Printable PDF: 2-16-2020 Epiphany 6 Sermon
David R. Clark ~ 2 Samuel 11:1-17, 26-27 ~ February 16, 2020 ~ Epiphany 6
A LESSON ABOUT TEMPTATION
1In 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. 2One 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, 3and 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.” 4Then 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. 5The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.” 6So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. 7When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. 8Then 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. 9But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house. 10David 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?” 11Uriah 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!” 12Then 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. 13At 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. 14In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15In 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.” 16So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17When 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….26When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27After 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.
Brothers and sisters in Christ,
A number of years ago I had the privilege of attending a service of thanksgiving for the pastor who confirmed me and recruited me to be a pastor. I think he was a good pastor. At that time he had served for 50 years. At the dinner afterwards, people told stories about him. What do you suppose people remembered the most? Was it the way he had started a congregation and LES from nothing? His recruitment for public ministry? It was the one Saturday morning when he got up and sat at his kitchen table drinking coffee and reading the newspaper when he got a phone call. You see, it wasn’t Saturday. It was Sunday and he had missed the early service. People never forgot.
That was pretty innocent and repeated not as criticism but in fun. But it shows that all it takes is one out of character thing for people to define you. King David was a shepherd and a musician. He slew Goliath and was the greatest king in Israel’s history. But he also had that one thing. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord. Even when he died, David was described this way: 1 Kings 15:5 For David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep any of the Lord’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite. You and I usually call this dark chapter in David’s life, “David and Bathsheba.”
Our greatest witness to the world is in the way we live our lives. So what can we learn about one night’s temptation from the human author of Psalm 23 and 51?
1. There’s no such thing as free of temptation.
David had achieved a certain level of success. He didn’t need to fight with the army but could stay in Jerusalem and be king. That night was probably like a bunch of other nights. Just like people will sit out on their porches at night, David couldn’t sleep so he went on the roof of his palace to enjoy the night. He looked down and saw a beautiful woman bathing. There was nothing planned by either of them, but that is the way Satan works! Temptation is destructive even for a strong believer.
It can start out innocently. Then comes a sinful thought or look. Then its sinful actions. It can be any kind of sin. Perhaps it is jealousy or anger. Perhaps its money or position. But let’s be clear! We all have our weaknesses, and Satan will keep probing until he finds that one. For David it was sexual temptation, and he failed.
2. There’s no such thing as one sin.
And once Satan had found David’s weakness, he turned one “innocent” situation in a domino of sins. Lust turned into adultery. Adultery turned into a pregnancy and a need for a cover up. The cover up turned into the murder of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, and a hurried marriage. No one had to know! But God knew.
Brothers and sisters, this is the nature of sin. A sin in the heart turns into talking about it. Talking about it turns into committing it. Committing it leads to guilt and finding a way to cover up the guilt. But there really is no cover up. We may fool people. We may fool ourselves. But we can’t hide from the Lord. He sees everything. He knows.
3. There are consequences to every sin.
The thing about a successful cover up is that we think we are getting away with it. So let’s be crystal clear: there is no getting away with sin. David’s consequences were severe. The child they had conceived, died. 2 Samuel 12:10 (NIV) 10Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’ There is even more. You can find it in 2 Samuel 12.
Consequences are not the same as paying for sin. Some people think that if they say they are sorry all of the consequences of sin should go away. They do not, and we should not expect them to any more than David expected them to go away.
4. There is a need for forgiveness.
What can go away is the payment for sin. A gracious God cannot stand to have those near to him suffer because of the sinfulness of their actions. When David admitted his sin, the prophet of the Lord assured him that he would not die. That’s how serious sin is! In addition, despite the consequences that would haunt David his entire life, God still blessed him. David and Bathsheba had another child who became the next King of Israel. You know him as Solomon. How great is God’s grace? The measuring stick for greatness in Judah’s kings wasn’t Josiah or Hezekiah or Jehoshaphat or even Solomon. It was David, sinful but forgiven David.
When you sin, you need to know that it is also deserving of death. That’s why Jesus had to die. Because your God is so gracious he died so that you won’t have to. David repented and turned away from his sin. We do, too. We need to go back to living our lives for Jesus and not for ourselves. A Christian life will always have further blessings. Repent, turn back to God, and then look for the blessings he gives you.
That means strengthening your faith so that you can withstand temptation and the whole anatomy of failure David went through. That only happens through the Spirit working through Word and Sacrament. Make them a regular part of your life. Then maybe you can be a measuring stick for greatness in your own family. Amen.