Monday, February 11, 2019

Cover Up - 1 Samuel 11 & 12, Psalm 51

These two chapters in the Bible are some of the most sobering in all of Scripture. Once we read these, we recognize that there is no one who is beyond a hard, deep, and lasting spiritual fall. That is not an exaggeration. Think of whom David was: an anointed man of God, a prophet, a wise sage, a worship leader, a spiritual leader to royalty, an obedient son, a fearless warrior, a gentle shepherd, but most of all, a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14, Acts 13:22). Yet, we have this heart-breaking story of what can happen when any one of us chooses to go our own way and delight ourselves in momentary pleasure. The Bible deals with David without apology as he becomes a warning to all who come after him that no one is given a “mulligan” in life. We must choose to be engaged every moment of every day, lest we too fall. And shockingly enough, it was the cover up that made bad sin worse.
Let’s look at why we must all be on guard, and what to do when we fail.
1. Be Aware of Choosing the Easy Life (2 Samuel 11:1-2a)
David has now gotten to the point in his life when he could leave the work (that is, the battles) to others. Joab was his greatest general and when the time came to go to battle with the enemies of the Lord’s people, the Ammonites, he would let the soldiers take care of what they do best, military campaigns that would result in victory after victory (v. 1). Although it wasn’t unusual for kings to stay at home during battles, we have to wonder what it was that kept David at home. After all, he had been a warrior since his defeat of Goliath on that mountainside near Gath as a young man. Maybe he was tired. Maybe he had to deal with some things at home. Maybe he had some kingly duties to attend to. But for reasons we do not know, he stayed home. What a contrast! This man who was resting at home, waking up in the late afternoon, taking evening strolls on his roof had become soft. Didn’t we read earlier in his life, “David left his supplies…and ran to the battle line”? (1 Samuel 17:22). Now we find him languishing and taking it easy at home. It is a stark reminder to us all what the prophet Amos warns of, “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion” (Amos 6:1). Isaac Watts asked a similar question in his hymn, Am I a Soldier of the Cross? with these haunting words:

On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?”
“Must I be carried to the skies
There is no moment in the Christian life when we should somehow think, I’ll just settle down, lay at ease in Zion, and let someone else do the work. No, fellow laborers, each one of us is called to the work until our last and dying breath. To do otherwise is to risk our spiritual lives on the altar of an easy life. We are encouraged to never let that happen. The results could be disastrous.
2. Be Aware of the Destructiveness of Covering up (2 Samuel 11:2b-27)
Here is where we begin to see how deep man’s heart can dive into the abyss. It all begins with luring at the temptation. “He (David) saw a woman bathing” (Ch. 11:2b). Remember the words of One, the Messiah, who would come from his own family line some 1000 years later who warned, “everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
After enquiring as to who she was, David learned she was married, a part of the royal court, the daughter of a trusted advisor, and the wife of one of his loyal elite soldiers.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t long before David gave the order to have her brought to him and in the simplest and shortest of explanations, “he slept with her” (v. 4). But as often happens, although the sin may be bad, the cover-up is worse. David finds out from Bathsheba in the only words she will say in this book, “I am pregnant” (v. 5). For the next days, all David does is consumed with failed attempts to hush his sin up. He had three (3) schemes. First, he tried a clean scheme to have Uriah come home from war and sleep with his own wife. But Uriah was too much of a man of character and would not do it (vv. 6-11). Then he tried a dirty scheme by getting him drunk so he would forget his vows and sleep with his wife, but even then he didn’t do it (vv. 12-13). Finally, David sends Uriah back to the battle front, and with him instructions for Joab concerning how to execute him. Uriah carried his own death warrant! David told Joab to send Uriah into the heat of battle then remove all support; death would be fast and sure. Joab took it one step further and has many other men killed as well to further sell the cover-up. So, Uriah is murdered (vv.14-24). David resorted to platitudes with these words, “the sword devours all alike.” (v. 25). There was only one who cared, Bathsheba. The Bible tells us, “she mourned for him” (v. 25). We also know about One other that cared, “the LORD considered what David had done to be evil” (v. 25).
There is only one way for us to deal with sin and that is confession and repentance. It is healthy when we confess our sins to one another (James 5:15-16) and don’t try to make like it never happened. Often, we will find that the cover-up can be worse than the sin we are trying to cover up. Transparency with someone you can confide in and trust is always best. “The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy” (Proverbs 28:11).
3. Be Assured of the Blessings of Restoration (2 Samuel 12:1-15, Psalm 51)
What seems to be the most horrible part of the story for David becomes the beginning of restoration for him.
David is confronted by his favorite prophet, Nathan, who told a story of a “rich man” who “had a large number of sheep and cattle” (2 Samuel 12:2). But there was also a poor man who had “one small ewe lamb” (v. 3). It was beloved to this poor man. So, when it came time to entertain an out of town guest, the rich man takes this one little lamb from the poor man and prepared it and served it for dinner so he won’t have to use any of his own lambs (vv. 4-5). At this, David doesn’t wait for anything else from Nathan, but exploded in anger, “the man who did this deserves to die!” (v. 5b). Nathan didn’t hesitate to bring down the hammer either as he looked David straight in the eye and shouted back, “You are the man!” (v. 7). After the entire plot is revealed, David is humiliated in his own court and admitted, “I have sinned against the Lord” (v. 13a). At that moment, David repented, and God forgave Him. We get to hear the words of grace that God has said to us as well, “The Lord has taken away your sin, you will not die” (v. 13b).

What was going on in David’s heart? You can read that in Psalm 51:4a, “Against You—You alone—I have sinned and done evil in your sight.” But, this no was no “get out of jail free” card. He knew that by his words, “You are right when you pass sentence” (v. 4b). What sentence? Nathan was clear with God’s judgment upon David. In 2 Samuel 12: 10, 11, & 14 we are told, “The sword will never leave your house” Then God said, “I am going to bring disaster on you from your own family: I will take your wives and give them to another”. But it was the last thing he heard that hurt the most: because he took innocent life, an innocent life would be taken from him as one more would die, his own baby. The very child he conceived by Bathsheba, “the son born to you will die” (v. 14). Yet, even then, David knew that God had more for him to accomplish, so he pled further with God in Psalm 51:10-13 “God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not banish me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit. Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to You.”

Sin is horrible. Its consequences are heart-breaking. Yet our Lord hung on a cross to let us know that no matter what we did, he paid the penalty for us that our sin might be forgiven and that we could be restored to a relationship with Him. Don’t walk, run to the Cross and experience that kind of forgiveness today. That’s how we should cover our sin, not with schemes like David, but in the blood of Jesus that dripped from His Cross.

—Trey Rhodes

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