February 23, 2014

David Teaches Godly Humility - Feb 23, 2014

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If there is one sin that has done more damage to the human race than any other, that sin must be pride. If you think about it, just about every sin can be traced back to pride.

When children disrespect their parents, they’re essentially saying, “Even though God has set these people to watch over me, I know better than them.”

When people steal, they’re saying, “Even though God gave this to you, I have the right to take it for me.”

When people lie, they’re saying, “I’m so important that I can alter the truth to get what I want.”

Me, me, me. That’s what pride is all about.

Some have even speculated that it was pride that caused Satan to rebel against God in the beginning. Created as one of God’s holy angels, Satan apparently thought that HE was just as powerful, and just as wise as the LORD. So why shouldn’t HE be in charge?

Pride leads us to elevate ourselves out of our rightful place, and to commit sins of every kind. THE LOVE OF MONEY MAY BE THE ROOT OF MANY KINDS OF EVIL. BUT A STRONG CASE CAN BE MADE THAT PRIDE IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL.
Therefore, as followers of God, you and I want to avoid an attitude of pride. In our lesson for today, king David shows us what godly humility looks like. Godly humility admits sin. Godly humility accepts rebuke. And godly humility trusts that the LORD will lift up the humble—for he is gracious and powerful to do so.
This is the seventh message in a series of eight dealing with the life of king David. At this point in David’s life, he has been the king of Israel for some time. Though he was generally a just ruler, David failed to discipline his own children by bringing them to justice for their crimes.

Last Sunday we heard how David’s son Absalom committed murder—but king David did nothing about it. Eventually Absalom returned to Jerusalem to cause more grief and heartache.

Absalom was a handsome man, and he used his good looks along with golden speeches to win the hearts of the people. Once he secured popularity in the capital, he secretly sent messengers throughout the land of Israel. On an appointed day Absalom traveled seventeen miles south, to the city of Hebron. There he had himself declared king. Across the land the messengers he had dispatched announced the same.

When David learned what was going on, he knew it was only a matter of time before Absalom swept into Jerusalem to destroy everything he held dear. And so David gathered up his family, and those who were still loyal to him, and fled the capital.

We pick up the story three miles north of Jerusalem, as David and his group of exiles reach the city of Bahurim.

2 Samuel 16:5-14 (NASB)

    5   When King David came to Bahurim, behold, there came out from there a man of the family of the house of Saul whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera; he came out cursing continually as he came.
    6   He threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David; and all the people and all the mighty men were at his right hand and at his left.
    7   Thus Shimei said when he cursed, “Get out, get out, you man of bloodshed, and worthless fellow!
    8   “The Lord has returned upon you all the bloodshed of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. And behold, you are taken in your own evil, for you are a man of bloodshed!”
    9   Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over now and cut off his head.”
  10   But the king said, “What have I to do with you, O sons of Zeruiah? If he curses, and if the Lord has told him, ‘Curse David,’ then who shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’ ”
  11   Then David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Behold, my son who came out from me seeks my life; how much more now this Benjamite? Let him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him.
  12   “Perhaps the Lord will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day.”
  13   So David and his men went on the way; and Shimei went along on the hillside parallel with him and as he went he cursed and cast stones and threw dust at him.
  14   The king and all the people who were with him arrived weary and he refreshed himself there.
At the beginning of David’s reign, there had been war between Saul’s family and David’s supporters. Saul’s family wanted one of Saul’s sons to rule instead of the LORD’s chosen king David. And while that conflict eventually came to an end, there were still people in Israel who were bitter about it. Shimei was apparently one of these.

When Shimei saw David fleeing from Jerusalem, he believed that the LORD had finally ousted that rotten king David. Shimei placed all the blame on David for the bloodshed that had come as a result of the strife between the families of Saul and David. And now it looked to Shimei as if David was finally getting what he deserved. DAVID’S OWN SON Absalom had rebelled against him. Ha! What sweet vengeance, what poetic justice.

And so Shimei went out to harass David. And to his cursing and ranting, Shimei added stones and dirt.

Imagine this happening today. The president of the United States, forced to flee from Washington, D.C.. And a man throwing stones and dirt on him as he fled. How do you think the secret service would respond to that? Not too kindly, I would guess.

David’s men responded in the same way. A warrior named Abishai offered to silence the insolent Shimei once and for all.
But David wouldn’t allow it. And the way David responded to Abishai’s offer tells us what kind of thoughts were going through David’s head at the time.

David was wondering if this was it for him. Maybe the LORD was ending his reign. Perhaps the LORD himself had sent Shimei to curse David on his way out. After all, David’s own SON had rebelled against him and was now seeking his life. Why shouldn’t Saul’s clan rise up to exact their revenge?

“Let him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him. Perhaps the LORD will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day” (2 Samuel 16:11-12 NASB).

An so the taunts and the stone throwing continued. And David did nothing to stop it.
Let me tell you about something else that happened on this trip which gives us insight into David’s thoughts. When David left Jerusalem, the priests of the LORD followed. And they were carrying the Ark of the Covenant with them. But David paused and told them to return the Ark to Jerusalem. In 2 Samuel 15, it says,

25 Then the king said to Zadok, “Take the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the Lord’s eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling place again. 26 But if he says, ‘I am not pleased with you,’ then I am ready; let him do to me whatever seems good to him.”” (2 Samuel 15:25-26 NIV).

This was David’s attitude: If this is the LORD’s will, then let it be so. I’m ready to accept whatever the LORD has determined to do.


David knew he was a sinner. He wasn’t about to say, “Why me, LORD, why me?” Earlier in his life, David prayed to the LORD saying,

Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far?” (2 Samuel 7:18 NKJV).

THE FIRST BATTLE AGAINST PRIDE IS WON WHEN WE SEE THAT WE ARE SINNERS. Sinners who don’t deserve all the love and care that the LORD sends to us.

In the book of James it says,

“          “God resists the proud,
            But gives grace to the humble.”
7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:6-10 NKJV).

God doesn’t allow hard times to come into our lives to crush us. He lets difficulties come into our lives so that we will turn away from our sins and cling to him for help and forgiveness.

When success comes into our lives, we sinners often respond by giving ourselves the credit. We respond with PRIDE. Sometimes the wheels have to come off the bus before we set our pride aside and admit that God is the source of all our fortunes, all our talents, all our blessings. “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
When David left Jerusalem, his heart was heavy. His son Absalom had incited the nation against him. His enemies were rejoicing. Shimei was throwing stones and dirt and mocking him as he went. But instead of being full of prideful anger toward the LORD, David clung to the LORD in hope. And that is when the third battle against pride is won. THE THIRD BATTLE AGAINST PRIDE IS WON WHEN WE TRUST IN THE GOODNESS OF THE LORD IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STORM.

This is what godly humility looks like. We see it in David, and we see it other followers of God also. The apostle Paul once wrote…

“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13 NASB).

SO HERE IS THE BATTLE PLAN TO DEFEAT PRIDE. First, we admit that we are sinners. Second, we accept the LORD’s rebuke. And third, we trust that the LORD will lift us up, in good time, and we will see the light of his grace shinning on us.
As sinful human beings we’re going to BATTLE with pride for the rest of our lives. But because of the Gospel of Christ, we know that the WAR against pride has already been won.

We know that the sinless Son of God humbly ACCEPTED the Father’s rebuke for our sins. We know that the sinless Son of God patiently SUFFERED physical pain and spiritual hell on the cross—in our place. We know that the sinless Son of God TRUSTED that the Father would raise him from the dead on the third day.

And because Jesus did all this, our sins of pride have been erased. They are atoned for. We stand forgiven in Christ, and our relationship with the Almighty has been restored.

And so remember, dear Christians, as you battle daily against your own sinful pride, remember that the war has already been won—in Christ Jesus our Savior. Because Christ’s righteousness covers us, the Father sees us as being perfectly humble. As pure as his own Son. This is what the Gospel tells us.
When David fled from Jerusalem, he wasn’t sure if God would restore him to power. He didn’t know if his journey would end in death. And when hard times come into OUR lives, we don’t always know what the LORD’s next move will be. But in Christ we can be sure that God’s grace will shine on us. When we leave this world clinging to the cross of our Savior, our souls are bound for eternal bliss at God’s side in heaven. And there, finally, we will cease from battling our sinful pride. For in heaven pride will be no more. And we will praise our great God and Savior with hearts of purest humility and love.

So, pray to the LORD in faith when the stones and the dirt of this world shower down on you. Bow in humility before the LORD, and get ready to be lifted up.

PRAYER: Father in heaven, we are sinners. We struggle with thinking too highly of ourselves. Teach us to put one another first. Teach us to bow before you in humble repentance. Help us to accept hard times when they come, and to see when those times come from your hand as a rebuke. And always, LORD, help us to see the great forgiveness you have secured for us in Christ Jesus our Savior. Amen.

February 16, 2014

Consequences of David's Failure to Discipline - Feb 16, 2014

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A single weed sprouts up in a garden. The rain waters it, and the sun feeds it with light. Unchallenged, is sucks up nutrients from the soil and grows to full maturity. A gust of wind scatters its seed pod across the garden, and beyond.

High in the snow laden mountains of the Cascades, a fragile layer of crystallized ice give way. It sets off a chain reaction all around it and an avalanche begins to thunder down into the valley tearing through stands of trees and destroying everything in its path.

A single zebra mussel attaches itself to the anchor of a cargo ship near the St. Lawrence Seaway. When through the canal, the anchor is dropped again, the mussel falls into a new home. Before long a large population is spawned. Intake pipes which provide municipal water supplies begin to clog. Indigenous clams and mussels are smothered. Diseases passed on to the local waterfowl kill tens of thousands of birds.

THE SEEDS OF DESTRUCTION ARE SMALL. And in infancy they seem unimportant. But when these seeds grow unchallenged, the results are often devastating.

The same is true when it comes to disciplining children. When bad behaviors and attitudes are allowed to grow unchecked, the results are often devastating.
Today we continue our study of the life of king David. This is sixth message in a series of eight. David had a lot of good traits. A lot of strengths. But disciplining his children was not one of them. And the results were devastating.

Absalom and Tamar were brother and sister. They were David’s children, born to his wife Maacah. Amnon was another of David’s sons, born to his wife Ahinoam. This made Amnon Tamar’s half brother.

Even though it was not lawful for Amnon to have Tamar as his wife, he longed for her. And in the course of time he raped her.

The seeds of destruction were sown, and David did nothing to uproot them.

2 Samuel 13:15-29 (NIV)

15 Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!”
16 “No!” she said to him. “Sending me away would be a greater wrong than what you have already done to me.”
But he refused to listen to her. 17 He called his personal servant and said, “Get this woman out of my sight and bolt the door after her.” 18 So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. She was wearing an ornate robe, for this was the kind of garment the virgin daughters of the king wore. 19 Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornate robe she was wearing. She put her hands on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went.
20 Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.” And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman.
21 When King David heard all this, he was furious. 22 And Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his sister Tamar.
23 Two years later, when Absalom’s sheepshearers were at Baal Hazor near the border of Ephraim, he invited all the king’s sons to come there. 24 Absalom went to the king and said, “Your servant has had shearers come. Will the king and his attendants please join me?”
25 “No, my son,” the king replied. “All of us should not go; we would only be a burden to you.” Although Absalom urged him, he still refused to go but gave him his blessing.
26 Then Absalom said, “If not, please let my brother Amnon come with us.”
The king asked him, “Why should he go with you?” 27 But Absalom urged him, so he sent with him Amnon and the rest of the king’s sons.
28 Absalom ordered his men, “Listen! When Amnon is in high spirits from drinking wine and I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon down,’ then kill him. Don’t be afraid. Haven’t I given you this order? Be strong and brave.” 29 So Absalom’s men did to Amnon what Absalom had ordered. Then all the king’s sons got up, mounted their mules and fled.
When David heard what Amnon had done to Tamar he was furious. But David did nothing about it. From that point on Tamar took refuge in her brother Absalom’s house. The Scripture says she lived there as a desolate woman.

Absalom hated Amnon for what he had done, and he plotted to avenge his sister by murdering Amnon.

After two years, Absalom got his chance and had Amnon murdered. When David found out, he was devastated. He mourned for his dead son Amnon, and in time he also longed for Absalom to return. Absalom had fled to a distant city after the murder.

Again, David did little to seek justice in connection with his children. He did not try to put Absalom on trial for his crime, and eventually Absalom came back to live in Jerusalem. At first, David refused to see him. But in time, he allowed Absalom to visit.

Still, David sought no justice. And slowly, Absalom gathered the support of the people, and got himself proclaimed king. As a result, David was forced to run for his life from Jerusalem.

How much of this could have been avoided if David had only disciplined Amnon. Or Absalom. If he had brought them to justice. We’ll never know how things might have been different.
David’s sons learned from their father’s example. They learned to lie, deceive, to take what was not theirs to take, to murder. And when David did nothing to discipline them, or to bring them to justice, things only got worse.

Things got worse for David’s children. They experienced little correction for their sinful actions, and so they continued in them. Things got worse for others. The sins of David’s children led other people to do wicked things. Things go worse for David. The sins of his children brought pain and grief to him and his whole family, and to the nation of Israel as well.
Disciplining those you love is unpleasant—both for the one receiving the discipline, and also for the one applying it. But it is oh, so important. In the book of Proverbs, David’s son Solomon would later write…

18        Chasten your son while there is hope,
            And do not set your heart on his destruction” (Proverbs 19:18 NKJV).

What Solomon means is, don’t set your heart on destroying your children by not disciplining them properly. The parent who fails to apply discipline might not think they’re helping to sow the seeds of their child’s death, but that’s exactly what David did by his failure to correct his children.

18        Chasten your son while there is hope,
            And do not set your heart on his destruction” (Proverbs 19:18 NKJV).

When Solomon wrote this proverb, perhaps he was thinking of what had happened to his sister Tamar. Or what had happened to Amnon. Or what later happened to his brother Absalom. Later on, Absalom’s rebellion ended in his own brutal death on the battlefield.


Because discipline is unpleasant, discipline is sometimes perceived as a bad thing. Today you have to be careful how you discipline your child in public unless you want to get reported. Some even council you shouldn’t use negative words like “no” to your child. Just reason with them logically. In past decades some child psychologists have advocated an extremely passive approach to raising children. Let the child find their own way in life. In that way you respect their individuality.

The truth is, letting your child find their own way in life and avoiding discipline—that is not loving. It’s lazy, careless, and self-centered. Solomon wrote…

15        Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;
            The rod of correction will drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15 NKJV).

24        He who spares his rod hates his son,
            But he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Proverbs 13:24 NKJV).
Discipline is important because it weeds out the evil tendencies of the sinful nature, and encourages good actions which match up with God’s will. A lack of discipline allows the sinful nature to grow stronger, suppresses good actions, and damages a person’s relationship with God.

We aren’t showing love for others when we simply let them think and do whatever they want. Instead, true love seeks to build up a person’s relationship with God. True love speaks about what is right, and what is wrong. True love seeks the will of God, even when doing so is difficult.
Perhaps the most important kind of discipline to practice, is self-discipline. For our example teaches like nothing else. When we don’t discipline ourselves, we teach others to do the same. When we hold ourselves accountable for what we’ve done, we teach other to do the same.

Don’t get me wrong, being a good example of self discipline doesn’t mean being a perfect person. We’re NOT perfect. But when we sin, we CAN still be a good example by taking responsibility for our actions, openly denouncing our sins, and seeking forgiveness for them.  

DISCIPLINE, TRUE LOVE, AND PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY. We learn the importance of these things through the tragic story of David and his children.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us to pray to God as our heavenly FATHER. He is a HOLY Father. A perfect Father. And as such, he is A FATHER WHO DISCIPLINES HIS CHILDREN.

In the book of Hebrews it says…

“…My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Hebrews 12:5-6 ESV).

When we feel the weight of guilt fall on us because of the sinful things we’ve done, or because of the good things we’ve failed to do, this is from the LORD. It is his rebuke. And it comes to us because God loves us. He wants to lead us away from sin, which wars against faith and brings pain and suffering to our lives.

God holds us accountable for our sins so that we might see how wicked they truly are, and so we might see the punishment that we honestly deserve because of our sinful choices.

But then God does something unexpected. He forgives us. He points us to the cross of his only sinless Son. To the cross of Jesus. He points us to the cross where Jesus had the wrath of God poured out on his soul because of our sins. And God tells us, because Jesus suffered your hell, you will never have to. You stand forgiven and cleansed by his blood. And into the arms of our heavenly Father we go, with tears flowing free. Through the message of sins forgiven through Christ Jesus, our heavenly Father draws us into his embrace, and we know that we truly are LOVED, and FORGIVEN.
And this is how we must discipline our children as well. And how we must discipline our fellow Christians. Holding them accountable, showing them their sins, until they see their sin clearly in repentance. And then we must assure them that in Christ their sins are truly forgiven. Gone. Washed away. For they are.
The seeds of destruction start small. The seeds of evil actions and bad attitudes start small. And they grow large. But even then, our great God is able to root them out. He does this with the firm hand of discipline, and accountability. And he finishes with the tender embrace of his forgiving Gospel.

PRAYER: Father in heaven, thank you first of all for making us your children through faith in Jesus, who has truly taken all our sins away. When your hand of discipline falls on us, help us to endure it with humility. Help us to accept your rebuke, knowing that the hand that rebukes is the same hand that lifts us up in love. Help us also to discipline our children with balance and thoughtfulness. And help us to hold our fellow Christians accountable as well, again, with balance and thoughtfulness and love. Help US also to receive rebuke with full acceptance, when it is needed. And when your discipline has trained us, LORD, fill us with peace. For we know that your mercy endures forever, and that you discipline those whom you have received as your own children, through Christ Jesus our only Savior. Amen.

February 9, 2014

David Takes What is Not His to Take - Feb 9, 2014

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History is full of great men and women. Heroes who accomplished great things for their families, their nations, or for the world in general. In grade school we learn to sing the praises of these great people of history.

But later in life we often learn that those heroes are tainted. Pick a hero, and you can probably find a book which details all the flaws in their character. Sometimes the things that are revealed are shocking. When the layers are peeled back, we find our heroes were all too human, and prone to the same sins that we are today.

The same is true of the heroes of faith that we find in the Bible. Noah. Abraham. Moses. David. Peter. Paul. While the Bible speaks highly of these men, the Holy Spirit doesn’t shy away from recording their shameful deeds also. The one thing all our heroes have in common is this—they were sinners who needed a Savior.
To this point in our study of king David, we’ve sung his praises. We’ve seen how David trusted in the God of the Bible, and how he did great things in service his LORD and country.

But when we peel back the layers on this Biblical hero, we find yet another sinner.

One thing we find when we take a second look over David’s life, is that he was PRONE TO LIES AND DECEPTION.

When David wanted to prove to Jonathan that king Saul was after him, he told Jonathan to tell a lie. Tell the king that I’m not dining at his table because I’ve gone to a special family gathering in Bethlehem. If he’s upset about it, you’ll know that he really wants to catch me and murder me (1 Samuel 20:4-8).

It was a lie.

Later, when David sought refuge from Saul in the city of Gath, he was afraid Gath’s king would see him as a threat. So, David pretended to be insane.

It was deception.

Yes, David used lies and deception when he felt threatened, but that doesn’t change the fact that they were still lies and deception.

And this is what we find in our own lives too, isn’t it? We want to be truthful, but when we feel threatened, our sinful nature leads us to lie and deceive to escape that uncomfortable conversation or difficult situation.
David was not a violent man by nature, but since he lived in a time of war, he became a skilled warrior. Through his service in Saul’s army, David became an experienced general. He was molded into an instrument of war. And this made him a dangerous man when backed into a corner.

On one occasion, David’s anger got the best of him. David and his men had been keeping away from Saul, and camping in an area where a man named Nabal grazed his flocks. Instead of helping themselves to Nabal’s sheep, David’s men looked out for Nabal’s possessions and servants. They served as a protective hedge around them.

When sheering time came, David thought Nabal might repay the favor with something from the herds. But being a wicked man, Nabal refused David’s request, stating that he didn’t know who David was and certainly wasn’t about to start giving handouts to every servant who ran away from his master.

David was enraged at the insult, and mounted up with his men to go and punish Nabal. On the way, David swore that he would wipe out all of Nabal’s sons in retribution for his ungrateful response.

Thankfully, Nabal’s good wife, Abigail, heard what was happening and led a delegation with gifts to appease David. The massacre never happened. But the fact remained, DAVID WAS A POWERFUL MAN, AND COULD USE DEADLY FORCE IN THE HEAT OF ANGER.

And while you and I might not think to kill someone, we’re prone to the same feelings of resentment toward those who treat us badly. Our tempers flare up and show themselves with harmful words that we regret.
Overall David was a just king. But HE WAS ALSO PRONE TO FAVORITISM. When two men murdered a rival king and brought the head to David, he quickly administered justice and had the murderers executed. But when his own general, Joab, murdered a man named Abner in cold blood, David did little. Sure, David made the murderer walk in Abner’s burial procession. Sure, David made it clear that Joab’s action was evil and that David himself had no part in the crime. But Joab was not taken to trial and he was not executed. He remained David’s chief general.

Justice was sometimes hard for David to carry out when it hit close to home.

And the same is true for us today. It’s easy for us to denounce wickedness we see in the news, or the wickedness done by people not closely associated with us. But when the people we know and love commit sins, sometimes we just keep quiet and look the other way. We’re afraid to take matters head on, and seek the LORD’s will.
It’s true that the Bible calls David a “man after the LORD’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). But not because of his sins. David was a man after the LORD’s own heart because of his trust in God, and his willingness to be rebuked and corrected by the LORD. David knew he was a great sinner, but he also knew that the LORD had promised to save him through the Messiah that was coming.

In our reading for today we’re going to see David’s faults come out in full force. We’ll also see the LORD’s disapproval and rebuke of his servant. But first, we need to take just a few moments to get caught up on where we are in David’s life.
King Saul had died. The people had recognized David as the LORD’s chosen king of Israel. The civil war that had erupted after Saul’s death had run its course and came to an end. Now, as commander and chief, David was campaigning against the nations surrounding Israel. And the LORD was once again giving David the victory at every turn.

Philistia, Amalek, Edom, Moab, Ammon—all the surrounding nations were defeated by David and his forces. David even marched as far north as the Euphrates river to secure the land of Israel. To get some perspective, the great Euphrates river was about 340 miles north of Jerusalem. That’s about the width of Washington state. David secured all that land, and that was just to the north!

And while skirmishes sprang up from time to time, the LORD now gave David and Israel a time of relative peace.

It was during this time that David’s thoughts turned to building the LORD at proper temple. A real building instead of a tent where the people could come to worship the LORD. In response to this, the LORD told David that it was not his task to build the LORD’s temple. That task would belong to one of his descendants. And The LORD had also revealed to David that one of his descendants would rule over an ETERNAL kingdom. That ruler would be the Messiah, Jesus Christ. He would one day be born from David’s descendants to rule in the hearts and lives of all who look to him as Savior.

At this time, David not only sought to honor the LORD, he also sought to care for the survivors of Saul’s house. Saul’s son Jonathan had one remaining child. A son by the name of Mephibosheth who had been crippled by an accident in his youth. David summoned this man and declared that from this point forward, the crippled Mephibosheth would eat at David’s table, and live in David’s palace.

Things were finally looking good for David. And stable. The land was secure. The LORD had promised his family great things. And David was occupying his time with kind and gracious activities.

And then comes our text.

2 Samuel 11:1-17, 26-27 (NIV)

11 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.
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, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”
So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house.
10 David was told, “Uriah did not go home.” So he asked Uriah, “Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?”
11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”
12 Then David said to him, “Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home.
14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”
16 So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.
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.
First of all, look at verse 1. It says that in the spring, when kings are accustomed to go off to war, David stayed home.

Why? It appears that all the success the LORD had been sending David finally got to his head. HE was the king. HE didn’t need to lead the armies of Israel, Joab could do that. HE could rest at home.

But before long, David was restless. And one evening he wandered aimlessly on the roof of the palace. And from that roof something caught his eye. Someone. A BEAUTIFUL woman. And when he saw her, David’s LUST was kindled.

When David sends to find out about this woman, he learns that she is the wife of one Uriah the Hittite. But that doesn’t stop David. HE’s the king. He sends for her anyway.

And the result is that she becomes pregnant. But her husband has been away to war for some time, and there will be no mistaking who the father of this child is when he returns. And so David turns to LIES AND DECEPTION.

His idea is simple. Get Uriah back home for a time. A little break from serving in the army. Then it’ll look like the child born to Bathsheba is Uriah’s child.

But David’s plan doesn’t work. Uriah won’t go home when his fellow soldiers don’t have the same opportunity. Uriah is like David in his youth, honorable and heroic.

So David tries to help his plan along by getting Uriah drunk. Surely then he will go home to his wife.

But again, even under the influence, Uriah won’t go.

And so David turns to LIES, DECEPTION, AND MURDER. He sends a message to his commander Joab to place Uriah in the front lines and to draw back from him in the battle so he’ll die. And this message, to David’s even greater shame, he sends in the very hand of Uriah. He unknowingly carries his own death warrant.

And to pile sin upon sin, with Uriah dead, David takes his widow Bathsheba to be his own wife. No remorse here. NO JUSTICE FROM KING DAVID. Just self-serving sin. He covers it all up, and moves on like nothing ever happened.
At this point we wonder, what in the world is David thinking?! How could he do this?! And all we need to do, to answer this question, is look in our own lives. How many times have we done what we knew was WRONG, simply because we WANTED to. Simply because we are sinners, one and all.

The people sitting beside us might not know our secret sins. They might even think highly of us as their fellow Christians. If asked about us they might tell a story or two about the kind favors we’ve done for them, or for others.

But if God were to peel back the layers in our lives and publish them out in a book—then all would see the truth about how good we really are. It wouldn’t even take that much would it. God could just write out our secret thoughts through the course of a single day, and people around us would never again look at us in the same way.

The point is simple. David was a sinner, and so are we. And for our sins against him, the just God should remove his love and blessings from our lives forever.

But that’s not what the just God did to David. And that’s not what he does to us. Instead, we find that the just and holy LORD is also the pitying, merciful, and loving God.
I think we all know how this story plays out. The LORD sends his prophet Nathan to rebuke David for his sins. Nathan tells David a story about a poor man who had only a little ewe lamb whom he cared for like a child. But a rich and wicked neighbor took that little lamb and slaughtered it to provide a meal for a guest in his home.

When David hears the story, he is angry, and declares that the rich man deserves to die. That he aught to pay the poor man back four times over for doing such a wicked thing, and having no pity.

And then Nathan tells David, “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7 NIV).

David had committed adultery. David had lied and deceived. David had murdered and covered it up. But when the LORD presented David with his own wickedness, David was sorry. He was sorry for all he had done, most of all, that through these actions—he had sinned against the LORD.

This is true repentance. David wasn’t just sorry got caught. David was grieved that he had sinned against the LORD.

And so the gracious and loving LORD forgave David. Nathan told him, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die” (2 Samuel 12:13 NIV).
This is the way the LORD deals with sin. David would have to bear the consequences of this sin in his life. His child would die. And the LORD told David that now the sword would never depart from his family because David had despised the LORD by his actions. But before the LORD, David was truly forgiven. He would not be struck dead. Nor would he be cast away from the LORD’s presence for eternity. The LORD took David’s sin away.

It would be years from this day when Jesus would stagger up the hill of Calvary. It would be decades from this day when nails would be driven through Christ’s hands and feet. It would be centuries from this day when hell would descend on the crucified Son of God for the sins of all mankind. But it would be done. And David’s sins, and ours, would be paid for when the sinless Son of God suffered for them in our place. And in view of the payment Christ would one day make on behalf of David and all sinners, the LORD took David’s sin away. He forgave him.
So what do we take away from this dark chapter of David’s life? For one, we learn that when God blesses sinners, we often respond by wanting MORE. By nature, we are never satisfied with the goodness that we have. Even those who trust in the LORD struggle with being content.

Secondly we learn to BE ON GUARD when the LORD blesses us with security and power. For our sinful instinct is to reach beyond what is right and abuse the security and power that the LORD gives us.  

Thirdly we learn that DAVID WAS A SINNER, TEMPTED TO SIN IN THE SAME WAYS WE ARE. Sins of deception, violence, and favoritism. He favored himself. And sadly we often do the same. We sneer and gossip over the sins of others, and dismissing our own wickedness.
As Christians who know the story of Christ, and the gospel of free forgiveness we are prone to abuse this gospel. Let me explain. Since we know that God’s forgiveness comes to us as a free gift sometimes pretend like this dismisses us from bearing the consequences of our sinful choices in this life.

I’m forgiven by God, so why doesn’t everyone just forget about what I did?! They’re judging me. Can’t they just trust me again?

We ARE completely forgiven in Christ. But we also  need to repair the relationships our sins damage. Undo the gossip. Speak the words of apology. Rebuild the roads of trust that our sins have demolished. Repair the damage to Christ’s reputation that our poor choices have inflicted. And these things take time, and the Holy Spirit’s power.

Through Christ’s gift of forgiveness our relationship with God is repaired instantly. But our relationships with other people take more time to heal. Resenting this fact doesn’t make it any less true. In the gospel of Christ we are called to live in the land of peace and forgiveness, and also, to rebuild what we have torn down by our sins. That may be hard, but the Holy Spirit who brought us to faith is powerful, and he will lead us in the right direction and give us the strength to repair what we have broken.
You and I may not categorize ourselves with the great men and women of history. Men and women who are recorded in the history books, and in the holy Scriptures. But we do have one thing in common with them—we are all sinners who desperately need the pity, mercy, and loving forgiveness of the eternal God. And in Christ, that is what we have.

PRAYER: Father in heaven, we have sinned against you in countless ways. Our particular sins may not be known by those around us in great detail, but you know them. Lead us to live our lives in daily repentance. Daily coming to your throne of unflinching justice, to seek your unending forgiveness. As we lay our sins before you with downcast faces, reach down with your tender and powerful touch and lift our chins up. Lift them up to see your Son, and our Savior, and fill us with your peace. Amen.

February 2, 2014

King David Administers Justice - Feb 2, 2014

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On a bulletin board in the basement of my childhood church there was a poster. As far as I can remember, the poster showed a little child helping a fallen butterfly onto a flower. An anonymous quote on the side proclaimed, “The smallest good deed is better than the grandest intention.” Corny poster or not, the quote is true.    

As followers of God, our intentions may be grand, but our actions inevitably fall short. Promises we make go unfulfilled. Situations tempt us to compromise what we know is right. We foolishly put our trust in things other than our loving LORD. Our intention to center our hope and life on the LORD’s can get damaged as we go about this thing called life.

But there are some Christians we look up to. Followers of God who seem to get it right more often than not. People who refuse to compromise with evil. David was one of those.

Today, we continue our look at the life of this Old Testament king. David was no perfect man. He was a sinner like you and me. But in our reading for today, we’ll see that he was a just king.
This is the fourth sermon in a series of eight dealing with the life of David. So, first of all, let’s get a feel for where we are in his life.

In our last message we saw David prove his innocence to the then ruling king Saul. Saul was the first king of Israel, and he was desperately jealous and afraid of David. He thought that David wanted his throne and would rebel at any moment. As a result, Saul tried to hunt David down and murder him.

But when the LORD gave David the opportunity to strike Saul down, David refused. Saul was the LORD’s chosen king, and David would not raise his hand against the LORD’s anointed.

But after David showed his innocence, and Saul returned home to the palace, Saul changed his mind. He renewed his hunt for David.
In the course of events, David was given yet another chance to end Saul’s life. It happened this way. Saul was encamped in the open with his warriors. Though surrounded by defensive forces, they were all asleep, and David crept into the camp and stood over the slumbering king. A warrior at David’s side offered to kill the king with one thrust of the spear, but David again refused to raise his hand against the LORD’s anointed. To prove his innocence once more, David took Saul’s spear and water jug, which had been laying by his side, and then he addressed the king from the edge of the camp.

When Saul saw David’s mercy, he again realized how wicked his own actions had been, and he broke off his pursuit. But after returning home, Saul again changed his mind and renewed the hunt.
To end this cycle, David fled to the land of Israel’s enemies, the Philistines. He lived there for over a year, forcing king Saul to tend to other matters.

Then the Philistines mustered their forces to invade Israel. Uncertain of what action to take, Saul asked the LORD what to do. But the LORD was no longer answering his prayers. His faithlessness had severed him from the LORD’s help. And so Saul turned to other ways of answering his questions. He sought the help of a medium called the witch of Endor. The LORD used this unusual encounter to reveal to Saul that he would die in battle the very next day.

But when the news of Saul’s death came to David, he didn’t celebrate. Instead he was grief stricken and he openly mourned until evening. 

Saul’s end had come like this. Saul had been mortally wounded by Philistine archers. As they approached to finish him off, Saul tried to commit suicide by falling on his own sword. It didn’t work quite like Saul intended, and as he lay there dying, he saw a man approaching from another direction. He asked this man to kill him before the Philistines could finish the job, and the man complied. The man then  took the crown and the armband of the king and rushed to bring the news to David.

David’s first act as the now reigning king was to have this messenger struck down because he had killed the LORD’s anointed. Perhaps the man had thought he would get some reward from David for killing Saul, but what he got instead was justice.
From that point on, it was not all smooth sailing for David. Saul’s general, Abner, had Saul’s last remaining son declared king. Saul’s last son was named Ish-Bosheth. Though not selected by the LORD for the kingship, Ish-Bosheth reigned in Israel for two years before meeting his end, which is the subject of our study today.

Before we read our text, we should note that David had promised Saul that he would not try to wipe out Saul’s family after Saul was gone. This was a promise that David intended to keep.

2 Samuel 4:1-3, 5-12 (NIV)

4 When Ish-Bosheth son of Saul heard that Abner had died in Hebron, he lost courage, and all Israel became alarmed. Now Saul’s son had two men who were leaders of raiding bands. One was named Baanah and the other Rekab; they were sons of Rimmon the Beerothite from the tribe of Benjamin—Beeroth is considered part of Benjamin, because the people of Beeroth fled to Gittaim and have resided there as foreigners to this day.
Now Rekab and Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, set out for the house of Ish-Bosheth, and they arrived there in the heat of the day while he was taking his noonday rest. They went into the inner part of the house as if to get some wheat, and they stabbed him in the stomach. Then Rekab and his brother Baanah slipped away.
They had gone into the house while he was lying on the bed in his bedroom. After they stabbed and killed him, they cut off his head. Taking it with them, they traveled all night by way of the Arabah. They brought the head of Ish-Bosheth to David at Hebron and said to the king, “Here is the head of Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, your enemy, who tried to kill you. This day the Lord has avenged my lord the king against Saul and his offspring.”
David answered Rekab and his brother Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, “As surely as the Lord lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble, 10 when someone told me, ‘Saul is dead,’ and thought he was bringing good news, I seized him and put him to death in Ziklag. That was the reward I gave him for his news! 11 How much more—when wicked men have killed an innocent man in his own house and on his own bed—should I not now demand his blood from your hand and rid the earth of you!”
12 So David gave an order to his men, and they killed them. They cut off their hands and feet and hung the bodies by the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ish-Bosheth and buried it in Abner’s tomb at Hebron.
At this point, I probably don’t have to remind you that these were harsh and violent times. But in the midst of the carnage of civil war and war with the nations all around, David still shows himself to be a man after the LORD’s own heart.

First of all, David was TRUSTWORTHY. He had promised Saul that he would not try to wipe out Saul’s family. And so, when Abner set Ish-Bosheth up as a rival king against David, David didn’t try to kill him. Even though David was the rightful king, chosen by the LORD, he sought to keep his promise to Saul.

Secondly, David was now serving as the rightful king of the LORD’s chosen nation. And as king, it fell to him to maintain JUSTICE in Israel. And so when men came running to David with the head of Ish-Bosheth, he wanted no part in this evil. Sure, having Ish-Bosheth out of the way would help unify Israel under their rightful king, but David knew that murder and intrigue was not the way the LORD would have this accomplished.

Solomon would later write,

When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people’s hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong” (Ecclesiastes 8:11 NIV).

So, David quickly administered justice to the murderers. They had run to him—no doubt expecting a reward for their so-called service to the king. But instead, David ordered them executed immediately.

Even the gruesome way in which their bodies were displayed to the people spoke a message of justice. We’re told that David’s men hung their dead bodies near the pool of Hebron with their hands and feet removed. Those hands had secretly murdered an innocent man in his own house, and on his own bed. Those feet had run all night to make their deed known. At the pool of Hebron the message was clear to the people. King David would not tolerate wickedness of this kind. It would be quickly and mercilessly dealt with. This also communicated to the people that David had no part in this intrigue. David continued to TRUST IN THE LORD to secure his throne. When the LORD makes a promise, it’s worth the wait.
TRUSTWORTHY. JUST. FAITHFUL TO THE LORD. These were traits of David. And like we saw last Sunday, we find these same traits in our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Like David, JESUS KEPT HIS WORD. Jesus had said that he would go to the cross and suffer punishment for the sins of the world. And he did just that. He kept his promise even when it meant shame, ridicule, pain, and mockery. He kept his promise even when faced with the horror of experiencing hell on the cross, and death as a common criminal.

Like David, JESUS WAS JUST. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for misleading the people of Israel in spiritual matters. He openly told the crowds that they needed to be more righteous than the Pharisees if they expected to escape hell. They needed to trust in God’s promised Messiah, not the political Messiah the Pharisees had made him out to be.

And the Bible tells us that on the Day of Judgment, it will be Jesus himself who will stand as judge of the world, dispensing justice and punishing evil once and for all. It will be Jesus who will divide the sheep from the goats. Jesus will invite all who trusted in the LORD’s promise of forgiveness into the Father’s house. It will be Jesus who will turn away all who rejected the Father’s gracious offer.

Like David, JESUS TRUSTED HIS HEAVENLY FATHER. When Satan offered Jesus the world and all it’s glory, Jesus refused. Instead he trusted his heavenly Father to secure his eternal throne AFTER the cross and after the tomb.
When we look at OUR OWN character, we find that we have not been so trustworthy, just, or faithful. Like I said earlier, we have often failed to do the things we’ve said we would. We’re all to quick to accept and tolerate evil in our lives if that evil gets us something we want. We quickly turn to the philosophies and ideas of men instead of just waiting for the LORD to keep his promises.

Worst of all, when it comes to our own guilt and sin, we are tempted to comfort our consciences with the good things we do. As if social consciousness and acts of kindness can somehow scrub away the endless record of our sins. The sinful human heart insists that salvation from sin and hell has to be won, at least in part, by what we do, or how we act, or what we say. But it’s not. Only a perfect sacrifice can atone for the sin in our lives. Only the sacrifice of God’s perfect Son has the power to remove our sins, and make us clean before the just God.

David trusted that the LORD would secure his throne, as he had promised. We are called to trust that the LORD HAS secured our place in heaven, as he has promised—in the Gospel of Christ.
It’s true that the smallest good deed is BETTER than the grandest intention. But only a life where EVERY deed is perfect could reach the standard of what God calls “good.” And only Christ has attained that. He has attained it, and has given it to the world as a gift. He has given his pure life to be yours. And in Christ, you stand forgive of EVERY failure, EVERY sin.

Dear Christians, as you seek to be trustworthy in your promises and just in your dealings, seek first to trust in the LORD’s promise that in Christ you are forgiven.

PRAYER: Father in heaven, help us to have the heart of David. A heart that seeks to simply let our yes be yes, and our no, no. A heart that seeks to be transparent and true to all people. Help us also to have David’s desire for justice. Though we are not kings ruling over nations and administering judgment on the wicked, help us to seek justice in our own stations in life. Give us the courage to speak up against injustice, and to stand up for the oppressed. But most of all, nourish and grow our faith in your Son as the one who has secured our place in heaven by suffering the punishment for our sins. Until we see him face to face at your side, keep the grip of faith holding tightly to the Messiah you have given us. Amen.