A carefully constructed wall of deceit falls with bone crushing power. The impact knocks the air from your lungs and slowly restricts your chest as you struggle to draw another breath.
That's how I imagine David's world as the seconds pass after Nathan's declaration. The blood, that had only moments before beat violently in David's temples, now hurriedly retreats and drains from his face.
He was undone.
What had been concealed with the blanket of deception, was now stripped naked and exposed for all the world to see.
The Almighty had drawn up David's sin from the secret place and displayed it publicly.
The closing words of 2 Samuel 11 state that, 'but the thing that David had done displeased the Lord'.
2 Samuel 12:7–14 (ESV) — 7 Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. 8 And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. 9 Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11 Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’ ” 13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.”
As I read through this sordid tale of sin and deception, it leaves me wondering: What was it that displeased God so much? I mean, take a look at David's hit list!
- Adultery (with, at least, an implied abuse of power that denied Bathsheba any real choice in this relationship)
- Pre-meditated murder
Numerous commentators would also add the betrayal of a number of men in this issue as well, not at least Uriah who was, most likely, the same Uriah who was a part of David's infamous 30. Some scholars suggest that Bathsheba may have been the grand-daughter of David's long-time and trusted advisor. Even if these aren't the case, 'betrayal' could easily be added to our list of sins.
This leaves us with our original question: What was it that displeased the Lord? In addition, what sparked the wording of David's admission of guilt in 12:13, "I have sinned against the Lord"?
I think that as we move back through the text we can pick up some important clues. 12:9 finds God asking the probing question, "Why have you despised the word of the Lord?". In addition, 12:14 states, "by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord"; two very significant issues! Apart from the list of obvious behavioral failures, these dual indictments begin to point us to an underlying problem in David's life.
It may be good to pause here a moment and break down what I think is the clearest statement of David's guilt in this passage. The statement made in 12:14 is very interesting, 'by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord'. This phrase, made up of three distinct clauses, gives us valuable insight into the relationship between sinful behavior and sin itself. 'By this deed' and 'utterly scorned the Lord' are linked with the powerful clause, 'you have'. Those two words, 'you have' form an inescapable finger of blame. God points squarely at David and says, "you have"; not anybody else; no place to shift responsibility here; this was David's to own. "you have", David accomplished something; his actions achieved something. So here's the link. 'By this deed' (here is where we insert the long list of sordid failure) 'you have' (David's personal responsibility for what's coming next) 'utterly scorned the Lord'.
Sin has so twisted our view of the world, that we have even twisted our view of sin itself. As bad as the list of sinful behaviors are in David's case, verse 14 moves us to identify the real problem. We all utterly scorn the Lord, and our behavior both proves this and also condemns us in it.
This leaves me with a second question. How is it that God would continue to describe David as a 'man after God's heart'?
But that's a question for another day...