In the movie, Castaway, Tom Hanks plays a FedEx worker marooned on an island when his plane crashes. Over the course of a couple of years he stays on that island suffering all kinds of difficulty from starting his own fire to building the raft that finally takes him to rescue. One of the most difficult scenes to watch in the whole movie is when Tom has an absessed tooth. Anybody remember that? His jaw is swollen and he’s taking this stick or object, reaching it way back in his mouth and literally pounding on that painful tooth to get it out. Now he’s so adamant about getting that tooth out because it hurts, of course, but he’s also concerned for another reason: he realizes that if he doesn’t get it out the infection may kill him. Finally, he’s got the rock and the stick and he gathers his courage and gives it one massive blow. The pain is so great that he passes out, but he succeeds in getting the tooth out. Going through that terrible pain probably saves his life.
I feel a little bit like Tom Hanks today. I have walked away from the last couple of messages I’ve preached on Saul and David, feeling like I may have caused you some pain. It can be very difficult to face our sin, especially when we may have been covering it up. Dealing with the deception and disobedience of our lives isn’t pleasant, but it is definitely spiritually therapeutic. There is a lot of pain, perhaps, but the result can be healing and growth. So, while today’s message may be a bit more of the rock and the stick, I ask you not to give up. Don’t tune me out. Listen to what God may want to say to you about your own need of Him. Last week we talked about David’s sin and his coverup. Today we want to look at David’s brokenness and especially, what caused it.
Now your first question might be, “What do you mean by ‘brokenness?’” Well, one pastor defined it like this. Brokenness means that:
Our wills must be broken to His will. To be broken is the beginning of revival. It is painful, it is humiliating, it is the only way. It is being ‘Not I, but Christ,’ and a ‘C’ is a bent ‘I.’ The Lord Jesus cannot live in us fully and reveal Himself through us until the proud self within us is broken. This simply means that the hard unyielding self, which justifies itself, wants its own way, stands up for its rights, and seeks its own glory, at last bows its head to God's will, admits it’s wrong, gives up its own way to Jesus, surrenders its rights and discards its own glory – that the Lord Jesus might have all and be all. In other words, it is dying to self and self-attitudes.
And, I know that some here might be saying today, “Great job, Rusty! I’ve been waiting for you to preach a message I could relate to and it sounds like this one just might be a homerun! I am a broken man. In fact, my life has been shattered into a million pieces and I feel lower than I ever have before. Maybe you’re in the middle of a financial ruin and you’ve already moved out of your home. Maybe you’re in the middle of paying for the wild oats you sowed some time ago. You betrayed your loved ones to buy drugs and now no one trusts you. Maybe you’re embarrassed by some sexual sin that has been discovered and people are smiling to your face, but you wonder what they are thinking in their hearts. Maybe you’re broken over some one else’s sin. Someone in your family has fallen and it has devastated you. You are broken, and I want you to know today that there is hope to put life back together again God’s way. If you will obey Him He will restore you.
There are the broken and then there are the ones who need breaking. You’re walking around in disobedience and rebellion. You think you’re doing ok and everything is going just fine as you parade your sin. You can watch filth on DVD and it doesn’t bother you; you can cheat others and justify it; you can rob God in the name of Christian liberty and never feel guilty; you can live your life like a practical atheist, living only for the moment and acting like God doesn’t exist. But I have to tell you this: If you belong to God, the most gracious thing He can do is haul you to the spiritual woodshed and chasten you until you are broken. And how some of us need that today.
Others of us need breaking not because we are in the middle of some rebellion in our life, but because we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Did you know that the Holy Spirit only fills spiritually broken people? That’s why James wrote in chapter four of his book: “Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” That old chorus we used to sing goes like this:
Spirit of the Living God fall fresh on me
Spirit of the Living God fall fresh on me
Break me, melt me, mold me, Fill me.
Brokenness always comes before filling. And yet, we can go on for years unbowed, unbended, unbroken, and yes not filled with the Spirit. Brokenness always comes before filling, which is exactly why you and I should desire brokenness in our lives. You need it. I need it. Everyone you know needs it.
And David, the king of Israel surely needed it! You remember we talked last week about how he committed adultery with Bathsheba, then tried to cover it up, first by lying to Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband. When that didn’t work, he had Uriah killed. Wait a minute! This wasn’t some ten-horn dictator or some maniachal monarch. This was David, the man after God’s own heart. Which is one reason the last sentence of 2 Samuel rings so loudly through the pages of scripture. It says, “But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.” As you move into chapter 12, you begin to see what God’s going to do about it. Here, the apple of His eye has really blown it, and God’s getting ready to deal with Him. Listen to what happens next:
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.”
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.”
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. 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.’ ” So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
I believe this account tells us that God is looking for one thing out of his reprobate boy-king: Brokenness over his sin that leads him to repentance. To achieve that in David’s life God does three primary things, and those things are what God uses in our lives to bring about brokenness as well, so if you’re here today with a rebellious heart, listen. If you’re here today and you need the filling of the Spirit, listen. God breaks us, first
DIVISION 1: BY SHOWING US THE PRESENCE OF SIN
David’s heart has “crusted over.” There’s a hardness about him now that used not to be there. He’s probably justified what he did for so long and lived in cover up that even if you confronted him with the evidence, apart from some powerful working in his life, he’d never admit it.
Now don’t be so hard on David. You see, I’ve counseled many people who, even when you confronted them with their obvious sin, and even if they admitted that “technically” you were right about it being wrong, they still dug in their hills and refused to bend. Here’s what you need to know: There is no virtue in admitting a sin you’re not willing to deal with! There’s even no virtue in feeling bad about something you’re not willing to change. Until you really turn and admit that you have truly sinned and hurt God, you’ll never be broken over it, and you’ll never repent.
But God wasn’t going to let David stay that way. He sends a prophet to tell him a story. It’s Nathan and the story he tells is classic. He says that there is this rich man and this poor man. The rich man is loaded! He’s like the Donald Trump of Jerusalem. He’s got goats, cows and sheep coming out of his ears. He’d be a subject for “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” His neighbor (they must not have had many zoning laws in that day to keep the riff raff out of the neighborhood) was poor, and only had one pet lamb. It was their Fido with a BAAA. Ok, lets call her BAA, BAA. Now, when the man eats his Brown Sugar Cinnamon frosted Mini-wheats in the morning, there’s Baa Baa sucking milk out of his bowl. And when Baa, Baa get’s thirsty she laps eight o-clock columbian coffee right out of his Peace Church mug. When he goes to be at night, Baa Baa roots down in the bed at his feet and lays her head across his shin. She is Fido with a BAA.
Well, one day Donald Trump has visitors touring his Jerusalem high rise. He wants to treat them to local cuisine, Lamb chops and linguini. He looks at his herd, but instead of taking one of his lambs, he spies Baa, Baa running around in the yard and sends one of his servants to catch her, kill her and serve her up for dinner.
Well, when David hears this his face turns red with anger, and never stopping to think about the sin, he’d committed, he jumps to his feet in condemnation. “That sorry scoundrel deserves to die!” He says, “and, furthermore, before he’s lynched, make sure he pays that pour man back four times what he took.”
Obviously, he wasn’t prepared for what happened next for in a dramatic moment, the bony fingered prophet turns to him and says, “David, you are the man!” Wow! That was a personal rebuke and it took courage. David was the king and he could have immediately had Nathan killed, but Nathan continues on, showing that this rebuke is not coming from him, and that is what makes it powerful. He says, “Thus says the Lord, God of Israel.” The Preacher’s Commentary says: “What David heard was not just the voice of his people, or the voice of a preacher who didn’t like the way he had been acting: David heard the voice of God and he knew it.”
And it is precisely that voice that many believers try to ignore. Many of us who claim to know Christ live in this world of pretend where we try to act as if God’s not talking to us. We try to drown out God’s voice in many ways. We compare ourselves to other people. We excuse our sin by looking at the life of another believer and telling ourselves that if so-and-so can get away with “x” then surely I should be able to get away with “y”.
We are too busy with other things. The world constantly shouts at us, and we can go for long, long stretches without hearing God speak if we are continually expecting Him to talk to us and listening for his voice.
Others are in sin so they do all they can to avoid coming into the presence of God. Instead of turning to Him for His advice, we turn to friends who will agree with us. But listen, Church, God is speaking and we need to listen. Staying in touch with Him is the way of brokenness. We have to allow Him to judge our lives, then nudge us when He wants us to do something about what He shows us. Brokenness comes when the Holy Spirit reveals to us the presence of our sin.
Many of you will remember him from history. He was the hero of Texas, Sam Houston. That’s not what the Cherokee Indians used to call him, however. They used to call him, “The Old Drunk.” You see, while Sam was the governor of Tennessee, his wife left him. In great despair, he resigned as governor and tried to escape his problem by living among the Cherokee Indians. It was said that when the Indians walked through the forest, they would often have to move him out of the path where he lay in a drunken stupor.
Later, he went to Texas, where he became the great hero of the Texas revolution, routing General Santa Ana and his Mexican army. It was Houston’s battle cry, “Remember the Alamo!” that helped him win independence. He went on to marry the daughter of a Baptist preacher and later trusted Christ as his Savior, but he still had some of his old tendencies. One day as he rode along a trail, his horse stumbled. Houston spontaneously cursed, reverting to his old habit. Immediately he was convicted of his sin. he got off his horse, knelt down on the trail, and cried out to God for forgiveness. Houston had already received Christ, but God was teaching him to live in fellowship with him moment by moment. And as soon as the Holy Spirit made Sam Houston aware of his sin, he confessed it. That, my friend, is brokenness. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit to those who respond in repentance to His conviction. It comes when God reveals the presence of our sin. But it also comes when God shows us
DIV 2: THE PICTURE OF OUR SIN
You see, that’s what God does to David, here. He didn’t just get David to mentally assent to the fact that there was sin in his life. What happened to David went much further than that. See, I know plenty of Christians today who, if I were to go up to them and confront them with some sin, they’d freely admit that I’m right. They have an awareness of their sin, but they have no real sorrow for it, and that’s a huge problem. There’s a verse of scripture in 2 Corinthians that speaks to this. 2 Cor. 7:10 says:
For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
This verse tells us that there are two kinds of sorrow: one which leads to salvation (and I might add spiritual brokenness) and another which is of the world and simply produces death. In other words, it is possible to know your sin and be somewhat regretful of it, but never deal with it. That is worldly sorrow and what does it lead to? That’s right! Death! See, if I think that feeling regret for my sin is all I need to do about it, I am deceiving myself into thinking I’ve dealt with my sin when I really haven’t, and I just have to tell you that this describes many, many believers today. They think that just because they feel a little sorry about their sin, that its ok for them to keep on doing it. Nothing could be more dangerous!
If you’d have walked up to David before Nathan, the prophet, confronted him, he’d have probably said, “You know, I really hate how all of this has turned out; I really feel bad for Bathsheba, having to lose her husband; I really feel terrible that poor Uriah had to die.” He felt regret, but he had not repented. He had not been broken.
What is interesting is to see just how God brings him to a place of brokenness. The first thing God does through Nathan is to remind David of His blessings. In v 7 God reminds him that it was He who gave David his exalted position. He says, “I anointed you king over Israel.” David sat on the Throne because God put him there. His rule was the gift of the God he had sinned against.
Then Nathan reminds David of God’s protection. He says also in v 7, “I delivered you from the hand of Saul.” It was God that time after time let David escape the murderous king who was out to get him. Every murderous javelin throw was blocked by the hand of God; every plot to capture him was overheard by God and thwarted. God had protected him.
And Nathan reminds David of the prestige that God had given him. In v 8 it says,“I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping . . .” The taking of Saul’s house and wives communicated that it was David who had gained control of the Kingdom. By giving these to him, God had given David great prestige and privilege.
And along with that prestige God had given David power, for he had control over the house of Israel and Judah. And along withthe provision, the protection, the prestige and the power, God reminded David of His promise, for in the last part of v 8 he says: “And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more.” In other words, God says, “David, if you had just stayed with me; if you hadn’t veered off in this rebellion, I would have given you much more. All you had to do was ask!” God begins the process of brokenness in David’s life by reminding him of all the blessings He had given.
Then he turns a corner in v 9 when He asks David a very probing question. He asks, “Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord.” In other words, “David, I did all of this for you, why have you betrayed me?” Then He goes on to tell David in great detail what he had done. He tells David of his murder: He says “You have killed Uriah the Hittite.” He tells David of his adultery: “You have taken His wife.” And then down in v 14 He tells David of his blasphemy. He says that, by this deed, David has given “great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.”
Can’t you imagine David’s heart as he hears this. Maybe for months now, everytime his mind hsa wondered to what he had done, he tries to think about something else or find some way to distract himself, but here’s this Nathan, not only telling him exactly what he did but telling him exactly how badly he has hurt God. I think David’s heart began to break as he listened.
But the prophet isn’t through. See God reminds David of his blessing, then he tells David how he has betrayed God and what He’s done wrong. But the last thing that the prophet tells David that leads to his brokenness is this: He tells him the Cost of his sin. He tells David how God is about to judge him
The first judgment he speaks about is death. Nathan tells David in v 10 that the sword would never depart from David’s house. O, how that would come true. First, his infant son dies. Then Amnon, his son who had raped Tamar dies at the hand of his other son, Absalom. Then Absalom dies when he leads a rebellion against David. Later a fourth son, Adonijah, would die as a result of political intrigue. When David sent Uriah back to the battle with his own death warrant, he was releasing an unbelievable torrent of judgment in his own life.
The second judgment was destruction. V 11 says, “Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house. That was so true. From the moment of this pronouncement, David’s house became a soap opera filled with rape, murder, treachery, rebellion, and deceit. They could have started their own reality show.
The third judgment was disgrace. V 11 continues . . . “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.” David committed adultery secretly, God would disgrace him by allowing Absalom, his own son, to commit adultery with David’s wives on the roof top.
Can you imagine how David felt? This was what he had been running from for months. I’m sure during that time, his conscience may have bothered him from time to time. I’m sure that there were stolen moments of silence when ominous sense of guilt hung over him like a radioactive cloud. But now, all that he had been running from caught up with him. God was showing him a picture of his sin and it led him finally to a point of complete brokenness. He says to Nathan: I have sinned against the Lord!
Brennan Manning quite courageously admits that 25 years ago, he had a drinking problem. He voluntarily entered a 28-day treatment program. Early on in the treatment program they had to sit in a circle with a leader and tell the truth to themselves, and to the other people in the group, about the extent of their drinking.
2. So they went around the circle and they all told the truth, except for one business guy named Max. When it came time for him to reveal the extent of his drinking, he said, "I never really drank that much."
They said, "Max, you're in an alcoholic treatment center for a month. You weren't sipping cokes. Tell the truth to yourself. Admit it."
He said, "I'm being honest with you. I've never really had all that much to drink."
They had signed affidavits to be able to get information. Max had signed one, too. They could glean information in any way they so desired. So they had a speaker phone in the center of the circle, and the leader of the group said, "I'm going to call the bartender close to your office and we'll just find out."
So they called the bartender and the leader says to the person on the phone, "Do you know Max So-and-So?" The guy says, "Oh, like a brother! He stops in every day after work and has a minimum of six martinis. Man, this guy drinks like a fish! He's the best customer we have?a prolific consumer of alcohol."
The rest of the people in the group all looked at Max. And now here's a moment of truth. Max tells the truth to himself. He says, "Yes, I've had a lot to drink."
A little later on in the group, they asked everyone, "Have you ever hurt anybody, a friend or family member, while you were drunk?"
Some people said, yes, and they described it. Other people said, no. They tried to get at the truth, and if that was the truth, that was the truth. They get all the way around to Max, who says, "I would never, ever hurt anybody. Not when I'm sober, not when I'm drunk. I have four lovely children. I'd never hurt my wife, I'd never hurt my kids."
The leader says, "You know, Max, we don't believe you. We're going to call your wife." As soon as Max's wife starts talking on the speaker phone, Max starts breathing heavily. He knows something's coming that he has been unwilling to face.
The leader says, "Mrs. So-and-So, has Max ever mistreated you or anyone in the family when he was drunk?" And she said, "Well, yes he has. It happened just this last Christmas Eve. He took our 9-year-old daughter shopping on Christmas Eve, bought her a new pair of shoes; he's a generous man. On the way home, our little girl was sitting in the front seat enjoying her new shoes, and Max passed the bar and saw the cars of some of his buddies.
"He pulled in. It was a cold, wintry day, 12 degrees, with a high wind chill. He made sure all the windows were rolled up snugly. He left the car running so that the heater was blowing, and he said to our 9-year-old daughter, 'I'll be right back. You just play with your shoes; I'll be right back.'
"He went in the bar and started drinking with his buddies. He didn't come out of the bar until midnight. In that time, the vehicle had shut off and the windows had become all frosted over and locked up tight so she couldn't get herself out of the car. When the authorities opened up the car and rushed her to the hospital, she was so badly frostbitten that her thumb and forefinger had to be amputated. And her ears were so damaged by the cold that she'll be deaf for the rest of her life."
The wife describes this to the group, and Max falls off his chair and starts convulsing on the ground. He just couldn't bear telling himself the truth about what he had done. He couldn't face it. He was going to live the rest of his life in some fantasy world of denial about what he had done.
I'll tell you why I bring this up. If I had the time, I could pass a microphone down the aisle and I could say, "What is that one sin that you feel so desperately bad about that you can't even bring yourself to acknowledge that you actually did it? The one that you can't bring out of the darkness into the light to let God forgive it?" What is that one sin that keeps you under a cloud of guilt day in and day out?
O listen, Christian, some of you are living in a fantasy world. You’ve hardened your heart against the truth and you’ve dug in your heels against the Holy Spirit. You say:
“I know I shouldn’t smoke, but it’s a habit. Besides I tell my kids they shouldn’t do what I’m doing.”
“I know I shouldn’t keep wine in my refrigerator. I don’t want my children to ever drink because I’m not sure they could handle it, but I never get drunk.”
“I know I shouldn’t be living with my boyfriend. I know its not the best example for my daughter, but I always explain to her that I’m just doing it because its so expensive to live separately.”
“I know I shouldn’t lose my temper and treat people the way I do, but I’m not really hurting my kids when I yell at them. They know how I am.”
I can’t mention what the Holy Spirit might be dealing with you about, but if you will listen to Him, I believe He wants to have his own “Nathan” session with you right now. He wants to tell you how God’s blessed you, how you’ve betrayed Him and what your betrayal is going to cost you if you don’t come to Him in complete brokenness
By college, Michelle [Akers] had become an All-American soccer star, earning ESPN's woman athlete of the year in 1985—the same year the United States formed its first women's national team, with Michelle a starter.
3. In 1991 the U.S. team won the first-ever Women's World Cup and Michelle scored 10 goals in five games, including the championship's winner. She signed an endorsement deal and became the first woman soccer player to have a paid sponsor. She played professionally in Sweden. Michelle's drive and tenacity were beginning to pay off. She even tried out as the place kicker for the Dallas Cowboys: her longest attempt reached 52 yards.
But just as her star was rising, Michelle's health was declining. By 1993, the woman who used grit and determination to make life happen found her life unmanageable.
"Each day I felt like I had flown to Europe with no food or sleep, then flown right back and trained for hours," Michelle says.
She suffered from Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS), a debilitating disease affecting more than a million adult Americans. "When it was really bad, I couldn't sit up in a chair. The racking migraines stranded me at home, unable even to get up to brush my teeth or eat."
For the first time, Michelle could no longer count on her old friends—strength and hard work. She had to find a new way to cope.
"I couldn't bear not to be the best in the world, not to be the one who could bounce back from any injury," she says. "It was the only me I knew." When her marriage of four years broke up in 1994, Michelle had reached the end of herself.
"I was so sick I couldn't take a five-minute walk without needing two days on the couch to recover. I was forced to spend a lot of time thinking about who I was. I didn't like what I saw."
Michelle had put her trust in Christ as a high-school student, but ignored God in college and after graduation. Now sick and alone, Michelle reluctantly accepted an invitation from a strength coach to attend his church, Northland Community Church in Longwood, Florida. Although she couldn't articulate it at the time, in retrospect Michelle says she knew she "needed to get things right with God."
"Looking back," she explains, "I think God was gently, patiently tapping me on the shoulder and calling my name for years. But I continuously brushed him off, saying, 'Hey, I know what I am doing. I can make these decisions. Leave me alone.' Then I think he finally said, 'Okay,' crossed his arms and looked at me sadly—because he knew I was going to make a lot of mistakes by ignoring him. He knew I would be hurting in the future.
"It took total devastation before I would acquiesce and say, 'Okay, God. You can have my life. Please, help me.'
You see, it doesn’t have to be some terrible act of adultery or murder. Christian, you may have just neglected God or put Him in second place in your life. All the while He’s been tapping you on the shoulder and calling your name, maybe for years. Today’s the day to turn around and face the presence of your sin and the picture of what that sin has cost you. Today’s the day to come to Him in repentance. Today’s the day to allow the Holy Spirit to break you!