David – A Case Study in Real Repentance
Because repentance is so often feigned by the abuser, it is extremely important for us, as well as victims, to understand what real repentance looks like. Here is a truly repentant man – King David. He had sinned horribly. He had murdered, committed adultery – and did it all against a most loyal subject and the Lord Himself. Now he is confronted by Nathan the Prophet. Read the story and see if you can identify characteristics of his real repentance — (NOTE: The parable of the Prodigal Son is another excellent place to learn about the characteristics of genuine repentance (Luke 15).
2 Samuel 12:7-17 “Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. (8) And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. (9) Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. (10) Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ (11) Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. (12) For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.'” (13) David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” 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.” (15) Then Nathan went to his house. And the LORD afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he became sick. (16) David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. (17) And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them.”
Let’s see if we can list the qualities of David’s real repentance —
- In the face of the most difficult consequences and condemnation of his sin, David makes NO excuses. In fact, we know from one of his Psalms that the took ALL of the blame and embraced the evil nature of his sin.
Psalms 51:2-4 “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.”
- David’s grief over his sin was real, not feigned. It wasn’t evidenced in some quick “Oh, shoot, I really blew it” with a tear or two. David was absolutely leveled by the realization of the evil of his sin. The horror of what he had done enveloped him. His actions were not those of someone faking it.
- David’s prayers and grief were not focused upon himself, but upon his child who was suffering for his father’s sin. When the Lord did not heal the child, David did not blame anyone but himself. He knew God was totally justified in this judgment.
Notice still another Scripture that speaks of David’s heart after he had sinned —
Psalms 32:3-4 “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”
What do we see here? A genuine Christian (which the abuser is not), may fight against repentance for a time. But as he does so, he is miserable. The Lord will not let us enjoy ourselves when we are in a hardened heart condition. For the abuser, this is not the case. He can easily sin most wickedly and not be bothered at all. If an abuser were ever to be brought to a true realization of the evil he has perpetrated upon his victims, he would be absolutely consumed with grief at the horror of it all. His ‘bones would waste away’ and he would ‘groan day and night.’ This can happen. It is rare, however. It requires nothing less than the powerful, saving and converting work of the Spirit of God in a person, granting them faith in Christ and repentance toward God.
But we must never be duped into accepting anything less.