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26 May 2024 // 2 Samuel

An Amazing Set-Back

What happened:
A Complacent Attitude vs. 1-2
A Compulsive Heart vs. 3-5
An Elaborate Conspiracy vs. 6-13
Collateral Damage vs. 14-24
Extreme Callousness vs. 25
A Coordinated Cover Up vs. 26-27

An Amazing Comeback

What must we do:
Understand what we've done. vs. 2 Samuel 12:1-7
Understand what we need. Psalm 32:3-4
Understand what we need to do. Psalm 32:5-6

  • What did the message teach me about God/Jesus/Holy Spirit?
  • What did the message teach me about the human condition?
  • Is there anything I need to confess, repent, or be grateful for, because of this passage?
  • How do I need help in believing and applying this scripture to my life?
  • How can I encourage others with this passage?

The old fix-it shop was open. That was good because I needed a plumbing fitting that couldn’t wait. Normally I would have traveled a few miles to the chain hardware store in the next town. Prices on their items were less and they stocked more. But this was an emergency. I had plumbing that was leaking and there was no time to waste. I needed that fitting now and the fix-it shop was local and nearly always open. I walked into the dimly lit, one-room store. It was dingy and very poorly kept; but I had expected that. I had been into “Fred’s Fix-It Shop” shop many times over the the years. Usually it was to simply fill up for gas at the pumps he still maintained out front. Occasionally I had stopped by just to “shoot the breeze” and once I had even priced a chain saw there. Mostly, though, I had kept my hardware purchases limited to a battery here and there or perhaps a box of nails. This time it was different. I needed Fred to have something very specific and I knew that there was no way that I would find it on my own.

Fred kept most of his plumbing fittings in a big box he kept under counter. You never knew if you were going to find what you needed until he had finished combing through that old, grease-stained box. I waited at the counter until he had finished with a customer outside. He came in, wiping his hands with a old stained rag. “What can I do for you?” “I need a 1/2” 90º elbow. It needs to be cast, not plastic. I’ve got a pretty bad leak over the water heater. Think you’ve got what I need in that old box?” Fred grabbed the box and began sifting through it. While I waited I cast an eye around the place. Everything had a place but there didn’t seem to be any rhyme nor reason as to where that place was. There were boxes of old screws, sagging and leaking out there sides, smashed into small crevices above the chain-saw oil. Electrical parts were in bins next to lengths of plumbing pipe. And, right smack dab in the middle of the place was a very old display of bug repellents even though that season was long past.

As Fred continued to dig deeper and deeper into that box, pulling out likely pieces and then setting them aside on the counter when they weren’t quite right, I mused out loud, “You know, Fred? This place could really use some organization. Who knows what you’ve all got here? You’re probably sitting on a little gold mine and don’t realize it. What you need is a good healthy clean-out.” At that Fred stopped his rooting and looked me square in the eye. He "humphed", taking out his oil-stained rag and wiping gritty fittings’ residue from his hands. Pointing to an old sign hanging on a nail behind him, he shot back. “See that sign? That’s the motto I live by. Don’t be to quick to criticize my friend.” I squinted to read the old faded letters. I saw a picture of a broom followed by a line of copy that read, “The person who always sweeps before his neighbor’s door has never seriously examined his own doorstep.” It suddenly struck me that I had a basement room that looked like Fred’s store. And there was that tool shed that I never seemed to get straightened out. I knew where everything was, but neat? Fred was right, if I was going to sweep I needed to start closer to home.

How easy it is to bring the spotlight to bear on others faults and how difficult it is to allow even a small flashlight to shine upon our own.

Underlying the account of 2 Samuel 11 and 12, unseen but nevertheless foundational, is Israel’s covenant law, the ten commandments of the Lord their God, which included the words, ‘You shall not commit adultery’ (Exod. 20:14). Indeed the nations around, as well as Israel, hedged marriage about with safeguards, such as monetary payments which had to be returned in the event of divorce, with the intention of securing the permanence of marriage. A man could have more than one wife, but he could not with impunity have a married woman, who belonged exclusively to her husband, with whom she had become one flesh. This was part of the social structure of Israel’s society, and therefore could be taken for granted by the narrator. All Israel knew that adultery was wrong; the question, then as now, was how to deal justly with the complex circumstances to which adultery gave rise.

In the case of David the king, the word of the Lord, spoken directly through the prophet, exposes the sordid reality in such a way as to strip off any suggestion of glamour. Nathan’s parable brings out the cruelty of violating loving relationship, and the callousness of disregarding another man’s feelings, not to mention appropriation of the object of his affections, which is mean and despicable. From all that the reader has seen of David thus far, he was not a callous man; but he was capable of falling to unsuspected depths of evil at a whim, so within one and the same person two people were struggling for supremacy. That evening when David caught sight of Bathsheba, the evil got the upper hand and all his understanding of the covenant commands went out of the window. David the king knew he was guilty, and so did the world of his day. That was why he had to devise a way of covering his guilt and became involved in murder.

The worrying feature is that David apparently benefits in the long run from his wrongdoing. True, he has a guilty conscience for a while, but he receives divine forgiveness, and with that is restored to fellowship with God and peace with himself. True, the child conceived in adultery dies, and his death goes some way towards indicating to the world the divine judgment on David’s sin. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the woman he desired, but should not have had, became his wife, and many Christians today find that impermissible, especially for a believer, which David undoubtedly was. Did not the fact that the Lord granted to David restoration of fellowship encourage wrongdoing?

According to the letter of the law, David was free after the death of Uriah to marry Bathsheba. However, the Lord did not judge by the letter but by the spirit of the law, and by this standard David was guilty; indeed Nathan had explained the repercussions which would cause disturbances in his family for years to come. But one factor set David free from the guilt of his sin: he repented. He was genuinely grieved that he had taken matters into his own hand, despising the Lord he professed to serve in so doing. He could have known that, as king, all that he did would become known, and that his example would be imitated. In particular, his own children would tend to take their cue from their father. Primarily, however, his sin had been against the Lord, as he was to write:

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to thy steadfast love;
according to thy abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions …
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,
and done that which is evil in thy sight,
so that thou art justified in thy sentence
and blameless in thy judgment.
(Psalm 51:1, 4)

The fact is that David’s prayer was acceptable to God because of his broken and contrite heart; and, as he goes on to express his experience in the psalm, it transpires that he found deliverance from bloodguiltiness, and—clean of heart and conscience—he knew once again the joy of God’s salvation.[1]
      1.  Why do you think David stayed in Jerusalem instead of leading his army into battle as was customary for kings? What does this say about the dangers of complacency?
      2.   Explore the misuse of power illustrated in this chapter. How does it relate to today's context, and how can we counter such misuses?
      3.   Why do you think David was tempted by Bathsheba? What could he have done differently when he first saw her?
      4.   Discuss the steps David took to cover up his sin. What does this say about the nature of sin and guilt?
      5.   How did Uriah's loyalty contrast with David's actions? What does Uriah teach us about integrity?
      6.   What were the consequences of David's sin? How do they reflect the biblical principle of reaping what you sow?

  [1] Joyce G. Baldwin, 1 and 2 Samuel: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 8, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 258–260.