve got to be kidding me!” David had many messengers constantly keeping him up-to-date with the battle. The last thing Uriah would have expected was such mundane questions. Any young message boy could have done that. It makes no sense to send a frontline soldier home to answer such trivial questions.
So after all the small talk is done, in verse 8, “David said to Uriah, ‘Go down to your house and wash your feet.’” Go home and wash your feet?! Well now the true nature of David’s plan is revealed. David needs Uriah to go home, relax, wash his feet, get cleaned up, and spend the night in his own bed with his wife, Bathsheba.
And so it says in verse 8, “And Uriah went out of the king’s house, [and to sweeten the deal] and there followed him a present from the king.” There’s no ambiguity here–no confusion. David was instructing Uriah to go to Bathsheba and enjoy the evening with her. And that is what David wanted.
He needed Uriah to sleep with his wife soon, in order to erase any suspicion of foul play. And in nine months’ time when the baby comes and people are asking, “So who’s the father?” And everyone would be like, “Oh yeah, that’s right, remember when Uriah came home for a few days? Oh yeah that’s right.” But Uriah was a better man than that–he didn’t go home to his wife. And this is where we move to the fourth scene, found in verse 9. Here the subject changes to Uriah and we’ll call this scene . . .
Scene 4 Uriah’s Integrity (11:9 to 13)
Verse 9, “But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house.” This is huge! You know why? It’s huge because Uriah disobeyed the commander-in-chief–he disobeyed the king! He refused to go to his wife. Instead he slept on the doorstep of the king’s house.
The text doesn’t tell us if Uriah knew something was up or not. We don’t know if Uriah had heard about David and Bathsheba. The narrator doesn’t tell us. What the author does tell us is that Uriah was a godly man who did what was right. And here’s the irony of it–Uriah wasn’t even an Israelite! He was a Hittite, a foreigner, a mercenary soldier who was hired to fight in David’s army. But this foreigner proved himself to be more upright than the king that God had chosen for Israel.
Then look at verse 10, “[The next day] when they told David, ‘Uriah didn’t go down to his house,’ David said to Uriah, ‘Haven’t you come from a journey? Why didn’t you go down to your house?’” Can you feel David’s frustration here?
You can even imagine the taunting that might have happened. “Come on Uriah! You’re a man aren’t you? You’ve been away. You have needs. Go on–go home to your wife.” David really was playing on Uriah’s emotions–even questioning his manliness. But look at what Uriah says.
Verse 11, “Uriah said to David, ‘The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths [tents], and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? [I can’t do that! And so Uriah makes an oath. . .] As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.’”
You know what Uriah is doing here? He is confronting David big time! He is challenging David–but why? Why is Uriah doing this? He is defying David because years before this, in 1 Samuel 21:5, it was David himself who insisted that his soldiers would not sleep with their wives while they were involved in battle. David was the one who has established this rule. And now, when it suits him—David wants Uriah to break his rule.
But Uriah makes a solemn oath on David’s own life, and he says, “There is absolutely no way I can go into my wife.” He refused to do it. He was a loyal soldier who wanted to honor his fellow soldiers who were still out risking their lives for David, for the nation, and for the Lord!
So David then has to try a different tactic. Look at verses 12 and 13, “Then David said to Uriah, ‘Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.’ So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 And David invited him, and he ate in his presence and drank, so that he made [Uriah] drunk. And in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.”
This is how desperate David is. He resorts to getting Uriah drunk, thinking, “Maybe if Uriah becomes a little tiddly, his defenses might come down, and then he might go home to Bathsheba.” But here again is the irony–Uriah drunk is more pious than David sober. And David is sinking deeper and deeper into a pit of iniquity.
Meanwhile, the foreigner Uriah shows himself to be an honorable man–a man of integrity. The fifth scene starts in verse 14. The focus shifts back to David. This scene is entitled . . .
Scene 5 David’s Instructions (11:14 to 17)
Verses 14 and 15, “In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 15 In the letter he wrote, ‘Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die.’”
Can you believe this? David is really desperate now! “The man after God’s own heart”, the covenant King of Yahweh, is now even conspiring to commit murder. David’s lust started a ball rolling, and now it’s really hard to stop. He looked at another man’s wife lustfully and now it’s turned into a whole string of sin—covetousness, adultery, lies and deceit, drunkenness, hypocrisy, conspiracy to commit murder, and now the murder itself.
And he’s even going to use Uriah’s sterling character against him by asking Uriah to carry his own death warrant. And David knows Uriah will faithfully deliver that “license-to-kill” to Joab. So Joab, the battle commander, gets David’s message, and in verse 16 it says, “As Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew there were valiant men.”
Notice that Joab hurries up the normal battle plan. Instead of waiting for the inhabitants of the city to die inside the walls, Joab sends Uriah right up to the walls of the city in a foolhardy attempt to siege the city before the proper time, and in verse 17, “The men of the city came out and fought with Joab, and some of the servants of David among the people fell. Uriah the Hittite also died.”
Did you notice that Joab didn’t follow David’s instructions to the letter? He didn’t obey David’s command precisely. He changes the plan. He was supposed to put Uriah at the front of the battle and then have his men quickly pull back and desert him. But why didn’t he do that?
Well, Joab knew that if he was to ask his frontline men to desert Uriah in the midst of the battle, then they and the whole army would know that something strange was up. At the very least, Joab would be accused of conspiring to murder Uriah. And he didn’t need that on his résumé. He needed to keep his slate clean. So Joab makes a slight change to David’s plan. He figures it is better to lose a few men than to be found out. It is better to incur some collateral damage than to raise suspicion.
We don’t know if Joab was protecting his own reputation or maybe he was trying to protect David’s reputation–the text doesn’t tell us. What we do know is that more innocent lives have been taken in order to cover up David’s sin. David is now responsible for the murder of more men–the LXX says that eighteen men were lost in this battle. We don’t know for sure if that is accurate.
But we know for sure that the circle of impact after David sinned is growing and growing and involving more and more people. And you’d expect David to be feeling really guilty about all of this, but as we’ll see shortly, that just wasn’t the case at all. The sixth scene is found in verse 18. We’ll call this section . . .
Scene 6 Joab’s Information (11:18 to 24)
Verses 18 to 21, “Then Joab sent and told David all the news about the fighting. 19 And he instructed the messenger, ‘When you have finished telling all the news about the fighting to the king, 20 then, if the king’s anger rises, and if [David] says to you, “Why did you go so near the city to fight? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? 21 Who killed Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Did not a woman cast an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died at Thebez? Why did you go so near the wall?” Then you shall say [to David], “Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.”'”
In other words, Joab says to the messenger, “Be clever. Tell David the bad news first. Tell him about his soldiers dying close to the city walls, and then if David’s got a problem with it, if David gets angry because of the needless loss of soldiers, then you should pull out the big news that Uriah also died.”
See, that was clever. Joab knew that David might object to hearing that he had made such a tactical blunder in approaching the city walls too early in the battle. And so he prepares the messenger for such a rebuke. And Joab tells him to reserve the most important information till the end. And it seems to work.
Look at verse 22 to 24, “The messenger went and came and told David all that Joab had sent him to tell. 23 The messenger said to David, ‘The men gained an advantage over us and came out against us in the field, but we drove them back to the entrance of the gate. 24 Then the archers shot at your servants from the wall. Some of the king’s servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.’”
Now I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that the messenger embellished the story just a bit. Maybe he was scared that David would lash out if the story wasn’t believable? We don’t know what his motive was–we aren’t told. But the most shocking thing is what comes next. It is David’s response. It’s most alarming–and this is the seventh scene. It’s in verse 25. Here we find . . .
Scene 7 David’s Indifference (11:25 to 27a)
Look at David’s response in verse 25, “David said to the messenger, ‘Thus shall you say to Joab, “Do not let this matter trouble you, for the sword devours now one, and now another.”’” What is going on here? David’s like, “Oh okay, what’s done is done. Oh well, I guess that’s what happens in war sometimes. Don’t worry about it. Hakuna matata. It’s okay. We all have to die sometime. It’s alright.”
He’s totally indifferent! This is a shocking answer! Even a foreign, pagan king would mourn the death of his soldiers. But David is so flippant here, and it shows us just how far he has spiraled into self-focused, arrogant selfishness. David doesn’t care a hoot about anyone else. All he cares about is himself.
And what’s worse is that David has become hardened to his own guilt. Look at verse 25 again. Instead of reprimanding Joab, David encourages him! And it sounds really overdone to me. At the end of verse 25 he says, “’Strengthen your attack against the city and overthrow it.’ And encourage [Joab].”
See, ordinarily a king would be angry at such a military mistake. But in this case, David simply resorts to a pat on the back. And he sends off the messenger as if it’s no big deal at all. Then in verse 26 and 27a, “When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she lamented over her husband. 27a And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son.”
It all seems so quick and easy, doesn’t it? The normal period for mourning was seven days. And once that was done, the whole sad situation is covered over. It’s all taken care of. Uriah is dead. David marries Bathsheba and when the baby comes no one knows any different. It’s all tidy. It’s all clean.
At least, that’s the way David was feeling. He thought the secret was contained. He thought the consequences were negated. And everything appears to be peaceful and quiet. The happy couple can live happily ever after. But then comes a statement that shatters all of that.
It’s the most important sentence in the entire chapter. It is so important that we have assigned it the eighth and final scene. It is found in the second half of verse 27. This is the focal point of the entire passage. This is the first time we hear from the LORD Himself. We’ll call this scene . . .
Scene 8 The Lord’s Indignation (11:27b)
This is a statement that should blow us away. And it simply goes like this in verse 27b, “But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.” This is the key phrase of the entire passage. This is what matters most. It is the only mention of the Lord in the entire chapter, but it is the most important comment we’ve read this morning.
It is the one thing David should have cared about, but didn’t. In fact, here is what is most interesting about the statement–it stands in stark contrast to what David said in verse 25. If you go back to verse 25, you’ll read David’s comment to the messenger, when he said, “Do not let this matter trouble you.”
Literally, this phrase should be translated, “Do not let this thing be evil in your eyes.” Did you get that? David says to Joab, “Don’t let this thing be evil in your eyes.” But then you come to verse 27 and the narrator uses the exact same terminology which again translated literally says, “But the thing David had done WAS evil in the eyes of Yahweh.”
It is an amazing use of words–an amazing use of repetition and parallelism that highlights the fact that we can dismiss our sin all we like. We can redefine it. We can rename it, but in the end the Lord stills calls sin, sin. And it is only the Lord’s opinion that really matters.
The Lord surveyed all of David’s actions and pronounced a damning judgment. He said, “These things are evil in my eyes.” And so that’s it–chapter 11 closes with the mind of the Lord, because “the thing David had done WAS evil in the eyes of Yahweh.” But we are left with a question.
And the question is this–what is God going to do with this sinner now? David had fallen from grace, or had he? Is it even possible for a child of God to fall from grace? Does God make promises of eternal blessing to His children and then change His mind when a person sins? What is God going to do with this rebel? Will the Lord treat David like He treated Saul? These are vital questions that define for us the nature of God’s character and the nature of God’s grace. And they are questions we will answer next Sunday.
Chapter 12 continues the story, and we’ll find there that God is a promise keeping, gracious, and merciful God who deals with His chosen people in ways they don’t deserve. Let’s pray.