Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.
We've all been created with strong desires for sexual intimacy. Expressed in the will of God, those desires lead to our good. But when uncontrolled, our passions can destroy us. Today we relive the famous story of David and Bathsheba and learn the high price of immorality. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, when you combine strong desires with the power of the throne, there is a high likelihood of a bad outcome.
Three famous words lived over and over again in the lives of so many. He saw, he coveted, and he took. If David had seen more than Bathsheba, if he had seen the destruction of his kingdom ultimately, if he had seen the destruction of his family, he would have known that this was a bad decision. But in that moment, he could not see any of it.
He could only see this woman. And here you have the story of a man after God's own heart, breaking his own rules and doing his own thing and ending up with tremendous repercussions, a lesson for us all. We here at Running to Win exist to warn people, to help people. We exist to encourage, but also to admonish and to know that all of us are subject to failure. Let me ask you a question. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner so that we can get these messages to even more people? Here's what you can do. Go to rtwoffer.com. Of course you say, well, Pastor Lutzer, I need information. Yes. Go to rtwoffer.com and when you're there, click on the endurance partner button and that will give you all the info you need.
Or if you prefer, you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Here at Running to Win, it is our desire to speak to the issues of the day, to speak to our hearts, to speak to our culture, and to help all of us make it successfully to the finish line. I think that David is the last man that we'd expect to see in this mess. Here he is seducing another man's wife, taking her to bed with him, and then killing her husband to cover the whole thing up.
David, the man after God's own heart. You and I are sexual creatures. We know the power of fantasies, of desires, of lust. Those of us who have never been on drink or drugs, we know the power of sexual temptation. It was Mark Twain who railed against God for giving him such passionate desires and then limiting their fulfillment and prescribing the exact rules by which the sexual relationship will be played. Why is it that we have these desires that sometimes go unmet?
Well, of course, the biblical answer would be that we might be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing. James says, that's why we have trials. That's why we have temptations. So that we can declare our loyalty to God because sexual purity is not easy, but it is right, and it is good, and it is also best for us. But David learned, as many people have learned, that it's one thing to be able to conquer Goliaths.
It's another thing to subdue passions. David, as we have learned in this series of messages, he discovered that he was able to dodge some of the spears that were thrown at him by Saul. But there was one spear that lodged in his heart, and he had to regret it until his deathbed. The story is recorded for us in 2 Samuel chapter 11 and chapter 12. 2 Samuel 11 and 12, David was 47 years old, so far as we know when this incident with Bathsheba happened.
Would to God he had died at the age of 46. First of all, I want us to look at this passage and to see the steps that led down to this pit of sin. The steps that led down, we could call it the mess up, the mess up. You'll notice it says in chapter 11 verse 1, it happened in the spring at the time when kings go out to battle that David sent Joab his servants with him and all Israel and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. David stayed in Jerusalem.
These were trivial battles. He didn't need to be there. And it came to pass that David arose from his bed and walked around the roof of the king's house and from the roof he saw a woman bathing and the woman was very beautiful in appearance. We're going to catalog the steps that led down to David's defeat and humiliation and shame.
The first word to underline in the text is the word saw. He saw a woman. We don't know whether Bathsheba was deliberately being immodest, whether she was making herself available or whether that was the custom and whether the king's house just happened to be taller than all the other houses in the city of Jerusalem. But David's eyes were riveted upon her.
His blood ran hot as he saw her beautiful body. And it's interesting that the text does not tell us what David did not see when he looked at Bathsheba. For example, one of the things he did not see is the chasm into which he was about to fall. He did not see the destruction of his family. He did not see the disintegration of his kingdom. He did not see the fact that he would become a murderer. In short, David did not see God.
He did not see God. All that he could do is think about what it would be like to be with her and thinking that if he doesn't he will always wonder what that relationship and experience would have been like. And so what he does is he gazes upon her and at that moment he was making an incredibly important and disastrous decision. Now, the longer he looked, the less likely it would be for him to say no.
As a matter of fact, this would be the easiest time for him to say no. But he let that time pass. Now, David had other wives. He had a number of them. Of course, Michael, Saul's daughter, he was not having a relationship with her, as we learned previously, and he had married a beautiful, intelligent woman by the name of Abigail.
But that was a couple of years ago, and things kind of settled into the routine, and Abigail to David now was just Dear Abby. And so what he was doing is he didn't realize it, but he was cutting an anchor that would lead him onto a river whose size and whose speed was well beyond him. But he wasn't thinking about that. He was thinking about her. I'm not sure that David hated God at this particular moment. I just think he forgot God. I like what Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote.
You remember he was a victim of a Nazi concentration camp and died at the age of 39. But he said, in our members there is a slumbering inclination towards desire which is both fierce and sudden. With irresistible power, desire seizes mastery over the flesh.
All at once a secret, smoldering fire is kindled and the flesh burns and it is in flames. Joy in God is extinguished in us, and we seek all of our joy in the creature. At this moment, God is quite unreal to us. He loses all reality and only desire for the creature is real.
Satan does not now fill us with hatred of God, but only forgetfulness of God. David saw. He saw, but he didn't see enough. He didn't see enough. He should have also seen God. Second step, he sent. Verse three.
So David sent and inquired about the woman and he sends a servant and I can imagine the conversation. You know, I've been living in this neighborhood for so long. You know, I've been so busy. I'm a king. I've got administrative duties.
I'm out fighting. One of the things I've never been able to do is to really get to know my neighbors. I like to get to know them better. Wonder if you check, for example, just to pick a house at random, the one second from the end on Ben Yehuda Street over there.
Find out who is it that lives there anyway. So the messenger comes back and he says, well, you know, it's Bathsheba. You know, Uriah is one of your mighty men and David knew Uriah very well. And that happens to be Bathsheba.
And of course, Uriah is at battle where most of the men are. So David, first of all, he asks about her. And then the next step is he actually took her. First of all, he sent to ask and then he sent to take, to steal, if you will. And it says in verse four, David sent messengers and took her. Wonder what he told them to tell her. You know, I just really feel badly that we've been living just a couple of houses apart and I don't even know the names of your kids.
I really like to get to know this family better. You know, Uriah is one of my fighting men and have her come over here so that we can get a little better acquainted. And then the scripture says, of course, he saw, he sent, he took. And you'll notice that the text says he lay with her and when she had purified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house. All right, it's a casual affair. It's a one-night stand.
It's over. It was perhaps a beautiful experience, but there are other experiences that need to be taken of. The press of business and kingly duties require a lot of haste and a lot of attention and that's it. But a couple of weeks later, a messenger comes with a note and it is addressed to the most honorable king and it says simply, I'm pregnant and it's signed B. Huh, wasn't so casual after all, come to think of it.
Now a human life has been created that is going to live somewhere forever. So it's not quite that simple. And so David begins to think to himself that this casual relationship is not quite so casual, but if I can keep it secret, it won't be too bad.
It won't damage my reputation and it won't damage the kingdom. And so what David decided to do is to say this, you know, I've lost the first round, I've lost a game, but one thing is sure, I will not lose the tournament. It's one thing to lose a game, but he didn't want to lose the whole thing. And so those are the steps that David took. And if that is the mess up, let us now look at the cover up, the cover up.
And I might say that the cover up, as we shall see, was also a gigantic mess up. So David says, you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to bring Uriah back from battle. This is plan A. This is plan A. This will work. I'm going to invite Uriah home and I'm going to give him some gifts and I'm going to say, you know, you know, you've been fighting an awful lot.
I think it's time that you took some time off. Uriah must have wondered why he had the attention of the king, but the king said, look, why don't you go home to Bathsheba? And if they made love together, Uriah would think that the child was his, the neighbors would think that the child was his, and David would be free. So he brings Uriah back and lo and behold, what do you do with this guy? He won't go home.
That's what the text says. Verse 10, Uriah would not go down to his house. David said to Uriah, have you not come from a journey? Why don't you go down to your house? You've got this lovely woman there.
That's the footnote. Uriah said to David, the ark in Israel and Judah are staying in temporary shelters and my Lord Job and the servants of my Lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house and eat and drink and lie with my wife? By your life I will not do this thing. He's saying, how in the world can I enjoy myself when my colleagues are dying in battle? Ouch.
What do you do now? This guy, he won't even visit his wife when he's home. He stays there lying in the porch of the palace the whole time.
You like to kick him, but you can't do that. So there's plan B. David says, I'm going to throw a feast and I'm going to get this guy drunk. What he won't do when he's sober, he will do when he is, quote, under the influence. And so David throws a feast and he gets Uriah drunk. It says in verse 13, he drank before him and he made him drunk and in the evening he went out to lie on his bed with his Lord's servant, but he would not go down to his house. Uriah was a better man drunk than David was sober.
And Uriah simply, drunk or not, will not go home. Now what are you going to do? David decides I'm going to play my trump card. It's only one thing to do, and that is to rub him out, to have him die. Of course I won't do it directly, you know. I wouldn't take a sword and cut off his head.
That would make bad headlines in the Jerusalem Post. But I could arrange it, you know. Joab is the leader of my armies and he's a very loyal man.
You know, people die in battle all the time. What I could do is I could arrange it so that he would just die. So he sends a note which he writes. He seals it and he gives it to Uriah and he trusts Uriah so much that he knows that Uriah will not open it. And Uriah gives it to Joab and the note says, put Uriah in the hottest battle and then withdraw from him so that he dies. Joab must have wondered, what in the world is this about?
But Joab wasn't naive. He'd been around a while, but you know, he was obedient. It came with David's signature. So they are fighting and lo and behold, they're close where the battle is hot and he tells all of his other men retreat and lo and behold, Uriah is dead. And then he sends a messenger just to show how obedient he is. And he says, when you tell David how the battle is going, add this little word.
And by the way, Uriah the Hittite is dead too. So that's what the messenger does in verse 21. He comes and he reports to David all that he had done and he explains it. And in verse 25, David said to the messengers, 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. And David is saying, well, you know how it is in life. You win some and you lose some.
Some soldiers make it through a battle and others don't. So, okay, already. Well, David then is able to legitimately, legitimately in quotes, take Bathsheba as his wife and the cover up is over. Well, David, how have you done?
How's it worked? How many people know? How secret is this anyway? Well, David, you know, you know, and you know what that's like, David. Every time a servant comes into the palace, you begin to wonder, I wonder if he knows. Every time the telephone rings, you wonder, I wonder if so-and-so knows and I wonder if Bathsheba has been telling her friends because David knows and Bathsheba knows. Joab knows. The servants are going to know because they can count to nine. They're going to know. And then there's something else that David forgot.
And this is the clincher. God knows. God knows. God saw it. And so this chapter ends in verse 27, when the time of her mourning was over, and I'm sure it was very short, David sent and brought her to his house and she became his wife and then she bore him a son, but the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord. And that's the one little phrase that ruins the whole thing, ruins it, because all things are naked and open unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Now there's a prophet in the land who also found out.
It's amazing how these stories run. The last man that David would like to have known who knew this story was Nathan, this pesky guy who's always trying to preach righteousness and get under people's skin anyway. Nathan knows when he's up against the king that, you know, you don't just confront a king directly and say, you know, you've sinned because even David had a hot temper and his head could have rolled. So Nathan says to himself, you know, I've got to preach a sermon, but I've got to figure out how to do this. Now David didn't know that a sermon was being preached to him because Nathan wasn't behind a pulpit and David wasn't sitting in a pew, so he figures this isn't a sermon, this is a story.
And Nathan also in good homiletical style decides I'm going to spend most of my time on my introduction and then when I get to the application it is going to be very, very brief. So he tells the story, he says, David, you know, I'll tell you what happened in your kingdom one day. He said there was this man who had many lambs and many sheep and goats and very wealthy and there was this poor man who had this little lamb who grew up with the family and they loved this little pet lamb and a traveler comes to the rich man and instead of taking one of his own animals he actually has the nerve, if you can believe it, to go and to steal this poor man's lamb and use it for a meal. David is livid with anger. Remember, he struggled with the temper. He says in verse 5, his anger burned against the man and he said to Nathan, as the Lord lives surely the man who has done this deserves to die. Wow, stiff penalty for stealing the lamb I'd say.
It's pretty tough. And he says he must minimally make restitution for the lamb fourfold because he did this thing and had no compassion. So he says, I want you to really sock it to this guy because that's the kind of thing up with which I will not put. David would have said it that way because he didn't know that you shouldn't end a sentence in a preposition. And so David says, do it. And Nathan says two words to David in Hebrew.
Ta haish, you the man, application, application. And David saw the point. What a dramatic story when Nathan confronts David and what a lesson about human nature.
God is more concerned about someone who stole a lamb than he is about someone, namely himself, who stole a man's wife. Human nature on display. We here at Running to Win exist to help people, to admonish them, to make sure that they understand the good news of the gospel and the forgiveness of God, but also the consequences of people's sin. Would you consider helping us? I have in my hands a very encouraging letter. It says, I'm a Vietnam veteran who works with other veterans with brain injuries. I'm using Pastor Lutzer's teaching with Iraq veterans who are processing whether or not God still loves them.
And then the letter goes on and I'm glancing now at the very end. The thoughtful, dignified and pastoral messages have helped both me and others understand God's forgiveness. You, my friend, have a part in this ministry. All those who support this ministry are really a part of testimonies just like that. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner?
Endurance partners are those who give regularly with their prayers and, of course, with their gifts. Here's what you do for more information. You go to RTWOffer.com. I'm going to be giving you that again, just in case you don't have a pencil handy.
RTWOffer.com. But when you're there, click on the endurance partner button. That'll give you the information you need.
Of course, the amount that you give is entirely your decision. Or if you wish, you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Testimonies come to us from all parts of the world, and we're thankful that it is because of the investment that people make in this ministry that we are able, actually, to even expand the ministry of Running to Win.
Thanks in advance for helping us. That information, again, RTWOffer.com. Click on the endurance partner button or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And through your gifts and through your prayers, we continue to help people make it all the way to the finish line. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Erwin Lutzer has brought part one of Passions in Conflict, the eighth message in his series Growing Through Conflict, a study in the life of King David. Next time, more of the famous story of David and Beth Sheba, and getting your passions under control. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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