Faithfully yours - A gift that only God can give
- Published on Sunday, March 19, 2017
By Neil Strohscein
The Neepawa Banner
King David of ancient Israel was not having a good day. In one, blistering speech that took less than 10 minutes to share, the prophet Nathan had exposed over two years of adultery, murder and cover-ups—all of which could be traced right back to David himself.
While Nathan’s words were certainly revealing, no one in the king’s court that day seemed all that surprised by what they heard. It answered a lot of questions—questions that David and his Chief of Defense Staff, General Joab, had never answered fully or truthfully.
But now the truth was out. Now everyone knew what David had done. All the sordid details of David’s affair with Bathsheba, his neighbor’s wife, his plot to cover it up by having her husband killed in battle, quickly marry her and adopt her (really their) child had been made public. For the nation that, up until this point in history had given King David a 100 per cent approval rating, this was the ultimate betrayal of trust and confidence.
Two options faced David that day. The first was to deny everything and call the prophet a liar. But Nathan had done more than just reveal David’s hidden secrets. He had also predicted that David’s remaining years on the throne would be filled with violence and betrayal; and that he (David) would be betrayed by those he trusted most.
In ancient Israel, a prophet was judged by whether or not his predictions came true. Everything Nathan said would happen did happen. David could deny the accusations all he wanted; but when the prophet’s predictions came true, everyone would know that David was the real liar.
The other option was the one David chose. Perhaps out of relief more than anything he simply looked at the prophet and said: “I have sinned against the Lord.”
Now it was Nathan’s turn to weigh the options. In the eyes of the law, David and Bathsheba both deserved to die. Those guilty of adultery and murder were to be stoned to death. David had passed this sentence on others; and by admitting his guilt, he was, in effect passing it on himself.
But instead of passing judgment, Nathan’s words announced the grace of God. “God has put away your sin,” Nathan said, “and you will not die.” (2 Samuel 12:13)
In just 11 words, David received a gift that only God can give. He received favor that he did not deserve. He was given a new life. He had the opportunity to start over, to write a new life story, to become a different leader—a leader who, having failed miserably himself, could now identify with those who had done the same and help them find God’s grace and mercy in their lives just as he had done in his.
Although many years have passed since David walked the dusty roads of ancient Israel, his story continues to inspire all who read it. Like David, we also do things that offend God and hurt those around us. Like David, we deserve to be punished severely for what we have done.
But God does not come to us with a whip or a club. He comes to us with arms stretched out in love and offers us favor we do not deserve. If we will be honest before him, confess our sins and seek his forgiveness, it will be granted. God will give us a gift that only he can give. He will forgive our iniquities and remember our sins no more.