Lesson 18: David, a heart that receives correction (Part 2)

Because of his sin, David fell “short of the glory of God” (Romans 3.23) just as we all do. He certainly did not act as a man after God’s own heart as he transgressed the Lord’s will, but his heart was willing to receive the Lord’s correction and to repent. His heart was moldable, which is why David continues to serve as an example for us as we seek to be people after God’s own heart. As we read the account in 2Samuel 12 and two of the Psalms penned by David at this time (Psalm 32 and Psalm 51), we see how we should receive correction.

David understood that every sin is against God (2Samuel 12.7-15)

David’s confession that “I have sinned against the Lord” (vs. 13; cf. Psalm 51.4) is well-known. Even though his actions had major ramifications for Bathsheba, Uriah and his entire army, David’s sin was against God. After all, it was God who made David king (vs. 7) and it was God who exalted him over His people (vs. 8). But David had wilfully violated God’s covenant with Israel by committing both adultery and murder (vs. 9; cf. Exodus 20.13,14). In doing so David “despised the word of the Lord” much as Saul had done before him (1Samuel 15.23,26). But where Saul was slow in taking responsibility for his actions (1Samuel 15.13-23), David immediately confessed that he had sinned against his Lord (2Samuel 12.13).

David accepted the consequences of his sin, even though he was forgiven (2Samuel 12.10-14)

The Lord was merciful to David. Once he acknowledged his sin, the Lord assured David that his sins were taken away and that he would not die, even though the just penalty for those sins was death (see Leviticus 20.10; 24.17). However, there would be consequences for David’s actions. His house would no longer be one of peace, in fact there would be rebellion from his own family (vss. 10-12). Moreover, the child born out of David’s adulterous affair would die (vs. 14). While David would pray that the Lord would be merciful and allow the child to live, he also accepted the consequences of his sins. We never read of him lamenting his plight or wondering why he must suffer for his actions even though he was forgiven.

David believed in God’s mercy (2Samuel 12.15-23; Psalm 32.1-7)

The Lord told David that his child would die and seven days later the Lord’s words came to pass (2Samuel 12.14,18). David spent those days fasting and weeping because as he related to his servants, “Who knows, the Lord may be gracious to me, that the child may live.” (vs. 22). David believed in God’s mercy and grace because he had experienced it himself. As we’ve already seen, the Lord took David’s sin away (vs. 13), but the full magnitude of God’s mercy is expressed by David in Psalm 32.1-7.

  • David had full confidence that the Lord had done exactly what He promised: He had forgiven David for his transgressions (vss. 1-2)
  • David acknowledged the tragedy of not repenting: where repenting brought healing, keeping silent had taken an emotional, spiritual and physical toil (vss. 3-4).
  • David expressed the joy that comes with repentance (vss. 5-7). And since David had experienced the Lord’s forgiveness, he called on others to do likewise so they could also experience salvation.

David committed himself to real change (Psalm 32.8-11; Psalm 51)

Psalm 32 concludes with God’s promise to “instruct and teach” David “in the way which you should go.” The Lord did not want David (or anyone) to reject His counsel and experience the many sorrows of the wicked. The Lord’s desire is that His people “be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones; And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.” These instructions in the Psalm indicate that David had committed himself to do just that.

Of even greater significance are David’s words in Psalm 51.

  1. The Psalm begins with an appeal for forgiveness (vss. 1-4). This appeal is based upon God’s nature, not David’s worthiness. God, who abounds in lovingkindness and compassion, could thoroughly cleanse David of his iniquity.
  2. Vss. 5-13 emphasize the transformation David experienced:
    • David’s experience during life had been one of sin. This was in direct contrast with what God desired (vss. 5-6)
    • David was dependent on God for his purification (vss. 7-9). No matter how much David desired change, he recognized that real change could come only by the grace of God.
    • David understood that if the Lord would give him a clean heart then God’s spirit would not be taken away, he would experience the joy of salvation and he would teach and convert other sinners (vss. 10-13).
  3. The Lord’s mercy would result in real praise: not the offering of sacrifices, but a heart fully given to Him (vss. 14-19)

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