Have Mercy Upon Us, O LORD1
2 Samuel 12:1-10; 13-14
1And the LORD sent Nathan to David. (This kind of sin could not remain unpunished. The Lord sent the same messenger to rebuke David who had previously come to bless him. It was great mercy on God’s part to send a faithful preacher to David. If he did not love him, he might have left him to his own hardness of heart. We should be thankful to God when he sends an honest person to deliver his divine message to us, whether that message is sweet or bitter.) He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. 2The rich man had very many flocks and herds, 3but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. 4Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”
5Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, 6and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” (Little did he realize that he had just judged himself. We are ready enough to condemn others, but, ah! how slow to see sin in ourselves.)
7Nathan said to David, “You are the man! (The parable was full of wisdom and Nathan showed great courage to apply it to the king. How David’s color must have changed! How loudly did his conscience say “Amen”2 to everything the prophet said. Nathan went on to describe David’s sin so he could see more of its blackness and be wholeheartedly sincere in his repentance.) Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. 8And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. 9Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife’”
This was harsh medicine, but it was for a putrid disease. If we sin, we must pay the price for it. The Lord’s beloved cannot escape the rod if they disobey his commands. In David’s case, as in most others, the punishment matched the sin. He had killed Uriah with the sword and now the sword was to visit his own family.
13David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” (A child of God may sin, but he cannot continue in it. If there had been no grace in David, he would have been angry with Nathan. But the spiritual life within him caused David to repent immediately and greatly. Many sin, as David did; but never repent, as he did.) And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.”
How quickly the pardon came! “Confess, and live” is God’s word to the guilty. The Lord our God delights in mercy. Let us go to him and acknowledge our transgressions at once, and find immediate pardon.
14“Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child who is born to you shall die.” (David will live, but he will be struck in a tender place. God forgives his children, but he will not allow them to think lightly of sin. He will strike them heavily, though not to the point of death. Oh Lord, keep us from sin.)
1 Psalm 123:3
2 amen - So be it, it is so, it is true, truly.