The Marks of Sin in the Life of David
N. Crampton, Tawa, New Zealand
As we look at the life of King David we see a man that God greatly used for His own purposes. He was a man who lived very close to God and because of that through his pen we have received many wonderful Psalms. A study of the life of David can only lead to the conclusion that he was a man after God's own heart, 1 Sam. 13. 14.
David, however, was a man and like all of us he was subject to the trials and temptations of life. He was a man who made mistakes, some very serious mistakes and in some cases he paid very dearly for them. Yet through it all his trust in God never wavered and he stands tall as one of the great men of God in the Old Testament. Among the many mistakes recorded against David there were two major sins that left their marks on his life. There was his sin in numbering Israel, 2 Sam. 24, and his sin with Bathsheba, 2 Sam. 11 and 12.
We too must confess that even though we love the Lord there are times in our Christian experience when we get our eyes off the Lord and Satan gains a victory. We stumble and fall and sin against the Lord. How thankful we can be that on the cross He dealt with the guilt of all our sin, past, present and future. While the guilt of sin was dealt with at the cross the marks of sin are often carried to the grave. It is a serious thing to allow sin in our lives as believers. A study of the results of David's sin with Bathsheba will bear this out.
The detail of David's sin on this occasion is recorded in 2 Samuel 11 and 12. David allowed the sight of his eyes to influence the feelings of his heart and smother the warnings of his conscience. He took Bathsheba the wife of Uriah and committed adultery with her. This was an awful sin, especially for a leader of God's people. We don't want to dwell on the sin, for there is little profit in that but we must ask the question, 'How could a man of God fail like this?' The answer is, David was human and at the time his eyes were not on the Lord. How important it is to keep our eyes on the Lord and to have a tender conscience to the truths of His word. It is so easy to stumble into the pathway of disobedience, to dishonour the Lord and perhaps find we must carry the marks of sin for life.
Once David had fallen into sin there were two options open to him. Either, confess his sin before God and face the consequences before Uriah, or cover up and hope for the best. David made the awful mistake of trying to cover up, and in doing so found that this led him into even greater sin. The human heart will stop at nothing if left unchecked. In David's case it led through callous planning to the death of Uriah. Following the death of Uriah, David, thinking all would now be well, took Bathsheba to be his wife. No one would ever know anything of that awful sin!
David forgot that the all seeing eye of God was a silent witness to those sinful actions of his heart, and we read in 2 Samuel 11. 27, 'the thing that David had done displeased the Lord'. That fellowship which existed between the sweet Psalmist of Israel and his God had been broken, yet David seemed unaware of it.
Maybe we have never fallen as David fell, but how often have we stumbled in the pathway of faith and carried on unconcernedly, when we should have confessed our sin to the Lord. We may have considered at the time that no one else knew of our guise but God is the silent witness of all we do and say. Unconfessed sin immediately destroys our fellowship with God and often leads, as it did in David's case, to further steps of disobedience.
As believers how careful we must be not to play with sin. We need to deal with it as soon as it appears and seek forgiveness. 1 John 1. 9, 'If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.' If David had dealt with the sinful thoughts in his heart as he looked on Bathsheba, the sins that followed would never have occurred. We too need to judge evil thoughts, confess them before the Lord and ensure they are put away before they result in evil actions. James reminds us in his epistle that lust, if left to conceive, brings forth sin. James 1. 14-15, 'Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.'
In 2 Samuel 12 we find Nathan the prophet sent to David with a message from the Lord. As Nathan skilfully brought home to David the awfulness of his sin he was made to realize that not only had he sinned and put an innocent man to death, but he had sinned against the God of Israel who had anointed him king. At the realization of his guilt he confessed before Nathan, 'I have sinned against the Lord'. Nathan assured him that there was grace with the God of Israel, and his sin was forgiven. According to the Law he was guilty of death on two counts, for he had broken both the fifth and sixth commandments, but in grace. God through the prophet, assured him that there was forgiveness with the Lord. 'David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die,' 2 Samuel 12. 13.
The Marks of Sin
When sin is confessed our fellowship with the Lord is restored, but often the marks of sin must be borne throughout our lives. In David's case the Lord made it clear to him that he would live to see the awfulness of his sin as he viewed his own family following in his footsteps. As David had taken an innocent life so the innocent life of the child to be born to Bathsheba would be taken, and his own family would be involved in the sin of immorality.
Nathan also reminded David that this sin had not only affected his life but also the testimony of God. There would be those who would blaspheme the God of Israel because of David's sin, 2 Sam. 12. 14. How careful we need to be in the pathway of faith that the Lord's name is not blasphemed through our actions.
Throughout David's life he was to be continually reminded of the awful results of his sin. David lived to see three of his sons lose their lives in untimely fashion, one as the result of his sin and two following the same sin in their own lives.
The Unnamed Son
In 2 Samuel 12. 14 God tells David that because of his sin the son that was to be born to Bathsheba was going to die. When sickness struck the child David fasted and prayed for seven days, but God was true to His word and the child died.
In 2 Samuel 13 we find David's son, Amnon, following in the same sin of immorality as his father. David had been no example to his family in this respect. Amnon did not seek forgiveness before God and he died at the revengeful hand of his brother Absalom; thus David lost his second son. It is clear from 2 Samuel 13. 31 that these events rent the heart of David and brought back memories of his own failures. The marks and hurts of his sin lingered on, even though forgiveness had been obtained. How careful Christian parents need to be in demonstrating Christian values to their children as they often follow on in some of the undesirable ways that they have seen in their parents. It is the solemn responsibility of all Christians to set a good example before their children.
The sad story of Absalom is recorded in 2 Samuel 13-18. For years he was alienated from his father and lived in exile, but then in 2 Samuel 16. 21-23 we see Absalom engaging openly before all Israel in the immorality of his father. This was exactly the same sin for which he had slain his brother Amnon. How this must have pierced the heart of David and again brought back memories of his own sin. Shortly after this Absalom lost his life at the hand of joab, one of David's mighty men. This, too, rent David's heart as he mourned the loss of his third son. 'And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!, 2 Samuel 18. 33.
Four lessons can be learned from David's sin:
i) Sin not dealt with leads to further sin.
ii) No matter how great the sin there is forgiveness with the Lord - BUT
iii) The consequences of sin, although forgiven, may remain with us for life.
iv) A poor example to our children may result in their following in our footsteps.
As believers we should turn aside from sinful lusts and follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart, 2 Tim. 2. 22.