Nathan Confronts David
Not long after David and Bathsheba’s baby was born, Nathan the prophet showed up. He told David a story that went like this: “There were two men who lived in the same city. One had a huge herd of cattle and a lot of sheep. The other one had only one small ewe lamb. That lamb became like a member of his own family. She grew up with his children as their pet. She shared their food and drinks and even slept with them at night. But when the rich man had a friend come to visit, instead of killing one of his own sheep from his large flock, he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for dinner.” David became very angry. “How could he be so heartless?” he questioned. “That man deserves to die. Make him give the poor man enough money to buy four lambs,” he insisted. Then Nathan pointed at David and said, “You are the man! God says, ‘I made you king over all of Israel, and I gave you everything you have and need. I would have given you more if you had asked for it. So why did you despise me and do this evil. You killed Uriah with an Ammonite’s sword and took his wife to be your own. Because you did this, your own family will have conflict and bloodshed. What you did in secret to Uriah, I will do to you in broad daylight before all of Israel.’” David broke down before Nathan. “I have sinned against the Lord,” he admitted. Later he wrote a prayer admitting his sin and expressing his sorrow. He asked God to forgive him and make his life clean from the inside out (see Psalm 51). Nathan explained to David that God had forgiven him, but there would still be consequences for what he had done. The son born to him and Bathsheba would die. Sure enough, the baby became very sick. David begged God to let his child live. He refused to eat and he couldn’t sleep. He spent every night on the ground praying and pleading with God to save the baby. But on the seventh day, the baby died. The servants were afraid to tell David. They thought, “If he was in that much agony while the child was still alive, what will he do when he finds out that he is dead? But David saw them whispering and asked, “Is the baby dead?” “Yes,” they replied, “he is.” David got up off the ground, took a bath, and put on clean clothes. He went into the Tabernacle and worshipped God. Then he went back to his own house and asked for some food. The servants were confused. “Why are you acting this way?” they asked. “While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that he is dead, you got up and are eating.” David responded, “While the baby was still alive, I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let my child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? He can’t come back to me, but one day I will go to him.” David comforted Bathsheba. Later she gave birth to another son, and David named him Solomon. The Lord loved Solomon and blessed him.
Have you ever felt that you got away with something wrong—and that no one else would ever find out? That’s how David felt! But the problem was—God knew, and so did David! There were consequences and lots of guilt. But God was ready to forgive David and cleanse him when he was finally willing to confess.