Even though David was a man after God’s own heart, the narrative of his life is dominated, more than any other single event, by his sin with Bathsheba. One of the great heroes of Scripture is led by lust to commit adultery and murder. This was disastrous for David, and it should be sobering for us. If he fell so spectacularly, can any of us imagine that we are above falling?
In particular, we need to pay attention to the way that David deceived himself about his sin. When Nathan recasts the story of David, Bathsheba, and Uriah in the form of a parable in 2 Samuel 12:1-4, David has no trouble spotting the wrongdoer. He’s outraged that a man who had so much should take from a man who had so little. In fact, he insists that the rich man must die because of his evil deed and lack of compassion.
And yet, when we compare David’s sin to the sin of the rich man in the parable, it’s obvious who was the greater transgressor. The rich man killed a lamb; David took a man’s wife and murdered him to cover up the sin. However, until Nathan’s accusation, David refuses to acknowledge the sin in his own life, much less get outraged over it.
How easy it is for us to fall into the same trap! We see the sins of others so clearly. The Bible says not to do X, but they did X anyway. We condemn them. We’re not interested in circumstances, and we reject any attempt by the sinner to point to circumstances as an excuse.
It’s right that we should do these things (though we are also commanded to restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness). No disciple of Jesus can condone sin. However, we have a much more difficult time applying the same strict standard to ourselves. Instead, we’re likely to convert a judgment call into a clearly acceptable activity, and a clear sin into a judgment call.
Additionally, what we see as an excuse when it comes to somebody else’s sin too often becomes a justification when it comes to our own. Well, yes, we know what we did was wrong, but there’s this other thing! How many married porn users have justified their sin by pointing to their spouse’s unwillingness to meet their intimate needs? How many alcoholics have justified their drunkenness by pointing to the circumstances that make their lives “too hard to bear”?
All of them?
Such self-deception is deadly. As David observes in Psalm 51:6 (written right after his acknowledgement of his sin with Bathsheba), God delights in truth in the inward being. David knew that he had gone wrong first of all by lying to himself about what he was doing.
We might swallow our own excuses, but God never will. If we accept what He can’t, we will only condemn ourselves. The only solution to the problem is to consider our own lives with the unflinching honesty we turn on the lives of others. Are we righteous, or aren’t we? We have to own the truth, and we have to act accordingly.