Although God declared of David, "I have found a man after my heart, who shall do all my will," inspiration records the tragic and hypocritical conduct of that great king who served as a type of our Lord. "At the time when kings go forth to battle David tarried still at Jerusalem" (2 Kings 11:1). Because of his neglect of kingly responsibilities the door was opened for temptation, leading to sin, which in turn produced all manner of sorrow in the life of David. Because of David's sin with Bathsheba, God brought upon this king, and his kingdom, endless strife and bloodshed. The sin could not go unpunished. David needed to be brought to the realization that he had committed a horrible thing in the sight of God. The Holy and Just God of heaven wanted to get across to David, with the greatest degree of intensity, exactly how offensive and grievous the nature of his sin. So, God sent Nathan unto David with this simple story: There were two men in one city; one was rich, the other poor. The rich man had an abundance of flocks, but the poor man had only one little ewe lamb. This poor man had brought up the lamb, feeding and nourishing it. The lamb was very close to the family, even a part of the family. In fact, this little lamb was more like a beloved pet than a common livestock on the farm. One day there came a traveler through this small town. He visited the rich man, and wanting to be hospitable, the rich man desired to offer him some food, but he did not want to kill any of his own flock. And so, instead, the rich man took the poor man's single lamb, killed it, and dressed it for the stranger. Within this story is manifested a degree of selfishness that is a reproach to any man. There may be some sin-hardened soul who cannot see in this parable the unjust treatment of the poor man. Most men can quickly and easily grasp the selfish demeanor of this rich man, and the injustice perpetrated against the one who was poor. Fortunately, David had not reached the point in his trek away from God where common sense no longer prevailed. The king immediately saw in the story the selfish and sinful nature of the rich man, and consequently David's anger was kindled. The king decreed death to the man who had done this selfish thing. And then Nathan dropped the "bombshell!" "David," he said, "Thou art the man! YOU, in having taken Bathsheba, are guilty of the same crime of selfishness and injustice of which this rich man is guilty. YOU have taken that which did not belong to you! YOU have robbed another of that which was rightfully his." David immediately saw the application, and with a penitent heart declared, "I have sinned against the Lord." From this tragic account in the life of David we can learn some important truths relative to sin.
First, selfishness, like the love of money, is a root of all kinds of evil. More often than not it will lead to other sins deemed unimaginable when first the sin of selfishness took root and bore seed in the heart of its victim. In the case of David, his selfish desire for the gratification of the flesh led to deceit, denial, and disrespect for the life of another. David caused the husband of Bathsheba, Uriah, to get drunk in an effort to cover up his sin. When that did not work, he purposefully and with malice aforethought, arranged for the murder of Uriah. Selfishness will cause a man to worship the wrong 'god,' and/or worship the right God in the wrong way. Selfishness will cause a man to mistreat his fellow man, by overt actions against that man or by neglect of doing good toward another. Selfishness will allow a doctor to invade the womb of a mother and destroy the life of an innocent child, all in the name of the "rights of the mother." Selfishness cries out for "my rights," with little or no respect for what God might have to say on the matter.
Second, any sin against our fellow man is, in fact, a sin against God. David realized this and stated such in Psalms 51:4: "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight." Any mistreatment of our fellow man is a direct slap in the face of God. Joseph was another good and godly man who recognized the full extent of sin. Unlike David, however, he took the steps to avoid a sin with Potiphar's wife and fled the scene before sin had time to take root.
Third, sin blinds. David could not possibly have foreseen the extent of his wrong doing so long as he was caught up in sin. He was blind to the nature of sin, the guilt of his sin, or the fruit that his sin would bear. The Hebrews writer warns us about the deceitfulness of sin: "But exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called Today; lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin" (Heb. 3:13). Perhaps we would be wise to pray for more Nathans who will shake us out of our spiritual blindness with the blunt affirmation, "Thou art the man."
Fourth, punishment follows sin as sure as night follows day. Because of David's sin, his own family would fight for his kingdom, and David would rule over a kingdom as a man of war rather than a king of peace. When we sin, punishment follows. Sometimes punishment is quickly forthcoming; sometimes it is delayed. But whether now, or in the hereafter, it is certain. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. For he that soweth unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life" (Gal. 6:7-8).
Sometimes I wonder if Nathan were alive today, and God still confronted us with our sins by the prophets, as He did in the days of old how many of us might he point a finger at and declare, "Thou art the man!"? Yes, I wonder ..