Moving Forward

So David gathered all the people together and went to Rabbah, fought against it, and took it. Then he took their king’s crown from his head. Its weight was a talent of gold, with precious stones. And it was set on David’s head. Also he brought out the spoil of the city in great abundance. (2 Samuel 12:29-30)

David was now on the other side – past the sin, past the hiding, past the self-deception and deceiving others. He was past the sting of conviction and the humble repentance, and even past the initial strike of chastisement. The smoke cleared, the dust settled – and God’s theme to David was, “Move forward.”

It was first seen in a passage prior to 2 Samuel 12:29-30. Immediately after the death of the baby born of David and Bathsheba’s adultery, David comforted Bathsheba and they soon had another child. In that passage (2 Samuel 12:24 – click here for more on that passage) the Bible for the first time described Bathsheba as David’s wife. It was only after the cycle of conviction, confession, and chastisement ran its course that God really accepted this marriage.

Yet, in a remarkable display of grace, He did accept it. The second son born to David and Bathsheba was named Solomon – and he became David’s heir and successor to the throne of Israel. There was no reason why God should allow the child of a sin-stained relationship to rise to such prominence, except to show that divine mercy wiped clean the stain of sin.

David had to move forward in more than his family life. God did not want him to remain in Jerusalem, paralyzed by the guilty memory of his shameful sins. Once they were dealt with in the cycle of conviction, confession, and chastisement, then God wanted David to get back to the battle. In a sense, this whole sordid mess began when David stayed back from the battle raging at Rabbah and on an idle afternoon saw a beautiful woman bathing. God’s prescription was “no more idleness” for David, and he was to move on to the battle.

So our text for this week tells us, “David gathered all the people together and went to Rabbah.” This was the final phase of David’s restoration. He went back to doing what he should have done all along – leading Israel out to battle, instead of remaining in Jerusalem. He probably wondered if the people would follow when he led them – but God’s hand was upon David as in days of old and they did. It was an inspiring sight – David leading the people of God into war against the enemies of the Lord and the Lord’s people. David must have cherished the renewed sense of purpose and direction – and the hand of the Lord upon it all.

God’s hand was upon David. When he came to Rabbah he “fought against it, and took it.” David was in victory once again. As the battle raged, perhaps David battled doubts as much as he battled Ammonites. “Will God bless me in battle?” “Perhaps because of my past sin I can never win again.” It was a battle, so we know that everything did not just fall to David easily. He had to put forth effort and concentrated thought – yet God’s blessing was evident upon it all. His sin did not condemn him to a life of failure and defeat. There was chastisement for David’s sin, but it did not mean that his life was ruined.

We are left in a triumphant scene at the end of verse 30. In our passage, we read first that David “took their king’s crown” and then that “it was set on David’s head.” God still had crowns for David. His sin didn’t take away his crown. Had David refused the voice of Nathan the Prophet it might have. Because David responded with confession and repentance, there was sill a crown for David’s head.

The full tragedy of David’s sin has yet to be seen. It was more than just the aftermath of the Bathsheba scandal. David disobeyed God’s plan for family life for many years before Bathsheba and the bitter fruit of that disobedience would be painfully evident in his sons. God did not remove all the consequences of David’s sin. We might think of sin as a nail pounded into the wood board of life, and though the nail can be removed, it still leaves a hole behind. Yet we should not think for a moment that this principle means King David was now subject to a life of futility and defeat. The end of 2 Samuel 12 shows us that God’s restoration in his life meant victories ahead. In the words of an ancient Christian named Augustine, “David’s fall should put those who have not fallen on their guard, and save from despair those who have.”

Perhaps this week you can encourage a despairing saint – especially if it means moving forward to encourage yourself in the Lord and His truth.

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David’s weekly devotional is also translated into German.

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