As we continue in the account of Nathan the prophet confronting King David about David’s sin (2 Samuel 12:1-14), note that Nathan the prophet allowed David to come to the right conclusion (ref. Matthew Henry, noted at the end of this article). Had Nathan showed up and called David out (which, I suppose, he might have been justified in doing), David could have reacted in anger and denied it.
Remember how Jesus would teach, sometimes? After the parable of the Good Samaritan, He asked the “expert in the law” which of the three other men in the story was a neighbor to the man who got beat up. When the expert responded that this was the one who showed mercy, Jesus told him to do the same thing. (See Luke 10:36-37.)
Or, how about when Jesus answered questions about paying taxes by asking about the likeness on a coin (Matthew 22:15-22, Mark 12:13-16, Luke 20:20-26), or asking about who kings collect taxes from (Matthew 17:24-27)?
Sometimes, it’s not up to us to call people out, put them on the spot, and embarrass them publicly. There are situations where we can be more effective by getting them to realize principles of right and wrong (i.e., God’s principles for themselves), and then challenge them to live up to those standards.
As a result, if we are called to bring someone else’s sins to their attention (in love and in accordance with the guidelines outlined in Scripture), let us do so gently, clearly, and with a heart that desires to see the other person restored to wholeness again. I don’t think that accusing people, just to make ourselves feel better, achieves good things.
To be clear, sin is a weighty and awful thing. It causes terrible things to happen to us and to other people, and we should be appalled by that, even as we seek to help and to heal. However, if we stop there and forget that sin separates people from a holy God (the author of all that is good), and if we forget that sin condemns people to death, we have not yet fully appreciated how bad sin is.
From 2 Samuel 12:8-9, It is clear that what David did was no surprise to God. I don’t know if David had tried to hide what he had done from others around him (although some – like David’s military commander Joab – certainly knew at least part of the truth, per 2 Samuel 11:14-25), but God wasn’t in the dark about David’s choices.
Sometimes, I think that we do the same thing as David did: trying to hide our sins. We put on a good face, and are careful to share just the right things with the right people, so that we don’t get caught. Still, when we realize that we are trying to hide sins from an all-knowing God, it is obvious that we’re not going to succeed.
And, when someone in this situation gets caught, though, the fall is great!
Consider these words from later in David’s life, to his son Solomon:
“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.
1 Chronicles 28:9 NIV
We should know that God knows our hearts and all of our actions (even those that might be hidden from others), but He also encourages us to confess our sins. If the damage done when a secret gets out increases with time, there’s no better day than today to confess to someone else what you have done (or are doing), and start the healing process.
More on this in the next article…
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 BibleGateway.com
- Asbury Bible Commentary. Copyright © 1992 by The Zondervan Corporation, via BibleGateway.com.
- Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete). Matthew Henry. 1706, via BibleGateway.com.
- The College Press Commentary, 1 & 2 Samuel, by James E. Smith. College Press Publishing Company, © 2000, p.427-430.