Summary: Nathan challenges David’s sin - and what does this teach us


Last Sunday, we read in the Old Testament lesson about one of the most shameful acts in the Old Testament – and that is quite a record to beat.

King David commits adultery with Bathsheba – the wife of one of his close friends – Uriah

The story begins with that very strange verse

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army…… But David remained in Jerusalem.

David stays at home when he should have been at the head of his army.

He is in the wrong place at the wrong time

And so often, when we are in the wrong place at the wrong time, we fall into temptation and sin.

Standing at the top of his palace, David sees Bathsheba naked – and lust wins out.

He wants her – and being the king he takes her.

One Bible commentator has asked the question: Is this David out of control?

David is a man of God, but doesn’t act like one.

But David’s sin doesn’t end there because it turns out that Bathsheba has conceived by the one night stand – and David has to do something

First he tries to get Uriah home to sleep with his wife so they can pass the child off as Uriah’s.

But Uriah smells a rat and refuses to play ball and sleep with his wife

So the only alternative David can think of is to have Uriah killed and marry Bathsheba himself.

You might ask in today’s society – what was David thinking about?

But I think David’s pride took over and he had a reputation to live up to

So Uriah is sent back to the front unknowingly carrying his own death warrant and is killed.

And from David’s perspective – that should have been the end of the story.


David must have thought he had got away with it.

Though painful, God’s intervention actually restores David, though there are still long on going consequences to his actions.

In our OT reading this morning, the key scene is Nathan being sent by God to speak to David.

Nathan starts cautiously – after all it was quite a dangerous job being a prophet.

Kings in those days were absolute rulers and with David out of control, Nathan could easily have wound up a head shorter

So Nathan tells David the story of a man who had one single little sheep that he loved very much.

One day one of the rich local landowners had a friend come to visit.

Instead of taking a lamb from his own flock, he stole the poor man’s only sheep, killed it and put it on the table for his friend.

David is so incensed at the injustice of it all – and you see David’s real heart coming through – that he said that the man who did this must die!!

And in probably the most moving scene of the Old Testament - Nathan looks David in the eye and says:

“Thou art the man!” (2 Sam12:7).

What does David do?

Instead of putting Nathan in prison or executing him (like Herod did with John the Baptist) , David confesses his sin to Nathan.

I wonder there was an audible silence before David spoke – and then he says:

“I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Sam 12:13)

And THAT is the key to Paul’s statement that King David was a man after God’s own heart.

David stopped covering up and threw himself on God’s mercy.

St John in his first letter says this: If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from every wrong. (1 Jn 1:8-10)

David was quick to repent and God forgave him.

There were consequences within David’s own family of this sin – the child dies.

Perhaps the key to David being a man after God’s own heart as St Paul said is the sincerity of his repentance

Indeed so much so that that he wrote Psalm 51.

Knowing the background really helps to put the Psalm into perspective

It starts with this opening:

For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.

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