1. AT EASE IN THE BROAD WAY
a. Trace the course which led David to go astray. 2 Samuel 11:1–4. How are we warned against this sin? Hebrews 13:4.
“It was the spirit of self-confidence and self-exaltation that prepared the way for David’s fall. Flattery and the subtle allurements of power and luxury were not without effect upon him. . . . According to the customs prevailing among Eastern rulers, crimes not to be tolerated in subjects were uncondemned in the king; the monarch was not under obligation to exercise the same self-restraint as the subject. All this tended to lessen David’s sense of the exceeding sinfulness of sin. And instead of relying in humility upon the power of Jehovah, he began to trust in his own wisdom and might. . . .
“David was surrounded by the fruits of victory and the honors of his wise and able rule. It was now, while he was at ease and unguarded, that the tempter seized the opportunity to occupy his mind. The fact that God had taken David into so close connection with Himself and had manifested so great favor toward him, should have been to him the strongest of incentives to preserve his character unblemished. But when in ease and self-security he let go his hold upon God, David yielded to Satan and brought upon his soul the stain of guilt. He, the Heaven-appointed leader of the nation, chosen by God to execute His law, himself trampled upon its precepts.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 717, 718.
2. A DOWNWARD COURSE
a. How does Jesus explain what makes a person vulnerable to sin? John 15:5 (last part); Romans 8:5, 6.
“Whatever diverts the mind from God, whatever leads to self-exaltation or to self-dependence, is surely preparing the way for our overthrow. . . .
“As soon as Satan can separate the soul from God, the only Source of strength, he will seek to arouse the unholy desires of man’s carnal nature. The work of the enemy is not abrupt; it is not, at the outset, sudden and startling; it is a secret undermining of the strongholds of principle. It begins in apparently small things—the neglect to be true to God and to rely upon Him wholly, the disposition to follow the customs and practices of the world.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 717, 718.
b. What complicated David’s situation? 2 Samuel 11:5. Explain why God could not prosper David’s attempt to cover his sin. 2 Samuel 11:10–13.
“Every effort which David made to conceal his guilt proved unavailing. He had betrayed himself into the power of Satan; danger surrounded him, dishonor more bitter than death was before him.”—Ibid., pp. 718, 719.
c. How did David feel when he was induced to add sin to sin—and how did God feel about this? 2 Samuel 11:14–17, 26, 27; Psalm 32:3, 4.
“There appeared but one way of escape [for David], and in his desperation he was hurried on to add murder to adultery. He who had compassed the destruction of Saul was seeking to lead David also to ruin. Though the temptations were different, they were alike in leading to transgression of God’s law.”—Ibid., p. 719.
“[David] had excused his own sinful course to himself, until his ways seemed passable in his own eyes. One wrong step had prepared the way for another. . . .
“When David departed from God, and stained his virtuous character by his crimes, he was no longer a man after God’s own heart.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4A, pp. 86, 87.
3. A SEVERE REBUKE
a. What message did God send by Nathan the prophet? 2 Samuel 12:1–9.
“God in His mercy did not leave David to be lured to utter ruin by the deceitful rewards of sin.
“For the sake of Israel also there was a necessity for God to interpose. As time passed on, David’s sin toward Bathsheba became known, and suspicion was excited that he had planned the death of Uriah. The Lord was dishonored. He had favored and exalted David, and David’s sin misrepresented the character of God and cast reproach upon His name. It tended to lower the standard of godliness in Israel, to lessen in many minds the abhorrence of sin; while those who did not love and fear God were by it emboldened in transgression.”—
Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 720.
b. Relate the response of David and the immediate mercy of God. 2 Samuel 12:13. Nevertheless, what were to be some of the bitter consequences of David’s sin? 2 Samuel 12:10–12, 14.
“David awakens as from a dream. He feels the sense of his sin. He does not seek to excuse his course, or palliate his sin, as did Saul; but with remorse and sincere grief, he bows his head before the prophet of God, and acknowledges his guilt. Nathan tells David that because of his repentance, and humble confession, God will forgive his sin, and avert a part of the threatened calamity, and spare his life. Yet he should be punished, because he had given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme. This occasion has been been improved by the enemies of God, from David’s day until the present time. Skeptics have assailed Christianity, and ridiculed the Bible, because David gave them occasion. . . .
“God shows His displeasure at David’s having a plurality of wives by visiting him with judgments, and permitting evils to rise up against him from his own house. The terrible calamity God permitted to come upon David, who for his integrity was once called a man after God’s own heart, is evidence to after generations that God would not justify any one in transgressing His commandments, but that He will surely punish the guilty, however righteous, and favored of God they might once have been while they followed the Lord in purity of heart. When the righteous turn from their righteousness and do evil, their past righteousness will not save them from the wrath of a just and holy God.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4A, pp. 86, 87.
4. GENUINE REPENTANCE NEEDED
a. Describe the depth of David’s heartfelt repentance. Psalm 51:1–4, 7, 10–14. Through sacred song, what open appeal does he make to us all?
“David repented of his sin in dust and ashes. He entreated the forgiveness of God, and concealed not his repentance from the great men, and even servants of his kingdom. He composed a penitential Psalm, recounting his sin and repentance, which Psalm he knew would be sung by after generations. He wished others to be instructed by the sad history of his life.
“The songs which David composed were sung by all Israel. . . . He knew that the confession of his guilt would bring his sins to the notice of other generations. He presents his case, showing in whom was his trust and hope for pardon.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4A, p. 88.
“[David] did not flatter himself that sin was a matter with which he had nothing to do, and that should not concern him. As he saw the depths of deceit in his heart, he was deeply disgusted with himself, and prayed that God would keep him back by His power from presumptuous sins, and cleanse him from secret faults.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 3, p. 1147.
b. What must we all realize about sin? Ezekiel 33:12, 13, 18; 1 John 3:4.
“Sin is sin, whether committed by one sitting on a throne, or by one in the humbler walks of life. The day is coming when all who have committed sin will make confession, even though it is too late for them to receive pardon. God waits long for the sinner to repent. He manifests a wonderful forbearance. But He must at last call the transgressor of His law to account. . . .
“The sincere child of God does not make light of any of His requirements. . . .
“It is not safe for us to close our eyes and harden our consciences, that we shall not see or realize our sins. We need to cherish the instruction we have had in regard to the hateful character of sin in order that we may repent.”—Ibid.
5. FOOD FOR THOUGHT
a. How do we know God accepts repentance? Psalms 51:16, 17; 32:1, 2, 5–7.
“David did not in despair give over the struggle. In the promises of God to repentant sinners he saw the evidence of his pardon and acceptance.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 725.
b. How can David’s repentance encourage us? Isaiah 55:7; 1 John 1:9.
“Many have murmured at what they called God’s injustice in sparing David, whose guilt was so great, after having rejected Saul for what appear to them to be far less flagrant sins. But David humbled himself and confessed his sin, while Saul despised reproof and hardened his heart in impenitence.
“This passage in David’s history is full of significance to the repenting sinner. It is one of the most forcible illustrations given us of the struggles and temptations of humanity, and of genuine repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Through all the ages it has proved a source of encouragement to souls that, having fallen into sin, were struggling under the burden of their guilt. Thousands of the children of God, who have been betrayed into sin, when ready to give up to despair have remembered how David’s sincere repentance and confession were accepted by God, notwithstanding he suffered for his transgression; and they also have taken courage to repent and try again to walk again in the way of God’s commandments.
“Whoever under the reproof of God will humble the soul with confession and repentance, as did David, may be sure that there is hope for him. Whoever will in faith accept God’s promises, will find pardon.”—Ibid., p. 726.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What type of environment might make me more likely to fall into sin?
2. When was David a man after God’s own heart—and when was he not?
3. What can I learn from David if someone confronts me as Nathan did?
4. Why is deep, earnest repentance so important for every one of us?
5. How can the tragic history of David’s fall bring us hope?