LESSONS WE CAN LEARN FROM DAVID
By Wayne S. Walker
David was the greatest king over the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. Some of his successors followed in his ways but, unfortunately, others did not. Yet the standard to which each of them was compared was David. The inspired historian wrote about his great-grandson, Abijah, son of Rehoboam, in 1 Kings 15:1-5. “In the eighteenth year of King Jehoram the son of Nebat, Abijam became king over Judah. He reigned three years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Maachah the granddaughter of Abishalom. And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him; his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David. Nevertheless for David’s sake the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, by setting up his son after him and by establishing Jerusalem; because David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.”
Notice that even in reminding us of how good a king David was, the inspired writer felt it necessary to remind us also of the sin that David committed with the wife of Uriah the Hittite. David was a great man, but he was not sinless. It is interesting that just one mistake, though forgiven, still may haunt a person all the rest of his life and even beyond. Sometimes people wonder why we should study the Old Testament, since it is not God’s law for us today. However, Paul said that all scripture, both old and new, is profitable, affirming that the old covenant scriptures were preserved for our learning and contain examples for our admonition. So, even though he is an Old Testament character, there are some important lessons we can learn from David.
We learn from David that anyone can sin. David is described as a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). There is some debate as to the precise meaning of that phrase in its context, but everyone would agree that the general tenor of David’s life was one of pleasing God. Yet even such a man can sin. Without going into great detail, we remember the fact that David lusted after another man’s wife, committed adultery with her, and then had her husband killed to cover it up (2 Sam. 11:2-27). Yet David is certainly not alone. Consider some other examples.
Noah, who by faith saved his family, got drunk (Gen. 9:21). Abraham, the friend of God, lied about his wife—twice (Gen. 12:10-13, 20:1-2). Moses, the meekest man on earth, disobeyed God in anger by striking the rock when commanded merely to speak to it (Num. 20:7-12). Peter, an apostle of Christ, became a hypocrite over the issue of circumcision (Gal. 2:11-12). And Barnabas, the son of consolation, joined in Peter’s hypocrisy (Gal. 2:13). The fact is that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). This includes you, dear reader, me, and all other responsible human beings except Jesus, who did no sin. And what makes this such a problem is that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).
The fact is that even Christians sin. The inspired apostle was writing to saved people, members of the Lord’s church, when he said, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn. 1:8). God does not want us to sin. He will help us keep from sin. And we should strive to avoid sin. Yet, we still sin. However, when we do sin, while it certainly makes God sad and causes us to be condemned in His sight, all is not necessarily lost. Why? Again, we consider the example of David.
We learn from David that any sin can be forgiven. We remember the story of Nathan and David, how God sent the prophet to tell the king the story of the little ewe lamb unjustly stolen from the poor man by his rich neighbor, how David in righteous indignation said that such an act was worthy of death, and now Nathan replied, “You are the man” (2 Sam. 12:1-7). Think about how awful, even in human terms, the sins that David had committed were, things such as adultery and murder. Yet, when David confessed, “I have sinned against the Lord,” Nathan replied, “The Lord has also put away your sin” (2 Sam. 12:13). God forgave Him.
Jesus once made a statement about sin and forgiveness. “Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation” (Mk. 3:28-29). This blasphemy against the Holy Spirit which never has forgiveness is a source of concern to many. There are different views on it, but I understand it to refer to a complete rejection of the Spirit’s message by which one continues in sin until death and thus never receives forgiveness. But the point here is that, apart from that, all other sins can be forgiven.
The whole idea of the “good news” of the gospel is that salvation from sin is possible by the grace of God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. After having reminded us that all have sinned, Paul went on to say that we can be “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). Consider the apostle Paul himself. He was guilty of persecuting the church and even having Christians put to death, yet he wrote, “However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life” (1 Tim. 1:16). What this says is that no matter what we have done, no matter how bad we think we are, we can be forgiven. If God could forgive Paul, if God could forgive David, He can forgive you and me. But is there anything that we have to do? The answer is yes.
We learn from David that forgiveness demands true repentance. When confronted with his sin, David did not try to deny it, or excuse it, or continue to hide it in some way. He confessed it. Such a confession is a manifestation of repentance. The heading of Psalm 51 says, “A Psalm of David when Nathan athe prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.” Just as he had done to Nathan, David again admitted his guilt. “For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me” (v. 3). Therefore, he pleads with God, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (v. 7)
David obviously understood the principle that “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Prov. 28:13). It is important to note that both confessing and forsaking are required. True repentance always leads to forsaking our sin. Those outside of Christ, who are lost in sin, are told to “repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). This is because God “now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).
But what about after we have been saved and still sin? Christians who sin are told to “repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you” (Acts 8:22). The saint sin Corinth were told, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Cor. 7:10). Sometimes sin needs to be corrected with others, and we are commanded, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed…” (Jas. 5:16). But it must always be corrected before God. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9). God does not have to forgive us, but He has promised that He will if we have the same kind of attitude of David and respond in the way that He did
Conclusion. Again, the example of David shows that anyone can sin. When we do, the question then becomes, what are we going to do about it? Are we going to remain in it and even wallow in it? Or are we going to seek God’s forgiveness in genuine repentance? The point is, when we sin, we should not give up, but go to God in humble repentance and obedience so that we can receive forgiveness, just as David did.
—Taken from Faith and Facts Quarterly; July, 2011; Vol. 39, No. 3; pp. 35-42