God said David was “a man after my own heart, for he will do everything I want him to” (Acts 13:22).
David is often remembered as a man who wanted to do, and who did, God’s will. But he is also remembered for the spiritual low point of his life, a time when he set about doing something that he knew would displease God. In this one glaring instance, David wanted what he wanted more than he wanted God, and he was willing to forsake God’s presence, blessing, and direction to pursue it.
David wanted and took Bathsheba, another man’s wife. He plotted, lied, and murdered until he accomplished his goal. He ignored God, but God did not ignore David for we are told that “the Lord was very displeased with what David had done” (2 Sam. 11:27).
Rarely do God’s followers deliberately go against the Lord without word spreading. It was no different for David. God’s prophet, Nathan, had heard. Nathan didn’t talk with others about what David had done. Instead, he went directly to David and to the heart of the matter when he asked, “Why, then, have you despised the word of the Lord and done this horrible deed?” (2 Sam. 12:9).
“Why?” was a good question. David had been given so much by God, but he wanted what God had not given him. God reminded David of all that he had been given, and it was a heady list: the kingdom of Israel, protection from David’s enemies, a palace, wives…. And if that was not enough, if there had been anything lacking to meet David’s needs, God told David, “I would have given you much, much more” (2 Sam. 12:8). God had no desire to withhold anything that was good from David. It was David who had been mistaken about what was good for him.
After Nathan delivered God’s rebuke, David again became a man after God’s own heart, for he immediately confessed his wrongdoing and sought God’s forgiveness. He decisively and purposely turned away from the sin of choosing his own path and came back onto God’s path. David experienced the deep joy of sin forgiven. He was forgiven, but the consequences could not be undone.
Wrong choices affect not only those who sin but also innocent others as well as God’s reputation. Because of David’s immoral choices, he and Bathsheba had to live with the memories and shame of their sin. They also had to live with its immediate and long-term consequences: the death of their first child, the murder of members of David’s family, and the rebellion of David’s own household against him as king and father. These were severe and far-reaching consequences.
But there was another consequence that grieved David’s heart the most: his sin had “given the enemies of the Lord great opportunity to despise and blaspheme him [God]” (2 Sam. 12:14). When you truly love the Lord, as David did, knowing that you willfully brought dishonor to His name is an incredibly painful thing.
David’s story plays out over and over again through the ages in many different ways. We believers are God’s children, but we continue to want what we know is in conflict with what God desires for us. We ignore our consciences, and we ignore God. We plot and lie to ourselves. We act as if God has the worst in mind for us rather than the best. We forfeit what God has for us and settle for much less. And then, too often, we are selective in our memories, ignoring our own actions and blaming God rather than ourselves when the consequences come.
And when all is said and done, when we have turned from our sin and back toward God, the consequence that may bring the greatest sorrow is the dishonor we have brought to God. It is a hurtful thing to give others reason to judge God by our wrongful actions. Years of consistent living may be needed to overcome the perception of hypocrisy brought about by those actions. Yes, we have been forgiven and made whole through Jesus, and our hearts rejoice with thankfulness for being forgiven. But we must live in the shadow of the consequences of those sins.
Life has enough natural difficulties without stacking our own sinful choices on the pile. As we contemplate an action that we know is dishonoring to God, we need to practice turning away from it. Yes, it is easier said than done, but it is most assuredly easier than living with the consequences. The sooner we start stepping away, the easier it is. The sooner we stop dwelling on our sinful desire, the easier it is. The sooner we stop trying to have it both our way and God’s way, the easier it is.
Be thankful in remembering the good things that God has brought into your life, and believe that He will continue to bring good things to you. Be resolute in not selling God short and in not believing that you can choose more wisely than He does for your life. Be unyielding in saying yes to God and no to sin.
Be dedicated to being a person after God’s own heart.
© 2010 Arlina Yates