Recently, a state governor confessed publicly to having an adulterous affair with an Argentine woman. This sort of thing seems to be a commonplace among governors, senators and legislators of both political parties these days. This man, like many of the others, was an advocate of a strict moral code, which he himself broke.
I’m not writing here to condemn his adultery and apparent hypocrisy nor to defend him. There are enough talking heads and comedians for that. I would simply like to examine and comment on one thing he said during one of his press conferences:
“What I found interesting is the story of David and the way in which he fell mightily – fell in very, very significant ways – but then picked up the pieces and built from there.”
I heard similar words about 40 years ago from a fellow minister who was discovered to be having multiple affairs. I suppose I too might appeal to David if I were in their shoes.
But while David is definitely an example of grace, he, however, is not an example of how easy it is to “pick up the pieces.” He is rather an example of the fact that even though we can find grace and forgiveness, the pieces may continue to fall, and we may never be able to pick them up. In other words, sin, even when forgiven, can have consequences – a sort of ripple effect. So I’d like to look briefly at David’s story.
David was the second king of the nation of Israel, chosen by the LORD and anointed as king. He was God’s Meshiach, His anointed one (1 Samuel 16:1-3, 12, 13). The LORD made an eternal covenant with David (2 Samuel 7). The first half of the book of 2 Samuel relates David rise to power.
But the story takes a nasty turn in chapter 11, when David “saw a woman bathing (Bathsheba)” (verse 2), committed adultery with her, and then when he found she was pregnant, had her husband murdered and took her for his own (eighth?) wife. Then apparently he thought he could cover it all over.
Nathan the prophet then confronted David with a parable of a wealthy man who took a poor man’s one ewe lamb. David, apparently unable to catch on to the analogy, angrily pronounced a sentence on the man who would do such a thing.
“As the LORD lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die. And he must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion” (12:5, 6).
Nathan responded with “You are the man!” (verse 7), related to David what he was guilty of and pronounced sentence on him (12:7-14).
David repented. He did not go to the public, nor to the press, he went straight to the LORD. His prayer of confession is recorded in Psalm 51, one of the most moving confessions I have ever read. David did find forgiveness by throwing himself on the LORD’s mercy (2 Samuel 12:13). Many believe that Psalm 32 is a record of David’s prayer after he found forgiveness.
But the story doesn’t end there. The rest of 2 Samuel records the broken pieces – the apparent consequences of David’s sin.
• The child of the union with Bathsheba dies.
• David’s firstborn son Amnon, rapes his half-sister Tamar.
• David’s son Absalom murders Amnon to avenge Tamar.
• Absalom leads a coup and displaces David.
• Absalom has sex with David’s concubines.
• David’s friend Ahithophel betrays him, then commits suicide.
• Absalom is killed in warfare by David’s men; David is overcome with grief.
• There is another revolt followed by murders and intrigues among David’s own men.
• David’s son Adonijah attempts a coup (1 Kings 1)
So where does all this history take us? I believe it’s there to warn us that all of our actions have consequences; our sins as well as our good deeds. Though we can find forgiveness from even the worst sins, even adultery and murder, we may not be able to “pick up the pieces.” Often our families and those closest to us are the ones who are forced to pick up the pieces
If I seem to be ending this post on a negative note, I would refer the reader to THE WILL OF GOD, PART 3.