2 Samuel 11-12

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Where is David?


Uriah the Hittite



David Repents


Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 6 September 2009

A related sermon from the same text:

A Broken and Contrite Heart

Text: II Samuel 11-12
Theme: Confession of guilt leads to forgiveness; covering sin does not.
Subject: Condemnation and Forgiveness

David was a man after God’s own heart, but for a time he had a heart problem.
It began with David finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. It doesn’t seem like a very dangerous place. He’s home, but the problem is that he should be doing what kings do after the winter – going to war. David should be protecting and defending. But instead, he’s left the leadership of the army in the hands of General Joab – not a bad choice. Joab is a loyal and accomplished warrior.
But going back to David’s heart problem – it begins one evening in Jerusalem. David had had a lazy day in bed. He got up and was out walking on the roof of the palace. He was looking over his kingdom, his royal city. That’s when he took notice of one of his royal subjects. She was a beautiful woman. She was taking a bath this evening. Perhaps it was his boredom on such a lazy day, perhaps it was just curiosity – but his glance became a look and the look became a gaze and the gaze became desire. When David got interested in this beautiful woman and wanted to know how he could have her that’s when the sending began.

First, he sent someone to find out about her. “Isn’t this Bathsheba – Eliam’s daughter; Uriah’s wife?” [That’s the way a good servant tells the king “She’s not available. She’s not an object for your pleasure. She’s someone’s daughter. She is another man’s wife. A man who is off at war fighting for you.”]
Still, David sends someone to get Bathsheba. He sends. They get. She arrives. He sleeps with her. She goes back home. It’s done. But there’s more sending ...

Now Uriah’s wife sends a message to David – “I’m pregnant.” David is not the last person to have his world turned over by this message. He is not the first to try and undo the consequences of this message either. And now his heart problem grows worse. And now there’s more sending ...

David sends word to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite!” And Joab sends him. David puts on a smile and tries to show interest in Uriah and the war effort: “How’s the war going? How ‘bout that Joab? He’s a fine general, eh? How ‘bout your fellow soldiers? How’s morale?” Then David cuts to the chase – the real reason he’s interested in Uriah – to cover his mistake. “Say Uriah, I think you’ve earned a little R & R, why don’t you go on down to your house and –um-well, just enjoy a night at home with your wife – what’s her name – oh right, Bathsheba.” And David sends him off with a gift like they were old pals.
But the plan to give Uriah credit for the pregnancy hits a snag. It seems that Uriah has a problem. He has virtue. He has principles. And so he refuses to go home, but instead spends the night at the palace barracks. David sends for Uriah again and asks him “Why didn’t you go home? This is furlough – you are supposed to see your wife!” Uriah’s answer is a question – “The ark of the Lord, the men of Israel and Judah, Joab and his men are on the frontline sleeping in shifts in tents. How could I go home and sleep with my wife? How could I?” How could he David? How could you David?
What’s a king to do when a Hittite, a Gentile, shows more covenant righteousness than the king of Israel? What do you do with a man of principle? Instead of being moved by his example, David’s heart problem grows worse and he decides to get Uriah drunk. That’ll get him home for sure. But even though Uriah gets drunk – his integrity remains. He will not go home. That means David needs to do more sending – and this is the worst yet.

David sends orders with Uriah to Joab. The orders say, “Send Uriah to the front line, then pull back, leave him undefended – I want him dead.” And so Joab once again does David’s sending. [He and his men have the city of the Ammonites surrounded. The army besieging doesn’t have to attack – they just have to outlast those inside the city wall. One of the most foolish moves they can make is to rush the wall. Anyone on the wall can take out the men below – especially the archers. So guess what Uriah’s orders are?] Uriah is killed and some others in David’s army too. Even though their deaths did not achieve victory in war, it preserved the honor of the king – unfortunately, their families back home can never know.
Now Joab sends word back to David: a full account of the military failure. The messenger arrives and goes over the report. Only one part matters to David – “Uriah is dead.” That will cause him to forget about the casualties.
Now David sends word back to Joab – “Don’t see this as evil. People die in war. Press the attack and destroy the city.” And so it is done. Uriah is gone. There is a funeral – the wife of Uriah mourns. There is a wedding – the wife of Uriah marries David. There is a birth announcement – the wife of Uriah gives David a child. It’s done.

But now the Lord sends. Perhaps David and Joab could be convinced not to see this as evil. But not the Lord. Perhaps David could ignore his heart problem. But not the Lord. The Lord sends Nathan to confront the king. Nathan must try and recover David’s heart for God. Nathan is wise not to accuse David boldly. 1) David killed Uriah, why wouldn’t he kill Nathan? Nathan’s parable: A rich man who takes a poor man’s only sheep. Does this parable hit home for David the shepherd? David the king still knew the life of the shepherd. This story stirs something in him – perhaps the qualities God saw in David’s heart that lead God to anoint David. As Nathan tells the parable, David is burning with anger. David is furious at the rich man who acts in destructive ways with no regard to the innocent.

Can we sense David’s anger? The outrage we feel when we hear stories of injustice. The anger we feel when people harm other people, when they do things that are destructive without pity and remorse. The disgust we feel when people disregard the blessings they have and act selfishly and greedy. Can we sense that?

David passes judgment, not Nathan. “The man who did this deserves to die! He had no pity! By God, he’ll pay!” When Nathan says “You are the man” David’s heart flat lines. His diseased heart so burdened with his own self-righteousness has an attack. David is confronted with his condemnation and the consequences. While David is having his spiritual heart attack, his past and future pass before him in Nathan’s words ...

  1. David has done what a king should not do. He has acted against the whole moral tradition of his people. Israel wanted a king to rid their land of such corruption. They wanted a king to give them security and protect them from their foes. David has fallen down on all these.
  2. God has blessed David. David didn’t need Uriah’s wife. God provided for David richly. God is not a killjoy who doesn’t want David to have pleasure – David was ungrateful. He did not want what God gave him. He was only interested in what he could obtain for himself.
  3. The future: David and his nation will forever be scarred by this. Since David abused the power of the sword, so he will be cursed by the sword all his years. Since he abused the commandments concerning neighbors and the sanctity of marriage, David will find it violated in his family. These are the consequences of his own condemnation.
How should David handle his guilt? How do we handle our guilt? Should he deal with this matter privately? Isn’t it enough to confess to Nathan and then move on? Should David deal with this publicly? Won’t it jeopardize the nation? David could dismiss Nathan. He could offer an explanation. The little parable is just that – a story. Real life is not so simple.

David has more options than just confessing his guilt. He could eliminate Nathan or dismiss him. But David’s heart is shocked back to God. So ... 1) He is convicted. He admits his situation and sees the evil he has done. That takes courage – the courage to overcome self-deceit. 2) He repents. He throws himself on God’s mercy. He gives up his impulse to be in charge and in control. He submits to the moral covenant of God. He renounces his claim to be a self-contained moral standard. David feels death. He has sentenced himself to death. All he can say is “I have sinned against the Lord.” And that’s when his heart starts beating again. Nathan affirms to David that he will not die and that the Lord has removed his sin – he will be scarred, but he will live. The condemnation is done, the life of a forgiven man begins.

Conclusion and Application:

  1. Confession of guilt leads to forgiveness; concealing sin does not. The sin in this story is not simply lust. It is the warped notion that we are morally independent. David thought he was independent of any moral standard and he arrogantly assumed that he was in control. David made himself the beginning and end of his righteousness.

  2. See Your Guilt Through God’s Eyes - In 11:25-27, David tells Joab not to see what they’ve done as evil. That’s how David wanted to see things. But God’s eye’s are clearer – not only to see what’s evil, but how the evil might be overcome - to see a resolution to the guilt.

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR

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