A Clean Heart
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2 Samuel 12:1-19 says, "And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds: But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him. And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things. Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun. And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die. And Nathan departed unto his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bare unto David, and it was very sick. David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth. And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them. And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead? But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead."
David had sinned with Bathsheba. In order to cover it up, David called her husband home from battle, however he was such an honorable man that he would not go home to his wife when everyone else was still out fighting. So David continued on his quest to cover up his sin with Bathsheba. He sent a message with her husband to the commander of the battle. Uriah, her husband, was to be put out in the front of the battle and everyone else was to withdraw from him. David’s commands were obeyed and Uriah was killed in battle. David’s sin began small but it quickly escalated when David failed to admit he was wrong. David was willing to have this good man killed just to cover up his sin. One would think that this would open up David's eyes, however it did not.
One last attempt was made to open the eyes of David. God sent Nathan the prophet to David with an illustration. Nathan told David of two men, one with many flocks and herds and one with only one small lamb. When company came and visited, the man with many herds took the lamb from the man with only one and cooked it to feed his company. David was very angry and commanded that the rich man be put to death for his blatantly wrong actions. It is at this point that Nathan turns to David and says, “you are the man!”
David finally realizes that he is wrong. David has sinned against God, against Bathsheba, against Uriah, and has brought shame upon the nation of Israel. While David can and does repent, his repentance does not remove the consequences and punishments that have been laid out due to David’s actions. David’s child with Bathsheba falls sick and dies due to David’s sin (2 Sam 12:19). Other punishments come much later in David’s life, but are still listed as punishments for David’s sin with Bathsheba and the following sins as he tried to cover it up. David had his own children rise up against him. His own wives were taken to humiliate David in front of his own eyes. All of the sorrow, shame, and struggles that David faced later in life were a punishment for the sin that David had committed.
However the amazing thing about this story is not that David sinned or that He was punished for that sin. The amazing thing about this story is watching the change in David’s heart. David went from being the man who slept with another man’s wife, covered it up, and had her husband killed to being a man after God’s own heart. Shortly after Nathan had met with David and brought David’s sin to light, David wrote the 51st Psalm. David pleaded with God to create a clean heart within him. David did not just want to quit sinning, David wanted his heart clean and pure from sin.
There are many good lessons from this Old Testament story of David and Bathsheba. Our sins will find us out. We will eventually come face to face with our sins. Even when we think we have gotten away with something, God still knows and God will always punish accordingly.
We can still do great things even after we have committed great sins. Our sins can be forgiven and we can do great things in God’s kingdom. Yet we must be willing to turn from those sins. We must be willing to change our heart.
A clean heart should be our desire. It is not enough just to live a good life, we must have a clean heart. We must have a heart that is focused on God to the point that we don’t think about sin.
Sinners can succeed! Sinners can be great servants in God’s kingdom, however God requires that we change our heart.