“You are the man!”
These words fall from the lips of the prophet Nathan as an indictment to King David.
David had been living in a moral freefall for months. He had connived an adulterous relationship with Bathsheba which produced an illegitimate conception. In an evil plot to hide this sin, David then fabricated a plan to bring the woman’s husband back from the fields of war that he might lay with his wife. David’s motive was to provide an opportunity for Uriah to be accepted as the father of the child. Uriah, in his noble desire to forego such fleshly pleasures (which his comrades could not also enjoy), opted to remain in devotion at his king’s house.
Next, David conspired to get Uriah drunk so that he would then go to his wife; again, that did not work. Finally, David concocted another plan, one which would intentionally allow for Uriah to be killed on the fields of battle. David then could take Bathsheba as his wife, thus averting any exposure of infidelity, and a child so conceived in such a sinful affair.
After the death of the faithful Uriah, David did indeed take Bathsheba as his wife, and she bore him a son.
What David had done, on so many levels, was described as “evil in the sight of the Lord” (2 Samuel 11).
David, I am sure believed he had dodged detection. The parties were few who were aware of the deviant plot of the king… but the Lord had seen the evil, and through His prophet, Nathan, communicated to David the blood-guiltiness which had so marked his hardened heart.
In 2 Samuel 12:1-4, Nathan presents a story of a rich man who took a poor man’s ewe and sacrificed it when, in fact, he had plenty of his own. The story was one of condemnation of David’s actions. David’s response was anger, and he pronounced the need for the transgressor to die, and to make restitution.
David had failed to connect the dots, to see that the actions described in the allegory identified his own poor choices. Nathan pronounced judgment upon David which begins with the statement, “You are that man!”
David’s response is perhaps unexpected for a man who had spent months contriving sinful schemes, and then crafting alibies and detours to avoid being caught. None the less, he confesses, “I have sinned against the LORD.”
David had defiled Bathsheba in adultery. He had indeed conspired to commit murder. He had involved Joab in his diabolical plan to murder. He had betrayed his friendship with the faithful servant Uriah. He had betrayed the nation of Israel. He had allowed the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme. He sought to deceive. And yet, he rightly recognizes and confesses that he has sinned against the Lord; his over-arching offense was against the Lord.
He could have played down his sin… that he was not actually the one who killed Uriah. He could have professed that his “love” for Bathsheba was genuine, and that therefore, his lustful act was justified. Or, that she actually caused his lust by bathing naked on her roof. He could have rationalized his actions in many ways… but, he does not. To his credit He acknowledges his guilt with some amount of contrition. The leader had been confronted, and had owned his sin.
David’s posture was markedly different from that of King Saul who, when he was reproved by Samuel, sought to defend his iniquity (1 Samuel 13). But, my guess is that something was eating away at David even as he was scheming away at careless alibis.
When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away
Through my groaning all day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah.
I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”;
And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah (Psalm 32:3-5).
When leaders sin, when leaders fail to respond well to allegations of sin, it marks a compromised governance. When those in leadership in the church subject themselves to sin, especially besetting sins, it opens the door for people to blaspheme God. Indeed, when any in the church choose to abide in sin, it is a poor witness to the world.
Confidence is the garb of the secure leader; arrogance is the mark of an insecure tyrant whose legacy will likely wane. Even if some in leadership are not called to account by others, God still sees the evil, and there will be a reckoning somewhere along the line. David would continue to reign, though not without the loss of his son, and a household beset with trouble. There are consequences to poor decisions; and yet, with repentance, there is still grace.