Last Sunday we read about the many military successes that David and Israel enjoyed during the early years of his reign. They pushed the Philistines out of Jewish territory, crushed the Moabites and forced them to pay tribute, overcame the Amalekites and Edomites and placed garrisons among them, twice defeated King Hadadezer and the Aramaeans, and destroyed the principal cities of Ammon. With each victory David’s fame grew and the boundaries of Israel’s influence expanded. Unfortunately, all good things must end (at least in this life).
If you recall from our previous message, David sent the armies of Israel to fight against the Ammonites because they had humiliated his messengers. The fearful Ammonites hired many Aramean soldiers to help them fight against Israel. During the battle, these Arameans fled leaving the Ammonites to retreat safely back within the walls of their city. Israel temporarily abandoned its attack on the Ammonites and instead pursued the Arameans. After defeating the Arameans, the armies of Israel returned to continue their campaign against Ammon.
King David chose not to travel with his army on this particular occasion, but rather to stay in Jerusalem while they were away besieging the Ammonite city of Rabbah. Perhaps he could enjoy some alone time to relax and simply revel in his extraordinary success. Maybe some time off would do him good. But, as they say, “idleness is the Devil’s workshop.”
Today’s sermon is titled “David’s Great Sin”. It is the 19th installment of our current series. The passages we will discuss are fairly well known among Christians - you’ve probably heard them before. I hope that our familiarity with this story doesn’t prevent us from listening to and hearing God’s voice afresh as we study these chapters once again.
I. THE CRIME (2 Samuel 11:1-27)
One evening King David was looking out from his rooftop balcony over the capital city. He happened to see a beautiful woman, whose name was Bathsheba, while she was bathing. Captivated by her appearance, David sent messengers to find her and bring her to his house. He then slept with her, although he knew that she was married to another man. Afterwards Bathsheba cleaned herself up and returned home. In the days that followed it was discovered that she was pregnant with David’s child.
David tried to cover his tracks by sending a message Joab, his commander on the battlefield in Ammon. The king requested that Uriah, a valiant warrior in Israel’s army and Bathsheba’s husband, return immediately to Jerusalem with a report on how things were going. When Uriah arrived, David twice urged him to go home and spend some time with his wife. He hoped that they would be intimate, which would explain Bathsheba's pregnancy. But Uriah, being a noble soldier, refused to lay with his wife while his brothers-in-arms were entangled in war. Thus, David’s scheme to hide his sin failed.
The frustrated king sent a letter to Joab ordering him to place Uriah on the frontlines, to advance into the fiercest battle, and then to withdraw, thereby leaving Uriah exposed so that he’d almost certainly be killed. Unknowingly, Uriah carried his own death warrant back to Joab in Ammon. The general did as he was commanded and Uriah was killed. When David received news that Uriah was dead, he had Bathsheba brought back to his house. He married her and later she had the son that they’d conceived together.
During this entire shameful episode David committed several sins. First, he was overcome with lust and committed adultery. Second, he deceptively sought to cover up what he’d done by telling lies. Third, when all else failed, he conspired to have Uriah murdered in order to prevent his misdeeds from becoming known. At this point, David probably thought he was in the clear - but he wasn’t. The truth always seems to come out at some point.
Sin has a way of compounding or growing. Whenever someone does something wrong, they often commit more sins in order to hide their original misstep. The situation just gets worse and worse. David’s story is a prime example. This is why, when a person sins, they should immediately confess, ask for forgiveness, and seek to make it right. Otherwise, the problem will keep getting bigger.
II. THE CRITIQUE (2 Samuel 12:1-9)
Sometime after David’s great sin the LORD sent Nathan to confront the king. Nathan was a prophet and one of David’s closest advisors. He told David a story about a rich man who had many sheep and a poor man who had only one. The poor man loved his pet sheep dearly and treated it as if it were his own child. One night a traveler stopped at the rich man’s house requesting something to eat. Rather than taking a sheep from his own large flock, the rich man took the poor man’s only lamb and prepared it for the traveler. The poor man was heartbroken.
When David heard Nathan’s story, he became furious. He declared that the rich man deserved to die and should be forced to make restitution fourfold for his lack of compassion. As the king fumed, Nathan revealed that David was the rich man he’d been talking about. He explained that God had provided David with great wealth and with many wives. He could have slept with any one of them. But instead he took poor Uriah’s only wife, laid with her, and ultimately killed him to conceal what he’d done. David was the guilty party, and his secret was out!
People are naive to think that they can keep their sins secret. God knows everything about mankind. He knows their thoughts, their actions, their words - everything! There is nothing hidden from Him. A person might be able to deceive others for a while, but the LORD is not fooled. At some point even a person’s most secret sins will be exposed to the light of day and will have to be answered for.
III. THE CONSEQUENCES (2 Samuel 12:10-25)
After reprimanding David for his sinful behaviors, Nathan went on to pronounce some of the consequences which the LORD would impose. These would come because David “had despised God” through his misconduct. It is important to recognize that sin is always a betrayal of God, not just other people or oneself. Thus, the LORD is justified in punishing those who violate or rebel against His righteous commands.
The first consequence was that there would be perpetual strife, violence, and treachery within David’s family from that day forward. Secondly, one of David’s own family members would someday take his wives and lay with them, just as David had done with the wife of Uriah. While David had slept with Bathsheba secretly, this future transgression would be done openly. Thirdly, and more immediately, the child that would be born of David’s adulterous relationship would die as an infant. Despite these coming consequences, the LORD graciously forgave David of his sins and assured him that they had not nullified his own salvation.
In the months that followed Bathsheba gave birth to a little boy. As predicted, the child became very sick. David grieved terribly - wailing, praying, and fasting for his newborn son. A week passed and the baby died, but David’s servants were afraid to tell him. When they did, to their surprise David’s demeanor changed. He immediately cleaned himself up and worshipped God. They asked the king why he was no longer acting sorrowful. David answered that once his son had died, there was nothing left that he could do but move forward. This passage has been used to argue that when babies die they go to Heaven, which might explain David’s behavior. Later Bathsheba bore David another son and they named him Solomon.
Sin always comes with consequences. While the LORD will lovingly forgive the repentant sinner of their guilt, He does not erase the lingering repercussions of their sin. A person who has accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior is freed from eternal condemnation, but is still subject to the earthly and temporal consequences of sin. And, as seen clearly in this story, these consequences usually have an impact on more than one person.
Following this tragic episode in David’s life, he joined his soldiers at Rabbah (where he should have been to begin with) and together they defeated the Ammonites. As we close the message today, let’s quickly review a few of the lessons we touched on this morning.
One sin typically leads to another, and another, and so on. All too often people try to hide what they’ve done wrong by committing additional sins. These unconfessed sins build up, which makes the the situation even worse. Though it may be difficult, it is important to admit what you’ve done wrong and to ask forgiveness for it. The cycle of sinfulness cannot be broken apart from confession and repentance.
It is foolish to think that you can keep your sins hidden. God knows and sees everything! So, if the reason you have not fessed up is because you think no one knows, you’re wrong. God does! One day each person will stand before Him and give an account of everything they’ve done in this life. Wouldn’t you rather ask for the LORD’s forgiveness today, rather than trying to explain your sins away after its too late?
Finally, God can and will forgive the sins of those who ask Him - including such things as adultery, deception, and murder. There is no sin that can’t be forgiven, other than rejecting God’s loving offer of salvation. That said, there will be consequences in this life as the result of sin. We will never live the abundant life that God has for us in the here and now if our lives are characterized by frequent and unconfessed sin.
In the weeks to come, we will see the consequences that were imposed upon David and his family come to pass. They will bring personal hardship and derail the success that he’d previously enjoyed as king. That said, God would still honor His unconditional covenant with David to establish his throne forever through Jesus Christ.