King David was a real man. There is some evidence even outside of the biblical accounts that he lived and reigned. And David was a sinner. Even people only slightly familiar with Scripture know that David was an adulterer and a murderer.
It all began when David was not where he was supposed to be: “in the spring, at the time when kings go out to war, . . . David remained in Jerusalem.” (2 Samuel 11:1). (Oh, how often are we shopping, or trolling through random stories on our computers or on Facebook, or contemplating taking home a few office supplies; or dressing a bit boldly when we know in our hearts that the Lord has a different plan?)
Then he saw a “very beautiful” woman bathing, and he made what outwardly was a simple inquiry: who is she? (Just one more “harmless” step: Why not try on that outfit? What is five more minutes at the computer? A few items won’t be missed; and besides, they don’t pay me enough anyway. What is the harm in smiling at an admiring man? ). That she was the wife of a trusted general of David’s* did not make him pause. To the contrary, he became more conniving, brazenly sending “messengers”—note the plural—to get her, undoubtedly hoping to cover his intentions by conveying publicly a solicitousness towards the warrior’s family.
At this point, the sins quickly heaped one upon the other. First was the famous adultery. Then when Bathsheba informed him of her pregnancy, David plotted to get Uriah to cover David’s paternity. When that failed, David instructed Joab to arrange for Uriah’s death during battle. In the process, Joab sent not only Uriah, but also many men to a battle position where death was certain.
David is the poster child of how a tiny seed of sin that is not stopped can quickly flourish: “Each [of us] is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15). David’s pursuit of his evil desires led many more innocent bystanders besides Uriah to experience fear, anxiety, anger, angst, pain and even agony. And it cost him dearly as well: the pain in David’s repentance recorded in Psalm 51 is palpable; and the son conceived by that illicit union died shortly after birth.
This is a lesson we should pay attention to — because every one of us has proven its truth—many times. We have all pursued evil desires that resulted in painful outcomes.
But there is another lesson this story demonstrates, one less often noted. After the confrontation by Nathan; after David’s repentance; after the death of his infant son; “David went into the house of the Lord and worshiped.” (2 Samuel 12:20b)
David understood in a way many of us do not, that because he repented, there was now no condemnation for his pile of horrific actions; that the instant his heart broke before the Lord, that scarlet mountain of sins was white. Nothing now separated David and the Lord. The two of them could have beautiful communion together.
And so it is with our actions. Even if our wrongful shopping led to bankruptcy; even if our computer distractions caused us to neglect someone with painful consequences; even if our taking office supplies led to larceny; even if our flirtations led to sexual encounters that make us cringe today—whatever they were and whatever the consequences, they are GONE. Forever. Wiped away by our sorrowful repentance and the blood of Christ.
So go worship the Lord! Let nothing stop you or haunt you. Worship Him with gratitude and joy and love. And never, ever, let those past confessed sins enter into your prayer and communion. He who cannot lie promised to forgive and then to forget them. Why remind Him?
“Though our sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” (Isaiah 1:18b)