Sunday School Lessons

When “You’re the Man” Isn’t a Good Thing

Picking up from the account of 2 Samuel 12 yesterday, where Nathan the prophet described a sin committed by David the king in an allegorical story, we come to verse 7:

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.
2 Samuel 12:7 NIV

Today, when someone says, “You are the man”, they usually mean that as a good thing.  This is not one of those cases, though!

As offended as David was by this account, he realized that he was the one who deserved the sort of punishment which he had just pronounced upon the rich man in Nathan’s story.  As the king, no other ruler in Israel could sentence David, but God was still in authority over David, and it was God who would determine the consequences for David’s sin.

While God is gracious and merciful, there are times when sin must be punished.  In fact, sin must always be punished, and the only way that we can find an ultimate cure for the consequences of our own sins is to accept that Jesus took them upon Himself.  In 2 Samuel 12:10-12, God spares David’s life (whether out of His mercy, or because of David’s confession), but David’s sin still has consequences.  His decisions will result in the death of his son.

Some writers (see references below) have made the observation that David did lose 4 of his sons in total (the punishment that he had pronounced on the rich man from Nathan’s story in 2 Samuel 5-6).  However, while David did pay fourfold for the theft of Uriah’s wife, there were plenty of additional negative consequences, both for David and for others.  Sins – even our own – are not really private, and they usually hurt others as well as ourselves.

Even for those who follow Jesus, and have accepted Him as their Savior and Lord, sin has still broken this world, and we sometimes have to suffer the consequences of that.  We may suffer because of our own sin, because of the sin of others, or just because sin is present in this world in general.

As a result, one lesson that we learn from this is that we shouldn’t sleep with a soldier’s spouse and then have the soldier killed.  I hope that’s obvious to my readers, though.  Matthew Henry points out what David’s son Solomon, from God-given wisdom, wrote in Proverbs 6:32, about the self-destructive consequences of adultery.  Sins like David’s may be common or accepted in some cultures, but they hurt many people (both the participants and those around them), even after those who practice these things obtain forgiveness.

However, if the preceding lesson is obvious (and perhaps more easily avoided), we would also do well to be content with what we have.  “Do not covet” was part of the Ten Commandments, after all (see Exodus 20:17, for instance).  Commentator Matthew Henry wrote, “It is ungrateful to covet what God has prohibited, while we have liberty to pray for what God has promised, and that is enough.”  Paul figured out the “secret” of contentment (see Philippians 4:10-13 and 1 Timothy 6:6-10), and we would do well to be similarly (and intentionally) content.  We might think of contentment as a “life hack”, but it’s really just following God’s instructions for living the way we were created to live.

We may not ever sin like David did (sleeping with another man’s wife, and then getting the husband killed), but when we harbor envy, coveting, or dissatisfaction in our hearts (i.e., not being happy with what God has given us), we are taking steps towards sin.  Remember what Paul wrote about the love of money in 1 Timothy 6:10.  I think that the love of anything more than what God wants for us can lead to various kinds of sins, too.

So, let us remember the consequences of sin, and the fact that they are all visible to God.  He offers forgiveness of our sins through Jesus Christ, but that salvation is meant to free us from our sins, not to promote ongoing damage if we continue to sin just like before.  Like Nathan’s “You are the man!”, don’t be “that guy” (or “that gal”).

From Sunday School Lesson for June 6, 2021


  • The Lookout, June 2021, © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
  • Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
  • ESV Reformation Study Bible, R.C. Sproul, editor, © 2015 Ligonier Ministries, via
  • Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete). Matthew Henry. 1706, via
  • The College Press Commentary, 1 & 2 Samuel, by James E. Smith.  College Press Publishing Company, © 2000, p.427-430.

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