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Found Out and Forgiven

Key References: 2 Samuel 12; Patriarchs and Prophets, chap. 71, pp. 720-726; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 4, pp. 99-102; Our Beliefs, nos. 10, 18, 23.

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“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you“ (Matthew 6:14).

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Because God has forgiven us, we forgive ourselves and others.

How did David respond when his sin was exposed? Have you ever asked God to forgive you? What lessons can you find in this story about God’s forgiveness?

King David and Israel had won the battle with the Ammonites. David had married Bathsheba [bath- SHE-buh], and they were going to have a baby. For a while David thought that he was still the same wise and powerful ruler he had always been. He had covered up his adultery with a murder. Nobody but Joab, Bathsheba, and he seemed to know.

David’s attempt at covering up his sin was dishonoring God. Yet God loved David too much to let him continue on the evil path he was on. God chose Nathan, a prophet, to take the message to David. Nathan was brave to take a message of reprimand to a king who could have him killed. God impressed Nathan to start with a story that would awaken David’s sympathy.

He told a story about a poor man and a rich man. “The poor man had a pet lamb that was almost like a daughter to him. He fed the lamb from the table, let it drink from his own cup, and even let it sleep on his bed at night. A certain rich man lived nearby.

“Now a traveler came to the rich man,” said Nathan, “but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him” (2 Samuel 12:4).

As Nathan had hoped, David was angry about the actions of the man in the story. “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die!” David proclaimed. “He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity” (verses 5, 6).

Nathan looked David straight in the eye. “You are the man!” (verse 7). Then he delivered the message God had sent to David. “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you’ ” (verse 11).

David responded the way God had hoped he would. “Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord’ ” (verse 13). He immediately saw how much his actions had hurt Uriah, Bathsheba, Joab, and all the people of Israel. Most important, he had hurt God, the one who had chosen him and blessed him all of these years. David was truly sorry. David himself had passed sentence on the rich man in the story. A death for a death. But Nathan assured the king of God’s forgiveness. He said, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die” (verses13, 14).

David was heartbroken. He grieved. He fasted. He took off his royal garments and lay down on the ground and cried before God to spare the child. Again and again his advisers came and begged him to get up and eat with them, but he would not. Then the baby died.

The servants were afraid to tell David. They tiptoed around and whispered. David noticed, and finally asked, “Is the child dead?”

“Yes, sir, he is dead,” the servants answered hesitantly.

David could have gone on mourning. He could have gone on feeling guilty for what he had done to so many people and to God. But David knew God. He knew that God had forgiven him. David got up, took a bath, put on his royal clothes, and asked for some dinner.

The sad results of David’s sin would never go away even though God had forgiven him. Along with the many setbacks, however, David learned the most important lesson. He learned to trust God, who would help him overcome his selfi sh tendencies.

Unlike King Saul, who had hardened his heart, David humbled himself and confessed his sins. He returned to God with sincere regret in his heart.

King David learned that God was his only source of wisdom and power. True to His promise, God forgave David and restored to him the joy of salvation. One day God would bless David and Bathsheba with another baby, who would be loved by God. One day Solomon would be the wisest king who ever lived.

King Solomon learned at a young age the importance of trusting in God. He wrote: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5, 6).

David’s story serves as an example to us. There is no sin that is insignificant or unknown to God. We are on dangerous ground when we rely on our own wisdom and neglect spending time with God in prayer and Bible study. It is when we trust in the Lord with all our heart, as Solomon wrote, that we will experience the joy of salvation that God has promised to all who believe in Him.