“He restoreth my soul,” says David while recounting the wonderful ways of his Divine Shepherd (Psalm 23:3). David’s failure is a solemn example of the weakness of the human heart, but his restoration is an uplifting reminder of God’s abundant grace.
Like David, we are slow to learn that no past experience of the Lord’s goodness, no measure of communion with Him in days gone by, and no amount of favor shown us by the Lord, are any safeguard against today’s temptation. After David had been led by the hand of God through all the dangers and trials of his exile under Saul, after he had obtained undisputed possession of the throne to which God had appointed him, and after God had given him rest and prosperity on every side, David failed miserably. He experienced the full force of this truth: “Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14,15).
It is not my intent to dwell on the circumstances of David’s adultery with Bathsheba, or the killing of her husband. Rather, let us notice that there is no more inherent power of recovery in a believer, than there is in an unconverted sinner. A saint, when fallen, can no more restore himself to fellowship with God, than a poor sinner can save himself. The only Savior is the only Restorer, too.
Did David immediately perceive how deeply he had fallen, and how terribly he had dishonored God? No, his only thought seems to have been how he could shield his reputation by the concealment of his sin. In so doing, he was led into even greater transgressions. He did not show even the slightest sign of contrition. Then Nathan was sent by the Lord to speak a parable to David which revealed his guilt. “Thou art the man,” drives home to his conscience, and David acknowledges, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13).
God, in grace, restores David, but He must make it clear that He neither sanctions David’s sin, nor winks at it. David, through all of this, has to learn what an evil and bitter thing it is to forsake God. “Whom the Lord loveth He correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth” (Proverbs 3:12). Think of what David passed through: the death of his child, the dishonor of another child, and then the rebellion of Absalom which caused David to flee for his life from Jerusalem. Little did David anticipate all of this when fulfilling the lusts of his flesh and of his mind. But such were the bitter consequences of his ways.
May we all be quick to confess our sin and benefit from the restorative work of our heavenly Shepherd.
—Adapted from Present Testimony