Both Confession And Repentance Are Required

Both Confession And Repentance Are Required For Restoration –
Saul And David Contrasted

By Alan H. Crosby

Saul And David Were Not Alike
King Saul can be likened to a person who is religious and works for the Lord reluctantly – he hid himself among the baggage to avoid receiving his assignment (See 1 Sam. 10:20-24). Ultimately his life was so marred by serious sin that the Lord said, “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he … has not performed My commandments” (15:11 ESV). In his example we see confession but no apparent repentance.

In contrast, the youth David volunteered by faith to go and fight the Philistine of whom “Saul and all Israel … were dismayed and greatly afraid” (17:11). David prevailed over the enemy and “the men of Israel and Judah … pursued the Philistines” in a great victory (vv.51-53). God spoke of David as “a man after My own heart, who will do all My will” (Acts 13:22), and this even after his great sin in the Bathsheba matter (2 Sam. 11) and his other failures. In David’s case there was both confession and repentance with its accompanying restoration.

Let us consider Saul first and then David.

The history of Saul teaches us to do the Lord’s work at His time and in His way. Saul waited for a year before he finally began to exercise his kingship and then waited two more years before beginning the LORD’s work against the Philistines (1 Sam 13:1-6). After their initial defeat, the Philistines mustered a formidable force (v.5). Knowing this, out of fear Saul decided that he should go ahead and offer the burnt offering and the peace offerings instead of waiting for God’s prophet to arrive (vv.8-9).

In so doing he had “not kept the command of the Lord,” and because of this, God “sought out a man after His own heart … to be prince over His people” (vv.13-14) The lesson for us is this: We cannot expect God’s blessing if we undertake His work using our wisdom instead of His!

Nevertheless, Saul remained king and therefore God’s servant. He was commissioned to destroy Amalek because of what they had done to Israel when Israel was coming up from Egypt (15:1-3). However, instead of doing what he was instructed to do, Saul spared Agag, the Amalekite king, and the best of all the animals to “sacrifice to the LORD” (v.21). When confronted, Saul offered excuses (vv.20-22) before he finally confessed. He said, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice” (v.24). Notice that there was not even a hint of repentance!

Eventually Saul sunk so low that, when fearful of the Philistines, he inquired of the LORD and “the LORD did not answer him either by dreams or by Urim, or by prophets” (28:5-6). In desperation Saul went to a medium and said, “Divine up for me a spirit and bring up for me whomever I shall name to you … Bring up Samuel for me” (vv.8-11). When she divined for him, Samuel told Saul that he and his sons would die in the battle the next day. As Samuel had indicated, the Philistines struck down the sons of Saul and wounded their father so severely that he chose to kill himself (31:2-6).

David And His Anointing
Having rejected Saul, the Lord sent Samuel to anoint one of Jesse’s eight sons as king. David was the LORD’s first choice, not Samuel’s: “The LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORDlooks upon the heart” (16:7). One application of this is that the responsible brothers of an assembly should depend on the leading of the Lord rather than their personal opinion when commending a person for a role in a work for Him.

God’s Wisdom In Choosing David
We see this in the matter of the challenge of Israel by the giant Goliath, the champion of the Philistines. “All the men of Israel … were much afraid” of him (17:24). However, by faith David could say to Goliath, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts … This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down, and cut off your head” (vv.45-46). “David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him,” then he drew out Goliath’s sword and “cut off his head with it” (vv.50-51). Would to God we all had such faith – it would enable us to do great things for the Lord and His people!

Saul’s Jealousy
David did not occupy the throne immediately. Saul “set him over the men of war” (18:5) and “David was successful wherever Saul sent him” (v.5). Therefore Saul became jealous of him and became “David’s enemy continually” (v.29).

David’s Faith Wavers
From 1 Samuel 18 through chapter 24 we see Saul’s repeated attempts to kill David or to have him killed, and we see David’s efforts to escape by running away. Saul’s harassment of David finally led David to say “in his heart, ‘Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than I should escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will despair of seeking me within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand’” (27:1).

David had two opportunities to kill Saul during his time of running away from him, but he resisted the temptation knowing that it was not the LORD’s will for him to kill Saul since he was the LORD’s anointed king. Saul was touched by David’s kindness and confessed his sin saying, “I have sinned … Behold, I have acted foolishly, and have made a great mistake” (26:21). There was confession on Saul’s part, but no repentance!

David Repents
While David and his men were out raiding for the king of the Philistines, the Amalekites made a raid against Ziklag, the city the king had given to David. The Amalekites took material spoil along with captives – David’s two wives along with the wives, sons and daughters of David’s men. It is apparent that at this point David had confessed his sin in allying himself with the enemy and had repented of it, for we are told that he “strengthened himself in the Lord” and “inquired of the Lord” (30:6-7). This was quite a change from deciding in his heart that there was nothing better for him than serving Achish, the Philistine king!

David Anointed King Over All Israel
Following the LORD’s directions, David and his men “recovered all that the Amalekites had taken” (v.18). Meanwhile, the Israelites were engaged in the battle with the Philistines, as Samuel had prophesied (28:19) when Saul and his sons were killed.

The throne was now empty, and after a “long war between the house of Saul and the house of David” (2 Sam. 3:1-3) won by David’s house, “all of the elders … anointed David king over Israel” (5:3). He had previously “reigned over Judah seven years and six months” (v.5).

Satan Sets A Trap
“The LORD gave victory to David wherever he went” (8:1-14); then came a time of testing. Times of success can be dangerous for the man or woman of God as these are often when God allows Satan to test us.

We are especially vulnerable when we are not where we are supposed to be and are not doing what we ought to be doing. We see that with David, as he “sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel [to battle] but [he] remained at Jerusalem” (11:1). David was on the roof of his house when he saw “a woman bathing and the woman was very beautiful” (v.2). She was the wife of Uriah, one of the officers of the David’s army.

The Trap Springs
“David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her” (v.4). She became pregnant (v.5).

We see here a fulfillment of James’ description of how Satan’s temptations work: “Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin” (Jas. 1:14-15). David was indeed lured by his own desire; he became an adulterer and then tried to cover it up. When his schemes did not work, he became a murderer by proxy, for he told Joab to “set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting … that he may be struck down, and die” (2 Sam. 11:15). It worked! Uriah died and “David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife” (v.27). Of course “the thing that David had done displeased the LORD” (v.27).

David’s Confession And Repentance
God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David. With an inspired parable, Nathan succeeded in getting David to see his sin, and David confessed it saying, “I have sinned against the LORD” (12:13). In Psalm 51, which deals with this sin, David prayed, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation” (v.12), and then he proposed to do works “in keeping with repentance” (see Lk. 3:8). David said that he would teach transgressors God’s ways, sing aloud of God’s righteousness, and offer to God a broken spirit and a contrite heart (Ps. 51:13-14,17).

God Provides Us A Path To Restoration
God knows that we do so easily fall into transgression. He counsels us saying, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Prov. 28:13). Forsaking the transgressions implies repenting. David did this and was restored, but Saul did not. God’s path requires not only confession to obtain forgiveness, but also repentance!

May we learn from these two examples.