2 Samuel 11:1-5, 14-17, 26-27, 12:1-7a
As we continue with our War Room sermon series, we are introduced to two characters, Mike and Tony. Tony is the husband of Elizabeth – the real estate agent we met last week. Their marriage is anything but perfect, and is in fact on very shaky ground. Our focus is accountability so pay attention to Mike and his concern for his friend. [play video]
Watching Tony brush off his good friend is about as hard as reading the scripture for today. Most of us would probably have been much more comfortable if the scripture writers would have left out the incidences of those who sinned against God – particularly the ones whom we hold up as examples of the faithful followers of God. But at times even the mighty fall. I think the big-picture message for us today is that those characters we read about in the Bible were human, and like us were prone to sin. During our times of weakness, it is important to listen to those who will keep us accountable.
I think we need to get a little background to get a sense of the events that took place prior to Nathan’s encounter with David. First, David was king and there were certain times that kings were meant to go out and do battle. This sounds very odd to us but wars and conquests were done according to an agrarian schedule. You didn’t want your warriors out on the battle fields when the crops needed to be sewn or harvested. So there was a time for battle and for conquest. God had been with David through many such conquests and David and his armies had been successful in re-acquiring most of the land God had promised to Moses.
Second it was time to do battle, but in this particular story, David stayed behind. He sent his troops out but did not go and lead them as he had done in the past. At this point, our antennae should be going up – David was clearly not where he was supposed to be. The scripture tells us David was restless – pacing back and forth. He couldn’t sleep. Clearly something was out of kilter with him. At times like these in our own lives we too can fall to temptation. When we are distracted or out-of-sorts, perhaps we too could stray from God’s will for our lives.
The story goes on and David was pacing on his roof. He saw a woman bathing and cannot get beyond his own sin of desire. He cannot hear the guiding voice of God or his own conscience reminding him that he was a married man (several times in fact) and that giving in to lust was a sin. Nothing mattered except to take this woman for his own. Bathsheba was the wife of the Hittite Uriah – a foreigner but one of stature for Uriah fought with David and his armies.
I have heard some condemn Bathsheba for the part she played in corrupting God’s servant David. First of all, why was she bathing outside? Well, according to historians that was the custom of the day and as no one was usually pacing around rooftops at night, it was the most private location available. Second, why didn’t she refuse to go to David when he sent for her? The fact remained that David was king and Bathsheba was the wife of a foreigner, which basically meant she had to go when called, or she would die. It was as simple as that. Many note David’s sin with Bathsheba as adultery, but perhaps his actions were more severe than that as I am not sure Bathsheba was a willing partner to David. Nevertheless, David commits the sin of ‘adultery’ by taking another man’s wife.
For every action we do, there are consequences – some good and some bad. When one enters into an action, one must be prepared to accept the consequences. In this case, Bathsheba soon sent word to David that she was pregnant. This created a huge problem for David. He needed a cover up in order to protect himself from the consequences of his actions. I find it interesting that David seemed completely blinded to his sin. David was held up for us as a model follower of God and an upright king. How could he not see the tangled web he was weaving as a result of giving in to the temptation of sin? And yet he seemed oblivious to the ever increasing number of sins he was committing.
Nevertheless, David arranged for Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband to die in battle. In fact, David gave a written message to Uriah to carry to his commanding officer – it was literally Uriah’s own death sentence. The commander was told to put Uriah at the head of the fighting and then pull back leaving him to die at the hands of the enemy. With the way clear, David took Bathsheba as his wife and still did not recognize the fact that he had committed now two major sins – ‘adultery’ and murder.
At this point God reestablished communication with David through his advisor Nathan. It is interesting that God did nothing to stop these events and many would question why. One thing that seems clear is that God has allowed us our own free will. We make choices in our lives, both good and bad. It was time to remind David of the bad choices he had made and the consequences of those choices. So God sent Nathan to David with a story of a rich man and a poor man and how everything was taken from the poor man by the rich man. He then revealed that David was the rich man in the story. For the first time since David started down his path of sinful acts, David recognized that he has sinned against God.
So what do we make of this story? Should we just ignore it and move on to happier tales of victory and triumph? The key to remember is that God forgives us when we sin. In Romans 3:23, Paul tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. Sin is ugly and uncomfortable, particularly when it is brought into the light of God. But Paul also reminds us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. We do not have to remain lost in our sin. God forgives even when we feel we don’t deserve forgiveness.
One ‘so what’ take away from this story, and our encounter with Mike and Tony, is the importance of holding one another accountable. I noted last week that we are engulfed in an epic battle. The evil one comes to destroy and to kill and to steal. At times we may be completely blinded concerning our actions – we simply block out the potential harm to ourselves and others. Thank God for the Nathans and the Mikes in our lives who remind us of what is right, good, and just. Thanks be to God for the small groups here that help hold one another in prayer, but also look out for our natural tendency toward sin and hold us accountable for our actions. Thank God for the incredible, undying love for us even when we stray from our calling as disciples of Jesus Christ.
As we come to our time of prayer today, perhaps you are in need of forgiveness. God hears and answers our prayers. God stands waiting with open arms to welcome you. Perhaps you need to seek forgiveness from others as well. This is the place and this is the time. You don’t need to carry your burdens with you any longer. Trust God to see you through. We may cry through the night, but joy comes in the morning.
I would like to close with a reading from Psalm 51. This was a Psalm written by David in direct response to his sin committed with Bathsheba.
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. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of my salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Thanks be to God who provides us with a love that is beyond our comprehension. Amen.