Everyone loves a happy ending to a story. Well, most of us do. But life isn't as full of happy endings as we'd like. That's why we like them and we want to believe there will be a happy ending to our life story.
We all want and need hope. Hope helps us endure life's difficulties and struggles. Hope was implanted in us by God when He created us in His image. It's anchored in trust which was and still is the basis of a relationship with God.
When Adam and Eve forsook trust in God to embrace a lie, it resulted in a severe consequence—the cycle of death began (Gen 2:17). This was God's judgment. They were forewarned of this but chose to ignore it. Yet, embedded within God's judgment is the hope of restoration—a happy ending.
Promises of restoration
Continuing with the story from last week, King David indicts himself in response to Nathan the prophet's parable. Nathan then tells David what the consequences will be for his sin. They are severe but there is hope embedded in Nathan's words.
We see a glimmer of this hope when Nathan tells David, “The Lord has taken away your sin; you will not die." (2 Sam 12:13 GW)
When reading through the Bible and of the many judgments foretold and pronounced throughout, it's easy to overlook the promises of restoration embedded within those judgments. This is part of the redemptive thread woven through the Bible.
Human perceptions are limited. We see judgment as punishment more than as justice. Justice is a balancing of the scales but God sees beyond balancing the scales of right and wrong.
God desires to bring reconciliation and restoration. Restoration reaches beyond justice as God extends His mercy to bring reconciliation.
The ripple effect
David's response to God's judgment upon his sin reveals why David was a man after God's own heart (1 Sam 13:14; Acts 13:22). David didn't blame anyone or any circumstance. He owned his own sin with a repentant heart as expressed in Psalm 51—
I have sinned against you, especially you. I have done what you consider evil. So you hand down justice when you speak, and you are blameless when you judge. (Psa 51:4 GW)
If God forgave David for this sin, why did David need to suffer such great consequences? (2 Sam 12:10-14) What David put in motion by his sin had natural consequences. This is the ripple effect of sin.
Because he was king of Israel—the leader of God's people—the ripple effect of David's grievous sins affected his life and the nation of Israel for many years. This illustrates the law of sowing and reaping (Gal 6:7-8).
The ripple effect of David's sin included (2 Sam 12:10-14)—
- the sword (warfare) would never leave his household
- rebellion and division would also rise up against him in an open and shameful way
- the baby in Bathsheba's womb would die
All of this came to pass, as seen in the following chapters of 2 Samuel.
Where's the hope?
It doesn't seem like there's much of an upside to all of this judgment brought against David, but it can be seen in two ways.
After praying and fasting for seven days for the child to recover from a sickness and live, the child dies (2 Sam 12:15-21). Once again, David's trust in God reveals hope—
As long as the child was alive, I fasted and cried. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But why should I fast now that he’s dead? Can I bring him back? ⌊Someday⌋ I’ll go to him, but he won’t come back to me. (2 Sam 12:22-23 GW)
David understood God's merciful nature and he believed in life beyond death. He speaks of this in Psalms 16:8-11.
Later, David has another child whom God loved. We know him as King Solomon, but the Lord called him Jedidiah—the Lord's beloved. This was a comfort to Bathsheba and a fulfillment of a Messianic prophecy given to David (2 Sam 7:12-16; Matt 1:1, 6).
Repentance leads to restoration
A full understanding of how hope and restoration are embedded in God's judgment with this story requires reading through Psalm 51. It's like a postscript to 2 Samuel chapters 11 and 12.
David's steadfast trust shines throughout this psalm of confession. It's not just a confession of sin but of trust. Yes, David confesses his sin and asks for the Lord's cleansing (Psa 51:1-9), yet there's an underlying confidence in God's restoration of his life.
Create a clean heart in me, O God, and renew a faithful spirit within me. Do not force me away from your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore the joy of your salvation to me, and provide me with a spirit of willing obedience. (Psa 51:10-12 GW)
Genuine repentance leads to restoration. Repentance isn't so much a requirement as a pathway to restoration. God is merciful in nature (Psalm 103:8; Luke 6:36) so even hope and restoration are in embedded in His judgment.
What are your thoughts on the idea of hope, restoration, and judgment in light of God's mercy?