Giving Occasion to Blaspheme
2 Samuel 12:14
However,, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme…

Nevertheless, because by this deed thou hast surely caused [literally, 'causing,' etc., 'hast caused,' etc.] the enemies of Jehovah to speak evil ['despise,' 'contemn,' 'abhor,' provoke,' 'blaspheme'], etc. A scorner, being in company with a devout man, took occasion to speak contemptuously of those whom he called "the Old Testament saints," and especially of David as "a man after God's own heart," asking, "And what did he do?" "He wrote the fifty-first psalm and the thirty-second," was the reply; "and if you cherish such feelings as he there expresses, you will be a man after God's own heart." "But," he persisted, "tell me what he did besides." "He did that which the Prophet Nathan said would cause the enemies of God to blaspheme.'" The scorner felt the rebuke, and was silent. Even to this day the pernicious influence of his sin appears; but, on the other hand, the fact of its having been recorded is an evidence of, at least, the truthfulness of Scripture; whilst the invaluable lessons taught by it more than compensate for the evil effects it produces. "The sacred writer is perfectly aware of the tendency of this passage of David's history, and yet he is not directed by the Holy Spirit to suppress it. It might have been suppressed. The failings of David are not less useful than his virtues, if we will only faithfully improve the warnings they afford us. It is only to the enemies of the Lord that they afford occasion of blasphemy. They, indeed, will never want occasion; and we are not to be denied the salutary examples which the Scriptures hold forth to us because there are those who wrest them to their own destruction. But it is chiefly in the failings of the good that the enemies of the Lord find cause of triumph" (Thompson, 'Davidica'). Concerning the sin of David and other godly men, observe that -

I. IT IS RENDERED ALL THE MORE CULPABLE AND CONSPICUOUS BY THEIR PREVIOUS EXALTATION. Culpable, inasmuch as their profession of godliness, especially when hired with eminent position, increases their responsibility, and furnishes special motives to a consistent course of conduct; conspicuous, inasmuch as their apparent superiority to others:

1. Attracts the attention of men to them more than others, and makes it impossible that their failings should pass unnoticed.

2. Naturally leads men to expect more from them than others.

3. Produces a deeper impression by the contrast exhibited between what is expected from them and what is actually done by them. The transgression of David was in itself great; but it was all the greater, in the view of men, because committed by one of his acknowledged piety, and "in the fierce light that beats upon the throne, and blackens every blot."

II. IT IS CALCULATED TO EXERT A MOST INJURIOUS INFLUENCE ON OTHER MEN. The sin of every man has a baneful effect on his fellow men; but that of a godly man, in an eminent degree, by:

1. Causing them not only to despise him, but also others, who are associated and identified with him in religious faith and service, as (like him) unworthy of respect, insincere, and hypocritical.

2. Inciting them to contemn religion itself; doubt the Word of God, distrust the reality of piety everywhere, and even speak evil of God himself; wherein it is commonly implied that sin is sanctioned by religion, or at least is not prevented by it because of its essential weakness. A false impression of the requirements and character of God is given.

3. Lessening the restraints of holy example, hindering the acceptance of the truth, multiplying excuses for neglect, encouraging indulgence in sin.

4. Affording means of opposition to the faith, whereby others still are made to stumble. "This observation gives us a deep insight into the whole position of David. In him the good principle had attained to supremacy; the godless party had seen this with terror, and now they mocked piety in its representative, who, because he held this position, ought to have kept watch over his heart the more carefully, and afterwards made use of the first opportunity of throwing off the burdensome yoke" (Hengstenberg). "Towards the heathen Israel's duty was, by obedience to God's Word and commands, to set forth the theocracy, and bring it to honour and recognition. Transgressions of God's command by the king himself must lead the heathen to heap shame and reproach on Israel and on Israel's God" (Erdmann).

III. ITS INJURIOUS EFFECT ON OTHERS DEPENDS UPON THEIR OWN CHARACTER. It is only "the enemies of the Lord" who despise the Lord, his Word, or his people.

1. Their enmity disposes them to make use of the sin of another as a reason in favour of the course upon which their heart is already set; thus silencing the voice of conscience. increasing their pride and self-deception, and confirming themselves in unbelief and disobedience.

2. It also indisposes them to regard it in a proper manner; to consider the strength of his temptation, the depth of his penitence, the earnestness of his aspirations after righteousness; that the conduct of one man does not prove the character of all with whom he is associated, still less the truth of the religion they profess, or the character of the God they serve; that it may not be sanctioned by God, but forbidden, reproved, and punished by him; that it is not the standard of practice, which is found in the Law of God alone; and that "every man must give account of himself to God." Those who stand may be led by it to take heed lest they fall, and those who fall to hope to rise again; but the enemies of the Lord see in it nothing but an excuse for persisting in the evil of their way. "Bees will collect honey and spiders poison from the same plant, according to their different natures" (Scott).

3. Their sin is not lessened by the sin of another, but rather increased by the use they make of it. Nevertheless, "all conduct of ours which tends in the slightest degree to strengthen that system of false reasoning, by which sinners confirm themselves in their sins, and undermine the faith and practice of others, is sin of the deepest dye" (Thompson).

IV. ALTHOUGH IT MAY BE PARDONED, IT CANNOT GO UNPUNISHED. "The child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.,

1. To manifest the justice and righteousness of God. The penalty of death which he had incurred was transferred from the guilty father to the innocent son.

2. To humble him more deeply on account of his sin, and to produce in him "the peaceable fruit of righteousness" (Hebrews 12:11). "For the most grievous sins a provision of mercy is so made as to secure long and humbling recollections of the aggravated guilt" (Halley).

3. To counteract the evil effects of his sin, and "that the visible occasion of any further blasphemy should be taken away." "God in his wisdom did take away this child, because he should have lived but to be a shame unto David" (Willet). This was only the beginning of a long course of chastisement in his family (ch. 13.), his person (Psalm 41., 55., 39.), and his kingdom (ch, 14.). Judgment was mingled with mercy; yea, it was itself the chastisement of love. "What was the answer to his prayer? First, the death of Bathsheba's child. Next, the discovery of hateful crimes in his household. Finally, the revolt of the beloved Absalom. These answers to a prayer for forgiveness? Yes, if forgiveness be what David took it to mean - having truth in the inward parts, knowing wisdom secretly" (Maurice). - D.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.

WEB: However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to Yahweh's enemies to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die."

Forgiveness not Impunity
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