Archive for June, 2018

2 Samuel 13:1-22
The Rape of Tamar

It’s all too common: More than 31 percent of women in the United States have been physically abused by an intimate partner at some point in their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to a recent article at CNN.com, A new survey of college students, one of the largest ever focusing on sexual assault and sexual misconduct, has reignited the debate over just how big a problem sexual assault on campus really is. Among female college students, 23% said they experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact — ranging from kissing to touching to rape, carried out by force or threat of force, or while they were incapacitated because of alcohol and drugs, according to the new survey by the Association of American Universities (AAU). Nearly 11% said the unwanted contact included penetration or oral sex.

These alarming statistics bring us to one of those passages in the Bible that we often do not want to deal with as Christians – 2 Samuel 13:1-22. Non-believers will point to this passage and say that the Bible condones violence against women. And how do we respond to that? The Old Testament is full of incidences of immoral and reprehensible behavior that we must learn from. The Old Testament is humanity often at its worst and pointing us to the need we have of Jesus Christ.

In this passage, we see the ugly side of men. Not just in ancient history but also in modern society as the previously noted statistics prove. This passage is ugly, nasty, raw and hard to deal with. It is incest. It is lust. It is rape. And it is worst of all cover-up. There is no social justice for Tamar. She is raped by her half-brother. And she is told to keep it quiet and there would be family justice at some point. The men in this sad tale are reprehensible. Jonadab, the male cousin of Amnon, who gives the advice to Amnon on how get Tamar alone with him. Amnon, the epitome of spoiled brat (similar to college boys who rape girls at college and get away with it) creates this whole mess with his unrestrained sexual desires and being a prince with no checks and balances. Absalom, telling Tamar not to worry about it and that he will handle it. David, the king, who does absolutely nothing! David the ultimate authority this side of heaven for the people of Israel does nothing about the rape of his daughter. This passage thus is one of those that rarely gets preached on, rarely gets written about, but in the light of the statistics on unwanted sexual contact for women in this country. It is one whose time has come. We must preach on it. We must teach on it. We must examine ourselves as Christ followers because we as Christ followers in His church are not immune to this issue that can have deafening effect on our witness to the world around us.

In a recent article in Church Leaders, the online magazine, J.D. Greear, the recently elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention speaks out on the issue. Pastor Greear is pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, NC, a widely renowned author and leadership expert and one of the more popular and respected megachurch pastors around. His election to the SBC presidency signals a changing of the guard toward a younger generation of pastoral leadership in the SBC. He was elected amidst a firestorm within the convention concerning the president of one of the flagship seminaries of the SBC, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Prominent Southern Baptist leader Paige Patterson has been removed from his job as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary amid an evangelical #MeToo moment: a massive backlash from women upset over comments he made in the past that are newly perceived as sexist and demeaning. In the article, Greear begins addressing the issue of how the church, not just the SBC, has handled sexual abuse in the past when he says:

I have begun to hear more and more from many of my sisters in Christ (and some brothers) who have been championing this cause for much longer than a few weeks. Hearing their stories and sensing their passion, I am realizing that we need to be more humble and sober than this. Our awakening to the issue of abuse, even if just to new nuances of the issue, means that we were previously asleep. And as we struggled to learn how to care for the vulnerable well, people were suffering. The church’s clumsiness has often meant that the suffering of others was longer in duration and deeper in impact than it should have been.
Is it better to wake up late than never at all? Absolutely. But I believe we are only beginning to see how profound this “lateness” is, and how damaging its consequences.

So to my sisters:
• who talked to a pastor and received counsel not to report abuse to the authorities
who were advised to return home without your safety being a first priority
• who were raped or otherwise assaulted, and upon confiding in your church leaders, were doubted or cross-examined more than cared for
• who have had to endure objectification or crude humor in sermons and, therefore, had such speech validated in your Christian community
• who were made to think men’s purity was more a byproduct of your modesty than the responsibility of your brother’s in Christ maturity
• who wondered why these issues were not addressed in a more direct way before recent weeks

I believe you deserve to hear your brothers in Christ, particularly those of us called into pastoral ministry, say:

“We are sorry and we should have heard you before now. We know our deafness has added to your suffering. For many that suffering was direct, as it put you in unsafe or abusive contexts. For others, that suffering was indirect, as we allowed a toxic culture to grow up in our churches, one in which you were not as safe and valued as your should have been. You deserved better.”

It is late. But it needs to be said.

Return with me, if you will, to Tamar’s story. Tamar, the young royal princess, wears a distinctive robe, “a sign of favor and special affection.” She lives in a world where her powerful father and brothers hold sway over her, but have responsibility to protect her. Tamar has abundant privilege, yet little power. Tamar is obedient, trusting, and kind. When her father instructs her to help her ailing half-brother, Amnon, she goes and cooks for him. When Amnon bids her to bring food to his room, dutifully she goes, unaware that he has schemed and lied in order to get her alone, because he is obsessed with desire for her (2 Samuel 13:7-11). So, let us now take time to read the ugliness of this passage. It is not for the faint of heart. It is a raw passage but a timely one. Let us read it now together:

Chapter 13
1 Now David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister named Tamar. And Amnon, her half brother, fell desperately in love with her. 2 Amnon became so obsessed with Tamar that he became ill. She was a virgin, and Amnon thought he could never have her.

3 But Amnon had a very crafty friend—his cousin Jonadab. He was the son of David’s brother Shimea.[a] 4 One day Jonadab said to Amnon, “What’s the trouble? Why should the son of a king look so dejected morning after morning?”

So Amnon told him, “I am in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.”

5 “Well,” Jonadab said, “I’ll tell you what to do. Go back to bed and pretend you are ill. When your father comes to see you, ask him to let Tamar come and prepare some food for you. Tell him you’ll feel better if she prepares it as you watch and feeds you with her own hands.”

6 So Amnon lay down and pretended to be sick. And when the king came to see him, Amnon asked him, “Please let my sister Tamar come and cook my favorite dish[b] as I watch. Then I can eat it from her own hands.” 7 So David agreed and sent Tamar to Amnon’s house to prepare some food for him.

8 When Tamar arrived at Amnon’s house, she went to the place where he was lying down so he could watch her mix some dough. Then she baked his favorite dish for him. 9 But when she set the serving tray before him, he refused to eat. “Everyone get out of here,” Amnon told his servants. So they all left.

10 Then he said to Tamar, “Now bring the food into my bedroom and feed it to me here.” So Tamar took his favorite dish to him. 11 But as she was feeding him, he grabbed her and demanded, “Come to bed with me, my darling sister.”

12 “No, my brother!” she cried. “Don’t be foolish! Don’t do this to me! Such wicked things aren’t done in Israel. 13 Where could I go in my shame? And you would be called one of the greatest fools in Israel. Please, just speak to the king about it, and he will let you marry me.”

14 But Amnon wouldn’t listen to her, and since he was stronger than she was, he raped her. 15 Then suddenly Amnon’s love turned to hate, and he hated her even more than he had loved her. “Get out of here!” he snarled at her.

16 “No, no!” Tamar cried. “Sending me away now is worse than what you’ve already done to me.”

But Amnon wouldn’t listen to her. 17 He shouted for his servant and demanded, “Throw this woman out, and lock the door behind her!”

18 So the servant put her out and locked the door behind her. She was wearing a long, beautiful robe,[c] as was the custom in those days for the king’s virgin daughters. 19 But now Tamar tore her robe and put ashes on her head. And then, with her face in her hands, she went away crying.

20 Her brother Absalom saw her and asked, “Is it true that Amnon has been with you? Well, my sister, keep quiet for now, since he’s your brother. Don’t you worry about it.” So Tamar lived as a desolate woman in her brother Absalom’s house.

21 When King David heard what had happened, he was very angry.[d] 22 And though Absalom never spoke to Amnon about this, he hated Amnon deeply because of what he had done to his sister.

Here in this passage, we see that love and lust are very different. After Amnon raped his half sister, his so called love for her turned to hatred. Although he claimed to be in love he was actually overcome by lust. Love is patient. Lust requires immediate satisfaction. Love is kind. Lust is harsh. Love does not demand its own way. Lust does. Love does not delight in evil. Lust does. And most of all love protects. Lust does not.

As men of faith, we must take our role as the leaders of the home and the church seriously. We must stand against anything that threatens and does not protect the women we love and the women in our church. As men of faith, we should not shrink from the difficult truth of this pervasive injustice that affects our communities. We should seek to confront the reality of the broken world in which we participate and pray for opportunities to be part of Christ’s redemptive work of healing and justice. One humble beginning may simply be greater honesty about what we are witnessing — in our communities, the news, and, sometimes, even in Christ’s own church. Confrontation with evil does not come easily. Mournfully, there was no justice in this life for Tamar. The unresolved pathos of her story transcends millennia to startle us awake. If we long for a just ending to this story, there really is not one. Sure, Absalom kills Amnon, but it is two years later and there is no justice in the murder. There was no public trial. There was no national recognition that there was a rape in the royal household. It was all covered up. Tamar was never comforted or counseled that we can see. The only thing that is said is that she “lived as a desolate woman in her brother Absalom’s house.” Is that justice? Is that the signal we send to women today in the church?

Maybe, that is the point of the inclusion of this ugly story! Maybe, it is supposed to be a warning sign to us (if we do not ignore this passage altogether). In this time of history in which we live, we have abundant opportunities to begin writing the just and godly narrative in our own churches and communities. The work of justice and healing begs to be embraced. This passage speaks a truth we are reluctant to hear. May our response to it, and to every Tamar we meet, be holy and just.

To us as men in the church, we always think so fondly of the fact that God through Paul instructs women to submit to their husbands. However, we often forget the remainder of the passage where we, as Christ following men, are called to love our wives (and by extension women in general) as Christ loves His church. That’s a pretty tall order. Much higher than our women submitting to our leadership. We are called to be love our wives (and by extension all women) to the point of laying down our lives sacrificially for them. We are called to love and protect. We are called to provide safe environments in which God’s most lovely and tender creatures can flourish. We are not called to dominate them. We are called to protect them from all evil as Christ does for his church. We are not called to forceable make them do whatever we please. We are called to be willing to take a bullet for them. We are called to not to demean them. We are called to exalt them. We are called to lead them with their best interest at heart. We are called to be their spiritual leaders and not lead them astray with our own ideas of sexuality and servitude. We are to lead them in such a way that they are perfectly willing to submit to our leadership because they know that we would lay down our lives to protect them and provide for them.

This passage is raw and real. This passage must be read. This passage is current and timely. This passage is a wake up call. This passage holds the mirror to not just ancient Israelite society but it is recognition that not much has changed in 3,000 years since the reign of David. God calls us men to a higher calling. Christ following men must set the example to the women in our midst in our churches and to the society in general. Women do not deserve the fate of Tamar. The change starts with us – as the men who follow Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.

Amen and Amen.

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2 Samuel 12:26-31
David Captures Rabbah

If there ever was a presidential scandal, it was the Watergate scandal of the Nixon administration. Just think of the staggering cost to the administration in defending itself and covering up the connections between the White House and the scandal. Just think of all the professional talent making good money whose hours upon hours were spent perpetrating the clandestine operations of the Nixon administration. Just think of the staggering cost at the Washington Post uncovering and unraveling the trail to the White House. Just think of all the congressional dollars that were spent on the issue – by the congressmen and senators themselves, by their staffers, by their teams of lawyers, by their lawyers’ teams of investigators, and the mountains and mountains of paper that were generated in memos and reports that otherwise would not have been produced were it not for the scandal. Just think of all the missed opportunities within the administration and within Congress to concentrate on matters of social justice and economic well being and foreign policy that were set aside because of the ongoing Watergate scandal, the cover up and the investigation into it all. Just think of the staggering cost. What could have been accomplished by Nixon as President had he not been such a paranoid, unforgiving, vindictive, insecure man. He accomplished much to soften relationships with the Soviet Union and China that had been red hot since the end of the Korean War in the early 50s. Just think what he could have done had it not been for the scandal.

The liberals of today think Donald Trump is the devil in a suit but he’s boy scout (as least so far as we know – so far) compared to Nixon and his cronies. Nixon personally altered the landscape of the presidency. He introduced distrust of the presidency that has grown and grown over the years since then. Nixon personally is responsible for the curtailing of powers granted to the president. Nixon now is remembered far more for the damage that he caused the nation and the institution of the presidency than anything he accomplished in foreign affairs or domestic affairs. He is a caricature now of a crooked politician. He is a cartoon character. Just what he did not want to become. He wanted to be remember with the fondness of the man that defeated him in the 1960 presidential elections – Jack Kennedy. He wanted to be seen as that charismatic leader with the love of the American people in his hands. But he blew it with his paranoia and then with his dogged determination to cover his rear end after the scandal broke. Missed opportunity because of wrongdoing. Preoccupation of a nation because of the wrongdoing of its president.

That’s what I thought of this morning when I read this passage that appears to have occurred between the Bathsheba/Uriah incident and Nathan’s rebuke – how David got completely sidetracked by his sins and became an ineffective leader until he confessed his sin, repented of them, and got back to being after God’s own heart. Let’s read the passage now, 2 Samuel 12:26-31:

26 Meanwhile, Joab was fighting against Rabbah, the capital of Ammon, and he captured the royal fortifications.[a] 27 Joab sent messengers to tell David, “I have fought against Rabbah and captured its water supply.[b] 28 Now bring the rest of the army and capture the city. Otherwise, I will capture it and get credit for the victory.”

29 So David gathered the rest of the army and went to Rabbah, and he fought against it and captured it. 30 David removed the crown from the king’s head,[c] and it was placed on his own head. The crown was made of gold and set with gems, and it weighed seventy-five pounds.[d] David took a vast amount of plunder from the city. 31 He also made slaves of the people of Rabbah and forced them to labor with[e] saws, iron picks, and iron axes, and to work in the brick kilns.[f] That is how he dealt with the people of all the Ammonite towns. Then David and all the army returned to Jerusalem.

Here in this passage we see that the siege of Rabbah would have been conducted by the slow process of blockade, it might easily be prolonged into the second year, and so give ample space for David’s sin and its punishment by the death of the child. But more probably the narrator, having commenced the history of David’s sin, completes the story before returning to his account of the war (i.e., notice the use of the word, “meanwhile” at the beginning of this passage).

Thus the capture of Rabbah would occupy some of the interval between David’s adultery and Nathan’s visit of rebuke, and would lessen the difficulty, which we cannot help feeling, of David remaining for nine or ten months with the guilt of adultery and murder resting upon him, and no open act of repentance. Some short time, then, after Uriah’s death, Joab captured “the city of waters.” This is not a poetical name for Rabbah, but means the “water city,” that is, the town upon the Jabbok, whence the supply of water was obtained. The citadel, which occupied a high rock on the northwestern side, must, therefore, soon be starved into submission, and the whole of “the royal city,” that is, of the metropolis of the Ammonites, be in Joab’s power. He therefore urges David to come in person, both that the honor of the conquest may be his, and also because probably the blockading force had been reduced to as small a body of men as was safe, and the presence of a large army was necessary for completing the subjugation of the country, which would follow upon the capture of the capital.

It all points to the fact that David had gotten stalled out by his sins. He was a spiritual funk as the result of his sins. He was preoccupied with himself and not with his kingdom or the expansion of it. He was preoccupied with his sin to the point that it made him ineffective. That is where Satan wants each one of us. He tempts us to sin so that when we do, we are in his clutches. When we sin, we become so paranoid and preoccupied with our wrongdoing and its coverup that we become ineffective in the spread of the gospel. We feel that we are disqualified and we withdraw from actively pushing the boundaries of God and expanding His kingdom. Sin seems fun at the time you commit the sin and you think “what could be better”. You think “I am getting what I deserve.” You think “it might be wrong in some ways but I deserve it and God just wants me to be happy.” You think that God will suspend his normal laws of right and wrong because it is you and you are generally a good person otherwise. These are all lies of Satan when it comes to sin. Sin will take us over. It will preoccupy us. It will consume us. Even if it does not get discovered immediately, it will consume us totally in our efforts to keep our sins hidden. It diverts us from God’s calling on our lives and prevents us from being effective.

I think of my friends who were a pastor and his wife that were our spiritual parents when we lived in California (even though they were younger than Elena and me). They were such an effective couple for God. They were such an effective team. They were growing the little church that they were leading. However, he had a hidden sin of pornography. She has reacted with multiple affairs. When his sin came out, the church imploded and no longer exists. They moved away to Colorado to try to save their marriage but the damage between his addiction recovery and her affairs has them at the point of divorce now. He is out of the ministry now but is teaching at a Christian school and is regaining some effectiveness. She is a gifted artist but the years of damage in their relationship has shoved her further and further into the arms of another man. She has quite simply gone of the deep end into destroying what was left of their marriage. When I think back to those days in California when they were on top of their game for Jesus Christ, they were building real Christian community. They were challenging people to live out the Bible on a 24/7/365 basis and not just on Sundays. They were challenging people to see the real Jesus and real Christianity and not just some pluralistic, all roads lead to heaven version of Christianity. They were developing a core of a great church. But sin got it all turned sideways. The last time I was in the Bay Area with my wife, we drove by the former school where the church was located and we just felt the stabbing pain of what might have been.
Sin will turn you sideways my friends. My life is a testament of that. I am 55 years old and am just now following what God’s call has been on my life. All the sins of my life got me turned sideways to the point that I did not come to Christ until age 39 and it has taken all those years to get to this point where God said I was finally ready to follow His call into the ministry. Imagine what I could have done for Christ if it were not for a lifetime of sidetracks. Imagine what God could have used me to do with the passion for serving Him that now fills my soul. Sin sidetracks. Sin delays us. Sin diverts us from what God has called us to do.

My prayer for myself is that we dust off the shackles of sin and take the hand of Jesus and move forward into what He has for us. May we repent of our lifestyle of sin. May we admit our sins immediately and quickly after salvation. May we learn from them and turn away from situations that will lead us to those sins again. May we seek forgiveness in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ and ask the Holy Spirit to change us from the inside out such that we seek Him and only Him. May we receive wisdom from God when it comes to sin. May we recognize before we succumb to the siren call of Satan that sin will sidetrack us in ways that we cannot even count. Sin will derail what we are doing for the Lord. It damages our witness for so much longer than the benefits of enjoying a sin will last. May we think of David and how his greatness as king of the Israelite nation was sidetracked for a long period of time by the consequences of the Bathsheba/Uriah incident. Without even realizing it, David became consumed with justifying his sin and keeping it covered up that he pretty much forgot to be king. Help us to learn from David about the derailing effects of sin.

Amen and Amen.

2 Samuel 12:13-25
David Confesses His Guilt

A lot of us are naïve when we think about the moment we find salvation in the arms of Jesus Christ. Many of us think that at that moment, things will change for the better on every count. We think that all the negative stuff that we have been dealing with will automatically stop, the clouds will part, the sun will come out and angels will begin singing. However, that is not the reality of life. God will not change the past and the actions and reactions that have been set forth as a result of our poor decisions and sins. Even when we accept Christ as our Savior, He will allow the consequences of our past to play out. It is up to us to continue to have faith in Him as those consequences play themselves out. Also, just because we become a child of God through the saving grace of Jesus Christ, it does not automatically make us a mature Christian. We often continue to make mistakes of significance even after salvation as we mature in our walk with Jesus Christ. Salvation is not the end of the road. It is just the beginning of a journey to maturity in Jesus that takes an entire lifetime to process through.

I was no different. I thought that in December 2001 that my life would get better. My second marriage was falling apart because of my kids vs. your kids issues, because of past financial mistakes that I had made, and because of an affair that my second wife had. Man, if I could go back and re-live that part of my life, I would never have jumped right into another relationship after my first marriage blew up. But in those days, I measured myself by whether I had a woman in my life or not. That was the measure. So, keeping them happy was my god. But that’s hindsight. My past is my past and it is what it is. After salvation though my life actually got worse. The mistakes of my past including my second marriage all came crashing down. I ended up having to start over again for the second time. The my kids vs. your kids issue was the ultimate undoing of my second marriage and it boiled down to my second wife feeling as though I should not be supporting my oldest daughter (who lived with us from age 16 forward) while I felt as though that my child was in college so that extends the time by which you have to provide significant financial support to your child. As you can see, these conflicting and unresolved points of view were on a collision course. Instead of being a man and saying that this is my child and I am supporting her while she is in college, I hid my financial support of my child from my second wife. It all came to head in August 2004, and with all the stuff that had already happened in our marriage, our marriage did not survive.

Starting over again from scratch. My life got worse for a while. Living with my parents until I could see what the financial future held. Years of figuring things out about myself. Job change. State change. There were about 6 years there that my life was worse off in so many ways as all the previous trappings of my life were stripped away. Mistakes were continued to be made. It was a time where I learned who I was and had to reflect on it. The Lord stripped away all the things that I had previously counted as my world. Set me up alone in new places with new job. Nothing was the same. However, it was during those times that I learned so much about myself. Some of it was difficult to grasp. Some of it was freeing. I did not come out of this time of self-analysis and learning to depend on God for my value and dealing the results of my past that I was really ready to grow in my walk with Him. It was not until after I met Elena and we finally joined our lives together in Livermore, CA and met our spiritual parents in Christ, Luke and Felisha Brower (the pastor and his wife). It was under their care, they Elena and I started growing spiritually in Christ. However, if it were not for of our times of going through the spiritual valleys before we became husband and wife that we were ready to grow.

That was the thing that I thought of this morning as I read through 2 Samuel 12:13-25. David’s sins caught up with him in the death of his young child and it was a time of deep darkness for him where he really had to examine the errors of his life up to that point. He emerged a man who was more and more devoted to the Lord. Let us read the passage now:

13 Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

Nathan replied, “Yes, but the Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin. 14 Nevertheless, because you have shown utter contempt for the word of the Lord[a] by doing this, your child will die.”

15 After Nathan returned to his home, the Lord sent a deadly illness to the child of David and Uriah’s wife. 16 David begged God to spare the child. He went without food and lay all night on the bare ground. 17 The elders of his household pleaded with him to get up and eat with them, but he refused.

18 Then on the seventh day the child died. David’s advisers were afraid to tell him. “He wouldn’t listen to reason while the child was ill,” they said. “What drastic thing will he do when we tell him the child is dead?”

19 When David saw them whispering, he realized what had happened. “Is the child dead?” he asked.

“Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”

20 Then David got up from the ground, washed himself, put on lotions,[b] and changed his clothes. He went to the Tabernacle and worshiped the Lord. After that, he returned to the palace and was served food and ate.

21 His advisers were amazed. “We don’t understand you,” they told him. “While the child was still living, you wept and refused to eat. But now that the child is dead, you have stopped your mourning and are eating again.”

22 David replied, “I fasted and wept while the child was alive, for I said, ‘Perhaps the Lord will be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23 But why should I fast when he is dead? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him one day, but he cannot return to me.”

24 Then David comforted Bathsheba, his wife, and slept with her. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son, and David[c] named him Solomon. The Lord loved the child 25 and sent word through Nathan the prophet that they should name him Jedidiah (which means “beloved of the Lord”), as the Lord had commanded.

In this passage, we see that David confessed and repented of his sin (see 2 Samuel 12:13), but God’s judgment was that his child would die. The consequences of David’s sin were irreversible. There are times when an apology is not going to reverse the course of events that our sin(s) have set in motion. When God forgives us and restores our relationship with Him, He does not eliminate the past. He does not eliminate the consequences of actions prior to our seeking forgiveness. All we can do as repentant sinners is to do our best to make things right with those that we have hurt and/or deal with the consequences of our actions in a godly manner. God can redeem our past but He does not automatically forfeit the negative consequences that we set in motion ourselves before our kneeling before Him seeking forgiveness.

Just as with David, there was a period of time after seeking forgiveness from the Lord for my past life and asking Jesus to become my Savior that my past life swept over me like a surfer who has fallen off his board. My sins and mistakes of the past had their own momentum and dashed me deep under water and crashed me against the rocks of the ocean floor. Just because we say yes to Jesus as our Savior does not mean that God suspends the laws of the universe. The universe is governed by actions and reactions. There are ripple effects of the choices that we make in life that do not simply stop and go away when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. It is all a part of the process of sanctification in the Lord. When we accept Christ as our Savior, he begins the chiseling process. It is like when we as parents let the consequences of our children’s actions play themselves out sometimes so that they will learn from their actions. Sometimes, we want to step in and stop the flow of events from washing over our kids but we hold back. They need the life lesson so that they will not repeat it. So it is with God, as the loving Father that He is, I am sure that He wants to step in and fix things for us but instead sometimes he lets things play out in our lives so that we will learn lessons about our sinful actions and their consequences (even after salvation).

For me, when I look back at the man that I was before salvation it sickens me that I could be that unholy and that rebellious against the Lord. Even after salvation, when I look back at the man I was 16 years ago, I feel shame as to what I thought being a Christ follower was. When I look back at 10 years ago, 5 years ago, the things that I thought I knew about being a Christ follower makes me sad as to how much less mature I was at those points than I am now. I am sure 5 years from now that the lessons learned in God’s chiseling process will cause me to look back at now and say, “man, Mark, how immature you were!” Even now 16 years in and I am serving God full-time, God is chiseling me into further and further humility before Him. In my new role, there is so much to learn that it is overwhelming sometimes. It has made me realize that I am starting over again. It has made me realize that I do not know it all. It has made me realize that I need God’s guidance and direction more now than ever. And maybe that’s the point. He wants me to be progressively more and more dependent on Him.

That’s the same thing that I see in David here is that he matures as a child of God through the hard knocks of the death of his child. He became so much more humble and teachable (not that he was not teachable and a lover of God before) as a result of this incident. David learns here that he always has to be diligent in his relationship with God. The moment we relax is when decay sets in and pride sets in and we are susceptible to sin. David learns that sometimes we get knocked down by our sins and mistakes and all that is important to us previously is stripped away. And then there it is. It is just us and God. Us in our human flesh and the mighty Creator. Just us and God. No pretenses. No crutches or trappings of this life to rely on. Just us and Him. Time to examine ourselves before the Perfect Sinless Creator of All Things. We see ourselves for what we really are and how much we need God. How much we need Him to forgive us and begin changing us. When all is stripped away, we are ready to be molded by God into the what He wants us to be.

Amen and Amen.

2 Samuel 12:1-12 (Part 2 of 2)
Nathan Rebukes David

All of us rationalize our sins away. You do it. I do it. We all do it. We try to minimize our sins because of our circumstances. We think that we get a “get of a sin free” card because what we have to put up with in life. Whether it be a bad husband, a bad wife, a bad boss, horrible children, or some other difficult circumstance of our lives, we often use the circumstances as a justification for why our sin is OK with God. We figure it balances out the bad circumstances in our lives that God overlooks a sin here and a sin there. We all look for justifications for our sins. I know I did and probably still do. None of us is free from sin even the most mature and wise Christian that you know. We all struggle with sin. And worst of all, there are sins that we think are OK because we think we have like a personal, special deal with God. It may be God’s general rule that something is a sin but it’s OK for me because God and I have a deal – since I have had to deal with so much during my life that it’s OK for me to commit this sin or that sin or at least that God will not hold it too much against us. Sound familiar? We all go to great lengths to justify our favorite or pet sins. We go to great lengths to justify and make OK how our direct violation of God’s Word is alright with God.

You think about adultery. Those of us who have been victims of it or have perpetrated it can find common threads among all adulterers. They did not go it without a sense of the fact that it was wrong. They did not go into thinking that it was OK. There is simply something wired into us by God whether we are believers in Jesus Christ or not that adultery is wrong. However, almost every adulterer after beginning an affair will begin building a case for why their particular brand of adultery was justifiable. Every adulterer will blame their spouse for something as justification. Whether it is lack of sex, lack of attention, lack of common interests, you name it, the victim spouse gets blamed for it. As well, they will develop a case history of reasons of “things they have had to put up with”. They will develop all of these defenses in their mind as to why their particular sin was OK with God. They will always and inevitably invoke somewhere along the line, the phrase, “God just wants us to be happy!” This theology of God just wanting us to be happy is used to subvert the fact that their sin is in direct opposition to God’s direct command. The Bible says directly that we are not to commit adultery. It is plain and simple. There is no verse or passage or theology that can be developed from the Bible that says “God just wants us to be happy”. Even further, since the Bible does not say that, there is no theological tenet that says that our happiness overrules any of God commands that are indeed specifically stated in the Bible.

Can you think of other sins where we do this? There are plenty of examples out there of other sexual sins that we try to justify with rationalizations. There are sexual sins out there that are expressly forbidden by the Bible that in our modern “enlightenment” that we try to justify as OK. We have even legitimized certain sexual sins as acceptable by the law and by the culture. We pat ourselves on the back for our enlightenment as a result. However, in order for the legitimacy of sexual to be validated there are mountains and mountains of paper that have been expended to justify the sin. Rationalization of sexual sin has reached new heights in the 21st century. Everywhere you look, people are espousing the benefits of certain sexual sins. Justification here. Justification there. Relying on the courts to legitimize and enforce the acceptability of sinful behavior over there. There was a line from Shakespeare that seems appropriate, “methinks he protesteth too much.” In order to legitimize what is wrong in the sight of God, we must inherently create justification of its legitimacy and spend great energies to convince people of its right-ness. Why is it that non-biblical forms of marriage require federal law and the court systems to legitimize them when God’s brand of marriage does not? That’s not unique to America. That’s the history of man. We are wired by God to see right from wrong (even when we do not believe God exists). The truth needs no defense whereas lies/sins need significant work to give themselves the appearance of truth.
And it’s not just sexual sin. We try to legitimize all forms of sin. We rationalize away why it’s OK to take pens from our office that were purchased by the company we work for. We rationalize away why it is OK to tell “little lies” here and there. We rationalize sin until we are confronted with the cold hard truth of God’s Word and we must deal with our sins head on.

That was the thing that I thought of today when reading this passage, 2 Samuel 12:1-12. Here, we see that David had basically forgotten that his adultery and the related murder were sins because he had spent so much time rationalizing how it was OK – how we all do that to the point that we actually begin believing the rationalization as truth. Let us read 2 Samuel 12:1-12 now to see how these two concepts come into play:

Chapter 12

1 So the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to tell David this story: “There were two men in a certain town. One was rich, and one was poor. 2 The rich man owned a great many sheep and cattle. 3 The poor man owned nothing but one little lamb he had bought. 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. 4 One day a guest arrived at the home of the rich man. But instead of killing an animal from his own flock or herd, he took the poor man’s lamb and killed it and prepared it for his guest.”

5 David was furious. “As surely as the Lord lives,” he vowed, “any man who would do such a thing deserves to die! 6 He must repay four lambs to the poor man for the one he stole and for having no pity.”

7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are that man! The Lord, the God of Israel, says: I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul. 8 I gave you your master’s 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. 9 Why, then, have you despised the word of the Lord and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Ammonites and stolen his wife. 10 From this time on, your family will live by the sword because you have despised me by taking Uriah’s wife to be your own.

11 “This is what the Lord says: Because of what you have done, I will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man before your very eyes, and he will go to bed with them in public view. 12 You did it secretly, but I will make this happen to you openly in the sight of all Israel.”

In this passage, we see that David had so rationalized his sins away that he had become insensitive to the sins that he had committed. He did not even realize that he was the subject of Nathan’s parable. We often do the same thing when we are trying to justify our own sins as being OK or maybe we just hope that God forgets about it after a while. We minimize our sins with reasons that we fell into them. We justify our sins by saying that God wants us to be happy even if what we have done is in opposition to God’s Word. We think that the “God just wants us to be happy” idea trumps even his direct commands specifically when it comes to us as individuals. We rationalize that we are a special case to God. We rationalize that God will overlook our sins because either (1) we have been through so much in our lives that we deserve to have a sin or two overlooked or (2) we have done so much more good than we have bad. Don’t you think these were the exact rationalizations that David used? The same ones that you and I use?

May we become a people who recognizes our sins and repents of them on our own. May we become a people that has the humility to realize that we have sinned and repent rather than justify. May we be a people who sees the error of our ways in light of God’s truth and begs Him for forgiveness. May we then forever turn from our sin. May we understand that our sins cannot be rationalized away in the sight of God. May we see that God never forgets our sins. May we see that we will be judged for our sin. May we see that we are condemned to hell by each and every sin that we commit – even the ones we have made OK in our head because of justification or forgetfulness because of the passage of time. May we see that on our own, we will not be able to rationalize our way out of hell in front of the true and righteous Judge on our judgment day. May we see that it is only through belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God who died for our sins on the cross and who arose from the dead to give us victory over sin and death that we have a cleanliness and purity before God. It is only through Jesus that we have hope of heaven. Help us to seek Him and be honest about our past sins and how we need Him. Help us to have the humility to admit our sins when we commit them rather than justify them. Help us to seek forgiveness and to turn around 180 degrees away from our sin once we are honestly confronted with them. Help us oh Lord. Help us.

Amen and Amen.

2 Samuel 12:1-12 (Part 1 of 2)
Nathan Rebukes David

Are you a conflict avoider at all costs or are you a person thinks you are right no matter what? If you are a conflict avoider, check out Nathan in this passage. If you think that you are always right no matter what, check out David in this passage. This is not some ancient passage of a text that has nothing to do with us. This passage is real life. Just consider this…

I am a conflict avoider. I hate conflict to the point that I will often suppress my own feelings and rationalize how I am wrong and the other person is right just to avoid a conflict situation. Even if I am quite sure that I am in the right about a situation, I will often only address a wrong done toward me unless I am forced into a place where I can do nothing but come out with my hurt and anger. Maybe, it’s because of my relationships in the past where I valued being in a relationship (even ones that were bad for me) more than having my own needs recognized by the person with whom I was having a relationship. Somehow over the course of my past, I developed this sense that I did not have the right to have my own feelings because they would be ridiculed if I expressed them. In that way, I became a doormat for the relationships in which I was a part. I would not stand up for what was right. Rather, I would sublimate my feelings and allow the other person in the marriage have their way. That pattern of behavior made for very unbalanced relationships where it became their way or the highway, so to speak. The patterns learned in earlier life have lingered on throughout my life. I still struggle with the validity of my feelings. I often keep quiet when I should speak up and resolve the conflict. The results of emotional battery in previous relationships did not magically go away when I accepted Christ as my Savior. Being able to speak up when I have been hurt or wronged is still something I struggle with 16 almost 17 years into my salvation.

However, at the same time, our world is filled with people in this age of social media that have no conception of the fact that they could be wrong. Polarized conflict is an everyday part of life. Facebook arguments blaze through the internet ad nauseum. No one listens to reason and whatever I believe is the truth and whatever you believe, if it is opposite of what I think, makes you a demon of the highest order. Just look at the world in which we live. Trump haters abound on the internet and in the news. Everything that Trump does is roundly criticized. Even if Trump did something that was worthy of a Nobel Prize, his opponents would criticize it. His opponents are relentless in their hatred for him or anyone who works for him that no amount of reasoned arguments will dissuade them. Trump supporters are just as bad on the other end. They will justify his stupid remarks as solid gold and will defend him just because the Trump haters don’t like what he said. There is no objectivity anymore. There is no reasoned argument and the seeking of solutions to disagreement. There is no willingness to admit that we are wrong about anything. In recent weeks, it has struck me how we no longer have objective news in our society. We have people’s impressions of the news passed off as objective news. We color the world the way we want it colored so we subscribe to the news sources that reflect our opinion. Objective journalism got left in the dust somewhere. Anyone who holds a different view from us is a threat to us and is simply dismissed as being an enemy on the order of Satan himself. “I am right and nobody can change my mind” should be the catchphrase that describes the polarized nature of our nation.

These are the things that I thought of today when reading this passage, 2 Samuel 12:1-12. First, how sometimes we have to stand up for what is right regardless of the consequences. But, second, and opposite of the first, how we create spin to justify our position, regardless of the consequences. Let us read 2 Samuel 12:1-12 now to see how these two concepts come into play:

Chapter 12

1 So the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to tell David this story: “There were two men in a certain town. One was rich, and one was poor. 2 The rich man owned a great many sheep and cattle. 3 The poor man owned nothing but one little lamb he had bought. 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. 4 One day a guest arrived at the home of the rich man. But instead of killing an animal from his own flock or herd, he took the poor man’s lamb and killed it and prepared it for his guest.”

5 David was furious. “As surely as the Lord lives,” he vowed, “any man who would do such a thing deserves to die! 6 He must repay four lambs to the poor man for the one he stole and for having no pity.”

7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are that man! The Lord, the God of Israel, says: I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul. 8 I gave you your master’s 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. 9 Why, then, have you despised the word of the Lord and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Ammonites and stolen his wife. 10 From this time on, your family will live by the sword because you have despised me by taking Uriah’s wife to be your own.

11 “This is what the Lord says: Because of what you have done, I will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man before your very eyes, and he will go to bed with them in public view. 12 You did it secretly, but I will make this happen to you openly in the sight of all Israel.”

In this passage, we see that, as a prophet, Nathan was required to confront sin, even the sin of a king. It took great courage, skill and tact to speak to David in a way that would make him aware of his wrong actions. When you have to confront someone with unpleasant news, pray for courage, skill and tact. If you want that person to respond constructively, think through what you want to say. How you present the message may be as important as what you going to say. Season your words with wisdom.

May we as Christians be a people who can stand up to the culture and express Christian values even if it brings us into conflict with the world around us. Being a conflict avoider myself, I need this courage in the world in which we live today as Christians. May we have the courage to live according to God’s Word even if it causes us to be in conflict with the culture. May we have the courage to articulate God’s Word to a world in a way that connects with them. May we have the courage to stand up for what is right according to His Word and present it in ways that are not just dismissed by a culture that wants to believe only in what is right for themselves, by a culture that glorifies my truth as what is right for me, by a culture that is drifting farther and farther from the universal and timeless truths of God. May we have the courage to stand upon God’s Word in a way preserves our relationship with God and enlightens culture. May we have the courage of Nathan to confront the wrong but do it in a way that opens people’s eyes to the wrong rather than dismissing it.

We also pray for a world where we can admit that we are wrong rather than justify our position. May we become a world less polarized. May we become a world where the truth is objective and we must comply with it rather than it complying to us. In this passage, we see that David had become so insensitive to the truth and the error of his ways that he did not realize that he was the villain of Nathan’s parable. He had so wrangled the truth to meet his needs that he no longer was sensitive to the sins he committed in the Bathsheba/Uriah incident.

We pray for a world where the truth of God becomes valuable again. We pray for a world where we have the courage to admit that we are wrong when we are confronted with the truth and try to reconcile with those we have hurt. We pray for a world where the mark of a man is his ability to say I am wrong, you are right, and try to reconcile with those we have hurt. May we have a world where we can admit that we have held a wrong opinion, see the truth, and say I was wrong. May we have a world where we love one another and respect each other. May we have a world where we respect each other as children of God. May we have world where we have the humility to see the error of our ways and repent of them. May we no longer see the truth as our personal possession (to be twisted into the pretzel that suits us best) but the possession of God himself. May we all be subject to his truth and repent of our errors when we are confronted with God’s truth.

Amen and Amen.

2 Samuel 11:1-27 (Part 5 of 5)
David Sins with Bathsheba & Arranges Uriah’s Death

The leading cause of divorce in America is infidelity, according to http://www.marriage.com. Losing trust in the sexual fidelity of your spouse is one of the most difficult things from which to recover. While other issues such as money issues can cause divorce, they are more easily recovered from than sexual infidelity. It just seems that sexual infidelity hits us at our core of who we are as a person. It rocks our world in a way that any other potential divorce issue cannot. It sends the “cheated on” spouse into a spiral of distrust, self-doubt, anger and resentment that often cannot be unraveled. Because of the nature of infidelity and its affects on trust and self-image, it is no wonder that it is the leading cause of divorce. It is because marriages rarely ever recover from it. According to an article I read recently, only about 20% of marriages will survive infidelity. That means that 80% of marriages where there has been an affair that will not survive (and that includes couples that have reconciled for a period of time). It is, thus, by far the most damaging way for a marriage to encounter trouble.

You think about it too that sexual infidelity in 8 out of 10 cases will end in divorce and it is the single greatest cause of divorce in America, the damage does not end there. You may have an affair and it seems like your favorite chip and dip combination (you just can’t get enough of it). You get to see the person at their best and in limited ways so every encounter seems power-packed and emotionally charged. But home life is day to day. It is taking out the trash. It is taking kids from here to there. It is fixing the toaster. It is mundane, day-to-day life. Affairs are the playground from real life. The fantasy of affairs is intoxicating. But it is not real life. When real life crashes into the fantasy of an affair, real life wins. Eight out of 10 marriages where there has been infidelity end in divorce. Divorce is messy, ugly and costly. Divorce makes people bitter. Divorce damages children most of all. Unless you purposefully try not to do it, one of the marital spouses will use the kids as pawns in the game of “who wins the divorce!” Kids often have to pay the price. Children of divorce require counseling and their relationship with one or both of their parents is damaged for long periods of time and sometimes for a lifetime. The fun of an affair quickly turns into a lifetime of trouble. Even if one marries the person with whom they had the affair, that relationship enters real life and it becomes mundane. Second marriages end in divorce far more often than first marriages (67% vs. 50%). So, affairs though seemingly intoxicating while they are undiscovered always get discovered.

After discovery then it leads to a bee’s nest of costs both emotional and financial for your family. The financial costs of sexual infidelity by themselves are staggering. Studies have shown that the therapy and mental health costs alone add up to over $15,000 a year!!! Nope, there was no misplaced comma or zeros. The cost is seriously 15k annually. And of course this is a lengthy process. When all is said and done if will easily cost $60,000 and likely more than that. Often, life savings are altered and growth of retirement funds are stunted by dividing them and by using them to finance divorces and maintaining multiple households. Even before a divorce, sexual infidelity has its costs when carrying out affairs such as lost days at work, hotel costs, non-business expenses on business trips, and even the cost of getting fired and finding a new job. Detection costs such as private investigators, monitoring costs, and other detection methods such as detection software. The sexual infidelity detection business is a multi-billion industry just by itself.

That was the thing that I thought of this morning as I read 2 Samuel 11 for the fifth and final of five times before we move on to the next passage – how sexual infidelity is like the myth of the siren on the shore. She seems so beautiful and you steer your ship toward only to have your ship sunk on the rocks. It is a venus fly trap to a fly. It always ends badly and not just for the participants but the whole family. In fact, the ripples go beyond your own family. Two families are directly affected. And the ripples continue out from there. Friendships are affected. Battle lines are often drawn and people must choose. Groups of friends often split over an affair even if it did not occur between two members of the group. The implications of sexual infidelity are far-reaching and go far beyond the two people who were unfaithful to their spouses.

Chapter 11
1 In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem.

2 Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. 3 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.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. She had just completed the purification rites after having her menstrual period. Then she returned home. 5 Later, when Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant, she sent David a message, saying, “I’m pregnant.”

6 Then David sent word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent him to David. 7 When Uriah arrived, David asked him how Joab and the army were getting along and how the war was progressing. 8 Then he told Uriah, “Go on home and relax.[b]” David even sent a gift to Uriah after he had left the palace. 9 But Uriah didn’t go home. He slept that night at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard.

10 When David heard that Uriah had not gone home, he summoned him and asked, “What’s the matter? Why didn’t you go home last night after being away for so long?”

11 Uriah replied, “The Ark and the armies of Israel and Judah are living in tents,[c] and Joab and my master’s men are camping in the open fields. How could I go home to wine and dine and sleep with my wife? I swear that I would never do such a thing.”

12 “Well, stay here today,” David told him, “and tomorrow you may return to the army.” So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 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 with the king’s palace guard.

14 So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver. 15 The letter instructed Joab, “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.” 16 So Joab assigned Uriah to a spot close to the city wall where he knew the enemy’s strongest men were fighting. 17 And when the enemy soldiers came out of the city to fight, Uriah the Hittite was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers.

18 Then Joab sent a battle report to David. 19 He told his messenger, “Report all the news of the battle to the king. 20 But he might get angry and ask, ‘Why did the troops go so close to the city? Didn’t they know there would be shooting from the walls? 21 Wasn’t Abimelech son of Gideon[d] killed at Thebez by a woman who threw a millstone down on him from the wall? Why would you get so close to the wall?’ Then tell him, ‘Uriah the Hittite was killed, too.’”

22 So the messenger went to Jerusalem and gave a complete report to David. 23 “The enemy came out against us in the open fields,” he said. “And as we chased them back to the city gate, 24 the archers on the wall shot arrows at us. Some of the king’s men were killed, including Uriah the Hittite.”

25 “Well, tell Joab not to be discouraged,” David said. “The sword devours this one today and that one tomorrow! Fight harder next time, and conquer the city!”

26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 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. But the Lord was displeased with what David had done.

In this passage, we see that the effects of sin are far-reaching as we will see in the prophecy by Nathan in the next passage. David’s giving in to his carnal lusts would ultimately have disastrous effects on the kingdom of Israel. The consequences for David’s sins were spelled out and fulfilled precisely. Because David used the sword to strike down Uriah the Hittite, God said the sword would not depart from David’s dynasty. The sword was often employed in David’s dynasty. Intrigue would not depart as well. Ammon rapes his half sister and then kicks her to the curb. His son, Absalom, would kill another son, Amnon. Absalom would seek to overthrow David, and thus David would have to fight against Absalom and his forces to defend his kingdom. Joab would kill Absalom. Adonijah would seek to establish himself as king in David’s place, and Solomon would eventually have him executed (1 Kings 1 and 2).

David being one of God’s people and a generally wise man (except when it came to women) knew God’s law and I am sure that he had seen the effects of infidelity in Israelite society, but that did not matter to him when it came to that moment when he saw Bathsheba naked and bathing. Sexual desire can be so overpowering to us that we let it consume us and ruin us. David almost lost his kingdom over it. The seeds for the splitting of the kingdom into the northern and southern kingdom two generations later were sown here in his infidelity with Bathsheba and the family trees and troubles that it started. Just as many of us today in this society of serial marriages forget the huge financial, social and familial problems that extramarital affairs cause and plunge headlong into satisfying our sexual desires and carnal lusts. God does not condemn adultery just to be some capricious God but rather He knows full well what happens as a result. He has seen man destroy himself since the beginning of time with sexual infidelity. He condemns adultery because it has such disastrous effects on our lives.

So flee my friends from sexual immorality. It is not because it is prudish. It is dangerous and unhealthy in so many ways for you, your spouse, the one you are having the affair with, their spouse, your children, their children, your parents, their parents, your friends. Even our legal system is overburdened with the results of infidelity. Even our social service agencies are overburden with the results of broken families. It’s just not worth all the costs. God condemns adultery for these very reasons – not to hold us back from sexual freedom. God condemns adultery because it destroys families and societies.
It may sound crude but we must think with our heads rather than our sexual organs when it comes to slipping into affairs. Sure, it may satisfy some sexual curiosity or some personal worth issue or some other psychological deficiency that you may be suffering through but is it really worth it?

Lord help us to honor our spouses in our marriages. Help to be honest with them when things are not working. Help us to work through our problems rather than throwing the marriage away through infidelity. Help us to see that marriage is more than just sex. Help us to see the devastating affects of infidelity before we act upon it. Help us to learn from the mistakes of others such as David with Bathsheba. If we are suffering through the affects of infidelity in the past that caused divorce, help us to repent and restore those relationships by admitting our mistakes. Help us to forgive those who have hurt us deeply through infidelity in our pasts. Help us all to have a realistic view of the power of sex in our society and return to a biblical view of sex and of marriage. Help us to choose our spouses wisely. Help us to marry only when we know that the person that we are marrying is a person that we can be friends with in the living room as well as the bedroom. Help us to go into marriage knowing that its not all fantasyland. Help us to realize that marriage is real life and its has its highs and lows but that it is the most important relationship in the world. Help us to see our marriages as bigger than each of us individually. Help us to see our families as worth fighting for and thus be willing to work on our marriages. Help us to become best friends with our spouses. Help us with this thing called marriage.

Amen and Amen.

2 Samuel 11:1-27 (Part 4 of 5)
David Sins with Bathsheba & Arranges Uriah’s Death

Have you ever had to make a choice between right and wrong where doing the right thing may cost you your job, a friendship, a deal, maybe even your life. Here, in the passage that we have been studying for the past few blogs (2 Samuel 11:1-27), we see that Joab and Bathsheba are put in a no-win situation. What do you do?

Bathsheba, wife of an apparently successful warrior in Uriah, must have been living a life of luxury. If she and Uriah lived near the palace of the king, they must have been doing pretty good. That’s like living in the best subdivision in the suburbs or the best neighborhood in the city. They were doing alright! So, their lives were tied to the success of the kingdom – their home and Uriah’s livelihood were tied to the kingdom. So, Bathsheba knew the consequences to both her and Uriah if she did not submit to the king and have sex with him. It was a no-win situation. If she refused on the principle that the act would violate one of God’s commandments and also would violate her marriage vows, it might have had disastrous effects for both her and Uriah. She might have been imprisoned or killed or Uriah might be demoted or even dishonorably reassigned or discharged from the army altogether or killed. If she submits, she will have to live with the guilt for the rest of life with Uriah and she might get pregnant. It’s a no-win situation.

Joab, David’s military leader, was also put in a bad situation too. He is ordered to put an innocent man knowingly in harm’s way so that he will be killed. It’s one thing in military situations for men under your command to die in battle as a result of the calculated risks of military strategy but it’s a whole ‘nother thing to purposely put someone in the line of fire, so to speak, so that you know they will get killed. It is a commander charge to make sure that he has the greatest victories possible with the least amount of loss of life as possible. Joab most assuredly knew that the order given to him was equal to murder – a violation of God’s commandments. It is one thing to die fighting valiantly. It is one thing to die while knowing that your commander is doing his best to make sure that the most men possible survive the battle. It is just plain wrong do what he was ordered to do. Joab was under the command of the king. To refuse the order of your military leader, the king of the country, would have been bad for Joab. He would have lost his command, been imprisoned, and maybe even killed for having refused a direct order from the king. How would you like to be in that situation? It was a no-win situation.

In both cases, for Bathsheba and for Joab, they did not stand up to the king and just went along with his sinful requests. What do we do when we are asked to do something that we know is inconsistent with Scripture or is just plain out the opposite of what God commands us to do in Scripture? What if it meant losing your job? What if it meant being imprisoned? What if it meant being singled out for ridicule and social ostracization? What if it meant your life? I think of how easy we have it as Christians in America. Even though our beliefs are being attacked on all side in America these days, we still have more freedom to worship God freely that most any nation on the planet. What if we lived in China or North Korea or a predominantly Muslim country? What if we were required to renounce Jesus Christ to stay out of prison? What if we were to be socially ostracized for being Christian? What if we could not get a job because we were known to be a Christian? How many of us would be Christians then? Even here in America, there are times where we have to decide whether we are going to raise the flag that we are Christ followers and suffer ridicule or just go along wit the culture. Do we go along to preserve our comforts and not be singled out or do we stand on God’s Word even if it brings negative consequences to our lives?

That was the thing that I thought of this morning as I read 2 Samuel 11 for the fourth of five times – how we often keep quiet about our faith in a culture that is increasingly hostile to Christians just so we can go about our lives in comfort in our 3 or 4 bedroom homes with manicured yards, with two cars, a jet ski, a swimming pool, vacations at the beach, and all the other comforts of middle class America. How often do we just go along rather than stand up for what is godly.

Chapter 11
1 In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem.

2 Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. 3 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.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. She had just completed the purification rites after having her menstrual period. Then she returned home. 5 Later, when Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant, she sent David a message, saying, “I’m pregnant.”

6 Then David sent word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent him to David. 7 When Uriah arrived, David asked him how Joab and the army were getting along and how the war was progressing. 8 Then he told Uriah, “Go on home and relax.[b]” David even sent a gift to Uriah after he had left the palace. 9 But Uriah didn’t go home. He slept that night at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard.

10 When David heard that Uriah had not gone home, he summoned him and asked, “What’s the matter? Why didn’t you go home last night after being away for so long?”

11 Uriah replied, “The Ark and the armies of Israel and Judah are living in tents,[c] and Joab and my master’s men are camping in the open fields. How could I go home to wine and dine and sleep with my wife? I swear that I would never do such a thing.”

12 “Well, stay here today,” David told him, “and tomorrow you may return to the army.” So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 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 with the king’s palace guard.
David Arranges for Uriah’s Death

14 So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver. 15 The letter instructed Joab, “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.” 16 So Joab assigned Uriah to a spot close to the city wall where he knew the enemy’s strongest men were fighting. 17 And when the enemy soldiers came out of the city to fight, Uriah the Hittite was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers.

18 Then Joab sent a battle report to David. 19 He told his messenger, “Report all the news of the battle to the king. 20 But he might get angry and ask, ‘Why did the troops go so close to the city? Didn’t they know there would be shooting from the walls? 21 Wasn’t Abimelech son of Gideon[d] killed at Thebez by a woman who threw a millstone down on him from the wall? Why would you get so close to the wall?’ Then tell him, ‘Uriah the Hittite was killed, too.’”

22 So the messenger went to Jerusalem and gave a complete report to David. 23 “The enemy came out against us in the open fields,” he said. “And as we chased them back to the city gate, 24 the archers on the wall shot arrows at us. Some of the king’s men were killed, including Uriah the Hittite.”

25 “Well, tell Joab not to be discouraged,” David said. “The sword devours this one today and that one tomorrow! Fight harder next time, and conquer the city!”

26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 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. But the Lord was displeased with what David had done.

In this passage, we see that David put both Bathsheba and Joab in difficult situations. Bathsheba knew that it was wrong to commit adultery, but to refuse a king could mean punishment or even death. Joab did not know why Uriah had to be killed but it was obvious that David wanted him killed. All of us at various points in our lives face situations where each option of response to us is wrong or has negative consequences for ourselves or others. What that happens, we must not lose sight of what God wants. The answer may be to seek out other options through prayer and through consultation with friends that you know who have great discernment and wisdom.

Father help us to seek to please you rather than our creature comforts. Father help us to stand firm on your Word even when it may cost us something. Father help us to be more than fair weather Christians. Help us to be a Christ follower even when being a Christ follower produces no earthly benefits or material blessings. Help us to have an eye toward the eternal things of You rather than the temporary trappings of this life. Help us to remember that we must seek you will and do it even if it means that we are unpopular in our culture, shunned socially, even imprisoned or killed. Help so see how small our earthly life is compared to the vastness of eternity. Help us to seek to always place our first priority as being our vertical relationship with you over and above any power of the horizontal, earthly relationships that we have here that are temporary at best. Help us to seek your will always, Lord.

Amen and Amen.