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God’s Mercy to Those Who Repent

By Matthew Black, Pastor

Text: 2 Samuel 12

Date: Wednesday, July 8, 2009, 7pm

Series: Life of David


Tabernacle Baptist Church

7020 Barrington Road

Hanover Park, Illinois 60133

Website: www.GodCentered.info

Introduction: Open your Bible to the book of 2 Samuel 12. The title of this evening’s message is “God’s Mercy to Those Who Repent”. 

David’s fall into sin began with a single thought that he entertained. He did not kick it out of his mind, but gave himself to the inclination. He inclined himself to lust after he was tempted through his eyes.

This narrative of this historical and tragic event in David’s life is for us.  Romans 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”

Scandalous sin does not happen overnight, but it does begin with one unchecked through. One thought can bring absolute devastation in your life if it is given credence. All of us are capable of it. That thought ought to scare us to death, keep us in our prayer closet, and keep us close the only One that can keep us from falling!  Jesus keep me near the cross!

David may have thought his secret was safe—buried with the body of Uriah, but he was wrong. Proverbs 15:3, “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”  We read in 2 Samuel 11:27, “And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD”. It seemed no one would find out that this child Bathsheba gave birth to was the son of adultery. 

I.          The Confrontation that brought Repentance

While David thought his sin had been buried with Uriah, God was giving Nathan a message!  “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). Those who know the Lord are in union with Christ.  God could not let David stay in his sin much longer. He sent a counselor, a messenger of repentance, the prophet Nathan.

Whoever God saves, He will sanctify.  God cannot leave us in our sins.

Spurgeon said it well. He said, “Those whom free grace chooses, free grace cleanses. We are not chosen because we are holy, but chosen to be holy: and being chosen, the purpose is no dead letter, but we are made to seek after holiness”.[1]

In both the Old and New Testaments, the LORD says to those who know Him, “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (Leviticus 19:2; 1 Peter 1:16). He says this only because He accomplishes our holiness by living in our heart. The Spirit of God is like a fountain of water springing from our belly into everlasting life. He cannot allow us to continue in sin.   

Remember David became utterly blind to his sin. He self-righteously condemned the rich man in Nathan’s parable who had stolen the one little ewe lamb from the poor man. David’s anger was aroused against the man in the parable. He said, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die!”  At that moment, the prophet Nathan informed David, “Thou art the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7).  What David thought was hidden was really done openly before God in heaven, and God called David on his sin.

II.       The Contrition of Repentance

David’s heart melted within him when he heard Nathan’s words.  The Spirit of God works through the Word of God and the messengers who faithfully deliver it. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Repentance is one of those things that the Holy Spirit works in the heart of the sinner, and He has promised to work it continually to make us like Christ.

The Spirit worked in David, and he confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD”. Repentance is not just a being sorry, but it is a revelation of your sin to be as repulsive as it is in the sight of God.

When Isaiah came to repentance he cried out: “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5).  Repentance is a revelation of God Himself!!

I want you to see how amazing this revelation was.  David was not seeing God at the time Nathan came. Nathan came to give the Word which would strip the scales off of David’s eyes.  David had just proclaimed that the man in the parable who had committed a much lesser crime should die. Certainly, according to God’s Law in Israel, adultery and murder were both crimes that invoked the death penalty. Truly David deserved to die. But God is not to be compared to man. God’s patience is infinite. Even in judgment God always remembers mercy. God never gives His children what we deserve.  “…Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die” (verse 13).  David deserved to die as an adulterer and a murderer. But God would not condemn him. God would not impute David’s iniquity to his own account, but to that of another. Of course at this point, David and Bathsheba’s child would die instead of David. And though this death was for David’s chastening, another child that David would have through Bathsheba would be the line of the child who would die for David.  David named one of his sons by Bathsheba Nathan, in honor of the prophet Nathan who confronted him (1 Chronicles 3:5), and it was that son Nathan, of whom Christ, the child who was born to die for David’s sin, and all our sin, descended (Luke 3:31).[2]

Verse 15 says that after the confrontation, Nathan departed to his house.

III.     The Counselor of Repentance

Nathan was able to speak the truth to David in love. Be careful of those who seem to always tell you what you want to hear. A true friend will let you know when you are not doing right. Proverbs 27:6, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful”.  We often have to bring hard news to those we love. It is better to bring up an offence and DEAL with it, than to act as if everything is ok when it is not. That’s a hypocrisy that we need to get rid of.  So Nathan departed and went to his own house (verse 15).

IV.     The Character of Repentance

David began to fast and pray for seven days. Once David’s heart was restored to God, he began to seek God earnestly on behalf of the child. During this time he truly believed that it was possible for God to lift the illness from the child. We read in verse 22, “And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?”

These seven days of prayer and fasting were days of cleansing for David. It is here in this Psalm we see the character of repentance. Repentance totally and utterly realigns our heart with God.  David wrote in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me”. This was a work of God. God had to cleanse his heart. When we repent, we are asking God to restore us and renew us and create our union with Him anew and afresh.  That is why we can always say that repentance is REVIVAL. It is God’s life being created in us anew and afresh.

V.        The Comeliness of Repentance

Verses 16-18, “David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth. 17  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.”

Here we see true repentance, because now David is not bitter about getting caught, but truly moved for his son. His heart is no longer selfish and carnal, but renewed and in touch with God. David has a seven day prayer meeting with God.

How beautiful is repentance!  How wonderful it is that at one moment we can be so far from God, and then because of Christ’s mercy, we can be restored in our relationship with God in a moment.

VI.     The Consequences of Sin even after Repentance

It is probable that David wrote Psalm 51 at this time. As David repented, God brought chastening to him through striking the child with a mortal illness. Verse 15, “the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick”. The illness would last seven days and end in death.

Application: There are many who wrongly attribute pain and suffering to Satan and prosperity to God. According to this passage, God struck the infant with an illness that it would die from.  God is sovereign in sickness and in healing.  He is sovereign over all who are born and all who die.

Application: God’s chastening is a very real sign of His love. When you or I are in the midst of His displeasure, we can take comfort that “whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Hebrews 12:6). God will not keep us in a trial of our faith for longer than is necessary. He is a merciful God. He always has our best in mind.


Verse 18, “And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died”. Even though God was going to receive mercy from God, there are still consequences of sin.  Remember verse 13, “the Lord hath put away thy sin”, but verse 10 tells us that David’s family would be forever affected—“the sword shall never depart from thine house”.

Sin has its consequences! If a man gets into a drunken brawl and loses his arm, he may come to faith in Christ and be forgiven and changed, but his arm is not going to grow back.

Galatians 6:7, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap”.

Though God forgives us of the eternal guilt of sin, what is done upon this earth always has consequences.  This is the law of sowing and reaping.

VII.   The Comfort of Repentance. Once we are restored, there is a great comfort.


A.   There is comfort in resting in God’s pardon. When you are pardoned by God, He will never bring it up again!


Verses 18-20, “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? 19  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. 20  Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat.”

Once this chastening was over, David wanted to worship the Lord. He was restored. He knew God’s pardon.

Psalm 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”

B.   There is comfort in resting in God’s providence. David rested in the providence or control of God. His son had just died, and he was able to worship the Lord. He was able to accept it. This did not make sense to David’s servants.

Verses 21-23, “Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. 22  And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? 23  But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”

C.   Finally there is a comfort in resting in God’s favor. Even though we sin, God not only pardons us, but He restores His hand of blessing and favor on us. The famous blessing of Numbers 6 is really what God promises all who trust in His Son. Look at Numbers 6:25-26, “The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: 26  The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”

I want you to see how God’s face shines upon David after his repentance. We see that God took away his first son with Bathsheba, but he now forgives and restores all his grace and favor.  Look at 2 Samuel 12:24-25, “And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the LORD loved him. 25  And he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD”.

God sent a message to David through Nathan when Solomon was born.  It was as if He said, “David, I heard your prayer. I’ve accepted your broken heart. I gave you this son.  I love him. His name is Jedidiah, loved of the Lord.”  God says, “I love your son, and I’m going to use him. I’m going to put my hand of blessing on him”.

Conclusion: Even in judgment and chastisement, God is a God of grace. He never gives us what we deserve.

And just so you can understand that we cannot comprehend the love and grace of God, understand that Bathsheba was the mother of four children, two, Nathan and Solomon, who would be the line of the Savior. Nathan was the line for Joseph, and Solomon for Mary.


[1] Charles Spurgeon. Exploring the Mind and Heart of the Prince of Preachers (Oswego, IL: Fox River Press, 2005), 228.

[2]Matthew Henry. Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and unabridged in one volume (Peabody: Hendrickson: 1996), 2 Samuel 12:15.

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