9 Pentecost proper B13
Rev. D. K. Schroeder
2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a Sermon
August 2, 2009
Hymns (from The Service Book and Hymnal):
163 "O Worship The King, All Glorious Above"
375 "My Faith Looks Up To Thee"
519 "O God Of Bethel By Whose Hand"
520 "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah"
A MAN AFTER GOD'S OWN HEART, PART 2
TEXT (11:26-27; 12:9-10): "When Uriah's wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the LORD....[God said]: 'Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.'"
NOTE: This is part two of a two-part sermon about David and Bathsheba.
It's only been a couple of days ago that a man by the name of Bernie Madoff was sentenced for the crimes he committed. His penalty was 150 years in prison; and since he is 71 years old now, he wouldn't be able to get out until he's the ripe old age of 191. He also was ordered to pay $170 billion in restitution.
Bernie Madoff is one of the biggest con-men alive. He bilked money into the billions of dollars from investors of every description in what is known as a Ponzi scheme. Essentially he promised investors unbelievably high returns for their money. And then he used money from later investors to pay off earlier investors, basically "robbing Peter to pay Paul." Of course this can't last very long before it all collapses like a house of cards.
But he got away with it for awhile. It was only when he admitted to his sons what he had done that they blew the whistle on him, and he is now having to pay the price for what he did.
I don't know what this man could have been thinking. He could have earned a comfortable living by operating a legitimate business. He could have actually been the well respected businessman that people thought he was. And he was smart too. He had to know that this Ponzi scheme he was running couldn't last. The handwriting was on the wall. He was headed for disaster.
This is a good example of how sin can affect a person. Bernie Madoff was greedy. The more money he had, the more he wanted. This desire so possessed him that he was completely blinded as to the consequences. He was living high on the hog until things started to unravel. And then reality hit. The jig was up. He had to "pay the piper," as the old expression goes.
This morning we are continuing with the soap opera-like story line with King David and his relationship with Bathsheba. The story is very graphic and hard-hitting; but even so, it is important and it teaches us a valuable lesson.
To briefly recap things, King David hadn't gone into battle, but remained at the royal palace. One evening from the palace roof outside of his bed chamber, he secretly watches the young woman Bathsheba taking a bath.
Now we have to understand something about David. In 1 Samuel chapter 13 verse 14, Samuel is describing David to King Saul. He says, "But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD's command."
Here is where David is described as a man after God's own heart. Saul had demonstrated that his heart was elsewhere. David had a faithful heart and he knew God's will, perhaps better than anybody else. He was a great choice to occupy the throne as King of the Israelites.
David was doing a good job too--that is, until that black day in David's life when he spotted Bathsheba from his palace roof. When that happened, it was like flashing money in front of Bernie Madoff. In David's case, his desire and lust for Bathsheba was so strong that he was blinded to God's will and he lost all common sense.
Even though he knew that she was Uriah's wife, he sent for her and committed adultery with her. And when she became pregnant, he attempted to cover it up by having Uriah sleep with her. And when that didn't work, then he had Uriah killed. David broke at least five commandments in rapid succession, seemingly without any compunction at all.
So now the story continues. Bathsheba hears of Uriah's death, and she goes through the prescribed period of mourning according to Jewish law. And when that was over, David takes her as one of his wives.
In David's mind, he most likely thought that it was all over. By taking Bathsheba as his wife, David would have thought that this action would have somehow atoned for the wicked things he had done. He had done wrong, and now he stepped up to the plate to do the honorable thing.
But now we see another character enter the scene. A young prophet by the name of Nathan comes to David, and wants to talk to him. Nathan was, of course a direct spokesman for the Lord himself.
Nathan tells David a very simple story about a rich man and a poor man. The rich man had many sheep, but the poor man had only one ewe lamb; and the way the ewe is described, it was probably the poor man's family pet. When the rich man wanted to put on a feast for his guests, he didn't want to part with any of his sheep. Rather, he took the poor man's only ewe, and used it for the feast instead.
The thought of someone being this cruel upset David. Verse 5 of our text says, "David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, 'As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die!'
Even though David responded this way out of anger, he continues in verse 6: "He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity." That was the penalty for stealing a lamb according to Jewish law. David had no trouble in seeing how the rich man had done wrong in this story.
And now it was time for the other "shoe to drop," so-to-speak. Nathan gets right in David's face; and with all of the righteous indignation he could muster, Nathan says in verse 7: "...You are the man!..." And then he proceeds to give David the biggest dressing down he had probably ever experienced, as he compared David to the rich man, Uriah to the poor man, and Bathsheba as the poor man's ewe.
Now if you think about it, what Nathan did was a very scary thing. People just didn't walk up to the king and began to give him a tongue lashing. Kings were people who were treated with respect by his subjects, regardless of how good or bad the king was. Of course Nathan was speaking God's pronouncement on the situation, so God supplied him with whatever bravery was necessary. But I still would think that Nathan was shaking in his sandals the whole time!
After Nathan applies the parable, he now speaks God's words of judgment. In verses 10-12 of our text Nathan explains what is going to happen: "Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.' "This is what the LORD says: 'Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.'"
God will chastise David for the wrong he did. There will be consequences, and dire ones at that. Chapters 13-18 of 2 Samuel are the record of how all of this will come to pass; and it won't be a pretty sight either.
Just as Uriah was killed by violence, so will the house of David be plagued with violence, both in his own lifetime and through its many centuries of rule over Judah. David's favored son, Absalom will kill his brother Ammon (13:28-29), David's commanding general Joab will kill Absalom (18:13-15), and Solomon, once coming to power, would order the deaths of his brother and rival Adonijah (I Kings 2:24-25) and of Joab (I Kings 2:29-34). David's killing of Uriah would begin a blood bath that would span the centuries of Israel's royal family.
The chastisement would begin with David and Bathsheba. They both had to bear the consequence of their sinful action. Both of them were at fault, and both of them had to take responsibility. As a result, the son Bathsheba bore as a result of their adulterous affair would become sick and die. And the second son Bathsheba would bear was none other than Solomon, who would become king.
Now we look at the rest of the prophecy Nathan speaks. Verses 11-12 say: "Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.'"
When David and Bathsheba committed adultery together, they did it in secret, and David tried to cover it up. But now, even more detestable things would happen out in the open for all to see. David's son Absalom and his fellow rebels would force themselves upon his wives and concubines in broad daylight and before the eyes of all Israel. (16:20-23). And David's son, Ammon, would force himself upon his own sister, Tamar (13:1-22). These were all detestable acts of moral turpitude, and they would happen just as Nathan described.
One commentator states, "Like David, his sons claim the right to whatever they want when they want it. Like David, their treatment of women brings them great trouble (13:1-29; 18:9-15; I Kings 2:13-25). Like David, his sons are ultimately responsible for their actions."
This is definitely not a pleasant section of Scripture to talk about. It is very vivid and graphic in nature. So what good can come out of all of this?
David experienced a great deal of sorrow and remorse over what he did. He felt it from the tips of every hair on his head right down to his toenails. He was completely overwhelmed, and he realized that only God could forgive him for the wrong he had done.
David is the one who penned many of the Psalms; but in particular he wrote seven Psalms that we call "penitential Psalms." In these penitential Psalms, David bares his soul to God, and begs his forgiveness.
I'll read the first couple verses of each of these, and it will give you a good idea of what was going on. Psalm 6: "O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony." Psalm 32: "Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the LORD and you forgave the guilt of my sin.'" Psalm 38: "O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. For your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down upon me.... Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Saviour." Psalm 51: "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin." Psalm 102: "Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly." Psalm 130: "Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy." And finally, Psalm 143: "O LORD, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief. Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you."
God was able to use David and the dark chapter in his life to give us some words of hope and assurance. David had the mistaken idea that he could do something that nobody, not even God could see. But when his sin was brought to light, when Nathan confronted him with it, all he could do was plead for God's mercy.
Perhaps David thought that because of his position and because of God's blessing, he would be impervious to sin. Maybe he thought he could get by with it, since God had found favor with him. But that was not the case.
2 Samuel 1:19 says, "Your glory, O Israel, lies slain on your heights. How the mighty have fallen!" Proverbs 16:18 says, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." And finally, Paul warns us in 1 Corinthians 10:12: "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!"
A man after God's own heart. That's the description of King David, according to the Bible. But David was a sinful human being, without a doubt. His sin brought him disgrace. It brought him hardship. And it was felt by the entire country God had placed under his leadership.
A person after God's own heart however is a person of faith. That person knows their sin and most importantly knows their Saviour. David knew that the promised Messiah would come from his blood line, and he had a strong faith in what God had promised.
If we look at the genealogy chart in Matthew Chapter 1, we find that several of Jesus' ancestors had scandals attached to their name. For example, there was Tamar, who disguised herself as a prostitute after her husband died. She fooled her father-in-law, and he went to bed with her, and she had a son by him. Then there was Rahab the prostitute, who hid two spies Joshua sent to Jericho. And then there was Bathsheba, who Matthew calls Uriah's wife, who committed adultery with David, and who became the mother of Solomon.
This is not a completely admirable lineage, but it is part of Jesus' earthly ancestry. Jesus definitely had a fully human nature, complete with some rotten branches on the family tree.
But as we look at Jesus, we can be assured that he knows us and he completely understands the dark pages in our life. Whatever guilt we have, whatever sin has haunted us, whatever weakness we experience, we know that we are forgiven through faith in Jesus our Saviour.
Certainly David experienced God's chastisement; but most importantly, David experienced God's forgiveness and grace. He knew that he had been forgiven for his sins, and we have that same assurance.
In Hebrews 4:15-16 we read some comforting words: "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
We have that understanding and forgiveness through faith in Jesus our Saviour. Therefore we can say right along with David in Psalm 130 verses 3-4: "If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared."