Sabbath School Lesson for July 17-23, 2021

Overview of Lesson 4

In order to understand the cost of our rest, we explore the story of King David. His experience with Bathsheba taught us…

  • what leads to our sin and need of rest (Sunday)
  • what wakes us up to our need of rest or forgiveness (Monday)
  • how and why forgiveness leads to cleansing (Tuesday)
  • what it feels like to have a new start (Wednesday)
  • how this kind of rest makes us reflectors of Christ (Thursday)

After we begin to see how our selfish, sinful lives lead to restlessness, God provides a concrete example to help us understand how to get the rest we need. This example was given in Scripture through King David and his terrible blunder of taking another man’s wife as his own.

If anyone needed rest, it was David when the prophet Nathan skillfully brought his sin to his attention. The immense guilt and shame that came to David needed to be addressed. And even though David then dealt with the situation correctly, his repentance came at a cost to him and his family.

Memory Text: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 NKJV

Psalm 51 is one of the most powerful prayers recorded in the Bible. It outlines the kind of heartfelt repentance required to find true rest in God. King David poured his heart out in this prayer and God poured His Spirit into him in return.

Many times there are consequences for our thoughtless, selfish actions, but God can and will be there to help us pick up the pieces and make the best of our blunders.

Sunday: Worn and Weary

David was already restless when he first became enamored with the sight of Bathsheba bathing on her rooftop that fateful night. The king should have been in the field of battle, leading the troops against their enemies, the Ammonites. Instead, 2 Samuel 11:1 tells us that David had sent Joab out to do the task that should have been his.

If David had been where he should have been on the battlefield, perhaps events would not have unfolded as they did. This is our first lesson in the story. Don’t neglect your duties. Go where God needs you, not just where you desire.

But David ignored God’s Law against adultery when he invited Bathsheba to the palace and slept with her. He knew she was the wife of Uriah, one of his trusted army officers. His passions took over his sense of integrity and moral judgment. His restlessness only multiplied with the unfortunate events that followed. Bathsheba’s pregnancy complicated the situation and led to more deception and even murder.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

2 Samuel 11:1-5

  • What evidence of restlessness are seen in the events unfolding here?

2 Samuel 11:6-27

  • What does this tell us about the progression of sin–how one sin leads to another?

Monday: Wake-Up Call

God knew exactly what kind of wake-up call would touch His friend David’s heart. The story Nathan was inspired to tell him about losing a man’s only sheep got the attention of David, the shepherd boy. His involvement with Bathsheba suddenly became to him the horrific sin that it was.

David not only saw that his sin was against Bathsheba, her innocent husband Uriah, and all who knew about the devious plot, but it was an offense that also hurt God, his best Friend. This realization made David even more restless. Restless to the point that prayerful pleading for forgiveness was the only way to find rest for his soul again. And God provided that rest by His merciful forgiveness and outpouring of His Spirit.

The wake-up call that provides us with the most rest is the one that alerts us to the fact that God is the One we are hurting when we hurt others. The people we wrong were made by God and loved by Him. Naturally, God suffers just as much as anyone when we ignore His law and violate His commandments. They are given as boundaries to prevent the kind of situation David had created for himself.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

2 Samuel 12:13 and Psalm 51:4

  • Why is God hurt by our sin, as well as those involved in our wrongdoing?
  • How does first getting forgiveness from God enable us to seek forgiveness from those we’ve hurt, and make restitution for our actions?

Tuesday: Forgiven and Forgotten?

As events began to spiral out of control for David, we can understand his distress when Nathan’s story hit home. Seeing the enormity of his sin for the first time, he knew he needed outside help to fix the situation. How would God ever forgive him for such reckless behavior? Breaking at least five of God’s commandments by that time, David realized that God must be the One most hurt by his actions.

Could God, would God, forgive David’s many transgressions? He immediately went to the throne room of God in prayer asking for God’s mercy and forgiveness. He knew he deserved to die on the spot. But Nathan revealed that God had told him he would not die (2 Samuel 12:13). Sadly though, David was also told that the child born into this adulterous relationship would die (2 Samuel 12:14).

Many times, the consequences of our thoughtless, selfish behavior cannot be averted, or turned around. Forgiveness is guaranteed when we confess and repent of our mistakes, but often the outcome is not always positive and what we most desire. God can use circumstances, however, to remind us of our misdeeds and keep us drawing ever closer to Him. We know God forgives and forgets (Hebrews 8:12), but it’s important for us to be forgiven and to remember–at least while on this sin-filled planet.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

2 Samuel 12:10-15

  • What consequences did David have, even after God fully forgave him?
  • Why do consequences still result from our sins, even after God has forgiven us, and how can we benefit from them?
  • Are these consequences the same as punishment, and who is to blame for them?

Psalm 51:3, 4

  • Who is David most concerned about in His prayer? Himself or God?
  • How is true repentance shown in David’s appeal?

Wednesday: Something New

Adam and Eve hid from God’s presence when they sinned, but David ran instead to the arms of Jesus when he recognized the hurt caused by treacherous behavior with Bathsheba. His self-confidence had been shattered; his need for God to give him rest was overwhelming.

David’s prayer of repentance in Psalm 51 exposes all the emotions of a man who saw his need of being recreated and restored. He begged God to wash him, to give him joy, to blot out his sins, to give him a new heart and a right spirit, to renew and restore him as a humble son of God. Only with God’s forgiveness and re-creation would David feel any consolation and rest.

We find rest in knowing God’s creative power to make the whole world for mankind to enjoy. But since sin became our reality, we also must find rest in acknowledging His re-creative powers, in re-making us into holy, fit companions for our heavenly Father.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Psalm 51:7-10

  • What was David requesting in this prayer?

Psalm 51:11, 12

  • How did David indicate that he was not running away from God, as Adam and Eve had done in the Garden?
  • Why did he not run away, when others do?

Thursday: Reflectors of God’s Light

1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This is actually a good summary of David’s prayer in Psalm 51. His confession led to forgiveness and cleansing from God.

But, that’s not the end of the story. David also included in his prayer what happens after God’s mercy is revealed to us.

  1. We will witness to others about what God has done for us, leading them to convert to His ways (Psalm 51:13).
  2. We will praise God in word and song, repairing our relationship with Him (Psalm 51:14, 15).
  3. We will honor God with our offerings, giving generously to promote His will (Psalm 51:16, 17).

Each of these ways makes us reflectors of God’s Light. Like John the Baptist, we can bear witness of His Light (John 1:9). There’s no better way to share our faith than by revealing what God has done for us.

To see and hear the transformation of another’s life encourages the sinner to claim that forgiveness and cleansing for himself. Surely, our witness serves to enrich us by drawing us closer to God, as well as enriching those blessed by our testimony.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Psalm 51:13-19

  • What happens after we are forgiven and the cleansing begins?
  • How do these actions on the part of the sinner contribute to a better relationship with God and others?

1 John 1:9

  • What three parts do we see in our salvation from this one verse?
  • How are justification, sanctification, and glorification all involved in God’s process of saving us? Why are all of them needed?

Friday: Final Thoughts

When we, like David, become aware of our sinful behavior, it’s easy to focus on those misdeeds and our current misery and regrets. But this self-loathing is not productive. True repentance takes the spotlight off us and puts it directly on God.

David’s prayer in Psalm 51 shows us how to be forgiven and experience redemption. We fade into the background, and God is the center of our thoughts and desires when we sincerely come to Him for mercy.

David’s prayer does not dwell on his sin–the incident with Bathsheba isn’t even specifically mentioned. Instead, David’s wholehearted desire is to repair his relationship with God and once again feel the Spirit’s presence in his life. He understands the pain he caused, not just for others, but for his heavenly Father. When this is realized, self does not matter as much as God’s will and glory.

Rest in God is possible, even when we’ve committed almost every sin in the book, like David. Remembering his story and how he found forgiveness can uplift us when we are at our lowest point and in most need of that kind of rest ourselves.

Next Week: ” ‘Come to Me…’ “

To read the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly or see more resources for its study, go to