Consequences of Sin
v10-12. You slayed by the sword; and now the sword will never leave your house. Consequences:
- Rise up evil from your own household
- Take your wives
- Companion will lie with them in broad daylight
- You did in secret, I will do before Israel and in the sunlight
v 13 Just when it seems the Lord's anger is building and the consequences are increasing, an amazing thing happens.
- First, David's response to Nathan's Word from God. He admits that he sinned, and specifically, sinned against God. This is good that he recognized and acknowledged his sin; but this isn't the amazing part.
- In the same verse, Nathan responds to David's confession with, "The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die."
- Sadly, this is followed by, "However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die."
Then Nathan leaves.
There's a lot to unpack in these few verses.
Previously, God had reminded David of who God was and what He had done for David. Then He explained how David sinned against Him, the Lord. Then God recounts David's sin against Uriah. Now we come to the consequences.
It's not explicitly noted, but it seems like there are separate sins for the murder and then the adultery. And they seem to be a reflection of each sin itself. This is tragic and scary. However, we have often seen this in the Old Testament books. People sin. God delivers righteous judgement and consequences.
And David's response is within what we'd expect as well. Confession when faced with God's judgement. Even Saul did this (several times).
But then we immediately see God's mercy and grace in a moment.
He takes away David's sin, removing the well deserved death penalty.
The grace and mercy is not surprising. Every time Israel or one of her people sinned and God sent punishment, He always sent mercy and grace to allow them to go on. But it's never been so stark and immediate to me. This took my breath away. "The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die."
Why would David receive such preferential treatment? I know. I know. He pays a HUGE price, beginning in the next sentence. And God doesn't free Him from the other natural consequences of his actions; just the legal requirement that he face death as punishment. So God didn't etch-a-sketch the whole thing away. But still, in the midst of His judgement, He also delivers immediate amnesty. It seems noteworthy. Shocking, really. So...why?
Of course, if God wanted us to know why, He would have added it to the text. So there might be a million reasons and they are all His own. We're not entitled to them (or anything else). But there is a substantial hint in the next verse, when David hears the bad news side of the commutation:
"However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also born to you shall surely die."
He gave us the the "because", so He gave us the "why". Lots of people commit adultery; but never once, that I know of, did God note that the adultery could give God's enemy a weapon.
What made David's adultery different? In chapter 7, God established an individual covenant with David and it included promises such as God establishing a forever kingdom in God's name.
God spared David for God and God's name, in my opinion. To our human ear, maybe that sounds like I'm calling God selfish. But God's forever kingdom comes through Jesus. And if that baby is born in the sins of adultery and murder, God's plan, as we now know it, is stained and imperfect. Stained and imperfect cannot redeem humanity and gets us back to a right relationship with God.
God spared David for us. All of us. BUT...THROUGH HIS PLAN. And since we don't know His thoughts or His plans, all we can do is pray and have faith and be grateful that we know He is good and He is for us. A baby was born and then died for all of us. Seems to have some parallels to another story we hear much later in this book.
It's worth remembering, God has a plan and his plan will not be denied. And even if we fail our part of the plan, we can either be Peter, failing and being redeemed by Christ, or Judas, failing and paying with his life for eternity. We learn in upcoming verses that David fails and God's plan proceeds anyway; AND David is redeemed by His faith in God.
One final question I pondered from this short set of verses. When Nathan finished giving his original message from the Lord, the first words out of David's mouth was a confession that he had sinned against God. He got it. He wasn't apologizing for getting caught; or for the sins themselves. He was confessing that those sins had actually been against God. It was immediately after that confession, in the same verse, in the next sentence, Nathan spoke forgiveness to David from God.
So here's my pondering...what if David hadn't? What if, instead, he had blamed Bathsheba, or God himself, like Adam did? Or if he blamed his men, like Saul did? Or some other rationale or defense?
I think God would have found a way to move His plan forward, regardless. But I wonder what would have happened to David? Things get really bad as it is...I have to wonder what God would have done if David had acted like the other men who sinned before God in previous books? I don't have a theory, so I didn't explore it very far. But I suspect. The answer would be sobering.
It's worth remembering that, it seems, God takes it quite seriously when one confesses immediately, taking personal responsibility, and most importantly, recognizing that sin itself is less important than recognizing that the sin, any sin, is directly against God.