When Believers Fall

Key Verse: “Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.”
—II Samuel 12:9

Selected Scriptures:
II Samuel 11:2-5,
14-18, 26, 27;
12:9, 13-15

EVEN THE MOST faithful of God’s people must face the reality that they are not perfect, and as such are prone to the weaknesses, imperfections and sinful failings of the flesh. We all must learn that, while God loves and cares for his people, he never condones sin in any form, and will, when necessary, give us the needed discipline and correction if we fall short.

David was in Jerusalem, as his army was engaged in battle with the Ammonites. Walking about on the roof of the house, he first fell victim to inordinate desire as he looked down on the lovely Bathsheba (II Sam. 11:2), and then to the sin of adultery. (vs. 4) David’s sin was compounded because he was Bathsheba’s king. It was inexcusable for him as king to commit such a serious violation of God’s law.

As so often happens, one sin led to another. As the result of David’s sin, Bathsheba conceived. Her husband, Uriah the Hittite, was off at war, and all that had happened would soon become known. David attempted to cover up the problem by calling Uriah back from the battle to Jerusalem (vs. 6), and telling him to go home to his wife. He thought that once Bathsheba’s condition was publicly known, all would conclude that she had conceived by her own husband, and all would be well. Uriah, however, chose to honor the position he had as a soldier in the ongoing war with the Ammonites, and refused to go home. (vs. 11) David then ordered his general, Joab, to have Uriah killed by setting him in the forefront of the battle. Sure enough, Uriah died while defending the kingdom. David then took Bathsheba as his wife.—vs. 27

Nathan, the prophet of God, confronted David with his sin, and pronounced God’s threefold judgment in the matter. First, violence would plague David’s household. (II Sam. 12:11) Second, his wives would be taken and sinned against in a manner similar to his taking of Bathsheba—only it would be publicly known, not hidden like his sin. (vss. 11,12) Third, Bathsheba’s child would die. (vs. 14) This third judgment was actually an act of grace. Rather than David dying, as he deserved, God would spare him. The child would die, however, so that there would be no fruitage from David’s sin with Bathsheba.

David took Nathan’s words to heart. He properly confessed that he had sinned against Bathsheba and Uriah, and against God and his laws. Being a man after God’s own heart (I Sam. 13:14), David responded in genuine repentance and humility. God granted him forgiveness, but he did not change the consequences. David’s punishment would come. However, because of his repentance, his relationship with God was restored, and he led Israel to the heights of its kingdom.

This account shows us that no position or place of privilege puts one above God’s law. Further, confronting our sins honestly, and in humility, is a key element to being restored back into the favor of God. Finally, this lesson shows us that God is rich in mercy and forgives those who truly repent, but there are consequences to sin that he will neither compromise nor change.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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