Imagine a president who uses his position to pursue sexual immorality: a bit of a stretch, I know. Next, envisage him arranging for one of his top men to bump off the husband of the woman with whom he has been consorting. More like Hollywood fantasy than a real-life headline now, perhaps.
But stick with me. This wayward leader gets impeached, and then claims to have recognized his wrongdoing. There is head-hanging, hand-wringing, and repentance. He writes eloquently of his sin.
All very well, but would you ever consider trusting him any more? Vote for him again?
Unfaithfulness—well, maybe we can forgive that. But murder? This kind of character redemption is beyond even the best spin doctors. He’d never be considered for office again by a selection committee, and if he tried to go it alone he’d be laughed off the ballot. Not even the most brazen of our current-day narcissists would consider a comeback after such infamy.
Only by translating King David’s sin into some sort of contemporary equivalent can we even begin to get close to the enormity of the scandal of grace in his story.
Yet for most of us the hero who became a villain is better known as the “man after God’s own heart.” That’s how the Bible captions David, after all. But, really?
Only a profound experience of forgiveness could give even a king the confidence to stand tall in public again after stooping so low in private. He must have known beyond a shadow that his heart had been cleansed.
There’s evidence of that assurance in his written and spoken words recorded in the Bible, of course. But scripture offers another hint at David’s certainty of restoration. In 1 Chronicles 3 we find that David named one of the sons born to him after “Bathshebagate”: Nathan.
Why so significant? This was the name of the prophet who had come and called him out on the affair. And the same prophet who later nipped David’s dreams of building the temple in the bud by telling him there was too much blood on his hands. Two good reasons for the name Nathan to be avoided; an uncomfortable reminder of selfishness and presumption.
In our Hollywood version of events, it would be like the disgraced president naming his child after the man who led the impeachment proceedings.
Surely only someone who was utterly free from the shame and guilt of what they had done would choose to have in their household a daily reminder of their darkest moments.