It is amazing how fast things can change in scripture. In the previous chapter we focused on Uriah because looking at David only provides an example of everything we should never do. However, in this chapter David lets God get his attention. He then provides an excellent example of how to respond to God’s discipline.
David has gotten Bathsheba pregnant, killed her husband, married Bathsheba and witnessed the birth of another son. God sends Nathan to David with a message that communicates God’s displeasure and the consequences for David. Nathan uses a powerful word picture to get David’s attention. David responds by emphatically declaring that the man in Nathan’s story should die. The rich man in the story is guilty of stealing a sheep and killing it. Death may be too extreme a penalty for the hypothetical rich man, but by declaring this penalty David has judged himself.
13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.”2 Samuel 12:13,14 (NIV)
If we are really truthful with ourselves there are many things that God does that do not make sense to us. The action God takes goes against everything we believe about His good and loving nature. This is one of those cases for me. There is no question in the text that it is God who causes the child to die. While I cannot explain this, I realize that God’s punishment of David has a strange parallel to what David has done. David took the life of an innocent man. In response God takes the life of an innocent child. We look for reasons to judge God and determine that what God does is not right. I do not think this is what David thought. David knew that he was the cause of the death of the child.
19 David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves, and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked.
“Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”
20 Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.2 Samuel 12:19,20 (NIV)
In the previous chapter David is everything but a man after God’s own heart. In this chapter his example provides us with challenge to our typical response to God when bad things happen. David accepts God’s forgiveness and does not question his discipline. No blaming or judging. No anger or rebellion. David accepts God’s decision, pleads with the God who he knows loves him, then he worships.
What about us?
We would be wrong to connect every bad thing that happens to us with a personal sin. However, there are times when our sin hurts others as much or more than it hurts us. In our search for someone to blame other than ourselves God becomes an easy target. Rather than confessing our sin and accepting God’s forgiveness we turn away. David’s example should remind us that no matter what we have done God is always waiting to receive us back. When we repent it would be good to begin our walk toward God with an act of worship.