top of page
  • Chad Werkhoven

2 Samuel 12:1-13 - Mutual Submission

You likely are in authority over some and in submission to others. Humble yourself before the Lord in both roles.

Read / Listen

Read 2 Samuel 12:1-13

Listen to passage & devotional:


Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 104

Q. What is God’s will for you

in the fifth commandment?

A. That I honor, love, and be loyal to

my father and mother

and all those in authority over me;

that I obey and submit to them,

as is proper,

when they correct and punish me;

and also that I be patient

with their failings—

for through them God chooses

to rule us.



This famous account of David being confronted with his sin makes for an excellent model for how parents ought to discipline as well as how children ought to submit themselves to that discipline. Remember what we were reminded of yesterday, that the fifth commandment obligates us to not only honor our parents, but all those in authority over us.

King David is a powerful, rich and very well established monarch, and normally men in his position are above the law and able to do as they please. The fact that David humbled himself before Nathan is a tremendous example of how even people and institutions who have authority over some spheres of life must submit themselves in other spheres. Parents have authority over their children, but must submit to the government and the Church. The Church must submit itself to the Lord and, to a much lesser extent, the government. The government, in an ideal world at least, submits itself to the people and to a lesser degree, the Church.

In this way, everybody who has authority must also simultaneously be in submission. Ultimately, like David, we must recognize that all authority is delegated by the Lord, so all submission is ultimately to Him.

It's likely that David felt internal guilt for the sins he had committed, as he writes about it so poignantly in Psalm 51. Even so, the initial inclination of most of us when we're called out for something we instinctively knew was wrong is to deny we did it or make excuses for why we did it.

Yet David does none of that. We're so used to seeing those with power squirm their way out of trouble when they've been caught red handed, but David instantly and genuinely confesses his sin against the Lord.

Dig Deeper

Nathan provides a beautiful example of how to discipline those you've been given authority over. He responds to God's call to insert himself in a very awkward and potentially dangerous situation to confront sin (this is a call we all have to one degree or another). He doesn't maliciously attack or impugn David's character, but instead he winsomely guides David into condemning himself. And he instantly communicates God's grace upon David's heartfelt repentance while at the same time holding David accountable for the awful consequences that come as a result of the sin.

Keep both of these humble, godly men in mind as you exercise both authority and submission in your life.

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who uses authority figures to call us out of our sinful ways;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God for the examples of David and Nathan and pray that you will fulfil the roles God has given you in a godly way;



Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Titus 3


Questions or comments?

Recent Posts:

bottom of page