Second Samuel 12 Commentary
By the time the LORD is sending Nathan to confront David over his sin, months have passed. Bathsheba has given birth to David’s son and life is flowing normally. David’s plan has worked. We know he had swiftly moved in to marry Bathsheba to conceal his sin. Everyone would understand the child as one born under normal marriage circumstances between David and Bathsheba. Had he delayed marrying Bathsheba, the child was never going to be treated as David’s but as Uriah’s.
It is little wonder that David is completely oblivious to the parable. David’s response to the parable gives you an impression of a man who is back to his usual Mr. Righteous Man. This kind of wickedness should not happen anywhere in his kingdom, he says. The man in the story must die. So David pronounces his own sentence. He is the wicked man of the parable.
David repents. But his sin leaves behind a trail of damages. The first casualty is the son born from the illegal union. We cannot answer the question of why the innocent child suffers because of his parents’ mistakes, any more than we can understand why the sinner goes to heaven on account of another’s righteousness – that is, Jesus’ righteousness.
Sorry. Sorry? Are you serious David? In this chapter David’s response, “I have sinned against the Lord,” is nothing more than a simple sorry. But in Psalms 51 we read of intense repentance and a detailed introspection. Here is the difference; David is broken and pours his life before the LORD. Saul on the other hand lay prostrate on the floor at the spiritist’s house.
A broken David cannot hide anymore. The prayer in Psalm 51 is a personal petition, probably recorded and preserved at David’s request, probably to help others. As he puts it in Psalms 51: “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.”
Indeed it is the purpose of these lines that we, the transgressors of today, can turn back to the LORD. We want to read Psalms 51 again and again to learn more. It is an invitation to self-introspect. And when a good job is done we can agree with David that indeed man is born in sin and is a sinner himself right from that point. David’s prayer for a clean heart and a royal spirit is very much in order.
“Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.” We have a direct reference to Genesis when the LORD cast man out of his presence – out of the Garden of peace and tranquility. Or more recently, the thought is directly connected with Saul’s loss of God’s presence when the Spirit left him. David is very much aware of what happens since he was the man tasked to conduct deliverance sessions for Saul through his music.
It’s from the mouth of David, and in this moment that we learn that the LORD doesn’t delight in sacrifice. Indeed the greatest sacrifice the LORD wants is a broken spirit. He will gladly accept a heart that is broken because of sadness over sin.
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