Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”
And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.”
2 Samuel 12:13-14
After David and Bathsheba sinned and after David had Uriah killed as a cover-up, the prophet Nathan comes to David with a message from the LORD. The message is couched in a parable — the story of the wealthy man taking the poor man’s lamb to feed a guest (vv 1–4) — and David is rightly indignant about the actions of the wealthy man in the story (vv 5–6).
When Nathan confronts David with the idea that he (David) is the wealthy man from the story (vv 7–12), David confesses his sin (v 13a). It is worthy of note that David does not ask for forgiveness or try to make a plea bargain with God or any of the other things to which I find myself tempted. David simply admits that what he did was sinful. And David’s confession results in forgiveness of his sin (v 13b), just as I am told that I am forgiven if I confess my sin (1 John 1:9).
Nathan has one last piece of bad news for David: the son born to David and Bathsheba will die. The reason given for the child’s death is that David and Bathsheba’s actions gave occasion to LORD’s enemies to blaspheme. If God were to allow the child to live, the enemies of God might take that as a tacit approval of what David and Bathsheba had done. So, the child had to die. More, the child’s death as an infant is a piece of mercy compared to what the rest of David’s children will endure. David’s family is the poster family for dysfunction. Amnon will rape his half-sister Tamar and Tamar’s brother, Absalom, will murder Amnon for that. Later, Absalom will stage a coup and murder more of David’s children. Things get messy and this infant boy passes from life into eternity without enduring any of that.
This account brings me around to God’s forgiveness. The only requirement for me to receive God’s forgiveness is for me to confess my sin. David confessed his sin — I have sinned against the LORD — and was forgiven — The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die. There is, however, an often-overlooked caveat to this: God forgives the punishment for my sin, the consequence may very well still follow. If I commit sexual sin, then it is entirely likely that unplanned pregnancies or disease may result. If I commit violence, then it is likely I will suffer violence. If I lie habitually, then I am likely to be caught in those lies or be lied to in ways that cause me harm. If I steal, then I am likely to be caught and suffer the consequences for that crime. I may even be stolen from. No action is without reaction and God’s promise is to forgive me my sin, not to take away the consequence of it.
Father, thank You that You are faithful to forgive me my sin and cleanse me of all unrighteousness if I will but confess my sin. Thank You that David is given as an example of that forgiveness. Please make my heart one that is willing and ready to confess when I sin and make my mind one that is aware that actions have consequences.