Summary: Biblical characters can teach us a lot, through their sins and errors in judgment and through their pursuit of God.
(This is a message that was given at an inner-city mission, mid-week alternative church service in downtown Toronto, Canada)
The Bible is full of fascinating characters. They are fascinating because they are very human. Because they are very flawed. Because they, being real people in and of themselves, still can help us as, we learn of them, to know more about ourselves.
One of the most interesting characters in the Old Testament, the first part of the Bible, is King David. He’s interesting because he is a major figure in the Bible, he is an early ancestor of Jesus, he became a big, powerful king, but we see in the pages of the Bible maybe more of his story than we see of nearly any other character.
So we see his good qualities, the good stuff he accomplished, his growing faith and eventually his passion for God, but we also see the dark side.
Do you have a dark side? Naa. We all have a dark side, one that we’re not eager to let others see, because we don’t want our dark side to define who we are, to be who we are.5
David’s dark side was that when he should have been going out to do his job as the head of the army, he stayed back and had time on his hands.
With that time he spotted, while he was in his mansion, Bathsheba bathing. And he lusted for her. And being the king, he took her. And she got pregnant.
Bathsheba was married. Her husband, Uriah, was an army official, back from battle and hanging out with his men, the other soldiers, sleeping outside in the cold. David tried to get her husband to come in from the cold to be with Bathsheba so that her pregnancy with his child would be covered up.
Uriah was an honorable man and refused to sleep in the comfort of his wife’s chambers while the soldiers under him had to sleep out, exposed to the elements.
David realized that Uriah would eventually find out that Bathsheba was carrying David’s baby, thus exposing David’s adultery. So David had Uriah placed in the front of the next big battle where he knew Uriah would be killed. And Uriah died, of course.
So David committed adultery, and David committed murder. The Bible is very blunt about the fact that King David did this. Zero attempt to cover it up or justify it.
A year or so later, David was confronted with what he did when a clever friend, a prophet named Nathan, told a story that ended up with David getting very angry at a man in the story that behaved very badly. David condemned the man in the story. Nathan then said: You are that man.
This exposed David. David knew that his sins were known. David was king. He could have killed the prophet Nathan.
Instead his heart was humbled and he wrote this. Listen to the words of a man who realized his guilt and faced it directly:
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.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. 14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. 16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
David had done a terrible thing. He had done many awesome and great things before, but at this time in his life he did this terrible thing. But then, when faced with what he did, he poured out his heart to God.
He was truly sorry for his actions. He turned away from those actions, took full responsibility, and God forgave him. God forgave him.