"The unfolding of your words gives light ..." (Psalm 119:130a)

Category: 2 Samuel

Unintended Consequences


David sinned. In this he was like us. David sinned in many ways and at many times. In this too he was like us.

Normally, David was quick to acknowledge is sin and to turn from it (e.g., Psalm 19:12; 139:23-24). We think of his surreptitious theft of the corner of Saul’s robe (1 Sam. 24). He had no more than snipped it than his conscience was stricken (v.5). This seems to be David’s pattern: sin—confess … and quickly. This too should be our pattern (1 John 1:9).

Yet when it came to his badly timed stroll on the roof (2 Sam. 11:2), David was not so quick in the acknowledgement of his sin. He hadn’t gone with the army when perhaps he should have (v.1). He went outside for a breath of fresh air. He saw Bathsheba in her backyard bath. He let his eyes linger, his heart ponder, and his imagination have her. And he sent for her. He had her—this time not simply in his imagination. She became pregnant. He tried to cover up. Her husband was too noble. David had him killed. Quick wedding. Child is born.

Hush. Hush. Hush.

It was perhaps a year after his rendezvous with the wife of one of his greatest fighters (compare 1 Sam. 11:3 and 23:39) that God sent in His prophet, Nathan: “You are the man!” (2 Sam. 12:7a). Now, finally, David was quick and succinct in his confession: “I have sinned against the LORD.” (v.13). Just as quickly the prophet delivered God’s word of pardon … but revealed that He would not remove all the consequences of his sin: “The LORD has put away your sin; you shall not die … the child who is born to you shall die” (v.14).

Note that: “you shall not die … the child … shall die.”

“The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Every time. Without exception.

Someone (or something) always has to die when sin strides on stage. There can be forgiveness and mercy, but there must always be justice.

In the case of David’s sin two of his children would die. Most immediately, the child of adultery died (2 Sam. 12:15-18). His brief life and sudden death testify that, while God is lavishly gracious and quick to forgive, He does not thus necessarily cancel all the consequences of our sin.

A second son of David would also die as a direct result of David’s sin. Over a dozen times in the Gospels Jesus Christ is called “the son of David.” The New Testament’s opening words witness to the fact: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David …” (Matthew 1:1a).

David’s first son died as a consequence of his sin. His second son died as atonement for his sin—and, thankfully, not only for David’s, but ours as well.

The brother of that first son would later write, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Prov. 28:13). One wonders just how much family history and personal emotion is tied up in Solomon’s proverb. We are wise to heed what he says. We do well to cry, as did the blind men along the road, “Have mercy on us, Son of David” (Matt. 9:27). When we do, Jesus is glad to say, “According to your faith be it done to you” (v.29b).

Is time our friend?

“Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future.” So sang the Steve Miller Band a number of years ago. And there is no real doubt about that fact.

But is that a good thing? Or is it a bad thing?

God is eternal and not subject to time. Time is a created reality—and God did the creating. As Creator He holds time within His own eternal Being.

But what about us? Is time a friend or a foe? God created and then said it was all “good” (Gen. 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 24). Indeed, He said it was “very good” (v.31)

Did that apply to time? Surely it did. But how did the entrance of sin (Gen. 3) twist time? Is it still “good”? Is it now our friend or our foe?

It all depends, I suppose.

Toward the end of a long and eventful life King David wrote“the word of the Lord proves true” (2 Samuel 22:31b).

He was reflecting upon a lifetime of walking with God. His conclusion as he looked back over a lifetime of experience was that time “proves true” what God has already said.

Other translations render it “the word of the Lord is tested” (NASB) or “the word of the Lord is tried” (KJV). The picture is that of metal which is “tried” or “tested” by being passed through the fire. The fire melts the metal and it “proves” to be pure. Just so the things God says prove to be true as we test them out in the fires of life in a fallen world.

Time is on the side of truth. Truth need never hurry. Time will lay bare the truth. Truth is never afraid of time. Truth need not be in haste; nor those who stand in and with the truth.

Time is the friend of truth. But time in many ways is not the friend of one who stands apart from the truth. The clock is always running. Truth will endure the passage of time. Indeed, time and the events that fill it serve to prove the truth. All that is not of the truth eventually breaks down, comes undone, and is dispersed by the winds of time.

C.H. Spurgeon once counseld: “Patience! Patience! you are always in a hurry, but God is not.”

Time is the friend of truth. It is not always the friend of man.

Time is thus a comfort to some; a warning to others.

The word of the Lord proves true in its promises (of which David had enjoyed many)

The word of the Lord proves true in its warnings and judgments (of which David had also tasted).

The sage concluded David was correct: Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him” (Proverbs 30:5).

So if falsehood seems to be winning the day, hold on. Take refuge in Him and in what He has said. Time will tell. Time will tell the truth. Time will tell the truth about what is true. And time also has a way of telling the truth about that which is not truth.

Carefully make your determination where you’ll take your stand. Then rest. Wait. Be still.

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