March 5, 2012
By John Barnett
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As we open to II Samuel 11, David has finally made it to the top. Giants are killed, enemies are dead, life on the run is over, and normal life has finally started for David. As we will see, it is precisely when things are going “great” that we face some of the most lethal spiritual pathogens.
We are lulled into thinking we don’t quite need the Lord as much as: when we were sick; or when we were single; or when we were unemployed; or when we were under attack.
Most people think wouldn’t it be nice to succeed, to make it, to win the lottery of life and have everything you’ve ever wanted. Actually, if you do a scientific study of those who have “made” it, most wish they hadn’t. Many find that great success often ruins their lives.
The greatest lesson of this chapter may well be:
Beware of Life at the Top
David is at the top of his career, a firmly established and secure King.
David is at the top of his family life with a good home and education for his children all safely settled into Jerusalem, his wives are all busy and have full lives caring for the kids and for David.
David is at the top of his spiritual life: he has written and published some of the greatest songs of all time like Psalm (or Song 23), Psalm 19, 101, 24, and on and on. David is at the top as far as he or anyone else but God could see.
But as we’ll see as we read 2 Samuel 11: 1-26 it was here in his strong, top of his life years—he was tempted and failed miserably (2 Samuel 11). Join me there as we read these fateful words of the dangerously powerful lusts of sin, and the worst moment of David’s life.
2 Samuel 11 (NKJV)" 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. 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. 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.” 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, 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.” 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. 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.” 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.’” 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.” 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."
After II Samuel 11 we have a series of events captured by interweaving the record of II Samuel and I Kings with those incredible Psalms that flow from these final years of David’s life.
The Rest of the Story: A Big Picture Overview
God made the most of David’s failure by capturing for us what went on inside David and around him during the year of hiding his sin, covering his sin, and then confessing and forsaking his sin. Then for the rest of his life David wrote about what the aftershocks were like in his life. To the end of his life and even after, the results of his sin were still around, as in the rivalry between Adonijah and Solomon for the Throne.
So what can we glean from the days after the worst moment in David’s life? Here is the overview:
From the depths of conviction after his fall into sin with Bathsheba, David wrote Psalms 32 and 38—explaining the Miracle of Complete Forgiveness and also how to sing the Song of a soul set free.
If you want to write those two Psalm numbers in the margin of II Samuel 11, that will jog your memory each time you go by this chapter. Now turn with me at look at each of them for a moment.
• Psalm 32 A Psalm of David. A Contemplation
1. (Maschil: “Understanding” or “teaching,” particularly public instruction. Psalms 32; 42; 44; 45; 52; 53; 54; 55; 74; 78; 88; 89; 142).
2. The Old Testament has 15 words for sin it is so bad; this Psalm opens with 4 of them.
3. Also, it is very interesting that Psalm 32 opens with same three words for sin that Psalm 51 opens with.
4. There are seven Penitential Psalms or Psalms of Confession: Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143.
• Psalm 38 A Psalm of David. To bring to remembrance.
Later, when we come to 2 Samuel 11:27-12:14: David—was painfully chastised and then restored (2 Samuel 12). As a result of the pain of chastisement leading to repentance and restoration, David sang of his faithful God in Psalm 51—The Pathway Back to God. Let’s turn there.
• Psalm 51 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
1. Remember that there are seven penitential Psalms out of the 150 different psalms, the 4th or middle is the greatest. Psalm 51 opens same 3 words for sin as Psalm 32 does.
2. Psalm 51 has three parallel sets of threes:
• 3 words of mercy: mercy, love, compassion;
• 3 words for sin: transgression, iniquity, sin;
• 3 desires from God: cleanse, wash, blot.
After David is fully restored in his relationship with God, as we read 2 Samuel 15:13-37; 16:1-14 we see how David has to learn about overcoming Personal Attacks and Abuse which he writes about in Psalms 3 and 63.
• Psalm 3 A Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom his son. This is the first of the Psalms with a setting and the first with a Selah.
• Psalm 63 A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah. Because v. 11 calls David King this is most likely running from Absalom in II Samuel 15-19.
The rest of David’s life from II Samuel 22 onward is another incredibly rich portion of Scripture. David extolled his Master and King in Psalm 18—how to overcome feelings of loneliness in the last days before death.
• Psalm 18 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David the servant of the LORD, who spoke to the LORD the words of this song on the day that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. And he said:
1. This Psalm could be entitled: Embracing God—A Long Obedience in Seeking the Lord.
2. The words of this Psalm are recorded in God's Word twice. Once at David’s coronation (probably Psalm 18) and then again at the close of his life (II Samuel 22:2-51)—it was like a way of saying that he wanted to start his career right and end it well for the Lord!
I Kings 1: David suffered intense loneliness in his waning years—He had to come to terms with old age and impending death. During this stage, David wrote Psalm 71—how to overcome feelings of loneliness when you’re about to leave behind health, comforts, friends, family, and security.
• Psalm 70–To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. To bring to remembrance.
1. Psalm 70 is the intro to Psalm 71 in the Hebrew Bible and Psalm 70 is the last five verses of Psalm 40. So we conclude that Psalm 71 is David’s prayer and testimony of how to be a godly man to the end of life.
2. This Psalm could be entitled: Ending Well—Living Purposefully for God (Psalm 71)
1 Kings 2: Gracefully Heading Toward Home (Psalms 23 and 116) As a mere mortal man, David truly was so much like us. But he learned to rise above the downward pull of his flesh and cling to the only One who could satisfy and complete him—Christ.
• Psalm 23 A Psalm of David. Psalm 23 may be from David’s youth but as most other saints through the ages, he surely must have clung to these truths as his life waned and he prepared to go to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
• Psalm 116 Psalm 116 quotes Psalm 56 (in Psalm 116:8 we see Psalm 56:13) so David most likely wrote this at the end. What a beautiful pathway for getting ready to go is captured in this Psalm.
But now back to the sobering lessons of II Samuel 11.
As we meet David in this chapter, he is at the top of his career—a successful king, powerful ruler, undefeated general, wealthy businessman, and surrounded on every side by God’s blessing. David is writing worship music, serving the Lord in public worship, practicing personal worship, and loving the Lord.
II Samuel 11 is the watershed event of David’s life. God summarizes all the events of David’s life, and this entire chapter in 1 Kings 15:4-5 (NKJV) with these words:
Nevertheless for David’s sake the LORD his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, by setting up his son after him and by establishing Jerusalem; 5 because David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.
God saw David’s life not as perfect, but as a surrendered life of a servant who did God's Word. For just a moment, consider if you look on the Bible as what God has commanded you to do in your life.
God's Word is how we know what we are to do; and what we will be examined by in the Day we stand at Christ's feet and answer for our lives. David’s sin was forgiven and gone, but the results of David’s obeying God’s Word would last forever!
Although the Lord forgave the sins, and forgot the iniquities, David’s consequences and losses were recorded in the Bible—God’s “forever settled in heaven” Word.
God not only recorded David’s key role in one of the greatest events in history—that climactic moment as a teenaged shepherd boy who victoriously stood alone in battle against the most fearsome warrior of his day—but He also sadly recorded the role David later played in a horrible sequel.
In today’s world, books and movies often have sequels. Well, there’s a sequel to “David and Goliath” that is perhaps more tragic than the glory of its initial run. You see, less than thirty years after the historic victory over Goliath, David had a disastrous fall. In that sequel known as “David and Bathsheba”—the giant-killer himself was slain by a giant.
But didn’t David kill Goliath? Yes, wonderfully by the Lord’s power the humble David slew God's enemy. However, later on a proud David ignored His Word and allowed another giant to come right into God's city, Jerusalem. In fact, David, the man after God’s own heart, even welcomed that enemy into his presence. And so, in midlife (perhaps in his early 40s), David was slain by the giant called LUST! And that story is forever contained in the Holy Scriptures.
David Slowly Stepped Downward Into Sin
Far more dangerous than the Goliath he faced as a teenager, the Giant Lust had crept slowly into David’s own inner chambers. In a moment, blinded by his own selfish desires, when his guard was down, David was slain. He had been enticed, baited, hooked, and finally reeled in by lust!
David the giant-killer was slain by the Giant Lust because he had ignored God and His Word. It’s very insightful how this occurred. Note the five dreadful steps downward that led to a disastrous fall which destroyed his life and testimony:
1. David desensitized his conscience by incomplete obedience (2 Samuel 5:13).
2. David relaxed his grip on personal purity (2 Samuel 11:1).
3. David fixed his heart on physical desires (2 Samuel 11:2).
4. David rationalized his mind about wrong decisions (2 Samuel 11:3).
5. David plunged his life into lustful sin (2 Samuel 11:4).
Death, deceit, murder, immorality, spiritual oppression, and poverty and famine of the soul are only a few offspring of this act of momentary pleasure with Bathsheba!
Before we go, turn with me to I Corinthians 10:11-13
1 Corinthians 10:11-13 (NKJV) Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
We have II Samuel 11 as an admonition from God.
When Tempted Look for God
We need to never think that we are immune. David fell so FAR so FAST that it is breathtaking to really think about it!
Temptation is always around, we all share common temptations. But the key is the God who is THERE! This week, even today, when faced with a temptation to displease the Lord, cry out—He is THERE!