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David’s Great Repentance

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
September 14, 2023 12:01 am

David’s Great Repentance

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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September 14, 2023 12:01 am

As a consequence for David's great sin, scandal and heartbreak followed him for the rest of his days. Still, he knew that God was gracious in the midst of discipline. Today, R.C. Sproul looks at David's contrite heart of repentance and faith.

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Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul

David knew who God was and he knew that God had every right to take his child. David saw the justice of it. He saw the righteousness of it and he saw the holiness of the God whose decision lay behind this action and he did what was the most appropriate thing a human being can ever do in such circumstances. He went out and he worshipped the God who is in charge. We are often quick to question God, especially as we walk through valleys and trials, forgetting that God is just and He always does that which is right. David understood this and we see that clearly in his response to the death of his son.

Hi, I'm Nathan W Bingham and thanks for joining us today on Renewing Your Mind. There is so much that we can learn from the life of David and R.C. Sproul goes into great detail in his Complete Life of David series and today only you can request lifetime digital access with your gift of any amount at

But today we'll be featuring one message from that series where R.C. Sproul examines David's response to the death of his child conceived through his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba. We pick up the story as the prophet Nathan confronts David about his sin.

Here's Dr. Sproul. David, thou art the man. Those were the words that rung in his ears after God sent the prophet Nathan to him to confront him with his sin.

We remember that Nathan did that by means of a thinly disguised parable, the parable of the greedy rich man who took for his own the single prized possession of the poor shepherd. And David reacted in fury against this crime until Nathan said, you are the man. And remember that when David heard these words, his response was immediately, I have sinned against the Lord. And so God spoke to David through the lips of Nathan. And He told him, David, I have given you the kingdom, I have given you your home, I've given you your wives, and now I am going to cause scandal and heartbreak to follow you the rest of your days. And among the words of judgment that were pronounced upon David was the prophecy that the child of this illicit union with Bathsheba would surely die.

Now the events that take place immediately after this encounter with Nathan are recorded for us at the end of chapter 12 of 2 Samuel, where we read in verse 15, then Nathan departed to his house, and the Lord struck the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and it became ill. Let me just comment about one of the points that we draw from this. I once heard a television talk show with a famous television preacher who was interviewing a guest who had gone through unbelievable tragedy, the loss of two children or so on to evil and diseases, and this woman was very broken about it and was wondering how God could be involved in the tremendous suffering that she had to endure. And the host of the program leaned across to her and said, please don't think that God was involved in this. God is never involved in disease. God is never involved in death. That is the province of Satan.

And I wanted to scream when I heard that. I know that the minister was trying to comfort that woman and not let her become hostile or bitter to God because of the trying circumstances that she had endured. But the idea that God is not involved in suffering, God is not involved in death, if I believe that, I would give up tonight.

Because the greatest comfort that we have in times of suffering and in times of death is to know that even then in the very shadow of death, God is there, God is sovereignly involved. And to say that God never sends illness is to ignore the clear teaching of Scripture. It was God who afflicted Miriam with her leprosy as an act of judgment upon her.

But we have to be careful. The book of Job in its entirety in chapter 9 of the book of John warn us from ever assuming that there is a one-to-one relationship between our pain and suffering and diseases and our sin. We cannot jump to the conclusion because a person contracts a certain fatal disease that they're guilty of a certain particular sin. The Bible prohibits that.

But we must never go to the other extreme and think that God never uses illness or disease or death as a punishment. Here in this story, God as a punishment for David and as a punishment for Bathsheba intervenes in their lives and takes the life of their baby. This is not a judgment on the baby. The baby spared this veil of tears and presumably is brought directly and immediately into the gates of heaven. But God is mentioned as the actor in this drama. The Lord struck the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and it became ill. Now listen to verse 16.

It's very strange. David therefore pleaded with God for the child, and David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. Now David had already heard the prophecy of Nathan that the child would surely die. But he's not willing to accept that. And so he goes into a prolonged fast and wrestles with God with all of his might in pleading before God. His tears are on his pillow begging God to spare the life of the baby. We don't know what he said, but you can imagine what he said. God, the baby didn't do anything.

I'm the guilty one. If you want to take my life, take my life, but spare this child. He begs God day and night on his face, fasting before the Lord. Verse 17 says, so the elders of his house arose and went to him to raise him up from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. Then on the seventh day it came to pass that the child died.

Now what does that tell us? It tells us that this wrestling match of prayer and fasting went on for a solid week. There was no respite in David's regime at this point. He didn't take time out for food, and his friends and his court were all consumed with worry and care about David. Yes, they were concerned about the baby, but they thought maybe David wasn't going to survive this ordeal because he wouldn't eat, he wouldn't drink, he wouldn't talk to anybody. He shut himself up alone as he prayed and prayed and prayed. He looked like a man who was about to lose his mind. And then after seven days, the baby dies.

So now what? The people in the court are scared to death to tell David. The thing that David so feared would befall him had happened. And so no one wants to bring the message to him. But David is perceptive, and we read in verse 18 that servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, indeed, while the child was alive, we spoke to him, and he would not eat our voice. How can we tell him that the child is dead?

He may do some harm. But David's perceptive, and listen to what it says in verse 19, when David saw that his servants were whispering, David perceived that the child was dead. Isn't that interesting? He saw the mother had altogether their whispering with one another. And David looks at that and he said, they can only be whispering about one thing. They're afraid to say it.

They're afraid to tell me, I know what it means. The baby has died. Now what follows is rather unexpected in the text. Therefore, David said to his servants, is the child dead? And they said, he is dead.

So what would you expect? You would expect some primeval cry or scream to be now uttered by David as he rends his garments and steps out into the night and wails into the darkness over the death of his child. That's not what he does. We read in verse 20, so David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes and went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Now we see the man who's a man after God's own heart, who after he goes through this terrible fall into corruption, this dreadful sin against his family and against the house of Uriah, once he comes to his senses, once he comes to repentance, and he pleads with God day after day after day, and God's answer to David's own Gethsemane is no. What do you do when God says no? What do most people do when God says no to your deepest desire, to your most ardent prayers, to your most passionate supplication?

What do you do? Many of us, unfortunately, become bitter and angry and hostile towards God. We harbor resentment in our very souls. Say, God, how could you do this to me? How could you allow this to happen? When David saw clearly the answer of God, that the baby died, the time for prayer and fasting was over. He had made his entreaty. He had expressed the deepest desires of his soul before God, and God said no.

And it was over. And so, David got up, washed his face, put on his clothes, anointed his head with oil, and he went and worshiped God with no illusions, because David knew who God was, and he knew that God had every right to take his child. And so far from that of being a blight on the character of God in David's eyes, David saw the justice of it. He saw the righteousness of it, and he saw the holiness of the God whose decision lay behind this action, and he did what was the most appropriate thing a human being can ever do in such circumstances. He went out, and he worshiped the God who was in charge. And then he went to his own house, and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate. And then his servants said to him, What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food. They didn't get it.

They didn't understand it. It was the same question they came with to Jesus in the New Testament. Why do the disciples of John fast, and your disciples are out making merry and having feasts and going to party? And Jesus said, When the bridegroom is absent, that's when you fast. But when the bridegroom appears, it's time for a banquet.

It's time for celebration. But these people said, Well, we should be mourning and praying and weeping and fasting after the baby dies. Instead, David reverses it. He won't eat. He'll only pray. He'll only fast before the baby dies.

After the baby dies, he says, All right, let's put that behind us. The Lord gives. The Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. It's time now for the fast to be over. And he said to them, While the child was alive, I fasted and wept. For I said, Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me that the child may live? But now he is dead. Why should I fast?

Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me. Don't you understand why I was fasting? Don't you understand why I devoted myself day and night for the past week praying for this child? Because the child was still alive. And as long as the child was still alive, I still held out some hope that God, peradventure, may be gracious.

But he wasn't. Now that's not the same thing as saying God, because he wasn't gracious, was therefore unjust. See, David understood the character of God, and he understood God's justice, and he also understood God's mercy, and he understood that God's mercy was always and every time a matter of divine prerogative. I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy.

I will have mercy on whom I choose and when I choose. And David, you know me well enough to know that you don't know me well enough to know that I'm always gracious or that I'm never gracious. You knew I threatened you with the death of your child, and you knew it was just if I took your child's life. And you prayed seven days to me, asking for grace.

Day after day you were wearing me down. You were like the important widow that Jesus speaks of in the New Testament, pleading with me hour after hour, day after day, hoping that in this case I would set aside my justice for you, which I have the prerogative to do. But I said, no, this is not the occasion for that kind of grace.

And David said, don't you people understand God? Now it's over. If I pray and fast now, is that going to bring the baby back?

No. I will go to Him, but He can't come to me. Now there is a tremendous message in those words. Just as Job, when he went through the abysmal pain and torture and suffering of his life, made that heroic comment saying, I know that my Goel, my Redeemer, lives and that I will see Him standing on that day. There is very little information in the Old Testament about life after the grave, about the resurrection of the saints.

So little and so sparse is that data in the Old Testament that some skeptics have said that the whole idea of heaven is entirely an invention of the New Testament, that it can't be found at all in the Old Testament. But there are vignettes, hints, moments here and there in the Old Testament that serve as something of a foundation for the future expanded revelation of the New Testament about life after death, and this is one of them. David takes comfort in his hope that he will see this child again. Wherever that child is gone, David will go, and there will be a time of reunion where the other side of God's judgment will become visible. And so here we see not simply David the sinner, or David the musician, or David the warrior, or David the poet, or David the shepherd, or David the king. We see David the theologian who understands the nature of grace. While the child was alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me? What does that say to this insidious theology that's permeating the world today called, Name it and Claim it? And I'm sure there was a preacher there saying, David, you don't have to disfigure your faith.

You don't have to fast. You don't have to go through all this wailing and praying and treating. Just claim it.

Name and claim it. If you had enough faith, your baby wouldn't die. David said, nonsense. I cannot claim and advance God's grace. I can never presume upon God's grace. There's always a sense, one sense at least, in which grace must be amazing to me, not amazing in the sense that God is never gracious. We know that He's a gracious God, but He's not always gracious, and I could not presume upon it.

But this saccharine view of grace that abounds in the Christian church today is repugnant to the God of Scripture, who always reserves the right to have mercy upon whom He will have mercy. And then David comforted Bathsheba his wife and went into her and lay with her, but this time within the bonds of marriage. And so she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. Now the Lord loved him. Isn't that spectacular what God did here?

He took away the child of the illicit union and then heaped mercy and grace upon the wounds of the contrite, David and Bathsheba, and gave them a son who would become the wisest man in Israel, who would become the crown prince of Israel, who would become the successor of David, and who would carry David's dynasty into the next generation. Job said, the Lord gives, and the Lord taketh away. Perhaps David could say, the Lord taketh away, and the Lord gives. Blessed be the name of the Lord. In our Coram Deo thought for today, I remind you again of the meaning of that phrase Coram Deo. It means before the face of God, being in the presence of God. And the idea is that as Christians, every moment of our lives are lived before the face of God.

Everything that we do is Coram Deo. And we see it here in the life of David when he prostrates himself before the face of God and does not presume upon God's grace. Beloved, one of the hardest things for a Christian ever to learn is that lesson not to be presumptuous in the presence of God. We magnify God. We bless God. We extol Him for the incredible measure of grace that He has given to us. Who of us could ever measure the amount of grace that we have received? It has been so abundant. It is so bountiful.

It is so plenteous. But somehow for us as fallen creatures, we're never satisfied with the grace of God. We can always conceive of ways and of places and of circumstances where He might have been more gracious and given us a little more.

Let's not make that mistake. David didn't. And David recognized the graciousness of grace. We have experienced the abundant grace of God. If it wasn't for His kind mercy upon us, none of us would even be listening to a message like we heard today. Instead, we would be hiding in our sin, running from God.

So praise God that He is a God who chose to save sinners like you and me. You're listening to Renewing Your Mind on this Thursday. As I said at the beginning, there is so much to learn through a study of David, and you can do just that with R.C. Sproul's The Life of David series. It's 15 messages, and you can request digital access when you give a gift of any amount at In addition to studying the life of David, we'll send you R.C. Sproul's overview of the entire Bible, Dust to Glory as well, along with access to the digital study guide. So call us at 800-435-4343 or visit

This offer ends today, so request these resources while there's still time. David wrote Psalm 51, and in those words we see a detailed glimpse into his repentance. Next time, R.C. Sproul will discuss the nature of genuine repentance as we see it in Psalm 51. So I encourage you to join us tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind. you
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-29 23:54:40 / 2023-10-30 00:02:53 / 8

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