Read II Samuel 10:1-14:33
Sexual Failure and Spiritual Restoration
The prophet Nathan said to King David, “The LORD has taken away
your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you
have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt,
the son born to you will die.”
II Samuel 12:13-14
Go Deep: Where do you go to get your integrity back after you’ve failed? How do you find the way forward after the personal devastation and the public humiliation of a financial, professional, relational or especially after a moral failure of the sexual kind? What can you do to get your heart restored?
I’ll bet David asked those questions after his confession to Nathan, “Where do I go to restore my integrity? What do I do to regain my reputation? How can I get my life back on track with God when I’ve sinned so badly?” God had forgiven David; now David just needed to find a way forward.
The good news from David’s story is that failure doesn’t have to define your future nor does it have to be the fatal blow to God’s plans for you. Sin doesn’t have be the final word in your story; an insurmountable barrier to moving on to a satisfying, successful and even a deeply spiritual life. What David discovered was that as enormous as his sin was, it was wildly outdone by God’s grace. That is not to minimize his sin: he was an adulterer and a murderer—and there would be excruciatingly painful consequences throughout the rest of his life—but David’s sin—and your sin for that matter—will always be miniscule compared to God’s salvation from it. In David’s story, we have been left with a roadmap for recovery, and we can note four essential elements about the way forward to restoration:
The first thing you’ll see is that the road to a restored heart begins with honesty. In II Samuel 12:13, David says to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” There’s no explanation, no excuse, no blaming Bathsheba for her seductive exhibitionism, no promise to never do it again. David just simply and sincerely confessed his sin, even when there’s no indication yet that God will have him back, or even allow him to live. Honest confession is what releases Divine compassion and repentance always precedes restoration.
The second thing you’ll see is the road to recovery is paved with healing grace. Verse 13 continues, “Nathan replied, ‘The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.’” Now the Mosaic Law said David had to die. It required death by stoning for adultery—even for a guilty king. Countless adulterers throughout Israel’s history had already died for adultery, so God has to suspend his own law just for David. Sounds unfair and inconsistent of God, doesn’t it? But what we’re getting here is a sneak peak of what God’s grace is all about. Now you’ll notice in the next verse that the son born to David and Bathsheba out of their adulterous affair will have to die. Sadly, the son pays the price for their sin. Sound familiar? God’s Son paid the price for our sin so we wouldn’t have to. He died so we could live! That’s grace: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. That grace is absolutely fundamental to the restored heart.
The third thing you’ll see is that the journey to recovery is fueled by humility. II Samuel 12:16 shows David humbling himself before God: “David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the ground.” He humbled himself and prayed for a crop failure, putting his hope in God’s mercy because he knew that was his only chance. If you’ve repented of sin, it’s okay to pray for a crop failure. Why? God in his mercy just may restrain his discipline. That’s his character, so why not tap into it? Micah 7:18 says, “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgressions of the remnant? You do not stay angry forever, but delight to show mercy.”
The fourth thing you’ll see is that the road to recovery requires staying the course. David determined to get on with life when I’m sure he felt like giving up, unworthy to go on. He just began to practice a long obedience in the same direction.
As you skim over the last few verses of II Samuel 12, here’s what you’ll see: Verse 20 says, “Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.” Verse 24 says, “Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba [over the death of their baby], and he slept with her. She gave birth to [another] son, and they named him Solomon. The LORD loved him…” Verses 29-30 say, “David mustered the entire army and went to Rabbah, and attacked and captured it. He took the crown from the head of their king—its weight was a talent of gold [75lbs.], and it was set with precious stones—and it was placed on David’s head.”
It’s no accident that these details are connected to this story of David’s restoration. It’s showing that David is getting on with life, he’s doing what husbands do, he’s doing what kings do. David is just getting back to practical faithfulness in the daily ordinariness of life. That’s where recovery happens!
Then something very cool happens at this point of the story: Verse 25 says that Nathan, the man who had announced God’s judgment on David for his sin, now comes and delivers a message of God’s love. That message comes in the form of a name that God has for the second child born to David and Bathsheba—Jedidiah, which means, “loved by God.” God is showing David that he is not finished with him yet. David’s failure has not been the final word on his life. God is revealing plans to prosper and not to harm David, to give him a hope and a future.
Now restoration doesn’t mean there won’t be scars. The record suggests that David was never again as great a king as he once was. Yet he kept moving forward, and though David may not have become a greater king after this, but he became a deeper man.
And that is a far more important thing.
Just Saying… For Christians, we tend to make sexual immorality the unforgivable sin, but it is not. For sure, sexual sin has dire consequences, and that’s what makes it so destructive. But let us remember, as Francis Schaeffer pointed out, “The Bible does not minimize sexual sin, but neither does it make it different from any other sin.” What I treasure so much about our merciful God, is as John Newton wrote, that “we serve a gracious Master who knows how to overrule even our mistakes to His glory and our own advantage.”