“Create in Me a Clean Heart”
David commits adultery with Bathsheba and arranges the death of Uriah,
David is told that he will be punished because of his sins.
A repentant David seeks forgiveness.
A study of this lesson will help encourage us to be chaste in thought and
action and to repent of our sins.
Scripture references for study: 2 Samuel
11–12; Psalm 51
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
notes: Click on links for expanded information.
Lesson 24 Handout (PDF
WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO DO FOR ETERNAL LIFE?
The 1897 Klondike Gold Rush.
Consider the trail to Dawson city.
What did it take to get there?
The goal was the town of Dawson in the Yukon Territory of Canada.
The Canadian government required each person entering the territory, for
the purpose of prospecting for gold, to bring with them one ton of supplies.
I find it amazing what people were willing to do for the hope of finding
a little gold. What are we willing to do for the hope of eternal
life? If we expended as much effort at following the path of salvation as
these men worked at following the trail to Dawson, certainly our calling
and election would be made sure.
The trail began at Skagway, Alaska. Prior to reaching Skagway, the
prospectors had already spent considerable time, money, and effort. They landed by boat at Skagway (a lawless town) with their supplies. Without any docks, the boats were anchored at the edge of a sand flat.
The goods were carried through the tide to dry land. The prospectors
then hauled their goods nine miles to the foot of a steep trail and up
and over the mountain into Canada. The trail was steep and much of
it was covered with ice and snow. This was a process that took weeks. The goods were then hauled down the trail to Bennett Lake. At the
lake they built boats by cutting down trees and cutting them into planks. Once the ice broke off of the lake, the prospectors loaded up the boat
and then took a dangerous trip down the rapids of the Yukon River. Once at Dawson the gold seekers found most of the claims
had already been staked out. If they did secure a claim, in all likelihood, it produced little or no gold.
Resource Note 1.
The question we must ask ourselves: Why is it that we are sometimes unwilling
to make that kind of sacrifice for the kingdom of God when we seem to be
willing to do it in other areas of our lives?
Are we willing to sacrifice the natural man, give up our carnal desires,
and turn to the Lord? David was a righteous man, who got caught up
in his carnal desires and was unwilling to sacrifice those desires before
he got tied up in horrible sins.
David Becomes King
Once again, Israel went to battle against the Philistines.
After the death of Saul:
During this battle, three sons of Saul were slain.
Saul did not wish to be caught by the enemy and asked his armor bearer
to slay him. The armor bearer was afraid to. "Therefore
Saul took a sword, and fell upon it" (1 Samuel 31:4).
"Now there was long war between the house of Saul
and the house of David: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the
house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker" (2 Samuel 3:1).
David was anointed king of Judah (2 Samuel 2:4).
Abner (Saul's cousin, commander-in-chief of Saul's army, and the head of
Ephraim) made Saul's surviving son, Ishbosheth, king over the northern
Soon after David became king of Israel he went up to war against the Philistines.
To make a long story short.
Abner proposed an alliance between the two feuding factions.
Abner was assassinated which almost destroyed the uniting process.
Abner had been the real power in the northern faction. Ishbosheth
was weak and he was murdered by two of his military leaders who took his
head to David.
Thus David assumed leadership of all of Israel. He also made alliances
with other surrounding nations which stabilized his kingdom.
2 SAMUEL 5:22-25. David calls upon the Lord and
obeys his counsel.
We see that David begins his reign as king with a dependence on the
Lord and willingness to follow his counsel.
David, Bathsheba, & Uriah
2 SAMUEL 11:2-5. David's sin.
The Power of Thought.
AT WHAT POINT DID DAVID FIRST SIN IN HIS DESIRE FOR BATHSHEBA?
When David began to dwell on thoughts about Bathsheba. Those thoughts
caused him to take the next step when he "sent
and enquired after the woman" (v3).
WHAT SHOULD DAVID HAVE DONE WHEN HE SAW BATHSHEBA?
WHAT MIGHT LEAD PEOPLE TO COMMIT SEXUAL SINS?
Unclean or immoral thoughts.
I think this is fundamental to understanding how David went from a righteous
young man to a king that debased himself in moral degradation.
As a man "thinketh in his heart, so is he"
(Proverbs 23:7). Many years ago James Allen wrote a short book (As
A Man Thinketh) based on this scripture. Consider a few of Mr. Allen's
ideas in relation to the fall of King David and the consequences of unclean
"As the plant springs from, and could not be without,
the seed, so every act of man springs from the hidden seeds of thought,
and could not have appeared without them." (p3)
"Ccause and effect is as absolute and undeviating
in the hidden realm of thought as in the world of visible and material
"A man's mind may be likened to a garden, which
may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated
or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth." (p11)
"The soul attracts that which it secretly harbors;
that which it loves, and also that which it fears; it reaches the height
of its cherished aspirations; it falls to the level of its unchastened
"Circumstance does not make the man; it reveals
him to himself." (p16)
"Men imagine that thought can be kept secret,
but it cannot; it rapidly crystallizes into habit, and habit solidifies
into circumstance." (p27)
"Dreams are the seedlings of realities."
As Mr. Allen has pointed out, thought is a powerful force. It has
the power to raise us up to do much good or to tear us down and destroy
our lives. I had an experience several years ago that demonstrates
the power of a single, stray thought. Fortunately, this is a positive
Early in 1984 I was working at the office on a Saturday morning. We were trying to catch up with
a heavy workload and were in the process
of doing filing. As we did so, we visited on a variety of topics. One of my associates
talked about a bicycle trip she had taken
in Ireland. As I listened to her account of the trip in Ireland,
my mind wandered and I thought how fun it would be to go on such a bicycle
Just one thought, a seed, planted by an associate. I nurtured that seed. I began to think how fun it would be to do
a bicycle trip from my home (in Seattle at that time) to my folks home
in Utah County. I was terribly out of shape at the time and did not
even own a bicycle. The thought continued to work on me and a month
and a half later, I picked up a new touring bike from the West Seattle
Bike Shop. I soon realized how out of shape I had allowed myself
to become. The mile and a half ride from the bike shop to home was almost
too much. How could I possibly believe I could over 900 miles?
Seeds planted and nurtured continued to grow. Each weekend, starting in March, I went out and
rode. I finally worked up to a forty mile trip. When I returned home
that Saturday afternoon, I did not think it was possible to ride up to 100 miles per day,
for several days. I was ready to give up, but I didn't. I kept
on training, finally reaching 140 miles on a two day trip. I was
tired, but had survived. The following weekend I did the 200 mile,
two-day, Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic. When I arrived in Portland,
hot, exhausted, and dehydrated, I was ready to give up the ride to Utah.
But thought is a powerful thing. I had put myself
on an unstoppable course. My focus for nearly six months had been
making the bicycle trip to Utah. The morning after the Portland ride, I decided
I would make the trip. I figured that if I became too exhausted,
I could take a bus the remainder of the distance. Four days later
I began my odyssey and twelve days after that I rode up to my folks home
in Orem, Utah. It was an incredible adventure for myself. What had
brought me across hundreds of miles? A lot of work. But more
importantly was that seed of a thought planted the previous January.
In a negative way, David's wisp of a thought took possession of him and
took him on a negative journey. We must be absolutely aware of and
control the thoughts that go into our minds. We must not let negative
thoughts enter and take up residence. We must control that which
influences us and our children.
WHAT INFLUENCES MIGHT PLANT THOUGHT SEEDS?
An idle mind.
It has been said that an idle mind is the devil's workshop.
"Things were getting too easy for David; he had
leisure to stay at home while Joab and his men were out fighting Ammonites
and Syrians. In his leisure he looked from his rooftop at his neighbor's
wife. Leisure and lust led to adultery and then to murder, which sins had
eternal repercussions, as well as tragic earthly results." (quoted
in Old Testament Student Manual, p290)
The media: television, movies and videos, magazines, books and music.
The media has the power to stimulate our minds for good or bad, depending
on our choices.
President Ezra Taft Benson: "Thought precedes
action. We cannot help being influenced by what we read and what we
see. A dirty book, a filthy picture, may be the trigger that sets off
a terrible crime." (CR, Oct 1959)
President Spencer W. Kimball: "Pornography
and erotic stories and pictures are worse than polluted food. Shun them.
The body has power to rid itself of sickening food. That person who entertains
filthy stories or pornographic pictures and literature records them in
his marvelous human computer, the brain, which can't forget this filth.
Once recorded, it will always remain there, subject to recall—filthy images."
(Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p283)
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "We are lathered
with soap operas in need of nothing so much as soap—for the scrubbing of
themselves. Some seriously maintain that media violence and sleaze leave
consumers untouched. But revenue is received from commercials precisely
because of their influence. Either we deserve reforms, or sponsors deserve
refunds!" (CR, Apr 1993)
Unwholesome dating activities for our youth.
Flirting after marriage.
Places and/or activities that do not encourage the constant companionship of
the Holy Ghost.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO AVOID BEING TEMPTED TO COMMIT SEXUAL SINS?
President Spencer W. Kimball: "As a man
thinketh, so does he. If he thinks about it long enough he is likely to
do it, whether it be theft, moral sin, or suicide. Thus the time to protect
against the calamity is when the the thought begins to shape itself. Destroy
the seed and the plant will never grow. Man...can change his thought pattern
and become the architect of his destiny." (Miracle of Forgiveness,
We must make a conscious effort to control our thoughts. Seeds can
sneak in, but only we can nurture them. When we discover those seeds,
we must starve them immediately. We remember that wise counsel from
Elder Boyd K. Packer: "Have you noticed
that without any real intent on your part, in the middle of almost any
performance, a shady little thought may creep in from the wings and attract
your attention? . . .
"What do you do at a time
like that, when the stage of your mind is commandeered by the imps of unclean
thinking? Whether they be the gray ones that seem almost clean or the filthy
ones that leave no room for doubt?
"If you can control your
thoughts, you can overcome habits--even degrading, personal habits. If
you can learn to master them, you will have a happy life.
"I would teach you
this. Choose from among the sacred music of the Church a favorite hymn,
one with words that are uplifting and music that is reverent, one that
makes you feel something akin to inspiration. . . .
"Now, use this hymn as
the place for your thoughts to go. Make it your emergency channel. Whenever
you find that these shady actors have slipped from the sidelines of your
thinking onto the stage of your mind, put on this record, as it were. As
the music begins and as the words form in your mind, the unworthy thoughts
will slip shamefully away. The hymn will change the whole mood on the stage
of your mind. Because it is uplifting and clean, the baser thoughts will
disappear, for while virtue, by choice, will not associate with filth,
evil cannot tolerate the presence of light. . . .
"Once you learn to clear the stage of your mind
from unworthy thoughts, keep it busy with learning worthwhile things. Change
your environment so that you have things about you that will inspire good
and uplifting thoughts. Keep busy with things that are righteous."
(CR, Oct 1976)
Things To Avoid
How To Avoid Them
|Unclean or immoral thoughts
||Fill your mind with uplifting thoughts (see Elder Packer's quotation
|An idle mind
||Seek to be anxiously engaged in a worthy cause.
|Television, movies, magazines, books, and music that are pornographic
or suggestive in any way
||Choose media that will inspire you to do good.
|Unwholesome dating activities
||Follow the dating standards taught by latter-day prophets and outlined
in For The Strength of Youth.
|Flirting after marriage
||Love your spouse with all your heart. Continue to "court" (develop
your relationship with your spouse).
|Places or activities that do not encourage the constant companionship
of the Holy Ghost
||Ensure the places you go and the activities you participate in will
enable you to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.
||Follow the standards taught by latter-day prophets
as outlined in
The Strength of Youth.
David Compounds His Sin.
2 SAMUEL 11:6-13.
WHAT WAS DAVID ATTEMPTING TO DO?
Since he had learned that Bathsheba was with child, he tried to get Uriah
to return home to her. It would then appear that the child was Uriah's.
WHAT DID DAVID THEN DO IN AN ATTEMPT TO HIDE HIS IMMORAL BEHAVIOR?
2 SAMUEL 11:14-17. David puts Uriah in a situation
that would guarantee his death.
HOW DO PEOPLE TRY TO COVER UP SINS TODAY?
In most cases, where one has committed a moral transgression, that person
spins a web of deceit and lies to hide the immoral behavior.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE TRY TO COVER OUR SINS?
In all likelihood, our transgression will eventually be uncovered. The trail of deceit will only make it worse. It was once said, "One
good thing about telling the truth is you don't have to remember what you
have already said."
By failing to come forward and beginning to repent of this serious transgression,
one puts his eternal salvation in jeopardy, as did David.
Elder Richard G. Scott: "Do not take comfort in
the fact that your transgressions are not known by others. That is like
an ostrich with his head buried in the sand. He sees only darkness and
feels comfortably hidden. In reality he is ridiculously conspicuous. Likewise
our every act is seen by our Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son. They
know everything about us....
"If you have seriously transgressed, you will
not find any lasting satisfaction or comfort in what you have done. Excusing
transgression with a cover-up may appear to fix the problem, but it does
not. The tempter is intent on making public your most embarrassing acts
at the most harmful time. Lies weave a pattern that is ever more confining
and becomes a trap that Satan will spring to your detriment."
(Ensign, May 1995, p77)
David Is Told That He Will Be Punished Because Of His
2 SAMUEL 12:1-4. The Lord sends Nathan to David.
WHAT WERE THE CONSEQUENCES OF DAVID'S SIN?
HOW DID DAVID REACT TO NATHAN'S PARABLE?
2 SAMUEL 12:7-9. David accused by Nathan.
2 SAMUEL 12:13. David confesses to the sin.
WHY DID DAVID FAIL TO RECOGNIZE THAT HE WAS REPRESENTED BY THE RICH MAN
IN THE PARABLE? WHY ARE WE SOMETIMES UNABLE TO RECOGNIZE OUR OWN
Sometimes get so caught up in our justifications and rationalizations,
that we lose sensitivity to the greatness of the sin. David thought
that he had sufficiently covered his tracks. He thought he could
continue to go on with his life as before. Instead, his poor example
has come screaming down the centuries as a warning against sin and the
folly of attempting to cover up sin.
2 SAMUEL 12:10-14.
In contrast to the KJV, the JST reads, "And Nathan
said unto David, The Lord also hath not put away thy sin that thou
shalt not die."
"David's wives and concubines were given unto
him of me, by the hand of Nathan, my servant, and others of the prophets
who had the keys of this power; and in none of these things did he sin
against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife; and, therefore he hath
fallen from his exaltation, and received his portion; and he shall not
inherit them out of the world, for I gave them unto another, saith the
Lord." (D&C 132:39)
President Marion G. Romney: "David,...though
highly favored of the Lord (he was, in fact, referred to as a man after
God's own heart), yielded to temptation. His unchastity led to murder,
and as a consequence, he lost his families and his exaltation."
(Ensign, May 1979, p42)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "Murderers are
forgiven eventually but only in the sense that all sins are forgiven except
the sin against the Holy Ghost; they are not forgiven in the sense that
celestial salvation is made available to them. (Matt. 12:31-32; Teachings,
p. 356-357.) After they have paid the full penalty for their crime, they
shall go on to a telestial inheritance. (Rev. 22:15.)" (Mormon
Resource Note 2.
A Repentant David Seeks Forgiveness
Although David forfeited his exaltation because of the death
of Uriah, the 51st Psalm teaches much about a repentant attitude and seeking
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT THAT WE RECOGNIZE GOD'S GREATNESS AND OUR OWN SINFULNESS
WHEN WE REPENT OF OUR SINS?
As we seek to become like our Heavenly Father, we can only do so when we
are sufficiently humble before God. That comes with both a recognition
of our sins and the in the fact that only Lord can redeem us from those sins. When we arrive at this point, we can then become, as Heber C.
Kimball often taught, "clay in the hands of the potter."
Heber C. Kimball: "The potter tried to bring
a lump of clay into subjection, and he worked and tugged at it, but the
clay was rebellious and would not submit to the will of the potter and
marred in his hands. Then of course he had to cut it from the wheel and
throw it into the mill to be ground over, in order that it might become
passive; after which he takes it again and makes of it a vessel unto honor."
(Life of Heber C. Kimball, pp464-465)
David said that his sin was ever before him (Psalm 51:3).
WHAT MUST WE SACRIFICE IN ORDER TO RECEIVE FORGIVENESS OF OUR SINS?
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE A BROKEN AND A CONTRITE HEART?
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "The 'children of
Christ,' the 'children of light,' in any dispensation willingly make the
sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit (see 3 Nephi 9:20; D&C
59:8; Psalm 51:17; Ephesians 5:8). The children of Christ are meek and
malleable—their hearts can be broken, changed, or made anew. The child
of Christ can eventually mature spiritually to become the 'new man or woman,
the man or woman of Christ." (Men and Women of Christ, pp44-45)
HOW ARE OUR SINS EVER BEFORE US BEFORE WE ARE FORGIVEN?
WHAT ARE THE BLESSINGS OF RECEIVING FORGIVENESS?
"Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew
a right spirit within me." (Psalm 51:10)
ALMA 36:17-19. The memory of sin is removed.
"I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions
for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins" (Isaiah 43:25).
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
- The story of David should be a solemn warning to all of us. As the
old saying goes, "Prevention is better than the cure." We need to
do all that we can to avoid situations that put temptation before us. Should temptation sneak in, we need to be prepared to expunge it.
Elder Packer's idea of utilizing a favorite hymn is one way of being prepared. Reciting a favorite scripture or turning to the Lord in prayer will be
like throwing water on a fire. We cannot allow the temptation to
take root and flourish. If we do make a mistake, we must be sufficiently
humble to follow the steps of repentance and be able claim the power of
- Record your thoughts on David and his submission to temptation. What specific
things can you do to avoid the temptations that lead to greater sins?
Resources Used In This Lesson
As A Man Thinketh by James Allen.
Conference Reports (CR).
Life of Heber C. Kimball by Orson F. Whitney.
Men and Women of Christ by Neal A. Maxwell.
Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie.
Old Testament Student Manual - Religion 301.
Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball.
The Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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