The Right Response to Sin

Posted: January 7, 2010 in 2 Samuel

2 Samuel 11-12, “The Right Response to Sin”
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It’s one of the most famous stories in the Bible: David & Bathsheba. In it David (the man after God’s own heart) does almost everything wrong. He sins & sins again & sins some more & responds to his sin in every wrong way until confronted by God. Finally, he shows the ONE right response to sin: repentance & trust in God.

2 Samuel 11 (NKJV)
1 It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.

A. The context is interesting here…Chapter 10 listed a string of military battles & victories for David showing God’s blessing upon David’s kingdom & reign. Scholars disagree exactly when the events of Ch 11-12 take place, but obviously it was sometime in the midst of all of this military activity. The kingdom borders had been growing by leaps & bounds… Yet David decides to take some time off in the middle of the war season. Perhaps he was flush with too many victories? …
__a. Success can sometimes bring more danger than failure…

B. Note the 1st sin taking place here: David is neglecting his primary responsibility as king – to physically protect the nation of Israel. Any head of state’s 1st responsibility is to keep people safe and/or to lead the military (even as the US President is “Commander in Chief”). For whatever reason (perhaps pride; perhaps laziness) King David decides to send the troops into battle but take time off for himself to relax & enjoy a mini-vacation…
__a. It may not be in the Scripture, but it’s definitely a truism: idle hands are the devil’s playground.
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2 Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold.

A. Note the problem here…it’s not that David saw a woman bathing. Strolling out on his roof, he may not have been able to avoid the sight. The problem is that once he saw the naked woman, he took the time to linger long enough to tell that she was beautiful. (Sin #2) The temptation itself wasn’t the sin; lingering upon the temptation was… Men have got to learn to ‘bounce our eyes’ & flee sexual temptation ()… More often than not, it WILL take you down! For every man that haughtily claims sexual temptation would never be a problem with him, there’s another who can point to their own life as a sad testimony to the contrary.
__a. According to Jesus, at this point David had already committed adultery in his heart…(Matt 5:28)

B. What was Bathsheba doing taking a bath in clear view of David’s house? It’s unclear. Some have taken the position that Bathsheba might have been trying to attract the attention of the king… The Bible doesn’t say a word about her motives, however – it could simply have been an innocent mistake on her part, thinking everyone had already gone to bed. Strictly speaking, the only person whom the Bible blames in this affair is David…and that’s probably where we should leave it as well.
__a. That said, it’s important that women be aware of their modesty. Even innocent motivations to a woman might be taken the wrong way by a man. There were life-changing (and life-ending) consequences to Bathsheba’s nighttime open bath, which might have been avoided if she had simply shut the door/window. That doesn’t attribute any fault to her – but it’d be foolish to say she could have done nothing to avoid this.
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3 So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house. 5 And the woman conceived; so she sent and told David, and said, “I am with child.”

A. Sin #3: not only did David conceive of this sin in his own heart, he involved others with it as well. By this point, he was so self-involved, that it made no difference to him how many servants of his that he used as an accomplice to adultery.

B. Sin #4: the adultery itself. … Obviously their one-night stand ended in pregnancy (which ought to give the lie to the old “it-can’t-happen-after-one-time” excuse), which presented a whole new set of problems David had to solve. And because Bathsheba had just been cleansed from her monthly cycle (which may have been the initial motivation for her bath), there was no doubt whose baby she was impregnated with. Things are going to go from bad to worse. What to do? Outside of confessing his sin & repenting from it, David really only had one option: try to lie about it…
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6 Then David sent to Joab, saying, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David. 7 When Uriah had come to him, David asked how Joab was doing, and how the people were doing, and how the war prospered. 8 And David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah departed from the king’s house, and a gift of food from the king followed him. 9 But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord [probably the guard quarters], and did not go down to his house. 10 So when they told David, saying, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “Did you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?” 11 And Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are dwelling in tents, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are encamped in the open fields. Shall I then go to my house to eat and drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.”

A. David’s 1st cover-up attempt failed. He had hoped to bring Uriah home, show him honor (with a gift from the king) & send him home to his wife for a night on the town. But ultimately, Uriah showed more honor than his king. The whole of the army (and apparently even the Ark of the Covenant) had gone to battle (where King David should have been), and Uriah couldn’t bear to have intimate relations with his wife when his brothers-in-arms had no such option. Uriah still saw himself “on duty” & wouldn’t take a vacation when there was still a job to do.
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12 Then David said to Uriah, “Wait here today also, and tomorrow I will let you depart.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 Now when David called him, he ate and drank before him; and he made him drunk. And at evening he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.

A. David’s 2nd attempt at a cover-up didn’t go much better. This time, David tried getting Uriah drunk thinking surely Uriah would go home to his beautiful wife then – but Uriah still had enough wits about him not to give into temptation.

B. Notice how David’s still compounding his sin. Sin #5 was to bear false witness (having Uriah there under completely false pretenses). Sin #6 was to purposefully get Uriah drunk. (We’re supposed to be filled with the Spirit; not be drunk with wine…)
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14 In the morning it happened that David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 15 And he wrote in the letter, saying, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die.”

A. Cover-up attempt #3 is the most tragic & the most effective. If Uriah wouldn’t go into his wife to claim the child as his own, David would simply get rid of Uriah by having him killed (murdered) in battle. Ironically, Uriah would carry his own death sentence to the battle.

B. Keep in mind that at any point, David could have confessed his sin & repented from it. At any time he could have humbled himself & sought the forgiveness of God & Uriah & Bathsheba (regardless of her motivations, he still abused his power as king). But he didn’t. And when he didn’t choose repentance, the only result was that his sin kept getting worse & worse – he kept sinking deeper & deeper into trouble.
__a. So often when we sin, we start looking for a way out – some way to cover our tracks & just ignore the whole matter. And sometimes we even succeed (or so we think). But God is not mocked; what a man sows, he reaps (Gal 6:7). There’s only ONE real solution to sin & that’s the cross of Jesus Christ… For our part, the only satisfactory response we can have to our sin is repentance & confession… When we don’t confess, sin will always lead to more sin eventually.
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16 So it was, while Joab besieged the city, that he assigned Uriah to a place where he knew there were valiant men. 17 Then the men of the city came out and fought with Joab. And some of the people of the servants of David fell; and Uriah the Hittite died also. 18 Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war, 19 and charged the messenger, saying, “When you have finished telling the matters of the war to the king, 20 if it happens that the king’s wrath rises, and he says to you: ‘Why did you approach so near to the city when you fought? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? 21 Who struck Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Was it not a woman who cast a piece of a millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you go near the wall?’—then you shall say, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.’ ”

A. In other words, Joab had a terrible battle strategy where many valiant men died – but he specifically chose that strategy at the desire of his king in order to have Uriah killed. So when the messenger was to tell David what happened & if David got upset, the messenger was to placate the king by telling of Uriah’s death.

B. One has to wonder about Joab’s work in all of this. On one hand, Joab had to follow the orders of his commander. On the other hand, the Bible shows instances of generals standing up to their kings when injustice is done (Jonathan & Saul – even Joab & David regarding Absalom). Joab didn’t seem to personally have a problem with murder – he had committed murder himself outside of battle to avenge his brother (re: Abner). Again, the Bible is silent here…so any motive is speculation.

C. One other note here – we typically think of David as murdering one man (Uriah). That’s not entirely true. “…Some of the people of the servants of David fell”…how many, we don’t know, but in David’s murder of Uriah, several others lost their lives in the process. They were just treated as throw-away pawns in order to accomplish the goal. David’s sin is still compounding in terrible ways. (Sin #7 = murder) In addition, David’s actions would have emboldened the enemy as Uriah’s death came at the cost of a military defeat. David had been completely self-obsessed to have ordered the act. (Sin #8 = criminal neglect)
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22 So the messenger went, and came and told David all that Joab had sent by him. 23 And the messenger said to David, “Surely the men prevailed against us and came out to us in the field; then we drove them back as far as the entrance of the gate. 24 The archers shot from the wall at your servants; and some of the king’s servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.” 25 Then David said to the messenger, “Thus you shall say to Joab: ‘Do not let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another. Strengthen your attack against the city, and overthrow it.’ So encourage him.”

A. So utterly casual & cold here. Basically says, “Eh – you win some & you lose some. Better luck next time.” [] Beware of getting to the point when you are deadened against the sinfulness of your sin! That’s NOT a place any of us want to be… Thankfully for those in Christ, God is not going to let us stay there for long – whom the Lord loves, He chastens as sons (Heb 12:6). Obviously, the chastening isn’t going to be fun, but praise God we have a Heavenly Father who loves us enough to do it.
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26 When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. 27 And when her mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.

A. By all indications, this may have seemed to be rather quick in the eyes of the people, but at least an honorable thing to do. The valiant warrior Uriah had died in battle, and the nation’s king provides for his widow by taking her unto himself for protection. But obviously, we know better – this was just the final act of the cover-up.

B. David may have covered his sin in the eyes of the land, but certainly not in the eyes of God! God knew exactly what David had done, and it “displeased” Him.
__a. In those times when we seem like we’re getting away with our sin, we might try to justify our actions saying, “Well God hasn’t done anything about it – I guess He’s ok with it!” WRONG. God is NOT ok with your sin (or my sin). It displeases Him – it grieves Him – our sin is the very reason Christ Jesus died on the cross. The wrath of God was poured out on sin. Be sure God WILL deal with your sin – you just might not expect the time. Like any parent & child, it’s far better for the child to willingly confess that sin than to have the parent use discipline to bring it out. It’s no different with God.
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2 Samuel 12 (NKJV)
1 Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: “There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. 3 But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. 4 And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”

A. Nathan’s parable…

B. Some have noted that the subject matter was extremely subtle & appropriate for David. David had come from the sheepfields & had likely loved some of the sheep in his care much like the man in the story…
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5 So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! 6 And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.”

A. At 1st glance, we might want to cheer & say “Way to go, David! You’ve still got a sense of the justice of the Lord!” But at a closer look, what we really see is an overreaction. True, the fourfold restoration was appropriate, but a death sentence for stealing a sheep? There is zero basis in the OT Law for stealing an animal being a capital crime worthy of death.

B. What’s going on? Likely David is keenly aware of his own sin, and he’s responding out of guilt. So often, we’re hardest on the people who have the same flaws as we do. What we hate in ourselves, we doubly-hate in others. The problem wasn’t what the man in the parable did; the real issue is the state of David’s convicted heart.
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7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! 9 Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. [even had a pagan people kill a warrior of Israel…]

A. Can you imagine what David felt at that moment? Just as the Jews in Jerusalem on Pentecost were cut to the heart by the preaching of the word of God, so David was cut to the quick when the word of the Lord came to him that he was the one who had sinned…

B. What makes David even worse than the man in the parable was that David was not rich by his own means. He hadn’t earned his wealth & power by building himself up from scratch; God had given him everything! And God would have gladly given David much more had he but asked for it. In all of David’s selfishness, he forgot the very reason he was king in the 1st place: it was by the hand & blessing of God.
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10 Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11 Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.’ ”

A. Was this an empty threat from the Lord? Absolutely not. Even as God forgives David later, these consequences still come to pass. For the rest of his natural life, David will experience the fallout from this season of sin in his life:
__a. “the sword will never depart”: his own children will rape & murder each other
__b. “raise up adversity…from your own house”: his son Absalom will rebel against him & usurp the throne.
__c. “I will take your wives…and give them to your neighbor”: Absalom does exactly that when he takes his father’s concubines to himself in his rebellion.

B. Sin ALWAYS has consequences…it always comes with a price, and it’s never worth the cost.
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13 So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.

A. David’s response is absolutely perfect. David neither makes excuses for himself nor whines about God’s response; he simply acknowledges & confesses his own sin…
__a. That doesn’t mean this was all David had to say about the matter. He wrote a beautiful song of repentance in Psalm 51…

B. Had David only sinned against the Lord? One could argue that he sinned against Uriah, Bathsheba, his servants, his army, Joab, and many others. Perhaps – but David’s primary sin was against God Almighty. Psalm 51:3-4 (3) For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. (4) Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight— That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. [] All sin is primarily vertical… There are horizontal ramifications, but our sin is 1st & foremost rebellion against God. (Which is one reason why all sin requires forgiveness FROM God.)

C. Question: was Nathan wrong? After all, David would still experience many (and lengthy) ongoing consequences from his sin. No – Nathan was absolutely correct. There would be consequences for David’s sin, but he himself would not die. His sin potentially carried the consequence of immediate death (life for life) – and especially as the king, he should have been held to the highest standard. But God showed immense grace to David – even in the midst of his discipline.
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14 However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.”

A. Some might look at this & wonder if this is fair? When God spoke to Moses on Sinai after Israel’s rebellion with the golden calf, He made it plain that every person would bear their own sin & be blotted out of His book (Exo 32:33). The law specifically said that children would not be put to death for their fathers, but a person would be put to death for his own sin (Deut 24:16). There’s much about this punishment of David that we don’t understand – but we can understand a few things:
__a. The Judge of all the earth will surely do what is right (Gen 18:25).
__b. God is a God of mercy & love, as well as justice…shown most clearly through Jesus Christ.
__c. Even if we don’t understand why God took this child, we can trust God’s character in doing so. The wages of sin is death – and this is vividly illustrated in David’s & Bathsheba’s tragedy here.
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15 Then Nathan departed to his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became ill. 16 David therefore pleaded with God for the child, and David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground.

A. What did David say in his pleading? We’re not told directly – it’s likely that some of the Psalms look back on this time. David certainly didn’t hesitate to intercede for the child, as we’ll see…
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17 So the elders of his house arose and went to him, to raise him up from the ground. But he would not, nor did he eat food with them. 18 Then on the seventh day it came to pass that the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead. For they said, “Indeed, while the child was alive, we spoke to him, and he would not heed our voice. How can we tell him that the child is dead? He may do some harm!” 19 When David saw that his servants were whispering, David perceived that the child was dead. Therefore David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” And they said, “He is dead.” 20 So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate. 21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” 22 And he said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”

A. David had been in deep mourning, but the servants didn’t really understand why. They seemed to think David was grieving simply to grieve; instead David was interceding in prayer & pleading before the Lord. Once the Lord’s answer was assured & the child died, David washed his face because there was no more need for intercession. This wasn’t David blaming God for what happened; he simply knew God is merciful & if God so chose to do so, God could have saved the child’s life. [] Sometimes God chooses to heal; sometimes He chooses to bring them home. Either way, God knows exactly what’s best – and we need to trust His will.

B. There is a great promise here in the midst of David’s tragedy…be careful not to miss it. David was going to see his son again. “I shall go to him…” There was no doubt in David’s mind that his son was in the presence of God, and David would one day meet him there. [] Praise God for the hope that we have as believers in Christ Jesus! We grieve for our loved ones, but we do not sorrow as those who have no hope – our faith rests upon the Lord Jesus – the hope of glory! One day we WILL see our loved ones in Christ again, and we’ll stand side-by-side with them as we worship our Lord for eternity.
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24 Then David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in to her and lay with her. So she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. Now the LORD loved him, 25 and He sent word by the hand of Nathan the prophet: So he called his name Jedidiah, because of the LORD.

A. Out of tragedy, we see much grace! Solomon wasn’t the 1st child born after this incident, but this was the continuation of the grace of God being shown to David. Solomon was the beloved one of the Lord (“Jedidiah”) who would carry on the covenant towards Christ Jesus.
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26 Now Joab fought against Rabbah of the people of Ammon, and took the royal city. 27 And Joab sent messengers to David, and said, “I have fought against Rabbah, and I have taken the city’s water supply. 28 Now therefore, gather the rest of the people together and encamp against the city and take it, lest I take the city and it be called after my name.”

A. Meanwhile, the war continued & Joab calls to his commander & tells him to get off his duff & get into battle. This whole series of events started because David had abdicated his responsibility, and now God graciously gives him another chance (via Joab) to get back to doing what he was supposed to be doing in the 1st place.

B. What do you do after sin & repentance? Go back to life. Why wallow in our guilty conscience after we’ve been forgiven? Appropriate that forgiveness, and get back to doing what it is God wants you to do. Obviously, we might not always have the same opportunities as before, but we ALWAYS have some sort of chance to serve the Lord – take joy in your forgiveness & go out & do it! Psalm 32:1-2 (1) Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. (2) Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit. [] When you’ve been forgiven, you’ve been blessed – rejoice!
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29 So David gathered all the people together and went to Rabbah, fought against it, and took it. 30 Then he took their king’s crown from his head. Its weight was a talent of gold, with precious stones. And it was set on David’s head. Also he brought out the spoil of the city in great abundance. 31 And he brought out the people who were in it, and put them to work with saws and iron picks and iron axes, and made them cross over to the brick works. So he did to all the cities of the people of Ammon. Then David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.

A. Military victory – it’s doubtful the crown sat too long on David’s head…a talent was about 75 pounds! Possibly a reference to the monetary worth…

Conclusion:
As things come to a close, David’s left in a bittersweet position. He’s been restored to his kingly duties – he’s received the blessing of God – but there was a terrible cost to pay for his sin, and he’d live with the consequences for the rest of his life.

Sin is never worth the cost. Sometimes when facing temptation, we start thinking about different ways we can get around things & what we can do to manipulate the situation & what we believe we’re willing to endure. But we’re always wrong. Sin is NEVER worth the cost. A few moments of sin can destroy a marriage, family, career, and even life itself. Sin always brings death of some sort…that’s just the natural consequence. If you’re experiencing temptation, flee it! Run away – hide yourself in your heavenly Father & plead for His help. Talk to other brothers & sisters in Christ & receive godly counsel & prayer. Whatever you do, don’t go headlong into sin without care – you will always be surprised with how much it costs you.

If you have sinned, don’t do like David & put off confession & repentance. Humble yourself before God & lay it at His feet – or wait for Him to expose it for you & bring it to light. Either way, you will be dealing with it at some point; it’s far better to bring it to God willingly & experience His forgiveness! 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. []

Perhaps you need forgiveness tonight. Don’t leave tonight without going before the Lord & asking for it.

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