“Repentance” is as almost as unsexy a word as “sin,” but both of them are a central to understanding the story of God and humanity. Today, we’ll discuss how one “good” man’s actions destroyed other people’s lives. We’ll look at how he began to pick up the pieces, and how the idea of repentance and forgiveness isn’t just good news for the perpetrator, but for the perpetrator’s victim, as well.
Why do we teach kids to tell each other “I’m sorry” after they do something bad?
2 Samuel 12; Psalm 51
Read 2 Samuel 12
- Does everyone know the story of David and Bathsheba? If not, can someone recap it for us?
Leader’s Note: If needed, read through 2 Samuel 11, as well.
- What were the effects of David’s actions on Bathsheba?
Leader’s Note: Had her pregnancy been discovered by her husband, Bathseba could have been killed on the spot (irregardless of whether or not she was a willing participant). Had David not taken her in, she would have become a person of ill-repute in her community.
- David was king, no one had th right to stop him from doing what he wanted. So, why would David try to hide his actions?
Leader’s Note: David had three possible reasons: 1) he was just plain ashamed of what he did; 2) he was the standard of justice in his community, a blatant injustice on his part undermined his ability to inact justice; or 3) he was concerned about the political fallout of having an possible claimant to his throne.
- David doesn’t recognize the clear way that Nathan’s story is about him. What do you think of this diconnect David is exhibiting? Do you think people tend to disassociate themselves from their bad actions? Why?
- What do you think of David’s response when he fully recognizes his sin? Is it enough?
- What does it meant to sin against God in this story?
- What does it mean to be forgiven by God in this story? Does forgiveness mean we escape the consequences of our actions? If we do, how so? If we do not, what does forgiveness even mean?
- Did David’s repentance and forgiveness matter for Bathsheba?
Leader’s Note: Bathsheba loses a child, but ultimately bears a son who becomes the next king of Israel. David had several wives of various ranks. David could have shunned Bathsheba, but she effectively becomes the queen consort. This does not “fix” what David did, but he at the very least does not continue to wrong her. See 2 Samuel 13 for a foil to David’s own actions in response to his violation of Bathsheba.
Read Psalm 51
- What does the process of repentance look like in this story?
Leader’s Note: David does three things in this psalm: 1) acknowledge his sin, 2) ask for forgiveness and healing, 3) pledges to pursue a different path.
- How does this pslam of confession and repentance relate to the story in the previous passage?
- How is forgiveness a powerful idea? Why doe you think it is central to the Christian faith?
- How have you seen the power of forgiveness in your own life?
Diving Deeper: BathSHEBA & #METOO
- How does the story from 2 Samuel 12 change when we read it from Bathsheba’s perspective?
- How is God’s forgiveness, justice, and healing important for victims of sexual volence?
- How might Bathsheba be a symbol of strength in the Bible?