The Truth about Guilt Meditations: 18. Consequences through People
2 Sam 12:9,10 You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’
Recap: We are considering the consequences of our wrongs and have two more examples to consider, the first being that of King David in the Old Testament. In some ways David epitomizes the human race, capable of achieving such great things and yet also capable of falling so low.
David’s Guilt: The story of David and Bathsheba tends to be well known. Davis is in his palace and looks out and sees Bathsheba bathing in the sun on the roof of her nearby house. He sends for her, lies with her, and makes her pregnant. But she is married and so he arranges for her husband to be killed in battle and then she becomes one of his wives. That is the short potted version of what you can read in 2 Sam 11.
Accountability: Powerful people have a tendency to thinking they can get away with sin but God sees all and holds all to account, whether here in this lifetime or at the Final Judgement. David has been God’s man, a man after God’s own heart, and yet he gave way to a temptation that set off a train of sin: adultery, cover-up, murder. In the same way his judgment is going to follow along a train of events, but we are seeking to see how they work.
Step 1: God’s Activity: David is God’s representative and he needs to know that God will “by no means clear the guilty”. David is a very public person and what he has done is going to get out and the office of king of God’s people will be demeaned. God will not let that happen here. He sends Nathan who confronts him with his sin (2 Sam 12:1-7) but then declares God’s judgment on him: “the sword will never depart from your house,” (v.10) and then, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’” (v.11,12) He isn’t going to kill David, He is going to discipline him so that the nation will see and learn. But before all this, because David is a heart man, the Lord is going to cut him to the heart and so the child Bathsheba is carrying dies (v.14-23). Now what is yet remarkable is that afterwards they have another child named Solomon who becomes the richest man in the world and bears the greatest testimony to the Lord, before he too falls to sin. The Lord uses both of these men mightily even though they both fail him. When challenged, David repents (v.13) but still there are consequences to follow.
Step 2: Human Activity: Sometimes it seems the Lord steps back and lets the natural foolish inclinations of men and women just flow out in a chain of events. The Lord doesn’t need to make these things happen, He just steps back and lets the folly of mankind proceed. There is a chain of events here that really starts with David’s polygamy (see 1 Chron 3), not forbidden but unwise. Thus the chain appears:
– the son of one wife, Amnon, desires the daughter of another wife, Tamar, and contrives to rape her (2 Sam 13:1-6). David appears obtuse and sees nothing strange about what goes on and so Tamar is raped by Amnon. (v.14)
– Tamar’s brother, Absalom, protects her. David hears about it, is angry (v.21) but takes no further action.
– Absalom sets up a feast and although David is suspicious, he does nothing (v.23-27).
– at the feast he kills Amnon (v.27,28) and flees living in isolation for three years (v.37,38)
– Absalom uses Joab to get reinstated in Jerusalem (2 Sam 14:1-24)
– Absalom eventually contrives to become king (2 Sam 15) and David has to flee Jerusalem while Absalom takes over and this continues until Absalom is killed (2 Sam 18:14). David eventually returns to Jerusalem and to his concubines who he now puts in isolation (2 Sam 20:3)
– Meanwhile there is a rebellion, led by Sheba, and many turn from David (2 Sam 20:1,2)
– and so the violence continues and throughout all this David’s heart is wrecked by anguish again and again.
Terrible Consequences: David’s is possibly the classic instance of a family head who didn’t control his warring family and reaped the consequences of it, but we cannot help feeling that none of this would have happened if David had remained true and not fallen for Bathsheba. In some ways we might have wanted the Lord to bring David to the point of death by way of discipline but the Lord works on our hearts in His work of redemption of individuals and His nation. The lesson seems to be that letting go in one instance possibly reveals a heart that is vulnerable and which will also fail to pick up on various aspects of life, i.e. one sin reveals the potential for others. Avoid sin at all cost, but if we do succumb, repent and commit yourself to do a total cleanup of your heart and life, else other sins and other consequences will follow. The Lord allows the ongoing consequences, coming through other people to discipline and change us. That is what redemption is about, changing us. If we are willful – actively or passively – and that points us away from the Lord, expect His disciplinary activity to bring us back and so often, the discipline follows the nature of the fall. A serious lesson.