By Andy Alexander
David’s sin with Bathsheba supplies us with many valuable lessons. The temptations created by indecent dress or improper exposure of the body, the downward spiral of one who sins and tries to hide it, the consequences of sin, and the internal pain of the sinner who has a tender conscious toward God are some of these lessons (2 Sam. 11-18; Psa. 32:1-5; 51). However, there are two lessons from 2 Samuel 12 that we want to consider in this article.
First, let’s notice God’s method for convincing the sinner of his sin. God sent the prophet Nathan to David for the purpose of convicting David of his sin.
Nathan related the story of the poor man with one little ewe lamb that was stolen by a rich man who had many flocks and herds (2 Sam. 12:1-4). When Nathan finished the story, “David’s anger burned greatly against the man” (2 Sam. 12:5). David’s anger was justified because the rich man had wronged the poor man and ought to be punished for such an evil and insensitive deed.
After David had made the proper judgment toward the rich man who had done such a hideous deed, God said to David through Nathan, “You are the man!” (2 Sam. 12:7)
This story taught the exact principle that God wanted David to learn. Actually, David already understood the principle that God was impressing upon his mind, but he had not made the proper application of that principle in his own personal life.
How did God convict the sinner of his sin? He sent a messenger (Nathan) to tell him directly that he was guilty of sin. God was straight forward in trying to turn his wayward child back in the right direction.
When King Saul violated the commandment of God by not destroying all the Amalekites and all their possessions, God sent Samuel to deliver his message to Saul (1 Sam. 15:11). Saul’s sin brought a great amount of grief to Samuel, but he delivered the message just as God gave it to him. This message, like the one to David, was direct and to the point (1 Sam. 15:16-23). Saul tried to blame others for his disobedience, but this did not justify him before God (1 Sam. 15:20).
Peter was speaking to the Jews on the day of Pentecost and trying to convict them of their sins. He spoke as the Holy Spirit gave him utterance and told them directly that they had taken Jesus and by wicked hands nailed him to the cross (Acts 2:4,23). Again, we see God’s method was direct and to the point when it came to convicting men of their sins.
When Peter and John were in Samaria for the purpose of imparting spiritual gifts to the new converts, a man by the name of Simon tried to buy the same power the apostles had (Acts 8:19). He sinned in so doing and was quickly and directly rebuked for his sinful actions and urged to repent (Acts 8:20-23). God knows the best way to reach those who are in sin and he has left a pattern for us to follow of being direct and to the point.
The case of Stephen is one which again was direct and to the point. He lost his life because of the hardness of the hearts of his hearers (Acts 7:51-60). This does not prove the method to be wrong. It proves that all of those we approach may not respond as they should to God’s message. Other examples could be cited, but these are enough to show that God’s method of reaching the sinner is direct and to the point. There is an urgency in convicting men of their sins.
They are some today who resent being told they have sinned. They deny their sin, blame others for their sin, or seek to justify their ungodly actions in some way or another. There were other fornicators in David’s day, but that did make his actions any less sinful. Bathsheba was a party to the sin, but that did not alter David’s responsibility to keep himself pure. David was king of a great country, but he still must give account to God. David repented and confessed his sin to God and God forgave him (2 Sam. 12:13).
Let us deliver God’s message in a clear and forceful manner. Let us teach principles of righteousness in terms that can be clearly and easily understood, and let us make application so that those who are guilty will be convinced of their sins.
There is a second lesson that we can glean from 2 Samuel 12. We, who hear God’s message, must make application in our own personal lives. Knowledge without obedience is foolishness (Matt. 7:24-27). The righteous principles taught in God’s word are valuable; however, they are only valuable to those who use them.
Compare this to medicine prescribed by a doctor for a physical ailment. It is good to know that penicillin will cure malaria, but if one has malaria and penicillin is available but not taken, the knowledge is of no real value.
Likewise, it is valuable to know that belief, repentance, and baptism put an alien sinner into the kingdom of God. But, if we are alien sinners and we do not obey these simple conditions given by God, then eternal damnation is our destiny. The knowledge is of no real valuable to us unless we use it.
Society may be rotten, the preacher may be a hypocrite, one of the elders may not meet “my” standards for serving, or some member may be a backbiter, but none of these “excuses” makes my disobedience any better. If I am guilty of sin, then my sin will keep me out of heaven. No one else’s sin can change my impure state into a pure one.
Each of us must make application of God’s word in his own personal life and make corrections wherever and whenever necessary. Some may have a tendency to discard what the preacher says because he is just a man. But if the message he delivers is from God’s word as it should be, then the listener had better take heed. Apply the lesson!
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 1, p. 24
January 7, 1993