Stages of Growth: Dissecting Disobedience – 2 Samuel 11

When we sin, we set in automatic motion a series of problems that roll into our lives. David’s premier moment for “blowing it” with Bathsheba and Uriah will become the lab in which we will dissect the process, pain and product of disobedience. God took His time on this story, allowing us to understand what truly goes on in the recesses of our heart, when we go astray. David recovered, but never rid himself of some of the pain of those decisions…

Key Principle: Understanding how things break is essential to keeping them working well.

The Failure (11:1-4)

  1. Restlessness: Wrong place (11:1)
  2. Idleness: Doing too little right (11:2)

People find it hard to understand that simply doing nothing is so dangerous to spiritual life and vitality — but it’s really only a reflection of our normal, daily experience. Relationships fall apart because we don’t work at them. A beautiful garden is destroyed by neglect; a house crumbles around you if you don’t maintain it. Many people die prematurely, not through any accident, but simply by neglecting their health; ignoring the warning signs and not making the necessary adjustments. As Solomon put it (Prov.24:33, 34), “You sleep a little; you take a nap. You fold your hands and lie down to rest. Soon you will be as poor as if you had been robbed; you will have as little as if you had been held up.”

  1. Stubborness: Sense of privilege (11:3)

The Talmud (Derek Evetz, 1.26) says, “Tremble before a minor sin, lest it lead you to a major one.” And so we should.

Dietrich Bonhoffer In his little book “Temptation” writes this:  “In our members there is a slumbering inclination towards desire which is both sudden and fierce. With irresistible power desires seize mastery over the flesh. All at once a secret smoldering fire is kindled. The flesh burns and is in flames. It makes no difference if it is sexual desire, ambition, vanity, love of fame, power, or money. Joy of God is extinguished in us, and we seek all our joy in the creature. At this moment God is quite unreal to us. He looses all reality and only desire for the creature is real. Satan does not here fill us with hatred of God, but with forgetfulness of God. I don’t hate God when I lust, I simply forget Him. I forget He is holy, I forget He is jealous for His name. I forget that my reputation is not at stake, it is HIS that is at stake. The lust thus aroused envelopes the mind and the will in deepest darkness. Clear discrimination and decision are taken from us. At that moment we are altogether indecisive and indiscriminate. A woman can lust for a man not even knowing his name. A man can lust for a woman not even knowing what her face looks like or anything about her character. He can be aroused without even speaking to her.

  1. Defiance: Writing new rules for himself (11:4)

The Cover Up (11:5-17)

  1. Discovery: Others will know what I have done (11:5)

Days, if not weeks pass by. David may very well have forgotten about his tryst with Uriah’s wife, but then he receives news that she is pregnant. David knows that the child is his so, being a strategist, he concocts a foolproof plan: It’s still early in the pregnancy, so order Bathsheba’s husband home from the battle field; he’ll certainly sleep with her and discover later that he and his wife are expecting a child. Perfect.

  1. Deception: Make it appear other than the way it is (11:6-13). The father of lies can best be seen where crooked is being made to look straight.
  • Make wrong look right: Get Uriah to think it is his baby (11:6-9).
  • Cloak selfishness in fake concern: Get Uriah to believe untrue motives (11:10-11)
  • I can out think this: Get Uriah drunk to get his cooperation – corrupt the other guy into cooperating! (11:12-13)
  • I am really quite noble: Get Uriah killed so it will look like David is doing an honorable thing (11:14-16)

The Results (11:16-27)

  1. Innocent casualties (11:16-17). Benjamin Franklin said, “Sin is not hurtful because it is forbidden, but it is forbidden because it is hurtful”
  1. Spread of deception and self-justification (11:18-24).
  1. Practice of dual speech (11:25). “Nothing sounds so hollow as a believer living in lust and deception speaking encouragement of Scripture!”
  1. Hypocrisy (11:26-27a).

David violated his body. He violated Bathsheba. He violated his “sons who had almost reached the age of manhood” (Pink); he violated the nation God chose him to lead; he violated Uriah; worst of all, he violated the Lord himself, who had spoken so clearly in the Ten Commandments: “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14).

Just a little one night stand, the world will sing. But sinning is like throwing a hefty rock into a pond. You just don’t hear and see the splash; you see the ripples. The tragedy is in the ripples and what they touch. So often we try to ignore the ripples of sin.

  1. Distance from God (11:27b).

Did you ever hear of Edgar Allen Poe’s story, “The Telltale Heart”? The main character has committed murder and he buries the body of the victim in his basement, but he’s unable to escape the guilt of his crime. He begins to hear the heartbeat of his dead victim. This goes on and on and on, the heartbeat growing louder and louder. Eventually, the man goes mad, but the pounding that he heard was not from the grave below but from within his own chest. You get the feeling that’s how David felt. The guilt became unbearable.

Randy Alcorn wrote words to those of us in ministry, but the same words can be used for your life as well, in his article in Leadership Magazine: “What Happens When you fall”: The Consequences of a Moral Tumble:

  1. I grieve the Lord who redeemed me when I tumble.
  2. I drag His sacred name into the mud.
  3. I forget I will one day look Jesus the righteous judge in the face and give account of my actions. I will stand there without an answer.
  4. I begin my journey following in the footsteps of those who have gone before that have forsaken their ministries and caused me in the past to shudder.
  5. I inflict untold hurt on Nancy, my faithful friend and loyal wife. I lose Nancy’s respect and trust, hurting my beloved daughters, Rachel and Angie.
  6. I destroy my credibility with my children.
  7. If my blindness should continue or my wife should be unable to forgive, I may end up losing my wife and my children forever.
  8. I cause shame to my family.
  9. I lose my self respect.
  10. I form memories and flash backs that could plague future intimacy with my wife.
  11. I waste years of ministry training and experience for a long time, and perhaps permanently.
  12. I undermine the faithful example of other hard working Christians in our community.
  13. I would be bringing great pleasure to Satan.
  14. I would be heaping enormous judgment on the person with whom I was committing adultery.
  15. I could possibly bear the physical consequences of my sin with diseases such as gonorrhea, syphilis, clomidia, herpes or aids.
  16. I could even infect Nancy, or in the case of aids, causing her death.
  17. I would bring shame and hurt to fellow Pastors and elders: (Names).
  18. I would invoke life long embarrassment on myself.

Take heed, lest you fall!

The GOOD NEWS IS You don’t need to end your walk with chapter 11. Chapter 12 follows, and there is a way to be saved!

One Pastor wrote: We were doing a baptism service. We told people before they came up to the platform to be baptized to take a piece of paper, write down a few of the sins they’ve committed, and fold the paper. When they come up to the platform, there was a large wooden cross on the stage. Take that piece of paper, take a pin, and pin it to the cross, because the Bible says our sins are nailed to the cross with Jesus Christ, and fully paid for by his death. Then turn and come to the pastor to be baptized.

The Pastor shared a letter a woman wrote who was baptized in one of those services.  She said: I remember my fear. In fact, it was the most fear I remember in my life. I wrote as tiny as I could on that piece of paper the word abortion. I was so scared someone would open the paper and read it and find out it was me. I wanted to get up and walk out of the auditorium during the service, the guilt and fear were that strong. When my turn came, I walked toward the cross, and I pinned the paper there. I was directed to a pastor to be baptized. He looked me straight in the eyes, and I thought for sure that he was going to read this terrible secret I kept from everybody for so long. But instead, I felt like God was telling me, I love you. It’s okay. You’ve been forgiven. I felt so much love for me, a terrible sinner. It’s the first time I ever really felt forgiveness and unconditional love. It was unbelievable, indescribable.

Do you have a secret sin that you wouldn’t even want to write down for fear that somebody might open it and find out? How about a sin that always “unfolds” in your mind whenever you try to “move on” or receive God‘s blessing?

Understanding how things break is essential to keeping them working well.

I have good news:

Psalm 103:8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

In the book entitled, “A Forgiving God in an Unforgiving World” a true story is told of a missionary in the Philippines, a much-loved man of God who carried the burden of a secret sin he had committed many years before. He had repented but still had no peace, no sense of God’s forgiveness. Nearby was a woman who deeply loved God and who claimed to have visions in which she spoke with Christ and he with her. The missionary however, was skeptical. To test her he said, “The next time you speak with Christ, I want you to ask him what sin I committed while he was in seminary.” The woman agreed. A few days later the missionary asked, “Did Christ visit you in your dreams?” “Yes, he did,” she replied. “And did you ask him what sin I committed in seminary?” “Yes.” “Well, what did he say?” “Jesus said, ’I don’t remember.’”