The Salvation of the Jews: David, Bathsheba & Jesus

jewish_starOne of the most remarkable (true) stories in all of Scripture is the story of David and Bathsheba. I assume the readers are familiar with it. If not, it’s a good read and found in 2 Sam 11-12. Go read it.

Now, under the Law of Moses, sacrifices only worked (to the extent they worked at all) for unintentional sin. For example,

(Lev 4:27-28 ESV) “If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally in doing any one of the things that by the LORD’s commandments ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt,  28 or the sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring for his offering a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has committed.”

Intentional sins — sins committed with a high hand — resulted in being cut off from Israel —

(Num 15:30-31 ESV) 30 “But the person who does anything with a high hand, whether he is native or a sojourner, reviles the LORD, and that person shall be cut off from among his people.  31 Because he has despised the word of the LORD and has broken his commandment, that person shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall be on him.”

(Deu 29:18b-20 ESV) Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit,  19 one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike.  20 The LORD will not be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the LORD and his jealousy will smoke against that man, and the curses written in this book will settle upon him, and the LORD will blot out his name from under heaven. 

In Num 15:31, the meaning of “cut off” — found several times in the Torah — is unclear.

The exact meaning of this phrase in priestly tradition is not clear. It may have a collective sense, meaning a family line is discontinued. This meaning would qualify the more individual focus of 14:26–38. But it may also be more individual in its meaning, in which case it would signify a loss of status, excommunication, death, or even a judgment by God after death. The bad report of the land by the leaders of Israel (who die instantly) and the murmuring of the people (who are condemned to die in the wilderness) are instances of premeditated transgression that fall under the final category.

Thomas B. Dozeman, “The Book of Numbers,” in Numbers-2 Samuel (vol. 2 of New Interpreters Bible, Accordance electronic ed. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998), n.p.

In any event, David’s sin with Bathsheba couldn’t more clearly have been with a high hand. It was as premeditated and intentional as sin can be. And yet God chose this sin to display his incredible grace (chesed).

Now, sin can have any of three types of consequences. First, there are the natural consequences. His adultery led to a pregnancy and to David’s desire to hide the sin. Second, there are earthly punishments imposed by God. In this case, the death of the baby born to the union. Third, there is the possible loss of relationship with God, loss of his Spirit, and loss of salvation — that is, there are eternal consequences to sin, especially high handed sin.

David did not escape the first two types of consequences. But God forgave him (subject to his earthly punishment).

(2Sa 12:13-14 ESV) And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.  14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child who is born to you shall die.” 

“Shall not die” likely means “You won’t suffer being cut off as the Torah specifies for a high handed sin.”

David responded to this with a series of Psalms —

(Psa 32:1-5 ESV) Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah 

As we’ve seen earlier, Paul quotes this Psalm in Rom 4:7 to describe Christian salvation, based on God’s covenant with Abraham. When God forgave David, he wasn’t being true to Torah, but he was being true to his covenant with Abraham to treat faith as righteousness.

Even more famously, David writes in Psa 51,

(Psa 51:1-4 ESV) Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. 

(Psa 51:7-12 ESV)  7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.

(Psa 51:16-17 ESV) 16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. 

David, like Christians today, possessed the Holy Spirit. Unlike Saul, when David sinned, he proved to  have a broken and contrite heart, and so he kept the Spirit.

King Saul committed far less egregious sins (sacrificing before a battle without Samuel; granting mercy to his enemies after a defeat, contrary to Samuel’s instructions), but Saul was not penitent as David was. Both rebelled and sinned contrary to known laws, but David was brought to repentance easily. His tender heart resulted in his salvation.

And so when Jesus forgave sins to the tenderhearted among the Jews, he was not establishing a new covenant or violating Torah. He was doing more than Torah promised, but no less than what the covenant with Abraham promised. He was forgiving sins just as God had done for David, for much the same reason.

The “faith” of the Jews in the Gospels is the faith of the tenderhearted, often the blind, demon-possessed, or diseased. These are the very people scorned by society, as many Jews thought disease was a result of sin. The scorn produced a heart open to Jesus — in an irony typical of Jesus’ ministry — resulting in their healing.

“Faith” is no different from the “broken and contrite heart” of David. Although he was a king who’d gotten too full of himself, he remained open to rebuke and God’s discipline. He was ultimately willing to submit. And “faith” includes submission to God.

My point, I guess, is that it’s the same thing. When God’s people approach him with tender hearts, open to his word and correction, ready to accept whatever God offers, whether it be healing or punishment, God sees the faith of Abraham and he grants forgiveness.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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16 Responses to The Salvation of the Jews: David, Bathsheba & Jesus

  1. John F says:

    I would distinguish between “faith” which is a rational decision (with some emotional component) to place trust in evidences presented (history and example of God’s love and fidelity) and repentance (a reasoned emotional response to God’s call to righteousness) from moral failure, which is shown in the holiness of God.. A broken and contrite heart is “possible” because of faith, but not necessarily to cause. James said, You have faith, you do well. The demons have faith as well. Do not think that your faith will save you (so I paraphrase), a broken and contrite heart (that repents) save. Some just are sorry they got caught (Bathsheba’s pregnancy — I think she was complicit) — without repentance. Repentance acknowledges wrong and is willing to make changes and accept consequences (Ps 32, then 51).

    David likely had “faith” in God’s ability and willingness to “blot out transgression”, but without repentance, the faith is of no effect. “Bear fruits worthy of repentance” (not some Roman Catholic work = Say 50 Hail Marys) is the broken and contrite heart.

  2. Price says:

    Sounds an awful like “repentance” to me… Which is how JTB refers to his ministry… and Paul later confirms that understanding.. Lot’s of things apparently can happen with a loving Father when one turns back toward Him (repents).

  3. rich constant says:

    Now also Isaiah he says I’m the only one left.
    then the Lord says, there’s a whole bunch of people that have not Bowed down submitted to idolatry.
    we should start seeing this coming together, what are we seeing coming together the character qualities of God the intrinsic righteousness of God. God see’s individuals hearts, in nations kingdoms principalities. the remnant

    so then since God never changes.
    we should be able to accept how the Spirit OF CHRIST should work today in his kingdom or kingdom representatives.
    and we should be looking for opportunity.
    to seek and save the lost.
    I could go on with this but all I’ll let it rest especially about the judgment.

  4. Jim H says:

    Excellent!

  5. rich constant says:

    John I think it’s a condition of the heart so no matter what we think on how to evaluate an individual it’s one thing to look at the actions of them.
    It’s quite another thing to look at the past actions.
    taking into consideration Romans 14.
    And understanding Romans 7 and what Paul expressing under the law.
    also understanding the purpose of the Torah law.
    Ephesians chapter 3 & 4 oops Galatians 3 & 4.
    also taking into consideration 2nd Corinthians chapter 3 verses 7 through 11 more comes into focus. which the focal point seems to be 2nd Corinthians chapter 2 verses five through 11.
    Blessings rich

  6. rich constant says:

    And of course then we go back and read Romans two.
    And that might give us a little Insight into the judgments of God that were all primarily focused at the faithfulness of the Messiah at the cross overcoming death overcoming the power of Satan which was the law reconciling the creation crushing Satan’s head cleansing the temple through the blood of Jesus.
    In bringing into focus Romans – the second chapter.
    I hope

  7. rich constant says:

    Oh boy and now since we all understand this.
    We can understand that through the belief in all of this the gospel the mystery that was hidden for all the ages is the power of God unto salvation for all those that that believe.
    And we should all be able to go on until a nice story about God how wonderfully gracious he is we can be the church the kingdom of God the called out people of God the faithful man of God through his son a hospital for sinners. and that we are the receptacle in this Tabernacle in this new creation our bodies become the temple what the Holy Spirit
    Enjoy sunday everybody

  8. rich constant says:

    So J
    Go back and see if anything has changed since reading Romans 5.
    also Romans 3:25 still don’t like that translation that you put up For 25 B.
    yes and I’m pretty sure that Christ is a mercy seat being our intercessors to God.
    Through the Spirit of Christ the Word of God the judge of Hearts rather than actions.
    and of course that’s contextual all through the faithfulness of his son contingent on obedience of faith Romans 1:7 the mystery revealed.
    I also would go back to the original text in change 27 that would be Romans 3:27. to say that God might be the just and the justifier of the one who is of the faith of Jesus. it’s about the faith of Jesus. My faith through hearing the words of the gospel of God the gospel of Jesus the Risen Christ the the Son. upon repentance and believe we receive the Spirit of Christ.
    and at some point get baptized.
    which is giving glory to God through His Son we give glory to God by being obedient to the commands of the SOn the same as apostles.
    loving God loving each other according to the Scriptures all of them.
    Preaching the real gospel.
    and not just an adequate gospel

  9. John says:

    The awe and wonder of forgiveness, and how God can use any sin to display the glory of grace, fills the Bible in all its heroes. And in these we should always find encouragement. However, I think we can be guilty at times of telling those not of the church when we sin, “I’m not like you; I’m like David!” Or, Moses, or Peter, depending on our particular public failure. Comparing ourselves to Biblical heroes may work when speaking to ourselves on Sunday morning, but it impresses no one Monday through Saturday, especially after they have had to listen to us blow our own moral trumpet.

  10. Richard constant says:

    But then guess who’s going to stand before the judgment seat of God with nobody else.
    that’s why we have to be so careful what we teach others.
    Because what people teach they will stand or lose on In James a stricter judgment.
    and if the righteous are scarcely saved.
    what manner of men should we be.
    anyway blessings all

  11. Richard constant says:

    Here’s a great little analogy for everyone at least I think so.
    God’s Word is like a plumb bob that’s why you can find out if something is totally vertical straight.
    He uses a braided line.
    And he knows what we use.
    It should twisted line.
    Now if you don’t know the difference.
    Then look it up haha just kidding.
    A braided line when you drop it and you have a heavy plumb bob and you stabilize it will not unravel untwist.
    That’s the word of God my friends a braided line.
    Braided line doesn’t ever bunch up get all tangled up you know kind of like well I don’t want to go there and that’s why it’s a LaW faithfulness

  12. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    John F,

    I think it’s a mistake to read James’ use of “faith” into the rest of scripture. James is using “faith” to refer something clearly inadequate to save, whereas the rest of the scriptures declare that all with faith are saved. I think the ESV translation captures the thought well —

    (Jam 2:14 ESV) What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?

    “That faith” means faith which has no works. Of course, this is not truly faith but something merely called faith. True faith produces works because true faith includes not only trust but faithfulness. James uses “faith” ironically for rhetorical purposes, that is, he calls something “faith” that is not truly faith because his audience has been doing the same thing. He adopts their vocabulary to demonstrate the absurdity of such a misuse of “faith”.

    Any other view makes Jesus, John, and Paul speak nonsense.

    So, if we take a Jesus/John/Paul view of “faith,” it clearly includes repentance from sin because it includes faithfulness. Thus, Abraham trusted God’s promises, but he was also willing to obey God to the point of offering his son to God.

    Other than James’ ironic use of “faith,” the rest of scripture use “faith” as including faithfulness. For example,

    (Num 20:10-12 ESV) Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” 11 And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. 12 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”

    Moses disobeyed God, and God accused him of not believing in him. Obviously, God did not use “believe” in the James sense but the more typical sense of including a faithful/penitent heart.

    The author of 1 Kings has the same view —

    (2Ki 17:14-15 ESV) 14 But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the LORD their God. 15 They despised his statutes and his covenant that he made with their fathers and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false, and they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the LORD had commanded them that they should not do like them.

    He directly connects a lack of faith with rejection of God’s laws — disobedience.

    Therefore, in the non-ironic sense of “faith,” David’s faith was shown by his tender heart and willingness to suffer rebuke from God’s prophet. The rest of 2 Sam, as it describes David’s later behavior, demonstrates his humility.

    In other words, in the true, scriptural sense of “faith” — not the ironic sense peculiar to James’ style of argumentation — you cannot have faith not be penitent. Faith requires penitence to be faith at all because the words itself includes the idea of faithfulness

    The interpretation of this sentence must steer carefully between two extremes. On the one side is the view that renderings such as the KJV “Can faith save him?” could lead to: that James is denying that faith can save a person at all. This is clearly not James’s viewpoint, since he emphasizes in this very paragraph that the right kind of faith does, indeed, save (see vv. 21–26). What the KJV misses, and what almost all modern English translations recognize, is that the Greek article used with “faith” has an anaphoric significance — that is, it “refers back” to a previous use of the same word (note “ that faith” in NASB; NRSV; REB; TEV; NJB). What James is contesting, then, is that the particular faith he has just mentioned can save. This faith is what a “man” who does not have works claims to have. James’s main point is that this “faith” is, in biblical terms, no faith at all.

    Douglas J. Moo, The Letter of James (Pillar NTC; Accordance electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), n.p.

  13. John F says:

    It is all in how we define / refine / understand the terminology. Of course, the faith of James in a incomplete faith specifically because it does not result in “homolegew” — confessing that what God says is true: “same speaking”. But while David believed (faith) God’s authority, David failed to live in it (sin). Faith that does not lead to reformation is “false faith,” not better than the demons. That is my point. I guess that for James faith that is NOT responsive is not the kind of faith that saved Abraham and is not the kind of faith that will save anyone else. Paul would agree I’m sure.

  14. need4news says:

    Nathan clearly says that God has forgiven David. But everything that happens to David after that is the polar opposite of what happened to him before Bathsheba. I agree I don’t think that God was punishing him by bringing catastrophe upon catastrophe Perhaps God was tugging on David’s ear to remind him who he was and whose he was.

  15. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    N4N,

    I agree. The NT speaks of God’s discipline for those whom he loves. Parents discipline their children. Good parents do, and the children get upset and resent it, but they still do it. But only rarely does a good parent disown a child.

    Where we often get confused regarding our Father is we confuse disciple with being disowned. We can’t imagine God loving us and causing us misery — but all good parents impose some misery on their kids so they’ll grow up right.

    Of course, not all misery is discipline.

    (Heb 12:5-11 ESV) 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

  16. Johnny Turner says:

    “Where we often get confused regarding our Father is we confuse disciple with being disowned. We can’t imagine God loving us and causing us misery — but all good parents impose some misery on their kids so they’ll grow up right.”

    Amen, some of the worst theology I have heard is that any unconfessed sin damns you, God often disciplines a child for sometime to bring that child back to where he needs to be. Disowning is the last step and reserved for the rejection of Jesus. As you have often said we enter the family through faith and we exit by the same path, by leaving the faith, not by a momentary failure.

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