David, Bathsheba, Nathan - Mistakes, Repentance, Forgiveness
David, Bathsheba, Nathan – Mistakes, Repentance, Forgiveness
David, as described in the books of Acts, was a man after God’s own heart. He did many great and mighty works. He showed great faith in conquering the giant, he expanded the nation of Israel, he wrote some of the most heart-warming and provocative material in the entire Bible. He also wrote one of the classic prayers of repentance. Yes, David did many great things, but he also made some mistakes, as we all do.
In this class I want to look at mistakes and repentance, David’s mistake with Bathsheba in particular, and then examine the great mercy and forgiveness of our God,
We are all well aware of the stories of King David. Recognized by many as the greatest of Israel’s kings, yet, also one who made some of the biggest mistakes. We can learn a lot from King David. Think about yourself for a minute. If there were a big, long recording documenting every minute of our lives, how much would we edit out if possible? How many of us haven’t made huge mistakesas well? How did we handle them? What did we do? Did we brush them under the carpet?
Before we delve into the story of David and Bathsheba, a brief recap of David’s life before this event happened is in order. We know that David reigned over Israel for forty years; seven years he reigned in Hebron and thirty-three years he reigned in Jerusalem (1 Kings 2:11). He was thirty when he became king (2 Samuel 5:4), therefore he was seventy when he died.
As a young person, David fought hand-to-hand with a bear and a lion, and was victorious. As a teen-ager he was anointed as future king of Israel by Samuel. He defeated the giant Goliath, he become best friends with king Saul’s son Jonathan and had been used by the king personally for varius reasons. He played a stringed instrument to settle the king’s nerves and drive out evil spirits. He also won several victories on behalf of Saul. So much so that there was a common expression, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten-thousands” (1 Sam. 18:7). He was actually so good, and at the same time so humble that Saul became very jealous of him. So much to that he tried to kill him more than once.
Likewise, David had the chance to slay Saul at least twice, he was even urged on to do it, but because of his love for God, for God’s authority and Saul, he refused each time.
David spent a great deal of time fleeing from Saul. In fact, David lived in the country of the Philistines for sixteen months, to stay alive. While he was staying in the land of the Philistines, under king Achish, it appeared as if he was doing him favors while in effect, he was actually weakening the enemies of Israel. He also became the leader of a powerful group of 600 of the best warriors in the land who had great respect for him.
He showed great faith and confidence in God, stellar musical abilities, leadership skills and outstanding loyalty to God and man. The loyalty to Saul that was shown at his death has got to be one of the stories of the ages. All of this, and he hadn’t even passed the age of thirty yet! David experienced more in his first thirty years than many people do in their entire lives.
David became king of Judah at thirty years of age and ruled for seven and a half years. In that period of time he showed wisdom as well as political acumen as the tide of the whole nation was turning his direction. Eventually, Saul’s son and Israel’s king Ish-bosheth’s general Abner was killed, and that left Ish-boshethwith no support for the throne. Shortly thereafter, he was assassinated, and it was realized by the citizens of Israel that the only practical solution was to recognize David as king over all the land. With the third anointing of David, the United Kingdom of Israel was established. David would have been thirty-seven or thirty-eight at this time.
One of David’s first accomplishments, plus a highly successful political maneuver, was the capture of Jerusalem from the Jebusites and the selection of it as the new capital of the country. When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel and had taken Jerusalem (or possibly shortly before), they decided to move against David as well. David immediately asked for divine help, and he received it as Israel won a decisive victory.
After some struggle, David successfully brought the ark to a new home in Jerusalem. This was so important, that the story takes up almost all of 2 Samuel 6 and concludes with a great celebratory march.
David and the Israelite’s proceeded to win additional battles and expand the territory further. They defeated the Philistines and Moabites (2 Sam. 8:1-2), Edom (2 Sam. 8:13-14) as well as the Ammonite-Syrian coalition (2 Sam. 10:13-19).
It has been suspected by many that David was about 49 years old when in the springtime of the year (“after the return of the year,” 2 Sam. 11:1), at the time when “kings go forth to battle” (v. 1, KJV), David sent his general Joab with his officers and the entire Israelite army to Rabbah and the land of Ammon.
David had experienced quite a life up to this time. He had been God’s instrument in many great and wonderful events. Israel was an emerging kingdom, actually becoming a powerful nation of size to be reckoned with. It seemed that everywhere David went and everything he did was blessed by the LORD. It must have seemed to him that he had it all, everything he needed and everything he wanted.
In what must have been a great feeling of accomplishment and safety, David sent Joab and his armyto battle by themselves while he decided to sit this one out. He must have been feeling pretty good, pretty confident. Probably too confident. That faith or confidence might have turned into a bit of self-confidence. That self-confidence may have turned into pride, and that pride must have caused a lapse in his good judgment. A slip-up of David’s sound mind leading to a blunder of immense proportions.
While David’s soldiers were at war with the Ammonites and David was at home in Jerusalem, David caught a glimpse of a beautiful woman“washingherself” (KJV – “bathing” – LXE, NAS), Bathsheba. He succumbed to temptation, and had the woman brought unto him. Then he impregnated her. David then deceived his general Joab and soldiers and had her husband ––Uriah the Hittite ¬¬–– one of his trusted warriors, put on the front line of battle, where he was killed. Then he married Bathsheba and she bore a child.
Nine months later, the grand cover up seemed complete. David had a new wife, and life seemed fine. Yet we read in 2 Sam 11:27 –“And when the mourning [for Uriah the Hittite] was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD” (2 Sam. 11:27 KJV).
Realistically, all was probably not well in David’s heart. Guilt may have been stirring from a simmer to a hot boil. He even stated in Psalm 32:3-4: “When I refused to confess my sin, my whole body wasted away, while I groaned in pain all day long.For day and night you tormented me; you tried to destroy me in the intense heat of summer (Psalm 32:3-4 NET).”David may have feltlike he was walking on eggshells, knowing what he had done. But still, on the outside things might have appeared just fine. Nine months went by and a son was born. It appeared that just possibly David dodged the bullet. It appeared that God had turned a blind eye.
Although, just when the outsider would think things were ok, and David hoped so, one of David’s most trusted advisors stepped in with an unexpected message. God sent the prophet Nathan to David. Let’s take a look at the name Nathan before we go any further.
The name Nathan comes from the Hebrew Natan(נָתָן).Natan comes from the root word Natan (נׇתַן), which is spelled the same in Hebrew transliteration but with a small difference in vowel markers in the Hebrew text.
The word “natan” is a verb that means to give. Whenwe think about it, this is a very appropriate description of Nathan the prophet.David had committed a grievous sin, one worthy of the death penalty, yet he was the powerful king over Israel at its height. God gave Nathan the charge to go and tell him face-to-face, “David, you really blew it. I am disappointed!”
Do you think Nathan may have been a little frightened at this request? Frightened for his life? After all, David had Uriah killed, and Uriah had done nothing wrong. What might David have done to him?
Yet Nathan – “natan” – whose name means “to give,” gave to David in one of the highest forms of giving and love possible. He confronted him with his error regardless of the circumstances. If David did not repent, who knows what might have happened to Nathan. Nathan was aware of the consequences, but he GAVE as the LORD instructed him to.
This makes me think of my life. It is not easy to confront someone when they are doing wrong. It’s so easy for us to act “cool and calm” about situations and just go along with it; to ignore the incident or do our best to try to forget it. It’s hard enough for a person to admit being wrong, but to tell someone else they are treading on dangerous ground, I think that might even be harder.
It’s not the easiest thing to do to follow Jesus’/Yeshua’s instructions in Matthew 18:15-16 (KJV): “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” Nathan did this but on a different level. He didn’t come to his brother or friend, he came to the king.
Nathan came to David with a simple story of a poor man with one little lamb. This poor man loved his lamb, it was almost like a daughter to him. His neighbor was a rich man with many flocks and herds. A traveler stopped by this rich man’s fine estate. Rather than slaughter a sheep from his own flock, of which there were very many, the rich man (or probably his assistants) went out and stole the poor man’s only lamb and used it for dinner instead.
As David, the former shepherd, listened to this story, you can almost see him clenching his fists, his knuckles turning white and a bead of sweat rolling down his forehead. You could almost see the steam emanating from his body. He instantly connected to the story. He was a shepherd for his father before he became king, he knew the love of an animal and he knew what it was like to be from a “less than wealthy” family.
Without delay,“David became furious at this man. He said to Nathan, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die!Because he committed this cold-hearted crime, he must pay for the lamb four times over!’’’
(2 Sam. 12:5-6 NET)
David never saw it coming. He never saw Nathan building the gallows and throwing the rope over the beam. He never felt his hands being tied behind his back, being led up the steps and placed right squarely over the trap door. Only when the noose was squeezed around his neck, only when Nathan tightened the rope with the simple Hebrew words:
ATA HA ISH
“You are the man!” (verse 7) –– did it strike him. And it came like a lightning bolt from heaven.
David’s face must have turned from bright red in anger to a shocked white as snow. What had he, the king of Israel done? He must have sunk into his chair, or on the ground, dumfounded, unable to speak a word and barely able to breath.
He knew that a person doesn’t get away with blatant sin. After all, he was the writer of many of the Psalms! Right now he could only beg for God’s mercy. Nathan (Natan) continued in verses 7-13: Nathan said to David, “You are that man! This is what the LORD God of Israel says: ‘I chose you to be king over Israel and I rescued you from the hand of Saul.I gave you your master’s houseand put your master’s wives into your arms. I also gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all that somehow seems insignificant, I would have given you so much more as well! Why have you shown contempt for the word of the LORD by doing evil in my sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and you have taken his wife as your own! You have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. So now the sword will never depart from your house. For you have despised me by taking the wife of Uriah the Hittite as your own!’”
“This is what the LORD says: ‘I am about to bring disaster on you from inside your own household! Right before your eyes I will take your wives and hand them over to your companion. He will have sexual relations with your wives in broad daylight!Although you have acted in secret, I will do this thing before all Israel, and in broad daylight.’”Then David exclaimed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD!” Nathan replied to David, “Yes, and the LORD has forgiven your sin. You are not going to die” (2 Sam. 12:7-13 NET).
With what could have very well been fear for his life, Nathan gave the truth to David. In John 15:13-14 (KJV) Jesus/Yeshua told his disciples: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”
Nathan did what the LORD told him to. Nathan shared with David the knowledge of what he did. It seems that David had just turned a blind eye at this sin and was not in the mood to repent. Nathan, through skillful speech directed by the Holy Spirit, allowed David to realize the gravity of his actions. This caused David to repent and write one of the classic chapters in the Bible on repentance (Psalm 51). We can only imagine what would have happened if David had not repented.
Nathan’s example of giving, doing the right thing at the right time, in the right way is a great lesson for all of us.After all, we also might be instrumental in saving someone’s life.
Yet, David paid for this sin dearly. Uriah the Hittite died. The son of his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba died. Later on, David’s son Absalom did indeed insult David’s household by sinning with his concubines.And we know that wars and battles went on throughout the reign of David. As God told David in
1 Chronicles 28:3, “You are not to build a house for my name, because you are a man of war, you have shed blood.” David paid dearly for his sins, this sin in particular, for the rest of his life.
Although David committed some terrible sins, he sincerely repented. The apostle Paul spoke of David in Acts 13:21-22 where he said: “Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man from the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years.After removing him, God raised up David their king. He testified about him: ‘I have found David the son of Jesse to be a man after my heart, who will accomplish everything I want him to do.’”
Wouldn’t you like to be called “a man after God’s own heart” by the apostle Paul?
While point three may seem rather trivial, it is really very significant. If David died as a scoundrel, certainly Jesus/Yeshua would have been known as the son of Abraham or someone else along the line. Attributing Jesus/Yeshua to being a son of David is important. Certainly, there are prophetic implications to this, but I believe that it also tells us that David was a person that was looked upon very highly by man as well as God.
David committed a sin worthy of death. He repented, he was truly sorry, he changed, and God’s mercy reigned. He went on to become a “man after God’s own heart.” Did he do it all by himself, with his own power? I say no. God and the Holy Spirit were with him, helping him and guiding him.
How bad is sin?
Just how bad is sin? Let’s take a look at a different part of this story to see if we can determine how bad this sin, or any sin for that matter is. Let’s examine a few passages that deal with the “Wife of Uriah the Hittite,” Bathsheba.
Many times,an author’s emphasis or viewpoint concerning a certain event is expressed by the ways that individuals in the text are designated, or by what they are called or referred to.
For example, there are various name’s used for Bathsheba ( בַּת־שֶׁ֣בַע), – BAT SHEVA – such as “Bathsheba” or “wife of Uriah the Hittite.” (Bath-sheva means “child of oath (sheva – to swear, oath)).
Likewise, the repetition or preference of one designation over another is also critical. These designations often signal the main idea driving the story line. When applying some of the observations to Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11-12, we can gain additional insight into the author’s emphasis. (At the same time, we need to remember who the ultimate author of the Bible is.)
The writer of 2 Samuel uses five separate designations for Bathsheba in these two chapters.
So, Bathsheba is referred to a total of 29 times, only twice by her proper name. This is important. These numbers are more than just an exercise in elementary math, they reveal important elements.
Her classification as “wife” is at the top of the list. Of the ten instances of אִשָׁה (wife), six speak of Uriah’s wife and four speak to David taking as a wife someone who rightfully belonged to another. Another fact is that generic designations are highlighted. This results in the limited use of her name “Bathsheba.”
In other words, a somewhat de-personalized individual continually appears before the reader. Actually, the person Bathsheba is not a point of emphasis. She is almost peripheral to the story.The choice of designations used, especially “wife of Uriah the Hittite” magnifies David’s gross misconduct and undeniable guilt.
In the New Testament/Brit Chadasha, when Matthew is relaying the genealogy of Jesus/Yeshua we see this phrase repeated in Matthew 1: 6: “and Jesse the father of David the king. David was the father of Solomon (by the wife of Uriah)” (Matt. 1:6 NET).
This carefully worded narrative from 2 Samuel heavily emphasizes two points:
This will bring us to the end of Part 1 in our class, “David, Bathsheba, Nathan: Mistakes, Repentance and Forgiveness.”
Part 2: “David, Bathsheba, Nathan: Mistakes, Repentance, Forgiveness”
Today’s class is going to be Part 2 (of 2): of our series titled: “David, Bathsheba, Nathan: Mistakes, Repentance, Forgiveness”
In Part 1 we discussed:
So we talked about David’s mistake with Bathsheba, now let’s discuss repentance.
David had committed a terrible sin, yet he repented. Psalm 51 was written by David after his sin with Bathsheba. This is one of the most famous chapters in the entire Old Testament/Tanakh on repentance showing how David cried out to God after he realized what he had done. It behooves us to take a look at Psalm 51 and examine parts of the Hebrew text to gain a greater appreciation for David’s repentance. Although the verse numbers are somewhat different in the WTT Leningrad Hebrew Old Testament and English versions of the O.T., I will be using the English version verse references. The KJV English translation and WTT Hebrew Old Testament will be used for this analysis.
Before we start going through Psalm 51 I would just like to make three points regarding Hebrew grammar:
So, in summary, the two points we want to remember are:
To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone into Bathsheba. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
We are told right away who the author is (a Psalm of David) and the situation (when Nathan the prophet came unto him after he had gone into Bathsheba). The purpose of the Psalm is also stated, David asking God for mercy and to “blot out [his] transgression.”
We see two Hebrew imperative verbs in this verse, חָנֵּ֣נִיCHA-NA-NEE “Have mercy upon me,” and מְחֵ֣הMEH-CHAY “Blot out.” In Hebrew, an imperative conjugation expresses a direct command or a request. David, of course, was not commanding God, but he was forcefully asking for mercy. The Hebrew מָחָה MAH-CHA is translated by Holladay’s Lexicon (#4456) as “to wipe out, destroy.” So David starts out the prayer with intensity, realizing what he had done.
me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
The Hebrew verb כַּבְּסֵ֣נִי CAB-SAY-NEE is translated as wash. This verb is a piel stem, which indicates intensive action. It’s like David was saying to God, “Wash me, cleanse me, correct me; not only from this sin but from every sin I have committed. Make me so clean that the dirt of sin will never be able to penetrate me again!”
For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
David is admitting his guilt, taking full responsibility. The sin is continually (תָמִֽיד) TA-MEED before David. Haunting him day and night. He wants to be rid of it!
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.5Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
David is facing up to who sin is against. It is against the creator, the law-giver, the righteous and almighty God. Yes, David had inflicted bad upon both Uriah and Bathsheba, but is speaking here of the damage to his relationship with God.
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
God desires truth all over us, in the inner parts ( טֻּח֑וֹתTU-CHOT) of our heart and mind. Yes, God wants to make wisdom known to us even in the hidden parts (סָתַם SA-TAM) of ourselves, our memory and sub-conscious. PAUSE
Part of wisdom is realizing and remembering the long-term consequences of sin before we do it, which are never good.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.9 Hide thy face from my sins and blot out all mine iniquities.
Verse 7 – David asks God to purge him with hyssop, that is, “pardon my sins, and let me know that they are pardoned, that I may be restored to those privileges which by sin I have forfeited and lost” (Matthew Henry Commentary, Psalm 51:7). There is no mention here of priestly mediation, but rather purification is implored directly from God. The washing desired is not for clothes, but for the person.
“Wash me” comes from the Hebrew תְּ֜כַבְּסֵ֗נִיTEH-CAB-SAY-NEE. The verb here is a piel stem, imperfect conjugation, which indicates intensive and incomplete action. David is asking God to wash him clean now and in the future. He doesn’t want this or any sin to come back upon him.
Verse 8 – David is asking God to drive away the sorrow and pain and allow him to hear joy and gladness once again, to hear God’s words, teachings and the resultant happiness, so that his bones, which have been broken with pain at the realization of what he had done may rejoice.
The expressions “joy and gladness” are frequently combined and used of loud and festive expressions of joy. They do not indicate the effect of a message of peace within the heart, such as God’s pardon which came through Nathan, which had taken place quite a while before the composition of this Psalm, but the joy and gladness which has finally penetrated the soul after long and difficult struggle and conflict.
“Bones may rejoice” is not referring to the heart, but the bones – the strength and frame-work of the body. The crushing of the bones denotes complete abasement, mental and physical.
Verse 9 – Once again in verse nine we see the use of two imperative verbs, הַסְתֵּ֣ר CHAS-TARE (hide), and מְחֵֽה MEH-CHAY (wipe out, destroy). Use of the imperative shows how strongly David was asking for these two events to happen. “Hide thy face from my sins” and “blot out all my iniquities.” He is asking God, strongly, to forgive him of the sin, allow David to start over and to wipe out and destroy all his iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Notice the word for create, בְּרָא BEH-RAH is the same word as used in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” David is asking God to create a “clean and new heart.” Something new, not just a repaired old heart. He is asking for a new heart, one filled with joy and gladness and a “right spirit.”
The word טָ֭הוֹרTA-HORE (clean) refers to being “clean, pure and genuine.” The pure heart is the condition of communion with God (Psa. 73:1). It is designated not only as a heart cleansed from old sin, but also as a new heart; the result of a creative act of God. This is the same condition necessary for the renewal of the spirit to a steadfast spirit, a spirit firmly grounded in God’s grace – fearless, confident and firm (Psa. 57:7, 112:7, 78:37).
A new spirit is promised by the prophets (Jer. 24:7, Eze. 11:19, Eze. 36:26). It includes a change of disposition. Of course, this presupposingrepentance and change (שׁוּבSHUV).
David is asking for divine grace, as it is made known in this prayer, not to be cast away from the presence of God, that is to say, utterly rejected, not to be deprived of the Holy Spirit, with which David had been anointed (1Sam. 16:13).
Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
Verse 11 – The urgings and pleas of David are plain and heartfelt. “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me.” David knew that by this he had grieved the Spirit and provoked Him to withdraw. Because he was flesh, God might justly have said that his Spirit should no longer dwell with him nor work upon him. This, Ifeel David dreaded more than anything. How exceedingly miserable Saul was when God withdrew his spirit from him, and David knew this. Quoting Bible Commentator Matthew Henry, “David … begs thus earnestly: ‘Lord, whatever thou take from me, my children, my crown, my life, yet take not thy Holy Spirit from me, but continue thy Holy Spirit with me, to perfect the work of my repentance, to prevent my relapse into sin, and to enable me to discharge my duty both as a prince and as a psalmist.’” (Matthew Henry Commentary on Psalm 51:11).
Verse 12 – “Uphold me with thy free spirit.” The phrase “free spirit” comes from וְר֖וּחַ נְדִיבָ֣ה. VE RUACH NE-DEEVAH Ne-dee-vah is an adjective that can also be translated as “willing,” or “one who is generous, noble” (Holladay’s Lexicon, #5383). God’s spirit is not free as in “flapping in the wind with no bounds.” It is free in the sense that God is willing and generous to give it to those who seek it. We can think of it as a noble king who is generous with his citizens and willing to lend a hand when necessary.
Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
David telling God what his response to this gracious forgiveness will be. He will teach sinners the way of God and sinners will be converted. Both the verbs אֲלַמְּדָ֣ה, EH-LAM-DAH I will teach, and יָשֽׁוּבוּ YASH-OO-VU will return, bring back (come back) be converted, are imperfect conjugation which indicates incomplete action. I think David in this instance is pleading with God, not saying that he is going to do this once and bring back one person, but that it is going to be a continuing experience, a way of life.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.
Here David is telling God that if He delivers him from the guilt of murder, he will not tell or sing of God’s righteousness, he is going to shout it out loud. The Hebrew for “sing aloud” is ן תְּרַנֵּTE-RAH-NANE wich is translated as “shout with joy, proclaim in shouts of joy” (Holladay’s Lexicon #7952 – piel). It is a piel stem, which indicates intensive action.
Once again, the imperfect conjugations in verse 15 – יַגִּ֥יד YA-GEED (declare-show forth) I believe indicates a continual action. David showing God’s praise often.
For thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
These are two of the classic verses on repentance in the Bible. The heart itself is the essential thing in all the sacrifices of thanksgiving. It is the sign that grace has broken the heart, and that the favored one, in true humility, regards himself unworthy of what God has done for him.
Quoting Lange’s Commentary on Holy Scripture: “A savor well-pleasing to God, is a heart which praises Him who has smitten it. Moreover, it is not to be left out of consideration that Psa. 51:17leads back, not to the means of forgiveness of sins, but rather to the subjective prerequisite and condition of it, which the Psalmist, still imploring forgiveness, experiences in himself as a personal condition of heart, and to this unites a hope, which in Isa. 57:15 is sealed by the consolation of the prophecy, that God will take up His abode in such hearts as these” (Lange’s Commentary on Holy Scripture, Psalm 51:16-17, Exegetical and Critical).
READ 16-17 AGAIN?
Verses 18-19 –(NET)
Because you favor Zion, do what is good for her! Fortify the walls of Jerusalem! 19 Then you will accept the proper sacrifices, burnt sacrifices and whole offerings; then bulls will be sacrificed on your altar.
(Ps. 51:18-19 NET)
David’s conclusion to this prayer reminds me of Jesus/Yeshua’s words in the sample prayer he gave in Matthew 6: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, in earth, as it is in heaven… For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever” (Matt 6:10, 13). David closes his prayer by shifting his thoughts to God’s will.
David intercedes for Zion and for Jerusalem, with an eye to the honor of God. Matthew Henry’s commentary of Verse 18 is most insightful:
“Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion,” that is, (1.) To all the particular worshippers in Zion, to all that love and fear thy name; keep them from falling into such wounding wasting sins as these of mine; defend and [help in times of distress] all that fear thy name. Those that have been in spiritual troubles themselves know how to pity and pray for those that are in like manner afflicted.
“Or, (2.) To the public interests of Israel. David was sensible of the wrong he had done to Judah and Jerusalem by his sin, how it had weakened the hands and saddened the hearts of good people, and opened the mouths of their adversaries; he was likewise afraid lest, he being a public person, his sin should bring judgments upon the city and kingdom, and therefore he prays to God to secure and advance those public interests which he had damaged and endangered.”
David prays that God would prevent those national judgments which his sin had deserved. He prays that God would continue His blessings, and carry on that good work, which his sin had threatened to put a stop to. He prays, not only that God would do good to Zion, but that he would do it in his good pleasure.
Key elements of David’s prayer
Now, we’ve talked about mistakes and repentance now let’s discuss forgiving.
Sincerely forgiving others is probably one of the hardest things there is to do in this life. Perhaps all of us have used David’s prayer at one time or another in our lives when talking to God in repentance. The great thing is that just as God forgave David, he will forgive us too.
Forgiving is one of the highest of all attributes. One of the most honorable things that we can do. When we see someone genuinely forgive someone else, it touches us, it really does.
Do we ever have problems forgiving people? Honestly, I do. It is not always easy to forgive people. In fact, it’s seldom easy to and sometimes just doesn’t seem fair. Forgiving requires that we make a choice. We have the choice to forgive or not to forgive.It’s a calculated commitment. We have to commit to forgive someone.Forgiveness requires the help of the Holy Spirit as offering complete forgiveness by ourselves is not possible.
Jesus/Yeshua wasn’t treated “fairly” while on earth. He had to go beyond “normal humanistic feelings” to forgive those who were responsible for His crucifixion. We need to face facts, it isn’t easy, but Jesus/Yeshua forgave us, and we want and need to be forgiving to others as well.
When teaching His disciples how to pray, Jesus/Yeshuatold them in Matthew 6:12-15 (KJV):
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.And lead us not into temptationbut deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
You might think that this is a hard teaching, but these are the words of Jesus/Yeshua Himself. Paul likewise told us in Ephesians 4:26-27: “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil” (Eph. 4:26-27 KJV).
Being angry continually is a sure way to give place to the devil. It’s a way to let Satan get a foothold in our lives and to gain a strategic position in our minds. Anger will burn and burn and get worse and worse. It will spread to additional people, places and things. It will tear us up.
When we choose not to forgive, we allow the adversary to advance further and further into our lives and we fall further and further from God.This is just what we don’t want to do. We want to follow the teachings of Jesus/Yeshua that I mentioned before: we want to “forgive those who have wronged us.”We will need to call upon our Lord, Creator, Master and King – Yeshua HaMashiach for help. And when we with a sincere heart do so, the Holy Spirit will give us the ability to forgive.
David was a man who, like all of us, made mistakes; but he repented and God forgave him. Our goal likewise is to repent and forgive. A big task, but with the help of the Holy Spirit we can do it.
One thing that indicates the authenticity of the Old Testament is the forthright nature of the writings, not holding back the faults of its hero’s. David had a bad experience, no doubt, yet God felt it beneficial to reveal this incident along with its gruesome results. There has to be a reason for this. After all, David was one of Israel’s great kings and he is even highly praised in the New Testament. It would have been easy to just leave this story out.
I feel that one of the main reasons for the story being included is to show us how easy it is for us to fall into the traps of Satan, our old selves, and the world if we are not constantly on guard. I think David became complacent and fell into the trap of adultery. I know some have said that possibly Bathsheba situated herself in a position purposely where she felt David would have a good chance of seeing her as such. Regardless of whether this is true or not, David took the bait “hook, line and sinker.” He knew better, it was his own fault.
God is showing us in vivid detail what happens when we become too content in ourselves, too smug with our circumstances and too self-satisfied. It seems that this can easily happen when things seem to be going really good for us, as David was at the height of his career as king.
Let’s all be especially aware of temptations all the time, whether we are in the midst of many blessings or deep in the depths of trial. Let’s never become complacent and forget about our God.
Thank God for his wisdom and kindness in sharing these lessons with us, and Todah Rabba Elohim -Thank you very much God that David repented, as that is another part of the great lesson of David, Bathsheba, Nathan – Mistakes, Repentance and Forgiveness.
Shalom Uvrachot – Peace and Blessings, and
Shavua tov – have a great week
Servants of the Most High God Ministries