“Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.”
1 Sam. 15:22b
Although King David was exceedingly great, he was fallen just like every human being; sinful and in need of God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness (1 Kin. 8:46, Eccl. 7:20, Rom. 3:23). God was incredibly merciful to David, for David wrote in Psalm eighteen: “Great deliverance He gives to His king, and shows mercy to His anointed, to David and his descendants forevermore.” (Ps. 18:50–NKJ). For example, God’s law [the Mosaic Law] condemned anyone to death if caught in the act of adultery as well as the sin of intentional murder. (Lev. 20:10, 24:7). King David was guilty of committing both offenses, adultery with Bathsheba and the murder her husband Uriah (2 Sam. 11:4, 24). He deserved to be put to death on two counts, yet God mercifully spared his life: “Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’ and Nathan said to David, ‘The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die.’” (2 Sam. 12:13). What incredible lovingkindness God extended to David! Moreover, God who sees the heart (1 Chr. 28:9, 2 Chr. 6:30), was pleased at what He saw in David’s heart (1 Sam. 16:7, cf. 1 Kin. 14:8), and mercifully forgave him. David did however pay a dear price for his acts of adultery and plotted homicide. God, in perfect justice would take the life of David’s newborn son born of Bathsheba. (2 Sam. 12:13-19).
Every believer will receive God’s merciful forgiveness, if confession of sin is contritely made: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jn. 1:9). However, as David experienced, although believers will be forgiven, they may receive God’s loving, yet heavy hand of discipline: “…My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.’” (Heb. 12:5-6, cf. Prov. 3:11-12). Therefore, it is far better to be loved and experience God’s heavy hand of discipline, than to be unloved and eternally rejected by Him.