Forgiveness is a big deal; you can’t really have a true friendship without it. To be human is to fail. We make mistakes. We hurt one another. To forgive is to make a decision to cancel a debt that you are owed and not to hold it against your offender. I’m glad that when we offend God He writes it in the sand where the winds of forgiveness can erase it. I learned a lot about that from David’s story. It gave me so much hope. If God could forgive and continue to be friends with David, then surely He would forgive me for my past and for the things I do day after day that grieve His heart.
David was one of God’s unlikely leaders. He was the youngest and smallest of Jesse’s sons. When the prophet Samuel came to visit Jesse with a message that God had sent him to choose one of his sons and anoint him, the expectation was that it would surely be one of the tall, good-looking young men. But Samuel passed over all of them and set his eyes on David, the scrawny shepherd boy. David would make a name for himself when he killed the giant Goliath and went into battle victorious. He was God’s choice for king.
But a wandering eye proved to be a weakness for David. After he became king he decided to stay back home while his army was at battle. From the rooftop of the palace he saw the beautiful Bathsheba and sent for her. He spent the night with her, and later she sent word that she was pregnant. He schemed to cover up his sin by calling her husband, Uriah, back from the front lines, assuming he would be glad to spend the night with his wife so people would think the pregnancy was a result of their union. David’s plan was unsuccessful. The husband proved to be a much more honorable man than David was and did not take advantage of the chance to be with his wife while his fellow soldiers were away at war. So David sent him into a position in the battle where he was sure to be killed. And when he was, David took his wife, Bathsheba, as his own.
God judged David’s sin by taking the life of the baby. And that really should end the story of David. If I were writing his story, I’d probably just end it right there. From a human perspective, David’s sin was too gross for him to be friends with God and make it into heaven. And if David was any other man, his story might have ended there. But David showed what was in his heart by what he did next. He cried out to the God of heaven, pleading for forgiveness.