Let God Be True

“Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight.” (Psalm 51:4 NASB 95)


So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. (2 Samuel 12:13 NKJV)


Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged” (Romans 3:4 ESV). 



When the prophet Nathan confronted David in 2 Samuel 12:13, David realized his sin was against God and that he must let God be true (Romans 3:4). Even after much reflection and heart examination, he doesn’t pull back from this outlook but reinforces it in Psalm 51:4, “Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight.”


Despite any temptation to shift blame or implicate others, David pleaded guilty as charged. Confession to God always involves agreeing with Him in His verdict. David solidly declared that he had sinned, and the sin was against the LORD. He didn’t say that he didn’t sin against others, such as Uriah the Hittite, but God was the primary person offended by the sin. 


Justifying God 


David wanted to justify God rather than himself. Moreover, he wanted the world to know that he deserved whatever judgment God brought. He didn’t want people to believe God was unjust or harsh when the punishment happened. God is never wrong, misinformed, mistaken, or unrighteous. 


We must let God be true to His word, which often means following through with the warnings He has made against evildoers. God is not unrighteous when He punishes sin; He is following through with His word. Therefore, we must allow God room to honor His judgments, not just His promises. David knew this, so he “let God be true” (Romans 3:4). It is impossible to overstate the importance of this outlook. 


The People’s Viewpoint


Undoubtedly, people had opinions about David’s sin. When others know our sin, it is easy to get embarrassed and defensive. However, the people knew about David and Bathsheba long before he confessed. Undoubtedly, they waited to see what he would do. 


David taught all of Israel and future generations by example how to respond when we sin. All eyes were on him during this ordeal in Heaven and on earth. He was God’s chosen leader, and leaders must lead, even when they do wrong. So how will “a man after God’s own heart” repent? 


People must know how to make things right with God again, so God chose David’s story as one of our examples. For the people who lived then, they watched it play out in real time. History and the scriptures taught them that God would eventually deal with sin, and they expected Him to do something.


All Eyes on the King


You can’t send men to fetch a married woman back to your bed chamber and pretend nobody knew what was happening. It was scandalous from the beginning. Tabloid publications have made millions on stories such as these. David’s sin was spreading like wildfire whether he knew it or not. 


Once he realized everyone knew, the temptation to pride would be overwhelming. The more people talked about or editorialized the situation, the more difficult it would be to maintain focus on what he had done, which was to sin against God. David’s sin would test him in ways the lion, the bear, and Goliath never could. 


Humility or Arrogance


In the late 1980s, a high-profile minister was caught a second time in a compromising situation that nearly destroyed his ministry. His reaction was very different than king David’s. Newspapers swarmed to cover his response, and even Time Magazine weighed in. The key quote from the address to the congregation was emblazoned; “the Lord told me it’s flat none of your business.” 


If king David had reacted to his sin with Bathsheba by telling Israel, “God told me it’s flat none of your business,” he would have gone down in history in disgrace, and people would not know how to repent before God in similar situations. There would be no Psalm 32 or Psalm 51. David might have backslidden altogether. 


What if David had become arrogant and self-deceived, believing his calling as the king of Israel afforded him the right to sin and get by with it? The enemy deceives leaders into thinking they are “special” to God, and somehow He overlooks their sins. The opposite is true. The closer a person is to God, the greater the judgment, not less (James 3:1 ESV). 


Sinning Against God


When a believer is caught in a sin, we must look for their recognition that their sin is against God. No excuses. No blame shifting. Moreover, it’s not an attitude that says, “this is between God and me, so butt out and accept it.” That’s not what David said or meant. 


Even though David was king of Israel, he could not afford to downplay his sin. He wanted God to be justified and not him. And this is the difference between David’s repentance and what we often see. People refuse to acknowledge what they have done because they are trying to salvage their reputation. They want to move on as if nothing happened. 


Repentance That’s Believable


In 2 Samuel 2:14, God told David that his sin had given God’s enemies a great opportunity or reason to blaspheme Him. That must have broken David’s heart. Remember what he said when Goliath spoke arrogantly and defied God? On that day, David stopped the enemies’ mouths, but now he caused that disrespectful attitude to manifest. A stone and a sling won’t do it this time. His weapon must be repentance. 


The old-timers used to say that one is ready for restoration once their repentance is as notorious as their sin. David’s repentance is legendary. He didn’t get defensive and accuse people of being “holier than thou” because they expected him to repent and mend his ways. He didn’t rebuke the devil or accuse people of gossip. Instead, he gave them something to talk about for the next 3000 years; how he mightily humbled himself before God in repentance. 


Moving Forward


Some Christians never recover from a fall or repeated falls into sin because they fail to follow the pattern of king David. It was recorded in God’s word, not to embarrass David, but for our learning and example. Instead, they get rebellious, hard, and bitter. Arrogance and what scripture calls a “stiff neck” can lead to backsliding altogether, which carries the risk of becoming the person Ezekiel 18:24 and Hebrews 6:6 warns us about. It is scary to think about. 


David suffered terribly for his sin. The sword never departed his house; scandal and tragedy overtook his children before it was over. This is the nature of sin. Even though David never committed adultery again, the sin with Bathsheeba opened a Pandora’s Box of evil that was hard to close. 


Finding Forgiveness


Repentance should be haughty and not timid, total and not partial, said the preachers of bygone years. What if David had called everyone holier than thou and said it was none of their business? What if he had kept fornicating and conducting himself as if he were “available”? It would have proven his lack of repentance. 


The moment David confessed that he had sinned against the Lord, God put away his sin. This agrees with 1 John 1:9 that “if we confess or acknowledge our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.” History recorded that type of confession in David’s own words, and it remains a lesson for us today. 


“Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight.” (Psalm 51:4 NASB 95)



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