In her excellent book Hope Has Its Reasons, Rebecca Pippert wrote about how true love detests whatever destroys the people we love. “Real love,” she said, “stands against the deception, the lie, the sin that destroys … The more a father loves his son, the more he hates in him the drunkard, the liar, the traitor.”
German pastor and Christian martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer expressed something similar when he said, “Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin.”
As leaders, this is an area of Christian discipleship where we can become vulnerable. It is sometimes possible for us to shield ourselves from criticism—even constructive criticism—given by those who are beneath us on the org chart or the family system or the hierarchy of power.
David, ultimately, did not shield himself from hard truths, and this is what made him such a good leader. When Nathan the prophet came to him and called him out for the evil in his life, David did not respond by saying, “Who do you think you are, Nathan? Do you know who it is that you are talking to? Where do you get off …?”
No, David did not resist Nathan’s rebuke. Instead, he received it humbly, repented of his sin, and, where possible, made full restitution for it. David’s story gives us one of the most comprehensive, historic confessions of sin ever offered.
But David did not only confess his sin to God. He also turned and confessed his sin to Nathan, saying, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Then he turned to Bathsheba, the widowed wife of the soldier he murdered, and became her husband.
Then, in an act of great mercy and kindness, God gave David and Bathsheba a son whose name, Jedidiah, means “beloved of God.” This son was also given a second name, Solomon, which means “peace.” This gift of a son, born from circumstances involving adultery, murder, and the abuse of power, would later be included in the ancestry of Jesus as a magnificent display of how long, wide, high, and deep the love of God travels.