The Sins of Men… The Forgiveness of God
As created beings with a sin nature inherited from the original sin committed by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we are always prey to committing sin during the course of our lives. This is a consequence that we cannot escape this side of heaven, and the results for humankind have been catastrophic… one needs only to turn on the television or radio, or surf the Internet news portals, to see for oneself just how bad a state of affairs the world is in.
We often hold up certain people as models we would like to pattern ourselves after; we see them as doing all the right things and we also see them as having the best and greatest of accomplishments.
We do not see with the eyes of God.
In Holy Scripture is recorded the story of King David. King David was the greatest king in Israel’s history, spoken of in the Psalms, and in 1 Samuel (italic emphasis mine):
He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them. (Psalm 78:70-72)
I have found David my servant; with my sacred oil I have anointed him. My hand will sustain him; surely my arm will strengthen him. No enemy will subject him to tribute; no wicked man will oppress him. I will crush his foes before him and strike down his adversaries. My faithful love will be with him, and through my name his horn will be exalted. I will set his hand over the sea, his right hand over the rivers. He will call out to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior.’ I will also appoint him my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth. I will maintain my love to him forever, and my covenant with him will never fail. I will establish his line forever, his throne as long as the heavens endure. (Psalm 89:20-29)
The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore. They went up and camped at Micmash, east of Beth Aven. When the men of Israel saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns. Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering. Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him. “What have you done?” asked Samuel. Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Micmash, I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.” “You acted foolishly,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.“ (1 Samuel 13:5-14)
God Himself revealed to Nathan the prophet His word concerning King David, and His promise for King David (italic emphasis mine):
That night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying: “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”‘ “Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture and from following the flock to be ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men of the earth. And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies. “‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.‘” (2 Samuel 7:4-16)
King David himself recognized his status before God, and praised and thanked Him in fervent prayer:
Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said: “Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in your sight, O Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant. Is this your usual way of dealing with man, O Sovereign Lord? “What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Sovereign Lord. For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant. “How great you are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. And who is like your people Israel – the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, O Lord, have become their God. “And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, so that your name will be great forever. Then men will say, ‘The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!’ And the house of your servant David will be established before you. “O Lord Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you.’ So your servant has found courage to offer you this prayer. O Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your words are trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, O Sovereign Lord, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.” (2 Samuel 7:18-29)
King David, by all accounts recorded in Holy Scripture, was indeed the greatest king Israel had ever or would ever know until the time of the promised Christ – who would come from the house and the lineage of David as prophesied – and he was indeed blessed and highly favored, accomplishing many things.
Yet, he would sin before God… and do it in a horrific fashion.
In 2 Samuel Chapter 11 is recorded King David’s willful involvement in not only adultery, but pre-meditated murder. King David observed Bathsheba on the grounds of his palace in Jerusalem, and he sent for her, despite his having been informed that she was the wife of Uriah the Hittite, one of the commanders in his army. In outright violation of the seventh Commandment, King David slept with Bathsheba, and impregnated her. On hearing that Bathsheba had conceived, King David sent for her husband Uriah the Hittite and ended up sending him back into the siege battle for the city of Rabbah, but with a deceitful and wicked instruction to Joab, commander of his army: Uriah the Hittite was to be placed in the front lines of the siege against the city, and then abandoned there by his own troops to face the strongest defenders. In outright violation of the Sixth Commandment, Uriah the Hittite was murdered by the duplicity of King David. After these events had occurred, King David took Bathsheba into his house as his wife, and Bathsheba bore him their son. However, all was not well… far from it. 2 Samuel 11:27 records soul-chilling words:
But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.
Calamity would fall upon King David, and it started with a sharp rebuke of what he had done coming from Nathan the prophet:
The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. “Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.” David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.” 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. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. 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. 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.’ “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.'” (2 Samuel 12:1-12)
It is recorded that King David confessed to Nathan the prophet that he had sinned, and that Nathan the prophet had said that that King Davd would not die because his sin had been taken away from him by the Lord.
Holy Scripture goes on to record that the son born to King David as a result of his illicit affair with Bathsheba became ill, and that on the seventh day of his illness, he died. Also, Amnon son of King David would forcibly rape Tamar the sister of King David’s son Absalom (causing serious fractures within King David’s closest family that would lead to Absalom killing Amnon), King David would be cursed as a ‘man of blood’ by Shimei (a relative of King Saul’s family) and Absalom would openly conspire against King David, leading to Absalom’s death and King David’s almost unfathomable grief and anguish.
Shimei’s condemnation of King David is profoundly moving; especially note King David’s response (italic emphases mine):
As King David approached Bahurim, a man from the same clan as Saul’s family came out from there. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he cursed as he came out. He pelted David and all the king’s officials with stones, though all the troops and the special guard were on David’s right and left. As he cursed, Shimei said, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you scoundrel! The Lord has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. The Lord has handed the kingdom over to your son Absalom. You have come to ruin because you are a man of blood!” Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head.” But the king said, “What do you and I have in common, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’” David then said to Abishai and all his officials, “My son, who is of my own flesh, is trying to take my life. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today.” So David and his men continued along the road while Shimei was going along the hillside opposite him, cursing as he went and throwing stones at him and showering him with dirt. (2 Samuel 16:5-13)
We learn two great and enduring principles:
1) No man is above God’s law.
2) Sin has consequences.
Undoubtedly it was King David’s at long last understanding of his guilt before a holy God that gives us one of the greatest of the Psalms… 51… in which King David confesses his sin and asks for forgiveness. Read with a sense of awe the capacity for God, who is without sin and perfect and righteous in His judgments, to forgive us even the most heinous sins and to offer us His ever-present, always abiding love:
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 that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me,and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. In your good pleasure make Zion prosper; build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then there will be righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings to delight you; then bulls will be offered on your altar. (Psalm 51:1-19)
Despite what we are… God loves us. Despite what we have done… God forgives us. Despite every valid reason that would justify our destruction… God gave His only Son Jesus Christ that we would believe in Him unto the attainment of eternal life in the Kingdom of God. There is no sin that is beyond the capacity of God to forgive, except for deliberate and willful blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. God suffers even unconscienable, outrageous and horrific blasphemy against Jesus Christ in the hope that souls may be won… when we will understand that God has given, and is giving still, a sinful and wicked humanity every possible opportunity for the grace that has come by the shed blood of Jesus Christ to cover our sins that we might stand before Him blameless on the Day of Judgment?
If you are not right with God… GET RIGHT WITH GOD.
The time is short.