|THE TEMPTED HEART
2 SAMUEL 11:1-27
Series: David: Heart Matters - Part Nine
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
February 27, 2011
Please turn with me to 2 Samuel chapter 11. If you need a Bible there should be one under a chair someplace in front of you. This morning - as we are going on in our look at David and Heart Matters - we’ve come to The Tempted Heart - which - of course - is about temptation - what tempts us - often to our own demise.
(photo) The one on the left is Denny’s Hot Fudge Brownie A La Mode - which is a rich, warm fudge brownie with chopped nuts, hot fudge, and vanilla ice cream. The one on the right is their Hershey’s Chocolate Cake - three layers of rich chocolate cake with Hershey’s milk chocolate mousse filling - topped with thick creamy chocolate frosting and Hershey’s chocolate chips. Anyone ever had one of these?
(photo) The American Excess Card. This one registered to Ioa Lott. (photo) Maybe this Lotus Elise is tempting? Gotta have one. (photo) Or this temptation? Not that any of us have ever been there.
(cartoon) “Do Not Push Button” - “Temptation: Do you really want to spend the rest of your life wondering?” Hard to resist.
We all have our struggles. Right? Anyone here never experience temptation? Or never succumb to a temptation?
Which brings us to 2 Samuel 11 and David and Bathsheba. Aside from Adam and Eve - there’s probably no other succumbing to temptation that’s so well known. As we look at this major failure in David’s life there are a couple things that we need to keep in mind.
First: That God - who knew this was going to happen - that God still called David, “A man after His own heart.” That hasn’t changed. Even men and women who are seeking after God - we still sin. David’s sin is magnified because of who he was and how he handled it and that \God recorded here for us to see and learn from. But we need to keep in mind that - even thought David succumbed big time to temptation he still is a man after God’s own heart.
Second: God isn’t done with David. This failure is a moment in David’s life not his whole life. Having a heart after God’s own heart doesn’t mean perfection. David is a work in progress. God is still at work in David’s life. Having a heart after God’s own heart means sensitivity to God - an openness and humility before God - to allow God to do the work of correcting us and growing us.
Aren’t we grateful that God doesn’t write us off for one major failure in our lives - or even a minor one? God loves us - disciplines us - works with us - uses us for our entire lives - the whole enchilada - despite our repeated attempts at sin.
Okay. Let’s look together at 2 Samuel 11 - starting at verse 1. Verses 1 to 5 are The Set-Up For Sin. Let’s say that together. “The set-up for sin.”
2 Samuel 11 - verse 1: Then it happened in the spring, 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 sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed in Jerusalem.
Let’s pause. There are a few things happening behind the scenes here that we need to be aware of.
The month of March is named after… Mars - the Roman God of war. Spring is when the rainy season is over - the roads are in good condition - there’s plenty of food for the animals - fields of grain for the army to pillage. A great time of the year to go out and kill people.
So David sends Joab and his mercenaries and Israel’s army off to Ammon to lay siege to Rabbah. Rabbah which is this place - modern day Ammon, Jordan - just east of the Dead Sea. In David’s day it was the capital of the Ammonites.
Its spring - every able bodied man in Israel is off to kill people in Ammon. This is better than the Cactus League. Where is David the great warrior king? At home.
2 Samuel 5:12,13 - tells us: David realized that the Lord had established him as king over Israel, and that He - God - had exalted His kingdom for the sake of His people Israel. Meanwhile David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron; and more sons and daughters were born to David.
David realizes that God has blessed him tremendously. We’ve been seeing in the last few Sundays that things are good in the kingdom. David is prospering. Israel is prospering. So David does what all good kings do he goes out and gets more wives and starts making princes and princesses.
There’s a problem with that.
Turn with me to Deuteronomy 17:14-17. The problem is simply that what David is doing directly contradicts what God commanded. What God commanded is recorded for us here in Deuteronomy 17. Look with me starting at verse 14.
Deuteronomy 17 - starting at verse 14 - God speaking to the nation of Israel: When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,’ you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman. Moreover, he - the king - shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never again return that way.’ He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself.
There are three things here that God said that a king of Israel should not do. Do you see them there? What’s the first one - in verse 16? Don’t multiply horses or send people back to Egypt for horses. Been there done that. Stay away from the Egyptians.
Second command - verse 17 - is what? Don’t multiply wives from himself. And the third command? He’s not to increase gold and silver for himself. Being king isn’t about getting rich at the people’s expense.
David did good with numbers 1 and 3. But he failed miserably with number 2.
The culture around us says that we have a right to pursue our own sexual pleasure - that satisfaction comes in having more. Go out and fulfill those lustful desires and you’ll find the satisfaction you’re looking for. But the reality is quite the opposite. Isn’t it?
More passion - more sex - more self indulgence - only breeds the desire for more passion - more sex - more self indulgence. Our society - in part - our society is tearing itself apart because we have generations of people who’s main focus is on satisfying their own insatiable selfish passionate desires.
God warns his people - if the king goes out and multiplies wives - all that passion and sex and self indulgence is going to turn the kings heart away from God. Lust and polygamy are going to destroy his integrity of the heart - singleness of focus on Me - God. And - hold on to this - all that passionate sexual self-indulgence leading him away from Me is going to leave him wide open - vulnerable - for some serious sin.
Its a huge warning that’s as applicable to us as it was to David.
Put yourself in David’s place - when things are going your way - maybe things are going well at work - or school - or in your family. We’re flowing and things are flowing well. Aren’t we most vulnerable to sin when we what’s happening around us distracts us from God - from our accountability to Him? When we begin to think that our success is because of us? Success breeds amnesia.
Here’s David - man of passion - a king with everything going for him - a king of growing prestige and fame - a spotless record - popular with the people - the economy is humming - the army is victorious - thinking he’s accountable to no one but himself - having ignored God’s command. David - self-focused - indulging himself at home when he should have been out leading the troops. David vulnerable to sin.
Verse 2: Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance.
Where’s David? In bed. Talk about sleeping in. Some of the college students around here tend to stay out late and sleep in late. But this is really over-the-top self indulgence. Evening comes and David gets up.
In those days palaces came with upstairs bedrooms - with a patio on the roof. The patio was probably furnished. A place to be secluded from the people of the street. A place to entertain close friends or family. A place to look down in privacy on what’s happening below.
Imagine what that was like. David - indulging himself - in his cedar paneled bedroom - decorated with every luxury. The rainy season is over. Warm breezes are blowing through the windows - gently moving the drapes. Its twilight - those soft colors. Stars coming out overhead.
The supreme monarch of Israel slowly drags himself out of bed. Yawns. Stretches. Wanders through those gently swaying drapes out onto the patio - steps out on to his roof - the royal patio. Takes a stroll around. Enjoying the sounds of his Jerusalem - the feeling of spring. When he sees this woman - not too far off - bathing. And, she’s beautiful.
How beautiful was she? Beautiful enough to turn the head and quicken the heart of a man who had a growing list of women to indulge his insatiable passions. The Bible makes a point of telling us that Bathsheba was “very” beautiful in appearance.
Two points that we need to grab on to here.
First: If David had been doing what David should have been doing he’d been at the battle and not in bed - not indulging himself on the patio - all this wouldn’t have happened. Are we together? David allows himself to be in a position of vulnerability.
Second: If Bathsheba had been thinking clearly she would never have put this temptation to sin in David’s line of sight. From where she was she must have known that David could have seen her. She could have taken precautions to avoid bathing in the open.
Maybe she had issues with Uriah her husband. Maybe he was neglecting her under the pretense of being a godly warrior - for God, king, and country. Whatever the issues she was dealing with she made a choice to display herself for David.
We don’t want to point fingers. There’s enough stupidity in this to go around. But, if you’re the temptee or the tempter - all of us need to pay attention to our role in helping each other to stay out of sin and to remain pure. All of us - but especially men - we need to learn to look away and not look back. And both men and women need to learn how to dress modestly - but especially women.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer - in his book “Temptation” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes this:
In our members there is a slumbering inclination toward desire, which is both sudden and fierce. With irresistible power, desire seizes mastery of the flesh. All at once a secret, smoldering fire is kindled. The flesh burns and is in flames. It makes no difference whether it is a sexual desire, or ambition, or vanity, or desire for revenge, or love of fame and power, or greed for money…
It is here that everything within me rises up against the Word of God… Therefore the Bible teaches us in times of temptation in the flesh, there is one command: Flee! Flee fornication. Flee idolatry. Flee youthful lusts. Flee the lusts of the world. There is no resistance to Satan in lust other than flight. Every struggle against lust in one’s own strength is doomed to failure. (1)
If we don’t run we will fall. David - a man who lived indulging his passions - looked - kept looking - lusted - forgot God - forgot everything he knew to be righteous and godly - thought only about sex with that very beautiful women.
Verse 3: So David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said - probably one of David’s servants - and one said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?
Do you think the servant knew exactly what David was thinking? The servant could see what David was seeing. The servant was a man. He’s seen David violating God’s command. David operating by passion.
This answer is a wise and subtle warning. “She’s the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” “David, she’s married.”
Verse 4: David sent messengers and took her, and when she came to him, he lay with her; and when she had purified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house.
There is nothing here to indicate that there is anything going on here besides mutual sensual pleasure. She’s lonely and beautiful. He’s romantic - handsome. There’s chemistry here. “Oh what a night!” If sin wasn’t pleasurable we wouldn’t do it. Sometime before sunrise Bathsheba heads home.
Verse 5: The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, and said, “I am pregnant.”
Amazing how life changing those 3 words can be. “I am pregnant.”
Tying one on at night leaves one with misery in the morning. Giving your control of your life to drugs is slavery. Guilt is a heavy burden to bear. Shame is hugely painful.
Amazing how Satan - our Adversary - when he’s tempting us with stuff always seems to leave out that little detail. Here’s the fun. Here’s how this makes you feel now. No mention about how all this is going to ruin your family - your career - maybe even take your life.
F.B. Meyer - a great pastor of the last century - F.B. Meyer summarizes David’s situation this way: “One brief spell of passionate indulgence, and then—his character blasted irretrievably; his peace vanished; the foundations of his kingdom imperiled; the Lord displeased; and great occasion given to his enemies to blaspheme.” (2)
Verses 6 to 13 give us The Cover-Up For Sin - Plan A. Let’s say that together, “The cover-up for sin - Plan A.”
Verse 6: Then David sent to Joab, saying, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked concerning the welfare of Joab and the people and the state of the war. Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house, and wash your feet.” And Uriah went out of the king’s house, and a present from the king was sent after him. 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.
David has a choice. Confess the sin or cover it up. David could go before God - in humility - openness - repentance - confess his sin - his failure. He could come clean with what he’s done.
Have you found this out for yourself - when we’re sinning we don’t think so good? Isn’t that true.
David - rather than falling on his face before God - chooses to try and cover-up what’s taken place.
Uriah - dutiful husband of Bathsheba - is sent for. Questioned by the king as to what’s happening with his general Joab - not that David is all that interested. All this is just a pretense. Right? Part of Plan A.
Then David sends Uriah home with a few parting gifts. Idea being that Uriah who’s been off at war will go home - be intimate with Bathsheba - later she’ll say she’s pregnant - and the problem is solved. Nobody will be the wiser as to who the child’s father really is.
We don’t know what Uriah thought about his meeting with David. Was he flattered? Confused? We do know that Uriah did not go home. He stayed with David’s servants at the palace.
Verse 10: Now when they told David, saying, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “Have you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?”
Which is a pretty rude thing for someone to suggest. But it shows us that David is not thinking clearly here.
Verse 11: Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in temporary shelters, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? By your life and the life of your soul, I will not do this thing.”
The Hittites were an empire up in what’s now Turkey. This is a foreigner who’s got more respect for God, king, and country that the king does.
Verse 12: Then David said to Uriah, “Stay here today also, and tomorrow I will let you go.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. Now David called him, and he ate and drank before him, and he made him drunk; and in the evening he went out to lie on his bed with his lord’s servants, but he did not go down to his house.
Fed Uriah kebob. Got him toasted - drunk. Still Uriah won’t go home.
Which brings us to verses 14 to 21 - which are The Cover-Up For Sin - Plan B. Let’s say that together, “The cover-up for sin - Plan B.”
Plan A crashed and burned. David’s plans to manipulate Uriah have failed. Uriah isn’t thinking with the same kind of passion that David Is. We can imagine that David is now frustrated - panicked - getting a tad desperate. David takes things to the next level.
Verse 14: Now in the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. He had written in the letter, saying, “Place Uriah in the front line of the fiercest battle and withdraw from him, so that he may be struck down and die.”
This is outrageous - where our sin can take us. David - personally writes this letter - then sends Uriah to the front carrying his own death warrant.
Verse 16: So it was as Joab kept watch on the city, that he put Uriah at the place where he knew there were valiant men. The men of the city went out and fought against Joab, and some of the people among David’s servants fell; and Uriah the Hittite also died. Then Joab sent and reported to David all the events of the war. He charged the messenger, saying, “When you have finished telling all the events of the war to the king. And if it happens that the king’s wrath rises and he says to you, ‘Why did you go so near the city to fight? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? Who struck down Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Did not a woman throw an upper millstone on him from the wall so that he died at Thebez? Why did you go so near the wall?’ - then you shall say, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.’”
How aware do you think Joab was about what was going on here? Joab is no dummy. When he got David’s message via Uriah Joab knew exactly what David wanted - and he probably had a pretty good idea of why.
This isn’t rocket science. David sent for Uriah. David wants Uriah killed. Uriah’s wife Bathsheba is a total babe. There’s some hanky panky going on in Jerusalem.
Abimelech getting nailed with a milestone - by a women - because he got too close to the city wall was a well known “opps” in Israeli military history. It was just stupid to go too close to the wall where arrows and other stuff were thrown at you - foolhardy - flirting with death. Only a dweb of a general would order his troops to do that. Let alone withdrawing and leaving one guy out there with a bullseye painted on him.
Joab is acting both sides of the dialogue here - the drama - taking David’s part and the messenger’s part - maybe even throwing in some gestures and voice changes. Because he knows what David’s going to say. This feigned attempt at shock and pointing his finger at Joab. And Joab knows the punch line in the script. “Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.”
Plan B worked. Sort of.
Verses 22 to 29 are The Cost For Sin. Let’s say that together, “The cost of sin.”
Verse 22: So the messenger departed and came and reported to David all that Joab had sent him to tell. The messenger said to David, “The men prevailed against us and came out against us in the field, but we pressed them as far as the entrance of the gate. Moreover, the archers shot at your servants from the wall; so some of the king’s servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is also dead.” 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; make your battle against the city stronger and overthrow it’; and so encourage him.”
“The sword devours one as well as another” is a platitude. Something we’d put on a greeting card. So sorry to hear of your loss.
What kind of compassionate - caring - considerate - answer is that from the king? “Oh well. These things happen. Don’t worry about it. Try harder next time.”
Think about where David’s sin has taken him. How many good men have paid the price for David’s sin? How many new widows are there Israel? How many children have no father? What will be the ongoing tragedy for these families - for generations? And all David cares about is covering up his sin.
And what must his wives and children think? David has lost the respect of his family - his people. His reputation is in the dumper.
Chuck Swindoll summarizes where David has fallen. Chuck Swindoll writes this: “The sweet singer of Israel was now living a lie, faking his existence in a minor key. This passionate, handsome king, this exemplary leader now lives in the shadows of his own palace. He no longer goes out to battle. He shrivels into something he was never designed to be, because he deliberately compromised with wrong, then deceitfully covered it over with murder.” (3)
Verse 26: Now when the wife of Uriah - who’s wife? Just in case we didn’t get the point and condemnation of David’s action - Now when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. When the time of mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house and she became his wife - pretty immediate - pretty public - then - 9 months later - she born him a son. But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord.
Underline that last sentence. “But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord.” That’s the only place in this whole chapter that the Lord is mentioned. Emphasis: God’s commentary on the wreckage that’s become David’s life.
David himself writes in Psalm 32 - “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.” (Psalm 32:3,4)
In Psalm 51, he writes, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what was evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge.” (Psalm 51:3,4)
Sleepless. In misery. Physically ill. Haunting memories. Weight loss the hard way. Worse: Alone. Miles from God. The wages of sin is… death.
How could a man after God’s own heart ever fall to such a depth of sin? If we’re honest about our own hearts its not hard to understand.
Next Sunday we’re going to look at “The Repentant Heart” which - after today - should be a relief. So, you probably want to come back for that.
But for today think about this: Don’t feed the beast. Let’s say that together, “Don’t feed the beast.”
If you give a mouse a cookie he’s going to want… a glass of milk. A mouse is cute until it becomes the predator. If you feed the beast with compromise it only demands more. The little guy on the right is cute - almost laughable - until he’s a roaring lion prowling around looking for someone to devour - until he has us by the throat. Don’t feed the beast.
Do whatever it takes - cut off whatever needs to be cut off - run from whatever needs to be run from - flee now before you end up like David.
1. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Temptation
2. F.B. Meyer, David: Shepherd, Psalmist, King
3. Charles Swindoll, David: A Man of Passion and Destiny
As a general reference for this sermon/series I have been using the book by Charles Swindoll, David: A Man of Passion and Destiny - I highly recommend this book as a tremendous study on the life of David.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.