It’s the deafening silence that proceeded Nathan’s rebuke that barely left David standing. David had a relationship with a woman named Bathsheba. When he realized she was pregnant, he had to come up with a way to cover it up. So David sends for her husband from the battle line and encourages him to spend some ‘quality time’ with his wife. Out of devotion to his duty as a soldier, knowing that his comrades were in the battlefield, Uriah sleeps at the door of King David’s palace. Exasperated, David writes a letter to Joab, the commander-in-chief, to put Uriah at the front line of the battle so that he could be struck down and die, which he did.
Nathan describes a hardship case he thought David might want to do something about: There are two men, one poor, one rich. The poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb; the rich man had more sheep than he could even count. A traveler came to the rich man, and being unwilling to take from his own flock, takes the one lamb from the poor man to add to the menu. After David hit the roof, he said whoever did this should surely die. Nathan’s response was to take a look in the mirror.
After Nathan left, I imagine David had some time alone, in the silence and darkness. Nathan laid out the consequences of his actions, but in the silence, David thought about how his actions affected those he ruled, his family, and most of all the God of Israel. In Psalm 32 and 51 David showed true contrition and expressed deep feelings of guilt before God pardoned him.
And yet with all that said, David was a man after God’s own heart. Israel adored him like no other king she ever had. When Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on a mule about a thousand years later, it was as the “Son of David” that they hailed Him.