One of the most recognized stories about David is his adulterous affair with Bathsheba and his murderous attempts to cover it up. If this man, a spiritual giant, could act in such a way, what does it say about us and our tendency to sin? In this message we will talk about the spiritual warning lights God uses to get our attention and move us back on the right path.
In the story we look at today, we see David is guilty of lust and coveting and deceit, and he becomes an adulterer and a murderer.
And the question that gets asked from a lot of people is: How could it happen? How could David allow that to happen to his life?
And I want to turn the question around as we start and pose it like this: who is so much more spiritual than David that what happened to him could not happen to you? Or me?
I think this story brings us to a real hard truth that we don’t like to face or talk a lot about, especially in the church, and that is that every human being – every one – is fallen and we all wrestle with sin – all of us – until the day we die.
It’s a real serious struggle. And it’s your struggle. It’s my struggle.
We sometimes divide sin into two categories. We never talk about it like this, but sometimes there are the “acceptable sins” and then there are the “inexcusable sins”.
God doesn’t see sin that way. God just sees sin. He just sees fallen people.
And I don’t know about you, but personally the longer I’m a Christian, the more I see my own fallenness and brokenness.
And the truth about me is sometimes I sin and sometimes I don’t sin, but it’s not because I’m super spiritual. Often I think it’s because I don’t think I could get away with it.
But David could get away with it or at least he thought he could. And that’s a real dangerous position to be in for anyone.
I think a great problem in the church is we tend to underestimate our fallenness.
I think that’s why Paul said in
1 Corinthians 10:12
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
Paul is saying, “The one who thinks he doesn’t struggle with sin or fallenness anymore is really the most vulnerable of all.”
So I want to walk through what I think are
4 spiritual warning lights
in this story. And I want us to learn from them because I believe we may see these same warning lights in our lives at one point or another.
David just ignores three of them. And every time he ignored one, things got worse.
The first warning light is in
2 Samuel 11:1-2
The following spring, the time of year when kings go to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to destroy the Ammonites. In the process they laid siege to the city of Rabbah. But David stayed behind in Jerusalem.
Late one afternoon David got out of bed after taking a nap and went for a stroll on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath.
Alright, so this is the beginning of the story. And the first warning light is in verse one. I’m calling this warning light
We see it in the last sentence of the first verse where the writer says the king’s men and the whole Israelite army went off to war; But David remained in Jerusalem.
Now there’s a very significant statement in verse one – “the time of year when kings go to war.”
It was just like how baseball teams go to Arizona for spring training every year. That was the time of year that battles would get fought. But David thought to himself, “This year I don’t want to go. I don’t have to go. Let them go without me.” Which was something he could get away with because he was the king.
Most scholars think there’s something significant going on with David that the writer is giving us a clue about. We can kind of read between the lines.
It was generally believed that David was about 50 years old at this time. He wasn’t an old man yet, but he wasn’t young anymore either. Women didn’t look at him the same way they used to.
What did David want? He didn’t really know. He wanted to feel young. He wanted to feel alive. He was bored, and he was restless, and he was a little lonely. So he decided he would stay home.
But what he apparently didn’t decide was to talk to God about this.
The writer of Scripture tells us David’s real problem in 2 Samuel 12. Nathan is talking to David.
2 Samuel 12:7-8
Then Nathan said to David, “The LORD, the God of Israel, says, `I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul. I gave you his house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more.
God says to David, “I’ve been caring for you your whole life, and I want the best for you, and I’ve given you so much. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you so much more. Why didn’t you come to me? Why didn’t you ask me? Why didn’t you talk to me?”
I wonder how often God has said that to us, “And if that had not been enough, I would have given you so much more.”
If more is what it takes to make us content, God will just keep giving more. But, of course, more doesn’t usually do it.
But David’s problem is he didn’t trust that God really did have his best interest at heart. He didn’t trust that God was that good.
David thought, as so many of us do at a very deep level, that really when it comes down to it, “I’m going to have to look out for myself. I can’t really trust that if I abandon myself to God that really, he will take care of me.”
I think that’s behind so much of sin in our lives. We just don’t trust that God is that good, that he would say to us, “And if that had not been enough, I would have given you so much more.”
I think what David should have done was spend some time alone with God in order to find out what was happening in his life – why was he feeling lonely and bored?
Maybe he needed a new challenge. Maybe the fear of aging and death had crept into his life and that meant he needed a deeper experience of God’s love for him.
But he doesn’t do that. He just stays home with no accountability so he’s open to temptation and sin.
And I want to pause for a moment at this warning light because for some of us this light is flashing in our lives.
Maybe you’re a little restless; you’re a little bored; you’re a little dangerous right now.
Your motivation to obey and serve God is low and getting lower.
You’re not sure why, but you’re not close to God right now.
You need to know that you’re at a dangerous place.
So I want to ask you – will you take the time to go to God and pour out your heart to him?
And will you trust that God knows enough and cares enough to have your best interest at heart?
Will you trust God enough to say, “I’m a little bored, and I’m in a little pain, but I’m going to stick real close to you. And I’m going to trust that there is a new and good season ahead of me at some point in spite of whatever disappointments I may have.”
I want to ask you to do that because you’re at a critical place.
Which brings us to the second warning light.
The first one is boredom. The second warning light is
Notice what happens:
2 Samuel 11:3
He sent someone to find out who she was,
An important word in this story is the word “sent.” It gets repeated over and over in the story.
Mostly it’s used of David. Mostly it’s used to refer to the way David kind of plays God in people’s lives to get what he wants.
He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”
He has a specific temptation, but there’s a warning light that goes off for him, and it’s in the phrase, “the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”
Most likely, this servant knows something of what’s going on in David’s mind, and it’s a pretty gutsy thing to do.
He says, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam? And David, isn’t this the wife of Uriah the Hittite? David, this is someone’s wife. This is someone’s daughter. Be careful.”
I want to pause before I go on because some of us have this warning light flashing.
A very specific temptation has taken form in your mind, and maybe you haven’t crossed any lines yet, but you’re about to. And God has you listening today because I believe he wants to confront you. And so I want to ask you, “Will you stop and think about what the consequences will be if you cross the next line?”
Early on in my ministry, I was challenged by a friend to think about what the consequences would be for me if I decided to mishandle sexuality in my life.
I was challenged to think about what I really believe, and what my values really are and what might happen if I mishandle it.
What I realized was it would disturb my prayer life and my worship; it would leave me with feelings of guilt; it would damage intimacy with the person I most want to love.
Mishandling this area of my life could destroy the ministry that I believe God has called me to.
It could pass on a legacy that would damage the children that I love so much.
It could cause me to become a hidden person, which I want to avoid most of all.
Thinking about the consequences of mishandling this are of my life makes me get real clear on what kind of man I want to be and what kind of man I don’t want to be.
And I don’t know what the right word is, but I want to encourage you, I want to challenge you, I want to exhort you, I want to confront you… whatever the right word is.
Be courageous enough to get alone with God, and get real clear because no one is going to do this for you. Get real clear on what it is you believe and value to the core of your being, and live that out.
Well, David just ignores this warning light – “This is someone’s wife; this is someone’s daughter.” He just ignores it.
This is what the writer of Scripture says next:
2 Samuel 11:4
Then David sent for her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her.
There’s that word “sent” again.
This time he’s not sending for information. He’s sending for the woman, and he uses his power to get what he wants.
Up to this point in the story, everything works out the way David has planned: he sees, he wants, he inquires, he finds out, he sends for her, he sleeps with her, and then he sends her home.
And then something happens that’s not in his plan.
2 Samuel 11:5
Later, when Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant, she sent a message to inform David.
There’s that word “sent” again, only this time David is not the sender. This is not what David had planned.
And this always happens with sin.
Sin always sets in motion spiritually destructive forces that you cannot control no matter how in control you think you are. Sin always does that.
It may be external forces – pregnancy or something like that. It may be internal forces – the loss of integrity, the loss of character, the loss of innocence. But sin will set into motion forces that you cannot control.
And this brings David to the next warning light which we’ll talk about in just a moment.
Okay, so how will David respond now that the results of his sin have spun out of his control, which they always do?
First, there’s the warning light of boredom.
Then there’s the warning light of confrontation about a temptation you’re about to give into.
Now there’s the warning light of
How do you respond after you’ve sinned when you become aware that you’ve done wrong, and the consequences start to unfold?
You see, at this point, David could throw himself to his knees. He could confess to God and to Bathsheba and to Uriah and to his people what he had done and repent and try to set things right. He could do that. He could go down that road, but he doesn’t. He decides to go down a darker road.
He still thinks he can control things. The word “sent” gets used a lot more from this point forward.
2 Samuel 11:6-25
So David sent word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.”
When Uriah arrived, David asked him how Joab and the army were getting along and how the war was progressing.
Then he told Uriah, “Go on home and relax.”
But Uriah wouldn’t go home. He stayed that night at the palace entrance with some of the king’s other servants.
When David heard what Uriah had done, he summoned him and asked, “What’s the matter with you? Why didn’t you go home last night after being away for so long?”
Uriah replied, “The Ark and the armies of Israel and Judah are living in tents, and Joab and his officers are camping in the open fields. How could I go home to wine and dine and sleep with my wife? I swear that I will never be guilty of acting like that.”
“Well, stay here tonight,” David told him, “and tomorrow you may return to the army.” So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day and the next.
Then David invited him to dinner and got him drunk. But even then he couldn’t get Uriah to go home to his wife. Again he slept at the palace entrance.
So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver. The letter instructed Joab, “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.”
David is willing to commit murder. And it’s not in a moment of passion. It’s calculated, cold-blooded murder.
So Joab assigned Uriah to a spot close to the city wall where he knew the enemy’s strongest men were fighting. And Uriah was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers.
Then Joab sent a battle report to David. He told his messenger, “Report all the news of the battle to the king. But he might get angry and ask, ‘Why did the troops go so close to the city?’
Then tell him, ‘Uriah the Hittite was killed, too.'”
So the messenger went to Jerusalem and gave a complete report to David. “The enemy came out against us,” he said.
“And as we chased them back to the city gates, the archers on the wall shot arrows at us. Some of our men were killed, including Uriah the Hittite.”
“Well, tell Joab not to be discouraged,” David said. “The sword kills one as well as another! Fight harder next time, and conquer the city!”
Remember, this is the same mouth that sang songs to God and prayed prayers to God and defied Goliath in God’s name.
Now David has reached a level of deceit and hypocrisy that is just evil. And he committed himself to a strategy of cover-up.
And the consequences of sin will always lead to one of two results – either repentance, confession, and restitution; or cover-up and more sin. It always leads to one or the other.
Here’s an example: A student watches TV when she ought to study, and then she lies to her teacher about not studying. She then cheats on the test to avoid flunking. And then she feels a little guilty about cheating and a little jealous about classmates that did better than her, so she gossips about them to feel better about herself. It’s just one sin after the next after the next. It’s like a cancer.
Now David is almost finished. He’s just about got it covered up. In verse 27 that verb “sent” is used once more.
2 Samuel 11:26-27
When Bathsheba heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son.
And he’s done it. He’s gotten away with it and no one will ever know.
David thought the great danger of his life was that someone might find out. But, of course, that wasn’t his greatest danger. His greatest danger was that no one would find out, and his soul would be completely destroyed.
That’s always the way it is with sin.
Our great danger is that no one will find out, and we’ll just live in darkness.
But David has one more warning light as one more character is introduced into the story. The end of chapter 11 introduces a character that has not been mentioned all the way up until now.
The old King James translates it like this:
2 Samuel 11:27 KJV
But the thing David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord.
David covered this one up from just about everyone. He could scam the court, he could fool the army, he could kill Uriah, he could marry Bathsheba, he could adopt the baby, he could con the whole nation.
But God sees everything with amazing clarity. And he will call us all into account. And his justice will not be avoided. And he will not be fooled by the most clever cover-up.
David’s fourth warning light comes, and it involves the pronouncement of
Judgment – the judgment of God.
This is his last chance.
2 Samuel 12:1
So the LORD sent Nathan the prophet to tell David this story:
And I’m sure Nathan thought a lot about how he was going to approach the king.
You know how it is when someone you love is going down the wrong road. Nathan has to find some way to get past all of David’s defenses and the hardness of his heart.
So he thinks, and I’m sure he prays, and finally it’s given to him. He’ll tell David a story. Look what he says:
2 Samuel 12:2-6
“There were two men in a certain town. One was rich, and one was poor. The rich man owned many sheep and cattle. The poor man owned nothing but a little lamb he had worked hard to buy.
He raised that little lamb, and it grew up with his children. It ate from the man’s own plate and drank from his cup. He cuddled it in his arms like a baby daughter.
One day a guest arrived at the home of the rich man. But instead of killing a lamb from his own flocks for food, he took the poor man’s lamb and killed it and served it to his guest.”
He tells this very heartfelt story and this is David’s response.
David was furious. “As surely as the LORD lives,” he vowed, “any man who would do such a thing deserves to die! He must repay four lambs to the poor man for the one he stole and for having no pity.”
David gets all fired up about this guy – “How could anyone do such a thing?”
And we can be just like David, can’t we?
I can be listening to a message, get all fired up about someone else’s sin and forget about my own.
David, in the midst of all this darkness is capable of so much self-deception that he says, “As surely as the Lord lives” – he uses such spiritual sounding language – “any man who would do such a thing deserves to die.”
Then comes one of the most courageous statements in Scripture.
Imagine now what’s going on inside Nathan. He’s standing before the king, not just a friend or a peer. This is the king – David. And this is not the same David that shepherded sheep or defeated Goliath.
This is a ruthless man. This is a liar, an adulterer, and a murderer. He didn’t think twice about sacrificing the life of Uriah or the lives of who knows how many of his own innocent soldiers.
Nathan is risking his life, and he doesn’t hesitate. He looks David in the eye and says: “You’re the man, David. This is your sin. This is how far you’ve fallen. This is the depth to which you have descended. This is your heart. This is your story, David.”
And then for who knows how long, there’s just silence.
And I’m sure the thought occurred to David, “You know, I can control this problem too. I took care of Bathsheba. I took care of Uriah. I took care of Joab. I took care of the army. This is just one man, one prophet. I can take care of him too. And if I get rid of him, I’m home free. No one will ever know.”
“And I can make up for it. I can be a good king.”
I imagine there was a voice inside David that said those words because he had been listening to that voice for a long time.
But somewhere, somehow, there was another voice in David.
*And that voice whispered to him about those days so long ago when he was just an innocent boy out shepherding sheep, and God would take care of him whenever enemies would come to him.
*Somehow a voice whispered to him about a day a long time ago when he was so full of idealism and vision that he saw this pagan Philistine giant that was blaspheming God, and all by himself, he faced the giant and God delivered him.
*Somehow there was a little voice inside of him that reminded him of the exhilaration of what it was like to fight for God.
*And maybe that voice recalled his friend, Jonathan, who loved him so much, and who said to him, “David, never forget, you’re the Lord’s anointed.”
*And maybe he remembered King Saul, and maybe that voice said, “David, that’s what you’re going to turn into. You’re so close. There’s some Saul in you. And pretty soon, Saul is all you’ll be.”
So for who knows how long, David stares at this warning light.
Then this miracle happens that sometimes does… and a heart that had been hard and cold and dead for so long just melted.
The soul that had been walking in darkness for so long took its first weak, feeble step into the light.
For who knows how long David just stands there and his life and Nathan’s life are on the line.
2 Samuel 12:13
Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”
“I’m the man in your story, Nathan. I’m the man who doesn’t deserve to live. That’s my sin. That’s my story.”
Maybe you need that same miracle in your heart today.
Maybe you don’t even know it. Maybe like David, you’ve sat through messages and thought about the fallenness of other people, but today, for whatever reason, you’re aware of the fallenness in your own heart.
I want to ask you now, today, will you do what David did? Will you say to God right now, “I’m the man. I’m the woman. It’s my story, God.”
I want to give you a moment to do this before Scott leads us in communion. This is very important.
I’d like to ask you if you would just bow your head for a minute and close your eyes.
There may be some area in your life, and God has been trying to get through to you, but for whatever reason, it hasn’t happened.
And God’s waiting for you right now to just come to him in humility and brokenness and say, “I’m the man. I’m the woman,” whatever the area is.
“God, I’m tired of holding you off at arm’s length. I’m tired of having to walk with the kind of darkness or brokenness or guilt that I’ve been walking with. Would you deliver me from all of this?”
I want to ask you to take some time right now and list specifically before God what you need to be delivered from.