Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Difference

This is from D. A. Carson.


IN NATHAN’S DRAMATIC CONFRONTATION with King David (2 Sam. 12), the prophet’s courage was mingled with a formidable sagacity. How else could a prophet grab the attention of an autocratic king and denounce his sin to his face, apart from this oblique approach?

Certain features of this chapter must be reflected on.

First, the fundamental difference between David and Saul is now obvious. Both men abused power in high office. What makes them different is the way they respond to a rebuke. When Samuel accused Saul of sin, the latter dissembled; when Jonathan questioned Saul’s policy, a spear was thrown at him. By contrast, although Nathan approaches his subject obliquely, the sin is soon out in the open: “You are the man!” (2 Sam. 12:7). Yet David’s response is radically different: “I have sinned against the LORD” (2 Sam. 12:13).

That, surely, is one of the ultimate tests of the direction of a person’s life. We are a race of sinners. Even good people, people of strong faith, even someone like David—who is “a man after God’s own heart” (cf. 1 Sam. 13:14)—may slip and sin. There is never an excuse for it, but when it happens it should never surprise us. But those who are serious about the knowledge of God will in due course return with genuine contrition. Spurious converts and apostates will string out a plethora of lame excuses, but will not admit personal guilt except in the most superficial ways.

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