A new year often provides new opportunities and new beginnings. And like many of the biblical characters, Christians often need a new beginning of obedience with God.
Second Samuel 11 records a sad and sordid story in the life of David. While his army was off at war, David was back in Jerusalem with time on his hands. One night while gazing down on Jerusalem from the roof of his palace, he saw a woman bathing. Although it was dark, David could see by the light of the night sky that she was a beautiful woman. Instead of turning from this temptation, David yielded to his own lust.
He inquired about the woman and learned that her name was Bathsheba and that her husband, Uriah, served in his army. It was not too late for David to say “No” to sin and turn from his temptation. But instead, he invited Bathsheba to his palace and had sexual relations with her. Later, when David learned that Bethsheba was pregnant, he attempted to cover up his sin. When this failed, he had his faithful soldier, Uriah, killed on the battlefield. He then married Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba.
God was not pleased with what David had done. 2 Samuel 12 records how David was confronted and convicted about his sin. This chapter illustrates five steps to a new beginning with God.
Commission (2 Sam. 12:1)
The first step in David’s new beginning with God took place when God raised up and commissioned the prophet Nathan to confront David with his sin. God frequently uses another believer to help us get back on the right path when we have fallen into sin. When a brother or sister is struggling with sin and being deceived by the Devil, we must be willing to be God’s instrument to encourage revival and restoration.
Confrontation (2 Sam. 12:2-8)
The second step in David’s new beginning with God was when Nathan confronted David with his sin. Nathan lived in an oriental culture where a face to face confrontation would have been difficult. And so Nathan used an indirect approach. Nathan told the story of a rich man who had many flocks and herds, but he took the lamb of a very poor man and slaughtered it to feed his guest. David was quick to recognize that a great injustice had been done! When Nathan applied the parable to David, the king realized that he was the one who had done a grave injustice to Uriah and Bathsheba. David had complained that the rich man in the story had shown no compassion. In reality, David was the one who had shown no compassion on Uriah!
Commandment (2 Sam. 12:9-10)
In the third step of David’s fresh start with God was when Nathan pointed out how David’s actions had violated the Word of God. David was guilty of coveting, adultery and murder. In bringing the Word of God before David, the Lord provides a good pattern for those situations in which we must confront others. It doesn’t matter what we think about a person’s actions. What matters is what God says about them.
Consequences (2 Sam. 12:11)
The fourth step in David’s new beginning of obedience was to recognize the awful consequences of his sin. Nathan’s predictions of the consequences of David’s sin were literally fulfilled in years that followed David’s sin with Bathsheba. David’s two sons, Amnon (13:38-39) and Absalom (18:15), died violent deaths. Tamar, David’s daughter, was raped by her brother, Amnon (13:1-14). Absalom rebelled against his father and publicly appropriated David’s royal concubines (16:22). David experienced a biblical principle known as “the law of the harvest.” David sowed the seeds of sin and immorality, and he reaped a harvest of sin and immorality in his own family.
Confession (2 Sam. 12:12:13)
Although David sinned in a grievous way against the Lord, his heart was sensitive to Nathan’s rebuke. David immediately confessed his sin. Confession of sin is the fifth step in beginning again with God. David confessed his sin and God immediately forgave him. The more complete, poetic version may be found in Psalm 51. David’s confession of his sin resulted in God’s forgiveness. And this led to a restoration of his spiritual vitality.
A new beginning of obedience in our relationship with God is called “revival.” And the essence of revival is a revitalized walk with God. Spiritual revival reestablishes the believer’s highest priority–our relationship with God. The beginning of a new year is a great time for a new beginnings—especially a new beginning with God!
About J. Carl Laney
J. Carl Laney teaches Biblical Literature at Western Seminary and is an instructor for Western's Israel Study Program. Carl has authored numerous books, including most recently, “Loving Your Enemy: A Biblical Alternative to Revenge” (Ministry: International Journal for Pastors, July 2011).