David is one of the most popular characters in the Bible. He triumphed over a lion, a bear, and a giant.
He maintained integrity while hunted like a wild animal by King Saul. He even led God’s people to spiritual dedication while he was king.
However, even a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22) can mess up his life. David sinned and messed up his. He acted irresponsibly (2 Samuel 11:1), irreverently (11:2–5) and irrationally (11:6–27). David broke 50% of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20):
  • #7: Adultery (2 Samuel 11:4)
  • #10: Coveted neighbor’s wife (2 Samuel 11:3)
  • #8: Stole another man’s wife (2 Samuel 12:9)
  • #9: Lied (2 Samuel 11:7–8, 12–13)
  • #6: Murdered (2 Samuel 11:17; 12:9)

David’s sin was great.

What help did David need?

  • David needed someone to be totally honest about the sin in his life. He didn’t need someone to soothe his conscience or pacify his soul; he needed truth and honesty. Nathan was the man (2 Samuel 12:1–4).
  • David needed a heart that could be broken. He needed a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17); a heart that was tender and receptive.
  • David needed assurance of forgiveness. Our number one problem is sin; thus our number one need is the forgiveness of sin (Psalm 32:1).
  • David needed continued strength to carry on after his sin had been forgiven. There is great need for encouragement and exhortation in the world and in the church. Paul said, “lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow” (2 Corinthians 2:7).

David learned some valuable lessons:

  • He learned the certainty of exposure (Numbers 32:23).
  • He learned the certainty of harvest time (Galatians 6:7).
  • He learned the certainty of separation (Isaiah 59:1–2).

What did David do when confronted with his sin?

  • David admitted/acknowledged his sin (2 Samuel 12:13). He showed personal responsibility for his sin though he was not the only sinner.
  • David turned to God (Psalm 51:4). There are no small sins against the great God.
  • David asked God for forgiveness (Psalm 51:1). He didn’t use elaborate or soft vocabulary. He said, “I have sinned.”

God forgave him.

Conclusion: In the original Hebrew, David’s statement “I have sinned against the Lord” amounts to only two words: hata al-Yahweh. These two words, and the heart they reflect, show the fundamental difference between David and Saul.

Confession doesn’t need to be long to be real and sincere. David’s confession is an example for each of us. He placed the blame squarely on his own shoulders. He did not minimize his offense. David realized that his sin was against God. —Mark N. Posey, Decatur, Alabama

“Have mercy upon me, O God.” – Psalm 51:1


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  1. Excellent study. I loved it, especially that you can hover over the verses and read them directly. At the beginning of the New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah (Jer. 31:31-34 cf. Hebrews 8:7ff), John the Baptist was sent to make the Lord’s way straight. He was entreating people to REPENT and be baptized FOR forgiveness of their sins, Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3. Many were doing so. Then he even baptized (anointed) Jesus (Acts 10:37-38) who also began preaching repentance for the soon coming of the kingdom of God (Matthew 4:17). Then on the Day of Pentecost, Peter made the whole matter clear to the entire Jewish world (Acts 2:8-10) that one would have to HEAR the gospel message (1 Co. 15:1-4), BELIEVE it, Acts 2:36-38, CONFESS that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, just as Peter confessed which IS the foundation of the Lord’s church, Cf., Matthew 16:16-18 and Romans 10:9-10. Then and only then must one be BAPTIZED FOR forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38, 22:16 — just as Paul did) so that we may receive the indwelling Holy Spirit who will raise us up on the very last day to be taken to heaven, Romans 8:9-11. There is no other way, and everyone from the Day of Pentecost on obeyed the gospel (1 Pe 4:17, 2 Thess. 1:6-8) in the waters of baptism, Romans 6:3-17, which is the only “pattern” or “form of teaching” that was ever given, which everyone obeyed. So too must we, if we want to go to heaven.


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