2 Samuel 11-13
(David's Big Mistake)
April 3rd


Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

ďYouíre the man!Ē said Nathan

-2 Samuel 12:7 (MSG)

Summary of Chapters

Chapters 11-13 continue the story of the kingship of David, who had achieved great success for his nation with regard to military victories and leadership. Chapter 11 notes that springtime came and David sent his army off to war, but his mind turned to other things. He became attracted to a married woman named Bathsheeba. David decided to command her to come to his palace and then he slept with her. Realizing that he had a problem on his hands he decided to murder her husband but made it look like he had died in battle.

Not everyone was fooled by this tactic. In chapter 12 we learn that Nathan the prophet knew exactly what had happened and told David a story that allowed David to see the situation objectively:

    ďThere were two men in the same cityóone rich, the other poor. The rich man had huge flocks of sheep, herds of cattle. The poor man had nothing but one little female lamb, which he had bought and raised. It grew up with him and his children as a member of the family. It ate off his plate and drank from his cup and slept on his bed. It was like a daughter to him.

    ďOne day a traveler dropped in on the rich man. He was too stingy to take an animal from his own herds or flocks to make a meal for his visitor, so he took the poor manís lamb and prepared a meal to set before his guest.Ē

    David exploded in anger. ďAs surely as God lives,Ē he said to Nathan, ďthe man who did this ought to be lynched! He must repay for the lamb four times over for his crime and his stinginess!Ē

    - 2 Samuel 12:1-6 (MSG)

In response, Nathan explained that David is that man. This may have been the first use of a parable to give a moral lesson in the Bible. It may also have been the first use of the expression, "You're the man!" But in this case, it was used in an accusatory way as opposed to the modern use of this phrase as a congratulatory expression.

We can safely conclude that Nathan's sermon on judgment was effective because it revived David from his morally comatose state and he asked for forgiveness. God demonstrated his unlimited capacity for mercy by immediately forgiving David. Nevertheless, David had to pay earthly costs. The child of his illicit liaison would not be allowed to survive. In addition, there was a tragic series of actions among the children of his various wives as described in chapter 13. The conflict with his children continued into the next set of chapters.

Reflection and Application

What was Davidís biggest mistake? His greatest error was not consulting with God the way he did in his younger days. He had consulted with God before leaving the safety of his cave to rescue a village. He had consulted with God before chasing after the Amalekites who had taken the women and children from this camp. He sought the LORDís advice on every major decision while he was on the run, and the LORD protected him from Saul and other enemies.

Now that he was the big king he had everyone at his command and could do as he pleased, or so he thought. He didnít bother to check in with God when he saw Bathsheeba bathing, but instead sent a servant to find out who she was. He did not seek the LORDís advice before conspiring with Joab to send Uriah, the husband of Bathsheeba, on a suicide mission. He didnít inquire, didnít ask, didnít pray, and did not seem to be in the mood to listen. This was his biggest mistake, and it can be our biggest mistake as well. When we stop talking with God and cease to listen to advice from him or from trusted friends then we are surely headed for that legendary slippery slope.

Itís inevitable that we are going to commit some type of sin. The act of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden resulted in a broken world in which we live with sin. Each of us has our own weaknesses. For Cain, the son of Adam and Eve, it was jealousy. For a significant number of Israelites in the desert, it was false idols. For David, son of Jesse, it was lust for women. Many theologians believe that the instability of our world that results in natural disasters is another aspect of the broken world. It is not only the humans that are broken, but the earth itself. When we get to heaven there will be no more earthquakes, war, or hurricanes, no jealousy and lust, but peace, love, and worship of our heavenly father.

Until then, we can pray for our fellow humans who have become victims of this broken world. If we realize that we are about to head into a quagmire of transgressions then we should do a 180 and run away as fast as we can. If we recognize that we have been offending God and victimizing others, then we can try to stop ourselves, but we may need to seek Godís help in getting us upright. David provided a good example of sincere remorse when he wrote the poem that we know as Psalm 51. This Psalm is assumed to have been written just after Nathan knocked some sense into him. Some of these verses may sound familiar:

    Have mercy on me, O God,
      according to your unfailing love;
    according to your great compassion
       blot out my transgressions.
    Wash away all my iniquity
       and cleanse me from my sin.
    - Psalm 51: 1-2 (NIV)

    Create in me a pure heart, O God,
       and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
    Do not cast me from your presence
       or take your Holy Spirit from me.
    Restore to me the joy of your salvation
       and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
    - Psalm 51:10-12 (NIV)

The Psalms are rich with meaning and worthy of an in-depth study. We will be spending a number of weeks wading through them in a few months. In the meantime, we can develop the context for understanding these Psalms by continuing with the study of the life of David, the king.

We will sin. God will forgive us because he loves us.

"How He Loves Us," performed by the David Crowder Band


Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What is one of your favorite stories to tell that imparts some type of lesson?
    2. What is the type of expressions that you use when seeking forgiveness from God?
    3. For what types of future decisions would you like to add God to your team of advisors?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we know you have a river of ever-flowing mercy available to us. Help us to seek your advice so that we avoid mistakes, but help us recognize when we have boarded the wrong train and seek your grace.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Authors and other story-tellers

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: 2 Samuel 14-18 (Absalomís Rebellion)

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