What the Bible says about
(From Forerunner Commentary)
2 Samuel 9:1-13
We might easily pass over this story as being quaint or charming, but it is much more than that. God intends it as an object lesson to us on our responsibility to perform acts of kindness. It also teaches us a great deal about David's heart and why he was beloved of God.
Saul and three of his four sons had been killed in battle on Mount Gilboa. A fourth son survived only to be assassinated, ending an attempt to set up a rival kingdom. All that remained of the once high and proud house of Saul were some daughters and some sons by a concubine. Meanwhile, David prospered as he consolidated his kingdom by gaining victories everywhere he went.
Despite David's high station and prosperity, he did not forget his and Jonathan's oath or their love for each other when David was the lowly shepherd and Jonathan was heir to the throne. The story gives no indication that anyone prompted David's inquiry. The request came from his own heart, motivated by his faithfulness to his friend and his caring nature.
This seems more remarkable when we consider his undeserved persecutions at Saul's hand, as the aging king became increasingly crazed from jealousy of David's popularity. David could easily have been bitter from having been forced into living the life of a vagabond, dwelling in caves, and existing on the generosity of others while he was doing good for Israel. He could have held a grudge in order to feel justified in retaliating, or spat curses against any of Saul's heirs. Besides, it was the way of Eastern kings to kill off any potential claimants to the throne.
Instead, what came welling up in David's heart was a spontaneous and self-motivated desire to do good to any who remained of Saul's house. But David's language as he questioned Ziba goes still deeper in unfolding his motives. He speaks of showing the "kindness of God" to Saul's house, elevating his motive to an even higher plane as a precursor of Jesus' statement in Luke 6:35-36:
But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Highest. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.
David's statement reveals that he was constrained to use God as the pattern for what he wanted to do for Saul's house. He recognized that he, a sinner like all of us, had received undeserved mercy and kindness from the hand of God. It is as if God is saying that, before we can pass on His kindness, we must first recognize that we have received it from Him. Jesus follows up His statement with another that touches on this area: "Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little" (Luke 7:47).
David's touching example of kindness reveals that he felt responsible to be merciful and kind because our great God had been exceedingly merciful and kind to him by forgiving much and giving much. He is a worthy example of one who loved much because he recognized that God loved him.
The best basis for kindly service to man is experiencing God's mercy. Indeed, we can say that long before a person can be truly merciful, God has been merciful to him. Religion is not pure and undefiled unless it manifests itself in this quality of kindly given service (James 1:27). Perhaps from this example, we can draw the conclusion that we have not shown our brother all the kindness we owe him unless we have shown him the "kindness of God."
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Patience
2 Samuel 12:15
This is the story of David, Bathsheba, and Uriah the Hittite. Should God have struck David down as soon as he committed adultery? It could have started even earlier, when David looked at her while she was naked in the rooftop bathtub. Or was it after he planned with Joab to kill Uriah on the frontline? Or was it after the dirty deed was done, when Uriah was actually dead? God did not step in at any of those times. Do we realize how long He waited?
II Samuel 12:15 says that Nathan departed to his house, and the Lord struck the child that Uriah's wife bore. The whole period of gestation went by before Nathan came and said to David, "You've sinned." How far had David fallen from grace during this nine-month period since he had committed adultery? He had conspired to kill. He had actually not done the dirty deed himself, but it was attributed to him. Then he had taken Bathsheba as his wife.
Notice in II Samuel 11:27 that God had already imputed the evil to him; He had judged the matter. "But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord." This is a terrible translation. The margin has it more correctly: "But the thing that David had done was evil in the eyes of the Lord." God calls a spade a spade, but He forbore to inflict the penalty for an important reason, which is found in Psalm 51. What did God's forbearance produce in David?
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your loving kindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight—that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge. (Psalm 51:1-4)
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You. (Psalm 51:10-13)
What did this episode produce in David? Repentance for sure, and tremendous growth in character. It produced Psalm 51 itself, which is a major piece of writing in all the history of the world. How many countless people has it taught repentance and the building of character? God had greater purposes here than merely punishing transgression. Remember, David did not get away with this, because when Nathan came to him, he said, "From this time on your house is going to have problems, buddy. You're not getting away with this sin. It's going to follow you for the rest of your days, and your childrens' and your grandchildrens'." If the throne of England is any witness to this, the punishment is still falling on David's house. There are problems in the family of David that frequently show up in sexual problems and war. They have terrible dynastic squabbles.
If God blasted everyone at the first sign of sin, we would never have the chance to build character. No one would ever make it into God's Kingdom. We would all be just oil spots on the road. We would never have the chance to repent and say, "God, I was wrong. Lead me in the right way. Please don't take your Holy Spirit from me. If you allow me to live, I'll teach sinners not to do as I have done."
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
When David saw the enormity of his sin, he realized he had hurt God and His purpose. His sorrow, chagrin, and remorse reached deeply into his heart, mind, and entire being. Our opposition to God should create a similar deep emotional response in us, for we have all played major roles in our Savior's death. He died for our sins. Emotional sorrow alone is not the answer, however. Paul says godly sorrow produces repentance (change) toward salvation, while worldly sorrow is like saying, "I'm sorry I got caught. I'll be more careful next time I sin."
Martin G. Collins
Basic Doctrines: Repentance
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