Riding Out the Storm | 2 Samuel 12:13-25
It's midnight in Rockport, Maine. The harbor is quiet, except for the boats' creaking decks and the water slapping up against the wooden hulls. But within minutes, storm clouds begin to tumble through the sky. Thunder rumbles and rain pelts. The tranquil harbor is tossed by a whirlwind.
One boat, tied loosely to its moorings, snaps its rope and is carried out by the violent currents to crash against the rocks. Another boat, secured to the dock and firmly anchored, rides out the storm and is ready to sail when the sun comes out in the morning.
This scene serves as an analogy of human experience. Two people can experience virtually the same thing and will suffer differently.
David had been at the center of a whirlwind, reaping the results of his sin. How did he weather the storm? Did he sink or swim? When the waves of sin's consequences begin to slosh the decks of our lives, our only hope for survival is to anchor ourselves in the Lord.
Before talking about riding out the storm, let's talk about the storm. What do we need to know about the gusty weather of sin's whirlwind?
First, we reap what we sow, forgiveness notwithstanding. Forgiveness does not necessarily erase the consequence of our sin. Second, the pain of the reaping eclipses the pleasure of the sowing. The suffering you'll endure in the whirlwind is much greater than the pleasure of sowing the wind. Hosea says:
For they sow with the wind and reap with the whirlwind. (Hosea 8:7)
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall reap corruption. (Galatians 6:7-8)
In a magazine article in 1956, Ernest Hemingway described immorality as anything that one does not feel bad after doing. By this yardstick, he had impeccable character and morals. He was a heavy drinker. He was a womanizer.
In 1966, the same magazine reported the several suicide attempts and Hemingway's admittance to Mayo Clinic for alcoholism. It continued by saying that he was functioning at 70% of capacity and constantly lived in the delusion that the Feds were after him and that his friends were wiretapping his phone. The magazine described the salt and pepper Hemingway as his face lay in a pool of blood as he had committed suicide.
The magazine concluded by saying that sin had paid off for Papa Hemingway.
David and his family reaped the whirlwind of his sin with Bathsheba. Yet, when the waves of domestic tragedy threatened to sink his life, he humbly anchored faith to the Lord.
David responded to Nathan's confrontation with an open and unguarded confession.
Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord." And Nathan said to David, "The Lord also has taken away your sin; you shall not die." (II Samuel 12:13)
Notice that David acknowledged his sin. God spared his life. Under the law David deserved death. Because of the grace of God, God chose to send consequences that were less severe than what David deserved.
Nathan told David that the first gust of the whirlwind would be the death of his infant son. And with that prediction, David had to decide how to react. Like the boat that was loosed from its mooring, his life could have ended up broken on the rocks of bitterness. But instead, he dropped four anchors of faith that helped him ride out the storm.
David serves as an example for us of how to face sins consequences. Did he make life better or bitter? Let's look closer.
First, when we face the consequence of our sin, we must continue to pray. While enduring this deep pain, David stayed home where he could be quiet and alone with God.
And Nathan departed unto the house. And the Lord struck the child that Uriah's wife bore unto David, and it was very sick. David, therefore, besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in and lay all night upon the earth. (II Samuel 12:15-16)
Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance, it is laying hold of His highest willingness.
I got up early one morning and rushed right into the day; I had so much to accomplish I didn't have time to pray. Troubles just tumbled about me and heavier came each task. Why doesn't God help me, I wondered, He answered, "You didn't ask." I tried to come into God's presence, I used all my keys at the lock. God gently and lovingly chided, "Why child, you didn't knock." I wanted to see joy and beauty, but the day toiled on grey and bleak, I called on the Lord from the season, He said, "You didn't seek." I woke up early this morning and paused before entering the day. I had so much to accomplish that I had to take time to pray.
If like David, you are enduring sin's storm take time to be quiet. In this soul searching period of your life, spend time with God, listen to His voice, and let Him minister to your heart. There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God!
Second, when we are facing the whirlwind of the consequence of our sin, we must remain realistic. David accepted the situation he was in.
After seven days the infant died, David's servants were afraid to tell him, concerned that, in the depths of his sorrow, he might take his own life. But look at David's mature response to the painful news.
But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead; for they said, He is dead. Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the Lord, and worshiped (II Samuel 12:19-20)
David accepted this painful experience and refused to blame God and become bitter.
Bitterness can cause your faith to fray and snap. Sending you out into the violent sea to weather the storm alone. But a humble heart will accept the storm and anchor itself to God's love.
How do you respond in the whirlwind? As sin's consequences wash over your life, do you shake your fist at God or do you lift your hands in prayer?
Third, when we are facing the whirlwind of the consequence of our sin, we need to remember God's blessing. David heart was secured in his belief that God's decisions was right.
Then said one of his servants unto him, what is this thing that thou hast done? Thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat. And he said, while the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me. (II Samuel 12:21-23)
David's response shows that he believed in the hope that God provides. Even in the midst of his suffering, David relied in God's truth. What about you? When you experience the consequences of sin, do you turn to Him for comfort?
There was once a little girl who asked her father to build a doll house for her. The father promised her that he would build it for her.
The father sat down in his chair by the window and noticed that his little girl was carrying a two by four across the yard. A few minutes later she carried a hammer and a saw. The father asked him what she was doing. She responded by saying, "You promised me that you would build me a doll house and I thought I would help you."
God has promised us a wealth of things; peace, joy, strength, power for living and patience. With the innocence of the little girl we must depend upon his promise of blessing.
Fourth, when we are facing the whirlwind of the consequence of sin we must refuse to give in. After the funeral and after the mourning, David found grace to live again. It takes God's grace not only to endure but to move on. You must accept His grace and forgive yourself.
Growing up on a farm taught me some things about God. One of those things is about a plow.
A plow is a useless piece of steel if it is not hooked to a three point hitch of a tractor. It will set and collect rust for years and will not move until hitched.
Once it is hitched and pull behind a tractor it will sink deep down and will function in the way in which it was intended to function. The key is to attach it to something.
Are you sitting around with your life? Isn't it time for you to attach yourself to God's power and let him help you? The hymn writer states it this way:
Would you live for Jesus and be always pure and good? Would you walk with him within the narrow road? His power can make you what you want to be, his love can give you grace to set you free. Let him have his way with thee.