Lesson 5

Prayers of Penitence: David

(2 Samuel 11 & 12, Psalms 51)
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Introduction: Do you fear that your prayers are not heard by God because of some past sin? Does sin cause you to think you cannot approach a Holy God? This week we look not only at the prayer of King David after he committed some of the worst sins, we gain an insight into avoiding those kinds of sins. Let's jump into our study!

  1. David's Initial Sin


    1. Read 2 Samuel 11:1. Verse 1 tells us that it was the time that kings go off to war - but our King David did not. David had a history of leading his army. (See 2 Samuel 5.) Any ideas why David was not leading his army now? Wasn't this the David who had killed Goliath? (1 Samuel 17) Wasn't this the David about whom they sang that he had killed "tens of thousands?" ( 1 Samuel 18:7-8)


      1. Do you think that idleness exposes us to sin?


    2. Read 2 Samuel 11:2-3. David is apparently having a little trouble sleeping. He starts walking around the roof of the palace and is looking down on the homes in the neighborhood. He watches a beautiful woman bathing. Is this sin?


      1. This beautiful woman knew she could be seen (at least from the roof of the palace). Was this sin for her?


      2. Do you think she cared if someone saw her? Is it possible that she wanted to show off her beauty? (I read a couple of Bible commentators that attacked her modesty because of this.)


      3. She has obviously captured the interest of the King. He asks around to find out who she is. Was this sin? (I don't think that David had yet sinned. As King, it was common to have more than one wife. To see a beautiful woman and inquire about her is consistent with "wife shopping." Remember, we learned last week that multiple wives are not a smart move and they are not God's ideal.)


      4. What answer does David get to his question? (Her name is Bathsheba and she is married.)


        1. Should that have been the end of David's inquiry? (Yes!)


        2. What do you think about Bathsheba marrying a Hittite? (Historically ( Judges 3:5-7), this was sin in God's eyes. The problem was that the Hittites served other Gods. We know this continued to be a prohibited practice throughout the time of David's life because 1Kings 11:1-2 notes that Solomon (David's son) violated this prohibition. As we will see as our story continues, this particular Hittite, is a worshiper of God.)


    3. Read 2 Samuel 11:4. Was it sin for David to send for Bathsheba?


      1. Is sin something you fall into on the spur of the moment? (This whole sequence shows that sin is a "walk" - a progression of actions that start with things that are not sin, but that lead towards sin. Our goal in life is to "walk" towards righteousness and not towards sin.)


      2. Notice the parenthetical in verse 4: Bathsheba purified herself. Turn to Leviticus 15:18. Does this make any sense to you? (You engage in a gross sin, but still sweat the details about the Mosiac law!)


        1. What insight does this give us into the mind of Bathsheba?


    4. Read 2 Samuel 11:5. What do you think King David should have done at this point?


      1. Remember the law of Moses that Bathsheba was so careful to keep? Read Leviticus 20:10.


  2. David's Compounding Sin


    1. Have you ever noticed how one sin leads to many more?


    2. What does David do to cover up his sin? (Read 2 Samuel 11:6-9. The first thing David does is call for the husband to come back from the front in the hope he will sleep with his wife and not be too good at math. It doesn't work because of the husband's devotion to duty. David then asks him to spend another night, and gets him drunk in the hope he will go home (or at least think he did). See 2 Samuel 11:10-13.)


    3. Read 2 Samuel 11:14-17. Why did the husband die? What did David gain by this? (He died for David's pride. He died so that David's sin would not be revealed.)


      1. How does this square with the gospel of Jesus? (Jesus died for our sins. David took the life of another for his sin.)


      2. Does this still go on today? People taking the life of another because of their sin? Because of their pride?


  3. The Road Back


    1. Read 2 Samuel 12:1-7a. Are we sometimes blinded by our own sin? Or at least the extent of the sinfulness of our actions? Was David blinded by the extent of the sinfulness of his sin? (Yes. God sent Nathan with a little story that would show David the exceeding selfishness of his sin.)


    2. David is now convicted of sin. Psalms 51 is believed to be the Psalm he wrote as a result. Our lesson (Monday) points out that David gave it to the chief musician to be sung in public - what a change from David's former attempts at a cover-up!


  4. The Prayer


    1. Read Psalms 51:1-3. On what basis is David asking for forgiveness? Could he have blamed Bathsheba?


      1. On what basis do you ask for forgiveness? It wasn't your fault? It wasn't that bad?


      2. When David says (v.3) his sins are always before him, what does he mean? How critical is the attitude expressed in these first three verses to our prayers?(David faces and confesses his sin. He looks to God's love for forgiveness, and does not mention any mitigating factors in his sin. Repentance is central to the forgiveness of sin. See Matthew 4:17)


    2. Read Psalms 51:4-7. Did David sin only against God? Another name comes immediately to mind, and it starts with a "U." What do you say? (Democracies have a common theme with the Bible: a higher law exists than the law of the "king." When the king was the highest law, he could decide what was right or wrong. David may be saying that under man's law he could kill anyone he wanted and take any wife he wanted. However, the higher law of God held him (and everyone else in the kingdom) to the rule of law that came from God.)


      1. What did David say about God's justice? What did we learn about God's justice when we studied Job's prayers three weeks ago?


      2. Are babies born innocent? Do we have a natural inclination to do what is right? (David gives us a great theological truth in verse 5. The reason that righteousness by works will not work is that we are inherently evil. Mark 10:18 records Jesus' statement that no one is good except God.)


        1. Can you be sinful before you are alive? What does David teach in verse 5 about the timing of when a baby becomes a living being?


      3. What does verse 6 of David's prayer teach us about hypocrisy? What is God's view of a "cover up" of our sins? (God does not want a Christian with just a shiny exterior, He wants "truth in the inner parts" and "wisdom in the inmost place.")


      4. What does David acknowledge is the only way to righteousness? (Verse 7 tells us that only by washing can we become clean. If you look at Exodus 12:22 and generally at Leviticus 14 (among other texts) you will see that David is referring to purification and protection by blood on the hyssop. Thus, he clearly understands that only by the coming sacrifice of Christ can we be cleansed of sin.)


        1. Is it that easy for murderers to be forgiven? (Yes, when it comes to sin. However, being forgiven of sin does not mean you are also excused from the natural consequences of your sin. David suffered the rest of his life because of his sin - losing three of his sons (this baby ( 2 Samuel 12:14), Ammon ( 2 Samuel 13:32) and Absalom ( 2 Samuel 18:14-15)) directly as a result. Ammon and Absalom died as a result of David's loss of moral authority in the area of sexual sins. We should obey God not only because it is His will, but also because it is best for us.)


    1. Read Psalms 51:8-11. How will David avoid sin in the future? (He has a phrase that I often use in my prayers: "create in me a pure heart" and "renew a right spirit within me.")


      1. How will a "pure heart" and a "right spirit" keep you from sin? (Do you remember our discussion about "walking" towards sin? A pure heart and a right spirit keep us walking towards righteousness.)


      2. David asks (v.11) to stay in God's presence. How can we be in the presence of God? (We generally associate the Holy Spirit with the New Testament. But here, David specifically prays for the Holy Spirit and reminds us that having the Holy Spirit is having the presence of God with us.)


    2. Read Psalms 51:12. Have you felt the joy of salvation? If not, is there something about which you need to repent so that you can have your joy restored?


      1. Is it possible that you do not turn from your sin because of the lack of a "willing" spirit?


    3. Read Psalms 51:13. What will joy in our salvation and a willing spirit do for others? (It is an example that turns others to God!)


    4. Friend, is your heart right today? Are you walking towards righteousness or walking towards sin? If you are walking towards sin, have you truly considered the possible consequences? If you have already been involved in devastating sin, David teaches us that forgiveness and a return to joy are possible.


  1. Next Week: A Prayer for God's Dwelling: Solomon

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