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The Innocent Son (II Samuel 12:15b-25)

November 24, 2013 Speaker: Bryce Morgan Series: Crying for a King (Samuel)

Topic: II Samuel Passage: 2 Samuel 12:15–12:25

The Innocent Son
II Samuel 12:15b-25
November 24th, 2013
(One Lord: So Great a Salvation)

 

I. Review of a Royal Repentance

As we've done countless times over the last four years, we are returning this morning to the book of Samuel, specifically to II Samuel 12. If you were with us last time, or were able to listen online, you'll recall that David has been confronted by the prophet Nathan in regard to his heinous, unconscionable acts of adultery with the wife of Uriah, and the subsequent arranging of Uriah's death as a means of covering up his immorality.

Nathan has not only brought God's indictment against David, but he has also issued God's sentence. Verses 10-12: the sword will never depart from David's house, God will raise up evil against David from within his own household, and this rival will take David's wives and lay with them in broad daylight. And what is David's response to God's verdict and punishment? Verse 13: David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”

Now, lest we find this confession a bit too simple and doubt the sincerity of David's repentance, listen to how David would later express his remorse over and rejection of his sinful ways. This is from Psalm 51...

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. [2] Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! [3] For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. [4] Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment...[9] Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. [10] Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:1-4, 9, 10)

But verse 13 also provides us with Nathan's response...we should say, God's response to this royal repentance: And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.” It is this response by Nathan that will serve as the foundation for our entire study this morning; for God's message to you and to me this morning.

 

II. The Passage: “David Therefore Sought God” (II Samuel 12:1-15)

Let's look together at where we left off last time.

 

A. The Sinner Receives God’s Mercy (v. 15)

After Nathan delivered God's message to David, we read in the first sentence of verse 15 that Nathan went home. But look at what we learn in the final half of verse 15...And the LORD afflicted the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and he became sick.

Now wait a minute. What is going on here? Why has God afflicted David's newborn son?
Well, look back at verse 14 and listen to the last half of Nathan's message to David: “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child who is born to you shall die.”

Let me begin with a couple key points this morning:

Number one, David deserved to die. David confirmed that verdict in 12:5. In issuing his sentence against the rich man who took and killed the poor man's ewe lamb, we read, Then David's anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die...

Of course, David's guilt was not based on stealing and slaughtering a lamb. It was based on stealing a man's wife and than arranging for that man to be slaughtered at the hand of the uncircumcised Ammonites. Based on God's law, David was worthy of death on two counts.

But in verse 14 we also find the second point. Even though David deserved death, instead, the innocent son was sentenced to die. This baby was not guilty of adultery and murder, and yet this baby boy was afflicted by God and condemned to death. Now, I think most people would be disturbed by what's going on here. I think most people would be uneasy about what God did in this situation. Did you see what verse 15 said, And the LORD afflicted the child...

Why would God do this? Why would God afflict an infant? Didn't Nathan tell David he was forgiven? No, he did not. Nathan did not tell David that God had forgiven him. If he had, Psalm 51 would read very differently. Think about the verses from Psalm 51 that we looked at before. That psalm is plea FOR forgiveness, not a psalm of praise and thankfulness in light of forgiveness received. David was going to be punished. Judgments were coming, judgments from within David's house, as we talked about a few minutes ago. But in addition to those judgments, David's newborn son was also going to die.

David was not forgiven. But he was shown mercy by the heavenly Judge. He was given a lesser sentence. In Nathan's words, God was going to “put away” David's sin, or literally, “cause to pass away” or “cause to pass from” David. This Hebrew word and this form of the word is also used by the prophet Zechariah when you recounts the vision God gave him of Joshua the high priest.

Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. [4] And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken [“caused to pass” or have “put away”] your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” (Zechariah 3:3-4)

God causes David's sin to “pass from” him so that he does not die. But in the end, someone does die: the baby, the innocent son. The king will live, in spite of his sins, and yet, another will die because of those same sins.

Now, wait a minute. Can God really do this? Most of us don't have a problem with God showing David mercy. We love when God shows us mercy. And we should. In the end, we're no different from David. All of us deserve to die for our sins. As the Apostle Paul would later write: for the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). We want...we need the same mercy David was given.

But we are sometimes tempted to believe that mercy is God's obligation; that somehow, He just has to be merciful to us. But that isn't true. Paul would go on to quote Exodus 33:19 in Romans 9:15...For he [God] says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

But it's not the mercy part we have a problem with. It's the fact that God afflicted a baby; that's what bothers most people. But that should force us to ask this question: “Does God have the right to take a life?” The Bible's answer is always “yes”. God gives life, and as the author of life, He can take it away. David knew where his children came from. He confessed in I Chronicles 28:5... for the LORD has given me many sons.

And just as God can take a life, He can also take one in the place of another. Instead of wiping out Egypt, he took their firstborn boys. Instead of taking all of the firstborn Israelites for His service, God took all of the male Levites in their place. Instead of taking a human sinner, God would accept an animal sacrifice. It is His law and as both Lawgiver and Judge, God decides the verdict. And His decisions are always good and right and just. No exceptions.

Ultimately, David’s child was not truly innocent. None of us are. Sure, that child was not guilty of adultery and murder, but he was nevertheless tainted by sin. David affirms this general truth in the very same psalm of repentance we talked about earlier. In verse 5 of Psalm 51 David writes. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Like that baby, all of us are rebels from the womb. We are born with, not a God-centered, but a self-centered orientation. Therefore, God can rightly remove us from this world, whenever He sees fit. And I believe God did that very thing here, for the greatest of all reasons.

I don’t think we can say that this baby truly bore David’s sin or atoned for David’s sin. But I do believe God was painting a picture here; a picture to prepare us. You see, if all of us, like David, truly deserve to die, then, like David, we too can live because an innocent Son died instead.

Think about it. Are you more disturbed about God afflicting David's infant son, OR about the affliction God brings to the One the prophet Isaiah described?...

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. [5] But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. [6] All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all...Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief... (Isaiah 53:4-6, 10a)

You deserve to die...I deserve to die. But Jesus, the truly Innocent Son, was afflicted; He was condemned to die because of our sins. You see, because of what David did, someone deserved to die. God could not simply brush justice under the rug. And his baby could not truly take David’s sins. No, his death was merely a picture pointing us forward to Jesus, the one who would die for what David did. He died, so that David could receive mercy…so that David could ultimately receive forgiveness from God.

Listen to how the Apostle Paul explains what happened in the Old Testament and how Jesus always was our only hope…

For there is no distinction: [23] for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, [24] and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, [25] whom God put forward as a propitiation [a sacrifice that satisfies His wrath] by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. [26] It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:22b-26)

Yes, it should be hard to hear about this baby suffering and dying. But God used that infant’s death in order to preserve David and, as we shall see, preserve David’s royal line; the family line by which the Messiah would one day come. AND, I believe because of what Jesus would do, that baby was taken into the presence of God.

 

B. The Sinner is Fixated on God’s Grace (vs. 16-23)

Are you truly alive today? Has the sentence of death been lifted from your life because the Innocent Son was afflicted? It can be! If you have received God’s mercy because of Jesus, think about what David’s response to this mercy teaches us about our response. Look at verse 16. After the child became ill, we read…

David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. [17] And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. [18] On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us. How then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.” [19] But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” [20] Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. [21] Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” [22] He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ [23] But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

David’s response should he instructive. In spite of his sin, David remained a man after God’s own heart. I like how one writer expressed this: “To be the man after God’s own heart is not to be sinlessly perfect, but to be, among other things, utterly submissive to the accusing word of God.” (Dale Ralph Davis)

You see, after having experienced God’s grace, David became fixated on God’s grace. It affected everything he did in the aftermath of God’s mercy. Think about what we learn from these verses about being fixated on grace.

1. David knew it should have been him. One commentator does well at fleshing this point out. He writes:

“To us, it seems strange that David was so touched by the death of this child. In the normal run of things, the death of some infant in the harem of an [Ancient Near Eastern] king would have rated little or no attention. Why the difference here? David knew that he deserved to die, according to God's law, and he identified himself, in some sense, with this child, and it was doubtless the acute realization of his gross wickedness and the inevitable consequences of it which God had revealed to him that sent David into this frenzy of fasting, praying, and hoping that God would spare the child.” (James Burton Coffman)

When you think about the cross of Jesus, do you remember that it should have been you up there? What a sobering, what a humbling thought.

2. David knew God’s grace was his only hope. Realizing that God’s grace was the only reason he was still standing, David understood that God’s grace continued to be his only hope in the face of the present crisis. He makes this clear in verse 22: ‘Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ David knew God. He knew firsthand of the surprising nature of God’s grace.

Having received the fullness of God’s grace in Jesus, are we moving forward in grace, confessing that God’s grace is our only hope in all the difficulties we face? That God’s grace is the only hope for those around us who are suffering?

3. David knew God was worthy to be worshiped. Even though the baby died, David understood that God remained worthy of all praise. David had experienced God’s mercy and God’s justice. Was he able to figure everything out? Was David able to make sense of it all? No. Therefore he was humbled and driven to worship the One who is such much greater than us; the One who holds not only life and death in His hand, but also mercy and grace.

The mercy and grace we have received through Jesus Christ, the truly Innocent Son, should drive us to worship, no matter the circumstances…even when we have suffered loss. Why? Because even in our loss God is working for our eternal gain.

 

C. The Sinner is Blessed by God’s Love (vs. 24, 25)

There is one last bit here, one last piece in this story. Look at what we read in verses 24, 25:

Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the LORD loved him [25] and sent a message by Nathan the prophet. So he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD.

While David will still have to face the divine consequences that have been laid out for him, He is reminded of God’s ongoing mercy in the birth of a new baby, Solomon. But it’s even better than that! Unlike any of David’s sons or daughters, this baby is given a special name, by God himself. He is named Jedidiah, which means, “beloved of Yahweh”.

You see, David is comforted by this new baby because this new baby reassures him that God’s promise, also given through Nathan, God’s promise to give his family an eternal throne will stand. He will face the consequences of his sin. But he will do so with hope in God’s promise. And when the gospel writer Matthew sets out to record the genealogy of Jesus, he describes this link in the chain with these words…

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah… (Matthew 1:6b)

Any reader of Matthew 1:6 familiar with the Old Testament would understand the importance of calling Bathsheba “the wife of Uriah”. And it should reassure us as well. It should remind us of the firm, unshakable, indestructible promise we have in Jesus. Forgiveness now. Forgiveness forever. Love now. Love forever. Life now. Life forever.

 

III. So Much Better

The book of Hebrews is an amazing book. One of the reasons it is so powerful is because it so clearly explains how what we have through Jesus is so much better than what was given in the Old Testament. The author speak about the “better things—things that belong to salvation” (6:9). Those include “a better hope” (7:19), “a better covenant” (7:22), “better promises” (8:6), “better sacrifices” (9:23), a “better possession and an abiding (eternal) one” (10:34), including “a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (11:16); “a better life” (11:35). And at the end of Hebrews 11, he reiterates his point: “God had provided something better for us” (11:40).

David was given a lesser sentence, when God’s word came to him. But we have a better message: forgiveness. It’s forgiveness that not only sets us free from the past, but that restores us to God in the present, and assures of a future life in God’s presence.

And it’s all because of the Innocent Son who died.

Have you received what is so much better? Do you recognize that your life is so much better because of what Christ did? I pray you do. Let’s thank God for reminding us this morning of these things, and pray that we go forward as changed people.