Many live in depression, discouragement, and defeat because of unconfessed sin. The consequences of wrong choices reverberate in their lives and burden them like an unrelenting taskmaster. Even if they know God’s willingness to forgive, many women reason that He could never use them in service.
However, biblical characters emerge from the pages of Scripture not only with their successes but also with their failures. We are surprised to see that God uses such imperfect people. He takes people who have committed great sins and restores them. Be encouraged as you read about the repentance and restoration of one of the greatest heroes in the Bible, King David, the “man after God’s own heart.”
The author begins by giving the setting of the story as “in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle.” The contrast introduced by the word “but” tells us that David (the king) was not out at the battle but was at Jerusalem.
1. In verses 2-4, there is a progression. Write down the verbs in each verse that tell actions that David took. I’ll start you out with verse 2.
v. 2 David arose, walked, and saw
2. What was the immediate result of David’s sin with Bathsheba? (v.5)
3. Why did David send for Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, who was at war? What did David hope Uriah would do? (v.6-9)
4. What do Uriah’s actions and words in v.10-11 tell us about his character?
5. In v.12-13, David made another attempt to get Uriah to go to his house. What did David do and what was the result?
6. Since his first two attempts at a cover up were unsuccessful, David devised another plan. What was his plan and how did he get the message to Joab? (v.14-15) (Notice that David’s attempt to cover his sin also had a progression. Each time his plan did not work, he moved to another level.)
7. Was David’s plan successful? What happened to Uriah? (v.16-17)
8. In v.17-25, Joab dispatched a messenger who brought an update on the war. What did the messenger say about Uriah?
9. What did David do after Uriah’s death and the period of mourning? (v.27) How did God view David’s actions?
1. Nathan the prophet was sent by God to confront David. How did he approach David in order to help him see his sin?
2. How did David react to Nathan’s story? (v.5-6)
3. Write down the statement Nathan made to David after David reacted to the story Nathan told him. (v.7)
4. What was David’s response when he realized what he had done? (v.13)
5. According to v.13-14, what was the good news that Nathan delivered to David? What was the bad news?
In Psalm 51, David cried out to God in confession.
1. On what basis did David ask for forgiveness? (v.1)
2. Against whom did David say he had sinned? (v.4)
3. In v.10-12 David petitioned God for certain things. Make a list of what he requested of God. (Note: As New Testament believers, we do not have to pray that God will not take His Holy Spirit away from us. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit did not indwell all believers as He does now.)
4. David expected not only to be restored but also to be a useful servant of the Lord in the future. What things did he mention doing in v. 13-15?
5. Is there something you have held back from doing because of past sin in your life? Will you ask God to restore the joy of your salvation, to allow you to praise Him, and to use you to reach others for Him? Write your request out to the Lord.
6. What kind of sacrifice is pleasing to God? (v.17)
We often think of David’s great sin as adultery with Bathsheba. However, we have seen that he not only committed adultery but also plotted to make sure that Uriah would be killed. David confessed his sin, received forgiveness from God, and knew God could still use his life. After we have confessed a sin, we know that “He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn 1:9 NASB).
Have you let Satan convince you that something you have done is so great that God could never use you? Have you told yourself that you have done something so unthinkable that if anyone knew, they would never accept you?
In this series of narratives related to David’s sin with Bathsheba, we can learn not only from David’s example but also from the example of Nathan. God sent Nathan to confront David about his sin. He did so in what might seem to be an unusual way to confront someone. It requires a lot of thought and effort to make up a word picture or story to communicate something that could be said directly. Nathan could have said, “David, look at you. You have committed adultery. You are responsible for Uriah’s death. What on earth were you thinking?” However, we learn from Scripture that Nathan’s story drew David in so that he responded emotionally to the injustice of the rich man who took the poor man’s only lamb. When David became incensed at the man who took the lamb, Nathan said one of the most gripping statements in Scripture. “You are the man.” Only after Nathan had David’s attention did he deliver his, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel” (2 Sam 12:7).
My husband and I learned the idea of communicating by using stories or word pictures in a Bible study on parenting that we attended when our children were young. We learned to create a word picture to encourage, to confront, or to convey a feeling. My husband used a story about baseball to talk with one of our sons who was having difficulty receiving “coaching” from his dad. Before he could finish the story, our son said “So, I’m the second baseman.”
I have used this approach several times when making an appeal for one of my children to an authority in a situation that I felt needed attention. I have used this only when a more direct approach did not seem to be effective because communicating to someone by a word picture takes more preparation, time, and thought. One time I wrote a short, one page story to communicate a point when I was asked to provide written feedback on a particular year at school. I have also used a very brief word picture such as, “I feel like I’m dialing 911 and no one is answering” to express frustration that I was not receiving a response on something I considered very crucial. It is helpful if the word picture relates to something the person is interested in or can identify with. Notice that Nathan’s story involved flocks and a little ewe lamb, something that David the shepherd would immediately relate to. Although I have rarely used a story to communicate in a confrontational situation, I do think it is very effective and something worth considering when you are having trouble getting an idea across.
David’s prayer in Psalm 51 begins with the words, “Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.” Throughout the Psalms, we sense the intimate relationship that David had with the Lord. He called on God in many different situations and poured out his heart to the Lord repeatedly. After David began his prayer by asking God to be gracious to him, he asked God to forgive him. In beautiful poetic language, David prayed, “Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin” (Ps 51:1b-2 NASB). These three word pictures describe what David believed the God of lovingkindness and compassion would do. “Blot out” is a reference to human records that could be erased. “Wash” is used to compare forgiveness to the washing of clothing. The verb “cleanse” comes from the ceremonial law and speaks of purification for temple participation.9
This same God of lovingkindness and compassion is willing to forgive you and to forgive me. He will erase, wash, and cleanse every sin that holds us back from experiencing His best.
The New Testament encourages us to confess our sins to one another (James 4:16). As believers, we live in community and we are able to experience healing and forgiveness as we confess our sins to other believers.
In the MOMS study at our church, we have a prayer time each week that follows a format called PRAY (praise, repent, ask, and yield). The “repent” portion of the prayer time is silent. One week I heard someone say something out loud during the repentance part of the prayer time. I thought that maybe the mom did not know that this part of the prayer time was silent, but I found out later that she wanted to confess a particular sin to her group. Only her small group could hear what she said and she only said one word. However, her leader told me that the mom felt it would help her to confess to the others in her group. She had already confessed to the LORD, but she wanted others to pray for her and affirm her forgiveness.
9 Allen P. Ross, “Psalms,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary – Old Testament (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 832.