King David and Bathsheba (5)
The Collapse: 2 Samuel 12:7-14
The LORD God works in an unspecified manner through the prophet Nathan to expose King David’s sin. Nathan lures David into self-condemnation by conveying a story that is different in detail, but directly analogous to David’s actions. Thus, when David condemns the protagonist in the story, Nathan immediately turns upon the king with this powerful rebuke.
7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.
God had protected David and had delivered all that King Saul had into his hands; even those things that while pleasing to man are yet at odds with God’s ultimate purposes. Thus, God includes the polygamous situation of many wives in this list of “good things.”
9 Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.
The full truth that David had worked so carefully to coverup is now out in the open. The consequences will damage terribly David’s life, family, kingship and nation.
10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’
Now the specific judgement of God is revealed.
11 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’”
Were we to discuss the entire remaining chapters of 2 Samuel the direct and indirect consequences of this curse would be unambiguously apparent. David sought to hide the shame of his sin from the nation. Therefore, God will humiliate David before the nation in broad daylight.
13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
This is the instant when the fact of David’s election by God is revealed. David’s conscience is reanimated by this terrible event. He doesn’t try to continue hiding or to justify his sin. Nor does he attempt to minimize its true nature — for he names it as sin against the Lord.
We can never know for sure if a person is “elect of God” who has been “effectually called” into salvation. Here we must include some doctrine in order to grasp what is happening.
Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.
Westminster Confession: Chapter XI, Paragraph 1.
But what are the “marks” by which we could know that someone is indeed “elect?” This issue is discussed in our confessions, with the underlying understudying that we cannot ultimately know the answer, as it lives in the impenetrable mystery of God’s sovereign grace. However, one thing is clear, that being that an elect person will continue to commit sins, and that God’s sovereign justice will be applied to that sin.
God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified; and although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may by their sins fall under God’s Fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of his countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.
Westminster Confession: Chapter XI, Paragraph 5.
Let there be no doubt that King David did indeed confess his sin, beg pardon and renew his faith and repentance. Let Psalm 51 testify to this fact.
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
Psalm 51:1-4 (NIV)
John Calvin rightly comments:
This will be the exercise of every true penitent. It matters little to obtain our acquittal at the bar of human judgment, or to escape punishment through the connivance of others, provided we suffer from an accusing conscience and an offended God. And there is, perhaps, no better remedy against deception in the matter of our sins than to turn our thoughts inward upon ourselves, to concentrate them upon God, and lose every self-complacent imagination in a sharp sense of his displeasure.
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.”
Note that David has indeed been found to be within the bounds of God’s sovereign grace: “by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone.”
We should not be concerned that King David, who lived prior to Christ’s time on earth, was a beneficiary of this same grace.
The justification of believers under the Old Testament was, in all these respects, one and the same with the justification of believers under the New Testament.
Westminster Confession: Chapter XI, Paragraph 6.
I will certainly not dare to judge just whom, in His infinite, unsearchable mercy God has sovereignly chosen to justify through election. However I must say that anyone who claims this blessed status for themselves yet clings to their fantasies of self righteousness, or, who condones sin — they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them (Romans 1:32b, NIV) — should consider their situation with fear and trembling.