Like David? Not!
But didn’t King David of Israel commit adultery and murder? He wasn’t deposed from being king, was he? Shouldn’t there be forgiveness of sins and mercy?
A certain famous civil rights spokesman recently compared David’s sin to the present occupant of the White House, and suggested that there were parallels.
I would suggest that there are some superficial similarities, but the differences are much more striking. The story is recounted in II Samuel 11 and the following chapters. Nathan the prophet rebuked David for his sin and pronounced the judgment of God: “The sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. Thus saith the Lord, “Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbor, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.”
What did David do? He was stricken with remorse and confessed: “I have sinned against the Lord.” It is also significant what David did not do. He did not make excuses; he did not try to divert attention away from himself; he did not attack the prophet. Taking responsibility for his actions simply meant that he took the blame upon himself.
God Himself commuted David’s capital crime. Adultery and murder were capital offenses and demanded death, according to the Law of Moses. Nathan announced the commutation from God: “The Lord hath also put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. Howbeit, because by this deed thou has given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.”
This did not mean that the original sentence of Nathan was commuted. David knew great trouble and sorrow in his house. A daughter was raped, three sons were slain, Bathsheba’s baby died, and continual insurrection troubled his reign, just as the prophet had said. Repentance saves the soul, but does not always remove the earthly effects of the sin. God is not only the Savior of the soul, but He also is the wise governor of the world. In this case, He sends a message to the heathen kings surrounding Israel that even His favorite David, a man after His own heart, would not be exempt from consequences of his evil deeds.
Later David was to write his repentance in the great 51st Psalm. “Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.” (Ps. 51:14) “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (vs. 10) David did not pretend that his crime was a private matter, and ask people to put it behind them. He recognized that his crime was against God, and he was guilty of capital crimes: “Against thee, thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.” David called it sin, not inappropriate.
Emperor Theodosius was very angry with the city of Thessalonica and ordered a massacre of its inhabitants. Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, rebuked and excommunicated the emperor. When Theodosius appealed to the example of David, Ambrose retorted, “Thou hast followed David in his sin, now you must follow him in his repentance.” Good advice.