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Sins Red Light | 2 Samuel 12

The long, bony finger of Nathan the Prophet pointed to David.  His sinful deed was done.  Scandalous whispers buzzed throughout the palace, but no one dared say a word to the king.  His pregnant bride was a mute reminder of that fateful spring night when adultery stained the king's record.  Not only adultery but murder and hypocrisy and deception and a hushed cover up.  The sin that had been committed was now in the open and it must be dealt with. 

Nathan confronts David in an unusual way. He tells a story.

There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor.  The rich man had a great many flocks and herds.  But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb which he bought and nourished; and it grew up with him and his children.  It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom, and was like a daughter to him.

Now a traveler came to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd, to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him; rather he took the poor man's ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him. (II Samuel 12:1-4)

Quick and powerful, David's response was like lightning tearing though a clear black night.

As the Lord liveth, the man who hath done this thing shall surely die; and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he hath done this thing, and because he had no pity. (II Samuel 12:5-6)

In that vulnerable moment, David was trapped by his own reaction.  Then Nathan thrusts through David's heart the sharp edged words of truth.  "Thou art the Man!"

While David kept his secret, his conscience kept him bound in a straitjacket of guilt.  It wasn't until Nathan confronted him that he repented, open and broken before God.

David 's sin had crushing effects upon his life. The adulterous act, the murderous scheme, the hypocritical words, David committed them all behind the closed door of secrecy.  Not only were they done secretly, they were done willfully.  The whole tangled web of sin was woven by David's own hand.  Yet, while David kept his sin hidden from the eyes of others, God saw it all.

But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord. (II Samuel 11:27b)

Psalm 32 is a psalm of David which describes his feelings in his unrepentant state.  Notice the words:

When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For Day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. (Psalm 32:3-4)

One psychologist describes guilt as the red light on our internal dashboard.  When you see the light's feverish glare, you have a choice to make.  You can either pull over, get out of the car, open the hood and see what's wrong; or you can smash the light with a hammer and keep driving.

The first option leads to fixing the problem; it makes you aware of the broken water hose or the cracked radiator or the low oil level.  The second only relieves the symptoms.  You may be able to keep the light from glaring, but after a few more miles, serious harm could be down.

How do you treat guilt's red light? Do you take it seriously, stopping to analyze why it is flashing?  Or do you smash it with the hammer you conveniently keep in the glove compartment of your conscience?  Let's look at how David dealt with his guilt.  How can we receive forgiveness from our sin as David did.

First - We must have an open and unguarded admission of our sin.  Notice that David made such an admission without any if's, and's or but's.  He said, "I have sinned against the Lord."

Do you have an unconfessed sin in your life about which you need to open and unguarded? 

Second - We must desire to make a complete break from our sin.  We should not only be sorry that we were caught in sin but we should be sorry and repentant of the sin itself.  David had the desire to separate himself from his sin.  He said:

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (Psalm 51:7)

Third - We must trust God for forgiveness and acceptance.  God did not condemn David although he had done wrong in his sight.  God saw that David was repentant with a broken spirit and God's steadfast love reached out once again to him.

We come now to another place and time when God's steadfast love has confronted sin, our sin.  On the cross Jesus took upon him the penalty of our sin.  He met us so we would have the forgiveness from God.  This table represents what Christ did for you and me. 

As we come to the table let us openly and unguardedly say, "God, I am a sinner.  Give unto me your grace which will cleanse me from my sin."

The Case of the Open Window Shade | 2 Samuel 11

When the Holy Spirit painted the portraits of Scripture's heroes, He was an artist of pure realism.  He refused to brush with high-gloss colors the darker sides of their lives.  The bright hues of faith and the somber shades of failure complete the picture of David. 

Why doesn't the Bible gloss over the undesirable characteristics of the life of one of its greatest heroes?  Wouldn't it have been easy for the writer of II Samuel to have a case of convenient amnesia with this story?  The reason for the account of this story is not hard to find.  The Bible is concerned to maintain the glory of God, not of any individual human being, whatever his earthly fame, his trappings, or his title.

As we look at this shameful episode of David's life, we should not shake our fingers at David's shame.  We must heed the counsel of I Corinthians 10:12 which says:

Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he should fall.   

Even though this episode of David's life deals with a sexual sin, we must realize that the text gives us principles that apply to all forms of sin.  It is a tendency to see sin as strictly sexual sins when sin attacks us from all areas of life.  Sin also includes oppression of people, attitudes of hate and bitterness, political programs of injustice and warfare and on and on.  Sin is widespread and far reaching and most of all, destructive.

The sequence of events is worthy of comment.  It is human nature to shift blame for personal sin to that well-worn scapegoat "combination of circumstances." In this instance it might be argued thus:  Had the Ammonites not rejected David's sincere offer of a renewed treaty of peace, there would have been no war; had there been no war, Uriah would have remained at home, and David's strong initial temptation would have had no opportunity to bring forth the sinful act.

We are always paraphrasing the excuse of Adam and saying,  "My life circumstances which you gave me tempted me and I did eat!"  Life always offers an abundant opportunity for sin to the sinful.  The opportunity to stumble is always present, but sin trips up only the sinner.  We are creatures of free will.  We decide upon which track our life will be placed.  

The story of David and Bathsheba is a story of the most gripping kind.  David was around 50 years old and had been king for about 20 years.  It was spring when all the kings went forth to battle.  David sent Joab and his soldiers to war against the Ammonite.  David chose to stay home and let his men do all the fighting for him.

One evening, just before dark, David decided to talk a walk on the roof, much like you and I would sit on our front porch.  As he looked around his great city he saw a most interesting site, Bathsheba taking her evening bath.  The scripture says she was a bathing beauty. 

The story continues as David inquired about this beautiful woman that he had seen.  He discovers that she is married to one of Israel's chief commanders, Uriah.  David sends for her to come to the palace and she and David enjoy an evening together.  Soon after this evening it became apparent that nature had trapped them in sin.  Bathsheba had conceived.

Instead of leaving well enough alone,  the plot of the story thickens as David devises a plan to protect his kingly state as well as the reputation of Bathsheba and Uriah.  David commanded Joab to bring Uriah from the battle so that he could spend some time alone with Bathsheba.

Uriah was a loyal soldier, however.  Instead of going home to be with his wife he slept at the door of David's cedar house with the rest of the guard.  When David found out that Uriah had slept outside of the palace he asked Uriah why he didn't go down to his own house.  Uriah responded by saying:

The ark, and Israel, and Judah abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields.  Shall, I, then, go into mine house, to eat and drink, and to lie with my wife?  As thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing. (II Samuel 11:11)

David's hands must have been wringing by now.  He asks Uriah, why don't you stay a while in town before you go back to battle?  Stay a couple of days if you want.  To David's dismay Uriah still did not go to see Bathsheba.  The sinful king had been rebuked by the integrity of one of his soldiers.

Then David tries to cover up one sin with another.  He sends Uriahwith a written message to Joab telling him to place Uriah on the front line of the hottest battle and to retreat so that Uriah would be killed.  The plan, of course, worked.  Uriah was now dead.

When David heard about the death of Uriah he had a-win-some-you-lose-some attitude.  He says to Joab:

Let not this thing displease thee, for the sword devoureth one as well as another. (II Samuel 11:25)

David went and fetched Bathsheba and they were married and had a son and they lived happily....no not quite.  David had all of his tracks covered, except one.  The last words in the story are haunting:

The thing that David had done displeased the Lord. (II Samuel 11:27)

This is certainly a story of intrigue and suspense.  It has the ingredients of the best of soap operas and mini- series.  Yet, it has not been placed in scripture for our entertainment.  It is here so that we can better prepare ourselves for sin's attack upon our life.  Sin attacks us at certain times.  The image of sin portrayed in Genesis is that sin couches at our doors waiting for prey.  What are the windows of vulnerability in our life of which we need to be aware if we are to prevent sin's attack on us?  When do we need to be most aware of sin's attack in our life, lest we, too, fall?

First - We are vulnerable to sin's attack when we have it all.  When we think we are not vulnerable, we are vulnerable.

David had had a brilliant military career.  He had virtually wiped out all of his serious foes.  The Philistines had retreated from the Jerusalem area and David had securely established his kingdom.  David had reached the pinnacle of his life.  He had made it. He had reached the peak of public admiration.  He enjoyed an endless supply of money, power, and fame.  Never are we more vulnerable than when we have it all, and David was no exception.

Second - We are most vulnerable to sin's attack when we have time on our hands.  Perhaps David placed too much stock in his track record.  He began to sit back in his easy chair and let others tend to his kingly responsibilities.  While David's men were in battle, he was home in bed, cushioned by royal comforts. 

Our greatest battles don't come when we are out working hard, they come when we have time on our hands.  It is the warm springtime when we are yawning and stretching with boredom that we make those fateful decisions that end up haunting us.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer say this about sin:

In our members there is a slumbering inclination towards desire which is both sudden and fierce.  With irresistible power desire seizes mastery over 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 sexual desire, or ambition, or vanity, or desire for revenge, or love of fame and power, or greed for money, or, finally, that strange desire for the beauty of the world, of nature.  Joy in God is..extinguished in us and we seek all 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; the only reality if the devil.  Satan does not fill us with hatred of God, but with forgetfulness of God...it is here that everything within me rises up against the Will of God.

Third - We are most vulnerable to sin's attack when we forget the consequences of sin.  No doubt the stolen water of David and Bathsheba's sin was sweet, but the consequences soon turned it bitter and the taste lingered on their lips for a lifetime.  Nature trapped them in their sin.

Satan never tells the heavy drinker that tomorrow there will be a hangover.  He never tells the embezzler that indictment and punishment is sure.  He never tells the drug addict that overdose is a likelihood.  He never tells about the pain and destruction of sin.  He lures you and when it is time to reap the consequences he is gone. 

When you're in the heat of temptation, remember what the real consequences of sin will be - they will change, if not destroy, your life forever.

Fourth - We are vulnerable to sin's attack when we think no one will know and we can cover it up.  Sin is like quicksand, the more energetic the human effort to extricate oneself the deeper the involvement.

What started out to be an innocent night of pleasure for David spread into a cover up that included murder.  If he had snuffed out the spark of temptation before it began to burn out of control, his and Bathsheba's life would not have been charred and marked as it was.

Fifth, We are most vulnerable to sin's attack when we think we can hide from God.  All had been covered except David's relationship with God.  God was displeased.

David had managed to cover his sin up before his soldiers and before his nation, but not before God. 

As we face temptation we should heed the words of Psalm 139:

Search me, O God, and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts, and if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.

 

 

      Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Temptation (SCM Press, London, England: 1955), pp.33-34.

Grace in a Barren Place | 2 Samuel 9

Napoleon, the great French dictator of the nineteenth century, is reported to have had a very important person on his staff who was a marginal idiot.  Before every military conquest, Napoleon would write out his commands for the assault and would give this piece of paper to the idiot and ask him to read it and tell him what it said.  If he could tell him what it said he would give it to his commanders and proceed with the assault.  If not, he would re-write the orders.

Grace is a concept that the simplest of minds can understand.  Yet, we have been guilty of making it much too complicated.  Grace is the most basic element to salvation.  It means gift.  It is God giving us something we don't deserve.  Through faith we except this gift of salvation from God. 

We have expanded the basic meaning of grace.  We observe a graceful pirouette by a ballerina.  We admire people who gracefully carry themselves with charm and poise.  We envy the ball players who gracefully make their moves when they waltz into the end zone.  Music's most delicate notes are tagged with the word grace. 

Listen to these words about grace by Frederick Buechner:

After centuries of handling and mishandling, most religious words have become so shopworn nobody's much interested anymore.  Not so with grace, for some reason.  Mysteriously, even derivatives like gracious and graceful still have some of the bloom left.

Grace is something you can never get but only be given.  There's no way to earn it or deserve it or bring it about any more than you can deserve the taste of raspberry and cream or earn good looks or bring about your own birth.

A good sleep is grace and so are good dreams.  Most tears are grace.  The smell of rain is grace.  Somebody loving you is grace.  Loving somebody is grace.

A crucial eccentricity of the Christian faith is the assertion that people are saved by grace.  There's nothing you have to do.  There's nothing you have to do.  There's nothing you have to do.

The grace of God means something like: Here is your life.  You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn't have been complete without you.  Here is the world.  Beautiful and terrible things will happen.  Don't be afraid.  I am with you.  Nothing will separate us.  It's for you I created the universe.  I love you.

There's only one catch.  Like any gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you'll reach out and take it.

Maybe being able to reach out an take it is a gift too.

Grace is God snatching us from a barren place, snatching us from a dry, desolate life of sin and setting us to eat from the bounty of his table.  It is undeserved and unrepayable... it is free.

Nestled in the Old Testament in Second Samuel 9 is an example of grace.  It is the story of David and Mephibosheth, Jonathan's lame son.  David patterned his heart after God's by extending acceptance and mercy to a shriveled soul.  It was a refreshing rain of grace to Mephibosheth.

In this story we find some characteristics of one who lives a graceful life.  The grace of God so affected David's life that he lived a graceful life.  He gave the gift of grace to others which he had received from God.  What are the characteristics of grace that David had in his life?  If you have received grace from God which characteristics do you lack?  Let's take a look.

The first characteristic of grace is loyalty.  Still enjoying a peaceful interlude, David begins to reflect on the promises he made to Saul and Jonathan before he was crowned king. 

In eastern dynasties, when a new king took over it was common for him to kill every member of his predecessor's family.  When Jonathan first heard that David would succeed his father to the throne, he asked him to spare his descendants.  So David extended a hand of grace and made a covenant with Jonathan.  Jonathan says:

Thou shalt not only while I live to show me the kindness of the Lord, but also thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house forever... (I Samuel 20:14-15)

David did not have to keep his promise to Jonathan.  Jonathan was dead and no one would have ever known the difference.  Yet, the grace of God so permeated David's life he could not be anything else but loyal. 

Loyalty seems to be very rare at times.  A soldier who defends his/her country in the easy times and deserts in hard times is not loyal.  A husband and father who loves his wife and children when all is well and runs away for "greener grass" is bad times is not loyal.  A church member who always seems to hunt something to pick at and criticize is not loyal.  Loyalty means that whatever comes and whatever happens I can be depended upon.

There is one prime example of loyalty.  The example of loyalty that is provided by man's best friend, the dog.

While practicing law, George G. Vest, a former United States Senator from Missouri, defended a farmer whose dog was involved in a minor damage suit.  Here is part of his speech:

The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man has in a selfish world, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog.  When all other friends desert, he remains.  When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.

If fortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies.

And, when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the master in his embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter, if all other friends pursue their way, there by the graveside, will be found the noble dog, his head between his paws, his sad eyes alert and watchful, still faithful and true even in death.

With this impassioned plea, Vest won a favorable verdict from the jury.

The second characteristic of grace is it is unconditional.  A person of grace does not show partiality. 

David called one of Saul's servants, whose name was Ziba, and asked him an intriguing question:

Is there not yet anyone of the house of Saul to whom I may show the kindness of God. (II Samuel 9:3)

Notice that David asks for anyone.  Not anyone worthy or anyone qualified, but is there anyone?  David's kindness was unconditional and free. 

Ziba said to the king, "There is still a son of Jonathan who is crippled in both feet."  Between the lines of Ziba's answer lies some cautious counsel.  "You'd better think twice before you do this, David.  This guy is not very kingly; he doesn'treally fit the surroundings.  He's a crippled, David... he's on crutches"

So the king said to his servant, Where is he?  And Ziba said to the king, Behold, he is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel in Lo-debar."  (II Samuel 9:4)

God's grace had been extended to David unconditionally so that David wanted to give this grace to someone unconditionally.

There is a tradition that Jonathan Edwards, the third president of Princeton and one of America's greatest religious thinkers, had a daughter with an ungovernable temper.  But, as is so often the case, this infirmity was not known to the outside world.

A worthy young man fell in love with this daughter and sought her hand in marriage.  "You can't have her," was the abrupt answer of Jonathan Edwards.  "But I love her," the young man replied. "You can't have her, "said Edwards.  "But she loves me!" replied the young man.

Again Edwards said, "You can't have her." "Why?" Said the young man, "Because she is not worthy of you."  "But," he asked, "She is Christian is she not?"  "Yes, she is a Christian, but the grace of God can live with some people with whom no one else could ever live."

The third characteristic of grace is that it is unexpected.

Let's briefly at the background of Mephibosheth.  In Second Samuel 4:4 we first hear the pitiful story of Mephibosheth's injury.

And Jonathan, Saul's son, had a son who was lame in his feet.  He was five years old when the tidings came of Saul and Jonathan out of Jezreel, and his nurse took him up, and fled; and it came to pass, as she made haste to flee, that he fell, and became lame.  And his name was Mephibosheth.

Mephibosheth had now grown to be a man.  He lived in the area call Lo-Debar which means a place without cedars or a barren place.  More than likely, he was in hiding from the new king who would execute him.  After all, he was a "shameful crippled".  He deserved nothing more than death.

But, something unexpected happened.  He received grace from the new king.  As Mephibosheth approached the king he heard these words:

Fear not; for I will surely show thee kindness for Jonathan, thy father's sake. (II Samuel 9:7)

Listen to these words by Julie Martin:

I was that Mephibosheth

Crippled by my twisted pride and

   hiding from You in a barren place

      where You could not find me

      where You would not give me what I deserved.

But somehow You found me and

I don't understand why but You

   gave me what I do not deserve

You not only spared my desolate life but

   You made it bountiful

And here at Your table

I will thank You my King

The fourth characteristic of grace is that it takes a chance.  Not only was Mephibosheth Jonathan's son, he was Saul's grandson.  Would he be a loyal friend as was Jonathan or would he be a raging as was Saul.  Nevertheless David took a chance.

God took a chance on me.  He accepted me into His family not knowing if I would remain a friend or if I would become an enemy.  Do you know what?  He's still taking a chance on me!

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt.  Yonder on Calvary's mount outpoured, there where the blood of the lamb was spilt.  Grace, grace, God's grace.  Grace that is greater than all our sin.

 

 Frederick Buechner, "Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC" (New York: Harper and Row, Publishers), pp. 33-34.

 Charles Swindoll, "David: A Man After God's Heart", Insight for Living, pp. 98-99.

When God Says No | 2 Samuel 7

How many times a day do you see a sign that says, "No"?  A sign that reads 35 mph says no.  No, you cannot drive faster than 35 mph.  We have "No Parking" signs, "No walking" signs and the list goes on.

Ready on the tongue of every parent is the bread and butter word, no, the mere word that stops children in their tracks.  No, don't touch that hot stove.  No, don't jump on the bed.  No, don't put those marbles in your mouth.

Today we will look at a time when God stamped the box of David's dream with a bold black no.  And we'll see how David handled it.  We will see whether David ran from God in disillusionment or to Him in contentment and trust.

So far, David's life has been like a great symphony that flows from one passionate movement to another.  But in II Samuel 7, it pauses to play a tranquil strain.  Finally, the courageous warrior is allowed to rest.  For the first time in the new kingdom, there was peace.  The Philistines had finally been driven out of Israel's territory. 

David nestled back in his beautiful cedar house and began to entertain a dream.  He dreams of building a temple for the ark of God.  David confides in his counselor, the prophet Nathan.

See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells within tent curtains. (II Samuel 7:2)

There was nothing wrong with David's dream.  Building a temple for the ark of the covenant was David's way of doing something for the Lord God of hosts who had done so much for him.  The God who had led him from the role of a shepherd to that of a king.  God in his wisdom said, "No." 

David must have been surprised by God's refusal of his dream.  We can learn from David's reaction.  How do you deal with the word, "No"?  Do you give up on everything that God offers because he shuts a door?  Let's glean from these verses some truths that will help us when God says no.

The first truth is this - When God says no, we may hear yes from others.  People that we trust may give us the wrong advice.

David tells his closest advisor, Nathan, of his dream.  David's eyes must have been beaming with anticipation.  Nathan speaks too soon.  He puts words in God's mouth.  Nathan says:

Go, do all that is within your mind, for the Lord is with you. (II Samuel 7:3)

It is often during the quiet interludes of our life, the times when we slow down and reflect on our past, that we find a new direction, new hope, new dreams for the future.  Yet, just because we have pulled back from the rat race doesn't mean that every dream is from God, not even admirable dreams, even though God's people may affirm their value.  David may have gotten the go-ahead from Nathan, but the final word came from God.  Only He knows His plan for our lives.

Friends, family, and the church are all good ways to help us to determine what God's will is for us.  In fact, these are some of the primary ways of discerning His will.  But in the final analysis, we are responsible for what we have heard and accountable to God for what we have done.   The judgment of the church or friends or family will not matter in the end.  It is God's thinking to which we will be held accountable.

Sometimes God says yes when our closest advisors say no.  Sometimes we have to distinguish between the wisdom of man and the Wisdom of God.  When it all comes down to a decision, YOU are the one responsible and accountable for your decisions and actions.

The second truth is this - When God says no it means redirection, not rejection.  It means that God has a greater purpose for you to achieve.

God responded to David's dream with a gracious refusal and a prophetic word.  In the night, God spoke to Nathan the prophet saying:

Go and tell David my servant, Thus saith the Lord, You shall not build a house for me to dwell in."  (I Chronicles 17:3-4)

God's refusal was not a rejection, but a redirection.  God had a different dream.  Instead of David building God a house, God promised David that he was going to build him a house, a dynasty that would last for years. 

God didn't gift David as a builder but as a soldier and king.  There was nothing wrong with David's dream.  His motives were pure; his intentions, pleasing to God.  But he wasn't the right man to carry out the plan.  God wanted a man of peace to build his temple.  He saw that the greatest thing David could do was to lead the people to resolve their problems as a new nation.

God can be trusted to lead our lives.  The poet said it well. 

Tis far, far better to let Him choose the way that we should take; 

If only we leave our lives to him He will guide without mistake. 

We, in our blindness, would never choose a pathway dark and rough. 

And so we should never find in Him, "The God Who is Enough."

Oliver Cromwell's secretary was dispatched to the continent on some important business.  He stayed one night in the seaport town and tossed and turned in his bed, unable to sleep.

According to an old custom, a servant slept in his room, and on this occasion slept soundly enough.  The secretary at length awakened the man who asked how it was that his master could not rest.

I am so afraid something will fo wrong with the trip," was the reply.

"master," said the valet, "may I ask a question or two?"

"Did God rule the world before we were born?"

"Most assuredly he did."

"And will He rule it after we are dead?"

"Certainly He will."

"Then, master, why not let Him rule the present, too?

The secretary's faith was stirred, peace was the result, and in a few minutes both he and his servant were in sound sleep.

Has God ever said no to your dreams?  A dream of going to the mission field....of marrying someone with whom you felt you were destined to be....of landing that promotion which was rightfully yours?  These kind of mysterious no's are difficult to handle.  If you believe that God really loves you, really wants what is best for you, if you trust him for what's best in your life, He will show you the better plan he has for you. 

I know the thoughts that I have toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not evil, to give you an expected end. (Jeremiah 29:11)

The third truth is this - When God says no, we must realize that he knows us fully.  

Like a humbled child, David expresses his trust in God's knowledge of his heart.  He says to God:

Who am I, O Lord God?  And what is my house, that thou hast brought me this far?  And what can David say more unto thee?  For thou, Lord, knowest thy servant. (II Samuel 7:18-20)

It was a comfort to David that God knew him fully.  God knew his capabilities and achievements.  He knew his motives and attitudes.  We should respond to situations like David responded.  We must acknowledge His wisdom for our life even when He does something for us the way we least expect it to be done. 

There was once a hitchhiker travelling around Chicago when it was only 20 degrees.  As he was standing on the side of the road with the snowy air blowing on his cold exposed thumb, he began to wonder if he would ever get a ride.

In his despair, he saw an approaching car indicating that it was going to stop for him.  As the car passed, the passenger's window was rolled down and a pair of gloves was hurled out to him.

As he put on the gloves, he waved thank you and continued hitchhiking.

Sometimes God meets our need in unusual ways and we must respond like the hitchhiker by saying, "Lord, that's not what I was expecting but thank you."

The fourth truth is this - When God says no, we must recommit to his will for our life.  David's response to God's no was godly, gracious and full of trust.

And now, O Lord God, the word that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it forever, and do as thou hast said. (II Samuel 7:25)

George W. Truett was entertained on one occasion in the home of a wealthy oil man in Texas.  After the dinner the man took him up to the roof of the house and indicated a huge field of oil derricks and said, "Dr. Truett, that's all mine, I came to this country twenty five years ago, penniless, and now I own everything as far as you can see in that direction.  Then he turned to the opposite direction and indicated waving fields of grain and said again, It's all mine.  I own everything as far as you can see in that direction."

Then he turned to the east, and pointed to huge herds of cattle and said again, "It's all mine, everything as far as you can see in that direction is mine."  One final time he turnedtoward the west and pointed to a great forest and said again, "Twenty-five years ago I was penniless, but I worked hard and saved, and today I own everything as far as you can see in this direction, that direction, that direction, and this direction."

He paused for the expected praise, but to his astonishment it didn't come.  Dr. Truett laid his hand lovingly on his shoulder, pointed upward and said, "My friend, how much do you own in that direction?"

Where do you turn when God says no?  Do you have a relationship with him that will sustain you through the periods of life that He says no?  Do you run to the arms of disillusionment or to the embrace of God?  We, like David, need to look up and depend solely on our Father to give us guidance.

 

 

David and the Ark | 2 Samuel 6

"Then Jesus took his disciples up the mountain and gathering around him, he taught them saying:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are the meek.

Blessed are they that mourn.

Blessed are the merciful.

Blessed are they who thirst for justice.

Blessed are you when persecuted.

Blessed are you when you suffer.

Be glad and rejoice for your reward is great in heaven.

Then Simon Peter said....

  Do we have to write this down?

And Andrew said....

  Are we supposed to know this?

And James said...

  Will we have a test on this?

And Philip said....

  I don't have any paper.

And Bartholomew said....

  Do we have to turn this in?

And John said...

  The other disciples didn't have to learn this.

And Matthew said....

  Can I go to the boy's room?

And Judas said....

  What does this have to do with the real world?

Then one of the Pharisees who was present asked to see Jesus's lesson plan and inquired of Jesus...

  Where is your anticipatory set and your objectives in this cognitive domain?

And Jesus wept.

Details!  They are a part of life but just like the disciples we do not know how to deal with them at times.  Which ones can we ignore and which ones should we remember?

Israel had become spiritually malnourished under Saul's reign.  The tabernacle had deteriorated, its furnishings had been scattered, the worship had become virtually meaningless.  Since God's presence was associated with the tabernacle furnishings, the people of Israel no longer felt his nearness.  As Israel's new king, David wanted to re-establish the center of worship.  He wanted to renew his people's fear of God and fatten their spiritual fervor.

David once again displays that his life pulsed to the heartbeat of God.  He was committed to obeying the Lord God of hosts.  He was Man after God's own heart.

The theme of this chapter is a theme that we have heard before.  But it is a theme that we need to hear over and over.  We need to apply to our Life what King David knew about God's will.  How can we know if we are a person after God's own heart?  How can we know if we take God's will seriously?  Is your heart linked to God's heart or does your heart follow a different agenda than that of God?  For you see, the better you know where you stand with the Lord, the freer you can be.

II Samuel 6 tells us a interesting story about David and the Ark of the Covenant.  It is not only a story about David, Uzzah and Michal.  It is a story about us.  This morning I invite you look in a spiritual mirror and see if the characteristics of your life matche that of the characteristics of one whose life is pulsing to the heartbeat of God. 

First - If our life pulses to the heartbeat of God we will know where to meet Him. 

King David knew that the existence of his new kingdom depended on strong center of worship.  He knew that meant gathering the articles of the tabernacle, particularly the Ark of the Covenant.  The Ark of the Covenant was the very place that God met His people.

And David arose, and went with all the people who were with him from Ba'ale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the Lord of hosts who dwelleth between the cherubims. (II Samuel 6:2)

The ark was a chest of acacia wood, gold plated inside and out.  It was rimmed with a border of Gold.  It was over three feet long, two feet wide and two feet high.  Its pure gold lid, the mercy seat, held two cheribs of hammered gold with wings outstretched over the cover.  It contained only three objects: A golden jar containing manna, Aaron's rod, and the Ten Commandments.  It was the most important part of the tabernacle.

Even before the cross worship was highly symbolic.  When the Israelites looked at the ark, they saw more than a box made from acacia wood and gold.  They saw holiness...the very glory of God.

Although there is no longer a tabernacle, an ark of the covenant, or a holy of holies, God's presence is still found in a valuable vessel.  This vessel is our heart.

We are creatures that have an incredible thirst and hunger for God.   Augustine of Hippo once prayed:

O God, thou hast made us for thyself and our Souls are restless, searching, 'til they find their rest in thee.

King David knew where to meet God.  He knew that his wholeness depended on knowing where to find God.  As you look in the mirror do you see a person that knows where to meet God?  Is your life pulsing at the heartbeat of God?  Paul wrote:

And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?  for you are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them;  and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (II Corinthians 6:16)

Second - If your life pulses to the heartbeat of God we will respect His holiness and will follow His precepts.  In his zeal to bring the ark to Jerusalem, David overlooked God's instructions on how to transport it, bringing it instead on the wheels of haste and convenience.

And they placed the ark of God on a new cart that they might bring it from the house of Abinadab which was on a hill; and Uzzah and Ahio were leading the cart...But when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it for the oxen nearly upset it.  And the anger of the Lord burned against Uzzah, and God struck him down for his irreverence; and he died their by the ark of God.  (I Samuel 6:3,6-7)

Instead of being carried on the shoulders of Levites, the ark was carried on a cart. and instead of revering the ark, Uzzah touched it, desecrating its holiness.  Clearly, David had overlooked the details of God's plan, details so important to God that He took Uzzah's life.

There is no doubt that Uzzah had the best of intentions.  But he did the right thing in the wrong way.  The means did not justify the end.  John Newton said, "If you think you see the ark of God falling you can be quite sure that it is due to a swimming in your own head!"

God has given us general principles as well as specific precepts to follow.  We ourselves will be stricken for our sincere but half hearted attempts to do His will.   Some say it doesn't matter what a person believes as long as he or she is sincere.  I am sure that would be very comforting to Uzzah.   One cannot go down a wrong road in life with good intentions and expect to end up where God wants.  Our sincerity only matters when we follow God's precepts, the specific plan of God for our life.  

How about it?  Are you banking on God to accept you because of your intentions?  I hope you are depending on the grace of God through Jesus Christ as your way to God?  Is your life pulsing to the heartbeat of God?

Third - If your life is pulsing to the heartbeat of God you will fear Him.  Do you live life with the awareness of God's presence?

As Uzzah's body lay alongside the ark, David's anger burned against God,  until an awareness of God's presence gripped his raging heart and turned him back.

And David became angry because of the Lord's outburst against Uzzah.  So David was afraid of the Lord that day; and said, "How can the ark of the Lord come to me?" (II Samuel 6:3-9)

David was not perfect.  But he was sensitive to sin.  He admitted his wrong and began to take God seriously.  He humbly refused to move the ark to Jerusalem and took it to the house Obed-edom instead.

During the three months the ark was with Obed-edom.  David watched the blessing it brought to his house, which made David eager to bring it to Jerusalem. 

What happened to make David change his mind?  The answer: he did his homework.  He discovered the proper way to carry the ark.  He said to the Levites:

Because you did not carry it at the first, the Lord, our God made an outburst on us, for we did not seek Him according to the ordinance. (I Chronicles 15:13)

King David not only admitted his wrong, the next time around he made it right.  He instructed the levites that they were to carry the ark on their shoulders, with the poles that the Lord had instructed them to have.

When it comes to obeying God, it's the details, the rings and the poles, that snag us.  Either we don't want to go to the trouble of getting the poles, or we don't want to carry them upon our shoulders.  So we grab a cart, rewrite the rules and do our own way.

Are there some rings and poles that you have been ignoring?  What are the details of God's will that you have been ignoring?  Your study life?  Your prayer life?  Your church life?  Being a child of God means more than just being aware of the details.  It means doing those things God wants you to do, caring for the things God wants you to care for, grieving over what grieve him, being willing to do His will, His way.

As you look at your life do you see someone who fears God?  Are continuously aware of his presence?  Is your life pulsing to the heartbeat of God?

Fourth - If your life is pulsing to the heartbeat of God you will have a deep wisdom of what it means to be free. 

Some might think that following every detail of God's will would make you unbending and stern.  But this wasn't the case with David.  When he followed the detail of God we find that David was anything but rigid.

And David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, and David was wearing a linen ephod.  So David and all of the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouting and the sound of the trumpet. (II Samuel 6:14-15)

For David, it was more than a religious rite.  It was the release from his remorse; the restoration of his joy in the Lord after profound repentance; the liberation of his whole person from fear of having offended the Almighty.  He acknowledged that God once deigned to come and dwell among his people. 

During the celebration, David composed one of his most magnificent psalms.  Few others match this one for the honor, praise and majesty poured out upon God. (I Chronicles 16:7ff).

Do you have a deep wisdom of what it means to be free?  If not, place your burden in the hands of God and begin to experience what it means to be free instead of in bondage.

How does your life compare to that of what God would have?  Every direction has a destination.  In 5, 10, 15 years you will have made it.  The question is where?  Will your life be one that pulses to the heartbeat of God?

 

We are ready to turn your book into bread! 

Parson's Porch & Company |121 Holly Trail, NW | Cleveland, Tennessee 37311 | 423-475-7308 | dtullock@parsonsporch.com