Self-justification is a horrible flaw! Through it we do things we are convinced we would never do. It is amazing to see what evil we are capable of doing when we reason we are right. In the unwavering conviction that we are correct, we yield to ungodlike thoughts and behavior, fully believing we are justified in the way we act.
God rejected King Saul as being the source of a dynasty in Israel because he was a rebellious man whose heart did not belong to God (see 1 Samuel 15:10, 11; 20; 22, 23). When God selected Saul to be Israel's first king, Saul was a humble man who was both handsome and tall (1 Samuel 9:2). When God selected David to be Israel's second king, God stressed the heart rather than the physical appearance (see 1 Samuel 16:1, 7; Luke 16:15; Acts 13:22). The criteria for God's purposes exceeded the criteria of people's desires. For God's purposes, an obedient heart is more important than a royal physical appearance.
David demonstrated a courageous obedience many times prior to becoming Israel's king. Twice he spared King Saul's life because his heart belonged to God (see 1 Samuel 24:2-7 and 26:6-12). Perhaps nothing shows the folly of self-justification versus a heart that belongs to God as does David's conversation with Abigail. An insulted David was blinded by rage until Abigail reminded him that he had never killed to avenge himself. When Abigail reminded David of his heart commitment, David stopped being led by his emotions.
Unfortunately, later, as King of Israel, David had no one to remind him of his heart in the incident with Bathsheba and Uriah. Again, David was led by his emotions (physical desires) rather than his heart relationship with God. He, unfortunately, was surrounded by "yes men" who sought to please the king. Thus he invited Bathsheba to come to him, committed adultery with her, and soon learned that she had conceived as a result of his adulterous act. David immediately acted in self-interest, not in God-interest.
Bathsheba was a married woman. Her husband, Uriah, was valiantly serving David in David's army. David attempted twice to cover his adultery by having Uriah go to Bathsheba. When David's attempts failed because Uriah proved to be more honorable than David, David had Uriah carry his own death orders to Joab. When Uriah died as a contrived act of war, David quickly took Bathsheba to be his wife.
The incident had passed. David's deed was history--perhaps forgotten since it was "successfully" covered. However, to God, it was not covered. The consequences of the act were in the present and in the future.
Two factors are obvious when Nathan told his parable. (1) Injustice could still enrage David. Though he was guilty of unthinkable injustice, the injustices of others infuriated him. How often our flaws seen in others make us angry, unreasonable people! (2) David's evil acts were acts against God, not just acts against Uriah as a husband and soldier. David was responsible for Uriah's death (though he did not kill him)! David took his wife! However, more important than that, David represented God. He had despised God because his acts were evil. God's enemies had reason to rejoice because of David's evil acts!
What is the difference in Saul's rebellion against God and David's rebellion against God? (1) Initially, in Saul's rebellion Saul insisted that he did obey God (1 Samuel 15:20, 21). When Saul finally admitted he sinned, he was as concerned about being honored before the elders of Israel as he was about worshipping God (1 Samuel 15:30). (2) David immediately saw and confessed he was a sinner. He immediately understood that his acts offended the Lord, even beyond being offenses against Bathsheba and Uriah (2 Samuel 12:13).
David's heart belonged to God. Repentance demanded he accept responsibility for what he did. Instead of justifying what he did, he accepted responsibility for what he did.
Please notice that having a heart that belongs to God does not demand perfection. It demands the responsibility of repentance. Note the distinction between repentance and self-justification. (1) From Saul, the kingdom was torn (1 Samuel 15:28). For Saul, there would be no lineage who would be Israel's kingly dynasty. God's promise to Abraham would not be fulfilled by his family. The Messiah (Christ) would not come to our world through Saul's descendants. (2) David was forgiven. His sin (not the consequences of his sin) was taken away. By law, David and Bathsheba deserved to die (see Leviticus 20:10; 24:17). David was ready to accept the personal consequences of his sin. That is why Nathan told him he would not die. While violence would not depart from his family, while he would be publicly humiliated, God would fulfill His promise to Abraham through David's descendants. The Messiah would come through David's generations. David's legacy would be a bright spot in Israel's history.
If you are convinced you have God figured out, remember these things. (1) David was allowed to keep Bathsheba as his wife. (2) Bathsheba's son was called Jedidiah by God--meaning "loved by God." (3) That son, better known as Solomon, became Israel's third king.
Give your heart to God. Be willing to repent. Remind yourself of repentance's power by reading Luke 15.
For Thought and Discussion
Link to Teacher's Guide Lesson 11
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