2 Samuel 12:13
And David said to Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said to David, The LORD also has put away your sin…
And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.
"The absolver saw the mighty grief,
And hastened with relief; -
The Lord forgives; thou shalt not die'
Twas gently spoke, yet heard on high,
And all the band of angels, us'd to sing
In heaven, accordant to his raptured string,
Who many a month had turned away
With veiled eyes, nor own'd his lay,
"Now spread their wings and throng around
To the glad mournful sound,
And welcome with bright, open face
The broken heart to love's embrace.
The rock is smitten, and to future years
Springs ever fresh the tide of holy tears
And holy music, whispering peace
Till time and sin together cease."
(Keble, 'Sixth Sunday after Trinity.') In the interview of Nathan with David much may have passed which is not recorded. But it is improbable that (as some have supposed) there was a long interval between the confession of sin and the assurance of forgiveness, or that the latter was given at a second interview (ver. 15). Perceiving the sincerity of the king's repentance, the prophet forthwith declared that Jehovah also put away (literally, "caused to pass over," ch. 24:10; Zechariah 3:4) his sin, remitting the penalty of death, which the Law appointed and himself had pronounced (ver. 5); and became a messenger of mercy, "one of a thousand" (Job 33:23), as well as of judgment. "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." Consider remission, pardon, forgiveness of sin, as -
I. NEEDED BY A SINFUL MAN. Forgiveness of sin is a change of personal relation between God and man; in which there is:
1. Release from condemnation incurred by the latter, through his violation of Divine Law; the removal of the displeasure (2 Samuel 10:27) and wrath (Psalm 38:1) of God; the blotting out of transgressions (Psalm 51:1; Psalm 32:1, 2; Isaiah 43:25; Romans 8:1); deliverance from death (Ezekiel 18:21). Since "all have sinned," all have need of it; but only those who are convinced of sin value, desire, and seek it. It also involves:
2. Restoration of communion with God; which is hindered by sin, as the light of the sun is intercepted by a cloud. "It is the foundation of all our communion with God here, and of all undeceiving expectations of our enjoyment of him hereafter" (Owen, in Psalm 130.).
3. Renewal of the heart in righteousness; which, though separate from it in thought, is never so in reality, and which was longed for by David with the same intensity and prayed for in the same breath (Psalm 51:9, 10). How lamentable is the condition of that man on whom the wrath of eternal, holy love "abideth" (John 3:36) l
II. GRANTED BY A MERCIFUL GOD. Forgiveness of sin is an act or gift, which:
1. God alone can perform or bestow; the prerogative of the supreme Ruler, against whom it has been committed (Daniel 9:9; Mark 2:7). "The Lord hath put away thy sin." "To pardon sin is one of the jura regalia, the flowers of God's crown" (T. Watson).
2. Proceeds from his abounding mercy and grace (Exodus 34:7). "It is impossible this flower should spring from any other root" (Psalm 51:1).
3. Rests upon an adequate ground or moral cause; which, although little known to David, was always present to the mind of God (1 Peter 1:20), shadowed forth in the "mediatorial sovereignty" of former ages and manifested in Jesus Christ, "in whom we have forgiveness of sins" (Acts 13:38; Ephesians 1:7).
"Here is the might,
And hero the wisdom, which did open lay
The path, that had been yearned for so long,
Betwixt the heaven and earth."
(Dante, 'Par.,' 23.)
III. ANNOUNCED BY A FAITHFUL MINISTER. The prophet said not, "I forgive;" he simply declared what God had done or purposed to do (1 Samuel 15:28); and in this sense only can there be absolution by man. "To forgive sins is the part and inalienable prerogative of God. To absolve is to dispense and convey forgiveness to those who have the right dispositions of heart for receiving it; and this is the part of God's messengers and representatives, whether under the Old or New dispensations" (E.M. Goulburn). The claim of any other power is a groundless assumption. The language employed in the New Testament refers either to cases of discipline in the Church, or to the declaration of the forgiving love of God, the reconciliation of God in Christ, and the assurance of its reality (Matthew 18:15-20; John 20:23; 2 Corinthians 2:10); this assurance defending for its beneficial influence, on:
1. Its accordance with the revealed Word of God (Jeremiah 23:28; Galatians 1:8).
2. Its utterance by a faithful, holy, merciful servant of God, in his ministerial and representative character. "The power of absolution belonged to the Church, and to the apostle through the Church. It was a power belonging to all Christians: to the apostle, because he was a Christian, not because he was an apostle. A priestly power, no doubt, because Christ has made all Christians kings and priests" (F.W. Robertson, vol. 3.).
3. Its communication to and reception by such as are truly penitent. "The poet said with a great deal of justice, that no sinner is absolved by himself; yet, in another sense, the sinner is absolved by that very self-accusation; and, sorrowing for his sins, is freed from the guilt of them" (Leighton).
IV. APPROPRIATED BY A BELIEVING HEART. The inward assurance of the blessing of forgiveness:
1. Is usually gained through many struggles and fervent prayers. David prayed for pardon after the prophet's assurance of it. "Psalm 51. shows us how David struggles to gain an inward and conscious certainty of the forgiveness of sin, which was announced to him by Nathan" (Delitzsch). "Under the Old Testament none loved God more than he, none was loved by God more than he. The paths of faith and love wherein he walked are unto the most of us like the way of an eagle in the air - too high and hard for us. Yet to this day do the cries of this man after God's own heart sound in our ears" (Owen).
2. Is personally realized through faith in the Word inspired by God and declaring his mercy. "They that really believe forgiveness in God do thereby obtain forgiveness."
3. Is commonly attended with peace, refreshment, and gladness, "sweet as the living stream to summer thirst." Happy is he who can say from the heart, "I believe in the forgiveness of sins!"
"Blessed is he whose transgression is taken away,
Whose sin is covered;
Blessed is the man to whom
Jehovah doth not reckon iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no guile."
(Psalm 32:1, 2; Romans 4:7.) D.
Parallel VersesKJV: And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.