Wednesday, July 26, 2023

David & Bathsheba: How to Not be a Man after God's own Heart

The title of this message is “How to not be a man after God’s own heart.”

So, if you want to follow God and love God and live for God, just do the opposite of everything in 2nd Samuel chapter 11.

There are two incidents that are the most famous in David’s life. The first is of course David’s classic battle with Goliath. Everyone knows that one. Even most non-Christians know that one. But second to David and Goliath is the incident we’ll be discussing today, David’s battle with Bathsheba.

David won the battle with Goliath. David lost the battle with Bathsheba. But it wasn’t really Bathsheba he was fighting. He was fighting himself, fighting his own nature. His own temptations. And he lost that battle.

He made a terribly evil decision. Then he made it worse and worse and worse.

It says in 2nd Samuel 11 verse 1, “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.”

They’ve gone through winter, and now it’s spring, and Israel goes out to fight the ammonites, to continue the wars that were raging in the previous chapters, to defeat and subdue the enemy kingdoms surrounding Israel.

Normally the King would lead the armies in battle. But instead, King David sends out Joab and he stays behind at the palace.

First point today, we all know how important it is to stay busy, to stay active in our work, to stay engaged in our mission. When we get bored and we just sit home everyday, we stop going out, that idleness becomes a danger to us. Pretty soon we’re making some bad choices, and headed toward addictions, sins, and disaster. Stay active in your life. Stay on mission. Get out of your house and do things with people. Work a job. Volunteer somewhere. Exercise regularly. Share your faith actively. Don’t sit on your hands. Because bad things can happen very quickly when we get bored.

Next, in verse 2, “One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful…”

Have you ever looked at a woman, or a man (ladies), and been suddenly very smitten with them? You’re overcome by her beauty. You’re overcome by how handsome he is. And the feeling is surprisingly powerful. I’ve experienced that before. I’m sure you have too. You don’t even know the person. But you become overcome with emotion over them. You become almost obsessive.

Sometimes this happens, and someday we’re married to that person. But what about after we’re married to someone and we become smitten by someone else we see walking by? Or a friend?

It can be very dangerous. Because we’ve made a commitment to someone else. And now our emotions are surging over another person. That’s why we as humans can’t allow ourselves to be controlled by our emotions. Our emotions will betray us. Our emotions will lead us into trouble. We have minds, an intellect, to override our emotions when our emotions are wrong.

Point number two today is this: Don’t be led by your emotions and desires, allow your intellect and conscience to override your emotions.

But it is astonishing to see how many people simply do whatever feels good. And this attitude leads to disaster. It leads to affairs. It leads to hell. Fight off that desire, with your mind, with your heart, and with your conscience.

Only a child is ruled by their emotions. Adults are guided by their conscience and their intellect.

Now David, being married already, should’ve said, "Well, I’ve just noticed this beautiful woman. She is beautiful. That’s cool. And now I’m going to move on with my life." 

But he doesn’t do that. He begins to take actions to go after her.

In verse 3 it says, “...and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”

David finds out from his messenger that this woman is married to Uriah. Again we have another opportunity for David to make the right decision, to think to himself: "Oh no, this woman is married, I can’t go after her. Time to end this before it even begins."

We sometimes hear about people who have affairs on their wife or husband. And when they replay the series of events, they can’t quite figure out what went wrong. Suddenly we were in bed together. No, there was a string of events that took place. Bad choices were made, one after another.

They started flirting with you. Now it’s easy to signal to someone in conversation, to back off. But instead you started flirting back. You enjoyed the attention. The flirting got you excited, pretty soon your emotions started taking over. Then you decided to meet up together for coffee. Again, you could’ve easily said no, I can’t do that it wouldn’t be appropriate. And step by step, the compromises start coming.

The best thing you can do is draw a line in the sand immediately and say no, I’m going to signal to them I don’t like this extra attention, even if I am kind of enjoying it. Because I know where it will lead.

Many people tell me they never tried drinking or smoking, because they knew they would like it too much. Brilliant. Similarly, if you’re married, and they start flirting with you, immediately know that if you engage with it, you’ll like it too much. So don’t do it.

Third point today is this: If you set firm prevention measures you can make sure these situations never happen. If you set firm boundaries for yourself, to avoid affairs and sexual immorality, those boundaries will protect you when you’re feeling lonely and weak. Then you’ll gain victory.

Let’s see what happens next, as David pursues this situation. Verses 4-5: “Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”"

King David has now committed adultery, a grave sin. Few sins are worse than adultery. Betrayal or murder would be worse I think. But adultery, sleeping with another man’s wife, or another woman’s husband, is a truly devious sin. It goes deep, and it is highly destructive. It destroys families. It destroys marriages. It’s harmful to children. It’s harmful to the community. It’s overall a terrible sin.

King David, a man after god’s own heart, has committed a severe sin. In addition to the sin David has committed, Bathsheba reports back to David that she is pregnant, later on of course.

What does David do next? Does he realize the evil he has done, and ask for God’s forgiveness? No, David begins to attempt to cover up his sin.

Point number four, if you do end up sinning sexually in some way, bring it before God immediately and confess it to him, and ask His forgiveness
. Confess it to your wife or husband if it’s appropriate to do so. If you’re single, confess it to God. Seek forgiveness from God and from your marriage partner. Then get some support/help if necessary, and make plans to ensure it never happens again.

So, Bathsheba is pregnant but her husband Uriah is off in battle with the army. So let’s see what David does next: verses 6-10:

“So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. 7 When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. 8 Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. 9 But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house.”

10 David was told, “Uriah did not go home.” So he asked Uriah, “Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?”

To cover up his sin, and the new baby, David brings Uriah back from the front lines of the war, and he is hoping Uriah will go home and sleep with his wife Bathsheba. But it doesn’t happen.

David demands why didn’t you go home? You’ve been at war, and you didn’t go see your wife. Why not?

In verse 11 is his response:

11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”

Uriah is a godly man, he doesn’t feel it would be right for him to go home while Israel is at war.

It says in verses 12-13: Then David said to him, “Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home.

Despite David getting Uriah drunk he still doesn’t go to his wife. Now David is in big trouble, because now Uriah is leaving without having been with his wife.

You can see David sinking down into this pit, one compromise after another. First you sin, then you do something to cover up your sin. I remember many times between me and my sister, we’d blame something on each other, then lie about it, then cover up what we did, and it would just get worse and worse as we lied and manipulated things.

In the end friends, it’s better to simply tell the truth. It’s harder to remember all the lies we told, then to simply tell the truth. My grandma used to say that, it's better to tell the truth, then you don't have to remember everything you lied about. 

Point number five, sinning can become a tangled web of lies and deceit. We see this in our government right now there is so much corruption and double standards and some people protected against the law, and others where the law is used against them as a tool to harm them. Double standards and lies and corruption. It’s no wonder institutional trust in our country is at record lows.

Don’t be like that friends. Be honest. Be authentic. Be truthful. Avoid the webs of lies and deceit. It never ends well for people who spin those webs. They just end up caught in the webs they spun.

Next, King David’s sin gets even worse. It says in verse 14-17:

14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”

16 So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.”

Essentially, what happens here is King David murders Uriah to cover up his own sin. He sets things up for Uriah to be killed in battle.

Point number six friends, sin leads to more sin. One of the reasons that sin is so terrible and has to be dealt with so severely by the Lord, is because sin is contagious, sin spreads like a virus, like bacteria, it spreads and spreads, and one sin leads to another.

Put sin to death in your life, otherwise it will multiply. Sin leads to more sin. Putting sin to death leads to purity and life.

Heaven is a place without sin. That’s why it’s perfect. So put sin to death here on Earth. End it in your life, with Christ’s help, and you’ll enter heaven in purity. Otherwise sin spreads like cancer.

Next in verses 18-27, we see the chapter conclude this way:

18 Joab sent David a full account of the battle. 19 He instructed the messenger: “When you have finished giving the king this account of the battle, 20 the king’s anger may flare up, and he may ask you, ‘Why did you get so close to the city to fight? Didn’t you know they would shoot arrows from the wall? 21 Who killed Abimelek son of Jerub-Besheth? Didn’t a woman drop an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you get so close to the wall?’ If he asks you this, then say to him, ‘Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.’”

22 The messenger set out, and when he arrived he told David everything Joab had sent him to say. 23 The messenger said to David, “The men overpowered us and came out against us in the open, but we drove them back to the entrance of the city gate. 24 Then the archers shot arrows at your servants from the wall, and some of the king’s men died. Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.”

25 David told the messenger, “Say this to Joab: ‘Don’t let this upset you; the sword devours one as well as another. Press the attack against the city and destroy it.’ Say this to encourage Joab.”

26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.”

David’s plan to cover up his sin has seemed to have succeeded. Uriah is dead. And Bathsheba has been taken into David’s home as his wife. But I’m sure the word is spreading. I’m sure some people have noticed what David has done. These things affect more than we might first expect.

Any sin in my life, as a pastor, is going to affect the entire church negatively. Any sin in your life, is going to affect your loved ones, your family, your friends, and your character. Sin affects much more than we’d expect. Since it affects us negatively, of course it’s then going to affect others around us.

David’s plan hasn’t really succeeded. Because God sees it all. And it says God was displeased by what David had done. These sins, of adultery and murder are going to affect the entire nation, because David is their King, their leader.

When our leaders in the United States, our presidents and congress, when they sin, does it affect us? It certainly does. It affects how we see our own country. It affects us because we become disgusted with the sin and corruption in our nation. It stains the public’s trust in the government and institutions that uphold the nation. Similarly David’s sin will change the future of the nation.

The last point today is this: Sin will affect more than we expect. So turn from your sin quickly and put it to death. Then, just as much, your purity in Christ, your witness of faith in Christ will impact others. It will impact more people positively than you might expect. Your witness of faith can change entire communities. People will be transformed because you dared to live for God. Dare to live for God today. You’ll impact hundreds, even thousands.