At this point, it was all about damage control for David. So he did the unthinkable. David sent Uriah back to the siege with a sealed message for Joab, the commanding officer of the army. He ordered Joab to place Uriah in the forefront of the conflict and then pull back when the fighting became fierce. This was a death sentence for Uriah. But it was also a death sentence for the scores of warriors David knew would fight beside Uriah to the bloody end. This was a colossal abuse of power. This was murder. Joab carried out his orders. Uriah was killed. Bathsheba played the part of the mourning wife. David played the part of the comforting friend. Then he brought her to the palace and married her. David succeeded in controlling the outcomes. But he broke just about every one of the Ten Commandments
along the way. Whereas the people around him were powerless to address the evil done by their king, God was not. David’s deeds were “evil in the sight of the L ORD ” (2 Sam. 11:27 NASB ). This was an evil that could not be overlooked. As David was about to discover, grace and discipline are not mutually exclusive. One does not preclude the other. Discipline is often an expression of grace. So one afternoon the prophet Nathan made an unexpected visit to the palace. The same prophet Nathan had on a previous visit assured David of God’s everlasting favor. He confronted the king and the king broke. “I have sinned against the L ORD ,” he declared (2 Sam. 12:13). Psalm 51 is believed to be David’s official lament after being confronted by Nathan. Listen to the basis of David’s appeal. Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. (v. 1) David understood that grounds for redemption and forgiveness were to be found exclusively in God’s unfailing love. His only hope was grace. Later he declares, “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings” (v. 16). David would not hide behind the ritual of animal sacrifice. He would not pretend that the blood of animals would make things right between God and him. There was nothing he could do. He was completely at God’s mercy. David was genuinely repentant. Apparently, his heart was broken over his sin. And
now he had no choice but to wait and see how God would respond. The prophet Nathan was very direct with David that day. The consequences of David’s abuse of royal power would reverberate for generations. Nathan declared, “Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own. This is what the L ORD says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight.