I’ll be on vacation next Sunday and had planned on preaching this sermon. Because of all the excitement this past week, I opted to preach this a week early… with an invitation to join us for the very first Ash Wednesday service.
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“You’re The One”
Scripture Text: II Samuel 12:1-13a
I like it because it shows how concerned God is about sin, even when we are not… and especially when we have tried to hide our sins. And I especially like this passage because it doesn’t stop there but it gives us an example of how a sinner can get right with God. And the Bible even uses one of my favorite Bible characters… King David.
As the story unfolds throughout Second Samuel, we find Israel’s mighty warrior king, King David, watching in Second Samuel 11:1 as the army rides away into battle. And later on, “one evening” we are told, he gets up from his bed and he’s walking around up on the flat roof of his house. And we are told in chapter eleven, verses two and three, that “From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her.”
We find out that her name is Bathsheba, and her husband was named Uriah, who was a Hittite foreigner living in Israel.
For those who may not be familiar with the story, I will give a quick Reader’s Digest style version for you: David looks at her, then David lusts in his heart for her, then David sleeps with her.
She gets pregnant, and David tries to hide what is still a secret, but will soon be known to all… especially her husband Uriah.
So he hatches a plan… He’ll try to ensure the baby is considered to be Uriah’s baby… except that Uriah is one of David’s valiant soldiers… out fighting David’s battles.
So David sends for Uriah trying to get Uriah to go home to his wife……… so that Uriah, and every one else, will think the future baby was conceived when Uriah was home.
So Uriah is summoned back to the capital to meet with the king. They talk, David probes about the battle, as if Uriah were simply home as a randomly picked messenger. And after they talk, David dismisses Uriah to go home for some well-deserved rest and relaxation.
But of course, Uriah is feeling so guilty that his friends and neighbors are out there in the midst of the battle, fighting and dying while he’s at home, that he goes into a time of spiritual fasting and mourning… he sleeps in the street outside the king’s house and doesn’t go home to see his wife.
The next night, David gets him drunk, hoping to trick Uriah to go home and be with his wife, but Uriah’s loyalty, and honesty, as one of David’s valiant & faithful fighting men is too strong. Even drunk, this warrior will be true to his word, to his cause. He sleeps at the entrance to the palace… not daring to endulge his personal needs or desires while his fellow soldiers are still suffering and fighting in the battle.
So David decides that the only way to cover this up is to make sure that Uriah dies in battle… which he orders his commander in the field, Joab, to ensure. He writes down his orders and seals them and sends them, get this, with Uriah, back to the front lines.
Joab then leads the Israelite troops close to the gates of the city of Rabbah, with Uriah in the front line, and when they get close enough the defenders of Rabbah start shooting arrows and Uriah is killed… and Scripture tells us that other soldiers were killed as well.
After the appropriate mourning period for a wife to mourn her dead husband, David, the kind and compassionate king, the caring and concerned neighbor, consoles the forlorn widow and takes her in as one of his own. And makes her his wife. The baby is born. Noone knows about his sin. The secret is safe.
And that brings us to the passage of Scripture for today: Let’s pick up the story in verse 26 of Second Samuel chapter 11…
26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 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.
4 “Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”
5 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! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”
7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. 9 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. 10 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.’
11 “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. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’ “
13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”
You see, sin never gets hidden from God, does it?
It’s sort of like squeezing a toothpaste tube until it’s empty. It’s easy to get the toothpaste out of the tube and it’s easy to keep squirting the toothpaste out of the tube… But you can’t undo the actions so easily. The toothpaste doesn’t ever go back into the tube.
It’s the same way with sin. It’s easy to sin, but then in an effort to cover that sin, you have to lie, and then sin some more , and then more and more and more. And even then sin doesn’t really get covered up and never really goes away.
I like that spot where the chapter changes… did you catch it in the tail end of verse 27 in chapter eleven and the beginning of verse one in chapter twelve…?
11:27 “and she became his wife, and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD. 12:1 And the LORD sent Nathan to David.”
God always sees our sin. Even when we try to cover it up. And it ALWAYS displeases Him. But Scripture doesn’t just stop with a sinner and an angry God… God always tries to bring the sinner back.
With David, it takes the prophet Nathan and a parable. Nathan is the one God uses to expose David’s sin…
And we are read in verse 13 the following sentence:
12:13 “Then David said to Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD.”
“I HAVE SINNED…” he cries out… and not just sinned against Bathsheba, or Uriah, or the other Israelite soldiers, but he admits that He has sinned against GOD!
I want to suggest that we can learn something here this morning from David’s sin, as well as his repentance.
First of all, I want to point out some less obvious sins that David committed, because he isn’t just repenting from having sex with a woman he’s not married to. His sin goes deeper than that… In the heart.
David’s sin was more than adultery, more than murder…
Look at chapter eleven, verse one with me:
“In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.”
and then verse two tells us:
“One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful…”
That line in there that tells us what time of year it was is a real clue to David’s sins within his heart… “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war…” and the problem… David’s first mistake in this whole story: “But David remained in Jerusalem.”
If the kings went out to war, then why was the king at home looking at something he shouldn’t have been seeing to start with? David was not where he was supposed to be…
He set himself up to be tempted by something he should never have even been there to see.
How many of us, find ourselves in that same situation?
We find ourselves faced with temptations that seem greater than we can handle and we fall? And later, with 20/20 hindsight we realize that if we only had done this or done that then we never would have fallen… because we never would have even been tempted.
David’s second heart mistake was of course the sexual sin with Bathsheba but he sins again when he realizes that there will be some long term consequences of that sin… namely a child.
He sins by not turning to God right then and there and decides to hide his sin. Sort of like Adam and Eve in the garden trying to hide their nakedness from God. David’s attempts at hiding sin fails just as much as Adam and Eve’s did.
You know, God gave David time to repent and acknowledge his sin and change his ways … and his heart. God gave David time to repent on his own without anyone else having to know. But David clung to his sin and stuck with his attempts at hiding sin. And God finally sent Nathan, the prophet, to expose David’s heart sins.
God does the same thing with us… He gives us time to repent on our own. That’s what he gives us a conscience for. To make us recognize guilt in order that we may have a chance to repent and get right with our God and be guilt free.
Only when that doesn’t work, and we stubbornly refuse to repent and turn to God does he have to expose our sin.
And even then, like David, he tries to expose them to us… not everyone else. In fact, we are never told that God exposed David’s many sins to anyone else. Because David turned to God and God didn’t have to use that tool in order to try and get David to repent and get right with him.
David didn’t get it when Bathsheba got pregnant, nor when his attempts to make Uriah look like the father failed. It wasn’t until Nathan came along that David repented.
If you are trying to hide sin, God will try to get you to repent of your sin. He’ll give you time. He’ll give you things to do that will keep you away from temptation to start with. If necessary he’ll send other people to help you see. And, ultimately, if necessary, he will expose your sins, and your hardness of heart for all the world to see, all to try to get you to repent.
And I like the way this story, more than most others, so clearly show us how to repent and get right with God…even after we’ve sinned. Even the BAD sins.
Just do like David did…
Admit you have sinned like David did in II Samuel 12:13.
And pray to God for forgiveness… like David did in that Psalm we read together this morning, the very Psalm David wrote after his sin was exposed by Nathan.
Pray for mercy.
And David’s heart cry, upon receiving that forgiveness is found in verses 10 through 12:
David cries out to God for pardon, for forgiveness… and then, knowing his own heart, and the way it is so easy for his heart to sin… David cries out to God for a new, pure and clean and changed heart.
Respond to God when he tries to lead you to repentance… He tries to expose your sins to you personally with his Holy Spirit and your conscience, but he’s is willing to use other people to reveal your sinfulness to you if needed…. or if that doesn’t work, to make you face your sin by exposing your sin publicly.
And that repentance He desires, is that same kind of repentance that David showed us: admit that you are a sinner, ask God for forgiveness, ask him to help change you, and then, Go and sin no more.
Let’s take a moment and pray, shall we…?
If neither of those situations are you, then you pray for your spouse, your family, your friends… you can even pray for your preacher… who is just as susceptible to sin as David was.