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THOU ART THE MAN!
--JUNE 6.--2 SAMUEL 11:1 TO 12:7.--
THE HONESTY OF THE BIBLE--KING DAVID'S STATION DID NOT COVER HIS GUILT -- THE TEMPTATIONS OF PROSPERITY -- KING DAVID'S TERRIBLE SINS -- THE PROPHET NATHAN'S PARABLE -- THE KING'S SENSE OF JUSTICE -- CONDEMNED BY HIS OWN WORD -- HIS PENITENCE -- FORGIVEN YET PUNISHED -- THE LESSON TO ALL.
"Create in me a clean heart, O God."--Psalm 51:10.
THE BIBLE is unlike any other book in the
world. It is the most honest, the most
candid, of all books. The one most approved
as a man after God's own heart is,
when he sins, most severely condemned and
heavily punished. There is a lesson, however,
in the Scriptural statement, "There is forgiveness
with Thee, that Thou mightest
be feared." (Psalm 130:4.) The fact that
God is not merciless, that He does not disregard
the weak and imperfect condition--the fact that
He gives us credit for our heart intentions, even when
the weaknesses of the flesh are reproved and punished--
these indications of consideration prompt to the greater
reverence for God than if we merely thought of Him
No wonder we are surprised that one who manifested
so many noble traits should also have manifested such
weaknesses as those condemned in this lesson--adultery
and murder! We think of David the youth, his reverence
for God, his faith, his loyalty, his trials, his difficulties;
and we wonder how he could become so changed
in so short a time. The secret is not far to seek. It
is easier to live a wholly consecrated life in poverty
than when surrounded by wealth and the pleasures, customs
and liberties of the court. The king temporarily
forgot that the Ark, representative of God's favor and
presence, was now in his city. He realized indeed that
the eyes of the Lord were in every place beholding the
evil and the good; yet the seeing of the Tabernacle
should have brought freshly to his mind the thought,
"Thou God seest me."
We may be sure, however, that King David did not
get into so sinful a condition of mind and heart suddenly.
The narrative shows that the matter must have gone
on for months, gradually reaching a culmination. Nor
would it be fair to the king to assume that his heart
was as wrong as his conduct. Rather we must assume,
from subsequent manifestations, that his heart was still
loyal to God and to the principles of righteousness, but
somehow his heart had gone to sleep and his flesh had
become very much alive. He was awake to sin, asleep
to righteousness. He had before him the unfavorable
examples of other kings and the liberties which they
exercised. His relationship with God had made him keen
of intellect; and now, in yielding to temptation, this keenness
of mind was all the more effective in the evil course.
A COURAGEOUS SERVANT OF GOD
David first coveted his neighbor's wife. He did not
rebuke this sinful condition of mind, but allowed it to
proceed until he stole his neighbor's wife. Her husband
was in the war, a faithful soldier. The emergency
seemed to call for his death in order to protect the king
from shame. David's conscience was surely asleep when he
ordered his general to put the faithful soldier in an exposed
place in the attack being made on a certain city,
then to command a retreat and thus leave the most exposed
ones to be killed.
The plan carried out. It cost the life of not only the
defrauded husband, but several others. We can scarcely
imagine how one of King David's loyalty to principle
could have arranged such a plan or how he could have
had any peace under these circumstances. Surely none
of his beautiful Psalms were written during those nine
months or more. But Uriah was dead; and his stolen
wife had been made the wife of David, and shortly their
child was born.
Then appeared the Prophet Nathan before the king.
Wisely bringing his reproof in the form of a parable, he
told of a poor man who had but one ewe lamb and of
how a wealthy neighbor had defrauded him of it. King
David's sense of justice was outraged, and he declared
that the man who did that deed must restore four-fold
and must also be put to death. Then the Lord's Prophet
Nathan pointing to the king, declared, "Thou art the
man!" and promptly drove home the lesson. It required
courage; but whoever has a message from the Lord must
needs have the courage to deliver it--as wisely as possible,
of course, but faithfully.
Instantly King David's heart was aroused; immediately
his conscience was quickened. He saw his own conduct,
not from the standpoint of other kings and what
they did, but from the standpoint of the Divine Law of
righteousness, truth, kindness, mercy. He beheld himself
a sinner. Indeed, under the Law, both the adultery
and the murder were punishable by death. The king
instantly acknowledged his sin, and prayed, fasted and
mourned. Meantime the Prophet, by Divine direction,
informed the king that for all this the Lord would not
cause his death nor take from him all his loving-kindnesses,
because he had confessed and repented; but that,
nevertheless, the child of his sin should not live and the
king himself would in after time suffer severe punishments
for his transgressions.
Here we perceive a principle of the Divine Government
in respect to those who are the people of God and
are in covenant relationship with Him. Justice would
have been required in respect to the sins; but to the repentant
soul the Lord's favor would, nevertheless, still
be granted. Many Christians have had experience along
this line. God does not continue to treat them as sinners;
but, accepting their heart contrition, He forgives them
in that sense of the word; yet true to His arrangement,
"Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." In
this Divine arrangement there is nothing to encourage
sin, but, on the contrary, everything to encourage righteousness;
[R5681 : page 139] and if sin be fallen into, everything to encourage
the sinner to accept Divine forgiveness and to
reform his life, even though he shall be obliged to bear
some severe penalty--perhaps to his tomb.
THE PSALM OF REPENTANCE
Very many Christians have been encouraged to repentance
by the Fifty-first Psalm. Surely none have been
encouraged by it to sin. It is said that Voltaire, the
infidel, once attempted a burlesque of this Psalm, but
became so awed by its solemn tone that he threw down
the pen and fell back dazed on his couch, full of remorse.
Bishop Hall, commenting, says, "How can we presume
of not sinning, or despair for sinning, when we find so
great a saint thus fallen, thus risen?" We should remember,
however, that noble as King David was, he was
not a saint in the New Testament sense of that word.
He may have been equally saintly in heart intentions, but
he had not been accepted of the Lord and begotten of
the Holy Spirit; for "the Holy Spirit was not yet given,"
as we read in John 7:39.
The giving of the Holy Spirit and its begetting to a
new nature began at Pentecost, and has continued since.
If we are astonished that King David should be overtaken
in such faults, how much more would we be astonished
if any saint of God, begotten of the Holy Spirit, should
fall into such a trap of the Adversary. The spirit-begotten
ones have much advantage every way--not only
through the greater enlightenment which comes to them
through the better knowledge of the Divine character,
the Divine Plan and the Divine promises, but also by
reason of having the Lord Jesus as their Helper under the
assurance that "All things shall work together for good
to them" (Romans 8:28); and that the Lord will not
suffer them to be tempted above that they are able; but
will with every temptation also provide a way of escape.
--1 Corinthians 10:13.
"Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy loving
kindness; according unto the multitude of Thy tender
mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly
from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For
I acknowledge my transgressions; and my sin is ever
before me." These words of honesty assure us that the
king was overtaken in some kind of fog which for months
obscured his mental vision. Earth-born clouds and fleshly
weaknesses arose like a veil between his soul and the
Lord, shutting out the light of the Lord's countenance.
The lesson applies to all who have ever been in covenant
relationship with God. The poet has expressed
what ought to be the sentiment of every Christian, discerning
the slightest shadow between the Lord and himself:
"Sun of my soul, my Father dear,
I know no night when Thou art near.
Oh, may no earth-born cloud arise
To hide Thee from Thy servant's eyes!"
The important lesson here is that we shall keep close
accounts with God. No child of God should go forth in
the morning without an earnest petition to Him for Divine
supervision of his affairs and for help to walk in
the right path. No child of God should retire at night
without a retrospective glance on all the day's pathway,
to discern to what extent it has been a profitable one
and has brought him a day's march nearer the Heavenly
Home. Or, if perchance something has occurred of
which he should feel ashamed, it is none too soon to go
at once to the Throne of Heavenly Grace to obtain mercy
and find fresh help for future times of need.
The child of God thus keeping daily accounts with
the Father and with the Redeemer, will abide in Their
love and not be in danger of falling into any such great
sins as these noted in this lesson. Even King David, we
may be sure, would have fallen into no such sins had he
not allowed gradually to arise earth-born clouds of fleshly
hues between the Lord and himself.
[R5682 : page 139]
"Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine
iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew
a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from
Thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation; and uphold
me with Thy free Spirit. Then will I teach transgressors
Thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto Thee."
Although the Holy Spirit was not given to the Ancient
Worthies in the same sense that it is given to the Church,
it was nevertheless the manifestation of God's favor
toward them in their affairs, as the king here intimates.
We are to remember that from Moses down to John the
Baptist, according to the Scriptures, there was a House
of Servants under Moses; but that during this Gospel
Age there is a House of Sons, begotten of the Holy
Spirit, under the chief Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.--