Am I 'The Man'?
We are likely familiar with the story of David’s sin with Bathsheba. Though he was not looking for an opportunity to sin, “it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold” (2 Sam. 11:2). David made a poor choice after that unexpected sight, for he then “sent and inquired about the woman” (2 Sam. 11:3) and “sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house. And the woman conceived” (2 Sam. 11:4, 5).
When David was told of this, he set about to cover it up, and especially his part in it. He had Joab recall Uriah [Bathsheba’s husband] from the battlefront, with the hopes he would return and be intimate with his wife and it appear he was the father, but Uriah being the soldier he was, “slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. So when they told David, saying, “Uriah did not go down to his house” (2 Sam. 11:6-9, 11). David then conspired to get him drunk, again hoping he would go home, but he did not (2 Sam. 11:12, 13). David was now desperate to cover it up.
The next morning, David sent a letter to Joab “by the hand of Uriah” and commanded Joab, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die” (2 Sam. 11:14, 15). Joab did as he was commanded and it happened that “some of the people of the servants of David fell; and Uriah the Hittite died also” (2 Sam. 11:16, 17). Cold-hearted, but effective.
Or so David believed.
God, of course, knew what was happening every step of the way, and He was not fooled. God sent Nathan to confront David about his sin with Bathsheba and everything that followed, so Nathan went. He told David the story of a poor man who had one little ewe lamb he treated as one of his children, and a rich man who “had exceedingly many flocks and herds.” In this story, when the rich man had a visitor, he did not take of his own abundance, but took the little ewe lamb of the poor man to slaughter for food for the visitor (2 Sam. 12:1-4).
David, likely because he was, for the most part, a man dedicated to fairness, and because as a shepherd himself would understand the bond between a shepherd and his sheep, was furious at hearing this story, and told Nathan,
“As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity” (2 Sam. 12:5, 6). It is then that Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” (2 Sam. 12:7).
At that point, David knew he could no longer fool himself or anyone else about what he had done. Though he must have practiced some serious self-denial throughout it all, the time had come for him to acknowledge his guilt. And he did, replying to Nathan in simple terms: “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Sam. 12:13).
It is this point of confrontation, and the reality that no sin is hidden from the face of God, that should cause us to take stock of our true spiritual condition, our thoughts, and our actions. I need to heed Paul’s admonition, “Test yourselves” (2 Cor. 13:5), and maybe even make the same request David would make of God when he wrote, “Search me, O God, and know my heart;…and see if there is any wicked way in me” (Psa. 139:23). In short, I need to ask myself, “Am I ‘the man’?” That is, am I guilty of some wrongdoing that, up until now, I have refused to admit or acknowledge? If I honestly seek to be pleasing to God and right in His sight, this is something I should see as infinitely worthwhile, for my soul and my eternal destination are at stake here. If I do not see the value of doing this, maybe I should consider:
God Knows. As we saw in the example of David’s sin with Bathsheba, his sin was not really unknown, though he acted as if it was. The fact was, Bathsheba knew, the one whom David asked about her knew, the messengers whom David sent to bring her knew, Joab knew, and of course God knew [and then Nathan]. I do myself absolutely no spiritual good when I pretend, or just tell myself, that no one else knows. Someone always knows.
God also knows what is in my heart — the thoughts I have, my motives, and what my desires are. I may tell others “I didn’t know,” or “I didn’t mean to,” but God knows that, too. The wise writer reminds us, “If you say, ‘Surely we did not know this,’ Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?” (Prov. 24:12). God knows!
If It Is Sin. If what I have done is identified by God as sin, it doesn’t matter how loudly or how long I protest; it is still sin. And as long as it is sin, I am spiritually separated from God and my soul is endangered. I should never forget that this is always true: “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). I must never forget that, if I have sinned, my “heart is not right in the sight of God” (Acts 8:21), and I stand condemned. Pointing a finger at someone else’s faults or failures does not eliminate or diminish the seriousness of my sin. I must seek God’s forgiveness and seek forgiveness of others if I have offended or sinned against them. David anguished over his sin when he quit denying it, and he sought God’s forgiveness with the urgency the situation deserved.
Something May Be Preventing Me From Seeing Clearly. We are all also likely familiar with the admonition of Jesus about making sure we have no faults before we point out the faults of others. It was He who said, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?” (Matt. 7:3, 4). Jesus spoke this warning/condemnation because He knows as well as we do that we humans — for whatever reason — see the faults of others much easier than we do our own. Sometimes, we don’t see our faults at all, though they may be just as big, if not bigger, than that of others.
So, if someone points out a fault in us, we should not be quick to quote what He said just prior to this — “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt. 7:1) — as our ‘escape hatch’ without seriously considering that they might actually have already removed the plank from their own eye and did see clearly that we truly do have a fault (Matt. 7:5). It could be that I have not been honest with myself and cannot see what is obvious to others. Maybe I really am one who has done something wrong; maybe I really haven’t acknowledged the truth of the situation; maybe I need to take a step back and look again. It is not unheard of that someone overlooked their own faults while too busy looking for faults in others.
David was said to be a man after God’s own heart, but that did not mean he was sinlessly perfect. But David, when confronted with his sin, did not blame others, did not seek to ‘win the argument,’ and did not seek to justify himself or his actions. He acknowledged it without excuses, and sought God’s forgiveness diligently.
How about me? When I am ‘the man,’ how will I respond? — Steven Harper