When Tangled in Sin

Explore the Bible Series

November 16, 2008


Background Passage: II Samuel 9:1-12:31 (I Chronicles 19:1-20:3)

Lesson Passage: II Samuel 12:1-7a, 9-14



This week we turn our attention to one of the most familiar stories in II Samuel; indeed, the account of Davidís sin with Bathsheba may be one of the best known texts in all of the Old Testament.The passage contains invaluable lessons for Christians who, of course, deal with temptations, just as David did.The nature and consequences of sin become crystal clear as we examine this text.Furthermore, we rejoice in this testimony of Godís grace toward David, and all Godís children take comfort that the Lord forgives those who repent of their sins.We benefit from this example of Godís chastening of his wayward child.The Lord did not leave David in his sin; rather, he sent Nathan to confront the king, a confrontation that led to Davidís repentance.Yes, this passage contains very helpful lessons for the Lordís people.However, as is often the case, Godís dealings with men also prove mysterious.


As I have studied through I and II Samuel, the narrative, again and again, raises questions for me.Why, for instance, did God deal with Saulís sin in one manner and Davidís in another?Saul failed to kill all of the Amalekites, and God rejected him as king of Israel.Saul repented of his sin, but the Lord still tore the kingdom from the monarchís hands.David committed adultery and conspired to murder an innocent, noble man, and God did not nullify Davidís monarchy.Perhaps the answer to this dilemma rests in the gracious covenant God made with David, an agreement the Lord did not make with Saul.


Another question that stirs my heart relates to the murder of Uriah the Hittite. Often the Psalms remind us of Godís protective care over his people.The images of Godís protection include a fortress, a high rock, a buckler, a shield, and a high tower.Why didnít God protect Uriah?The poor man had done nothing wrong; in fact, he proved, in this case, far more righteous than David.It is true that Uriah was a Hittite, but the text seems to imply his conversion to Judaism. Yet, deceitful, adulterous, murderous David survived this story, and Uriah died a horrible, painful death.


Please forgive one more illustration of my puzzlement with this story.After Bathsheba conceived and Uriah died, David married his adulterous partner, and she gave birth to a son.Soon, the child became ill, and, after a week of suffering, died.The baby, of course, played no role in this sinful episode, but the baby suffered and died, while David and Bathsheba lived.Why did the baby suffer as a consequence of his parentsí sin?He didnít deserve death, but David did.


I donít raise these questions to promote doubt in any of my readers; rather, I express these things because I want to be honest about the difficulties that arise from considering the ways of God.Perhaps no one really has satisfactory answers to these questions; therefore, Christians should avoid the model of church leadership that claims to have all the answers of life.Ernest Reisinger often warned me about ďpeople who had all the answers on 3x5 cards.ĒI think Ernie was right.God will not be tamed.He is a storm, an earthquake who refuses human demands to conform to a set of mundane expectations.The ďanswer menĒ are idolaters who create a ďgodĒ they can explain and manage.Their deity is perfectly understandable and predictable.Jehovah, however, has no bit in his mouth.He will not be caged or leashed, and we, his children, must bow before him in godly fear, awe, and reverence.Only the God of the Bible can evoke both reverence and love. No one can love the god of the ďanswer menĒ, he induces pride and pity, unworthy attitudes toward the sovereign Lord of Hosts.



Lesson Outline:


I.                   Davidís Kindness to Mephibosheth (9:1-13)

A.    Seeking an opportunity for kindness (vv. 1-4): The king remembered his covenant with Jonathan and inquired about a remnant of Saulís household.Recall that most of Saulís family had died, but David turned every stone to discover a survivor.Like David, Christians should seek opportunities for kindness.

B.     Davidís summons of Mephibosheth (vv. 5-8): Mephibosheth, a son of Jonathan, had escaped the demise of the family and lived with a wealthy man named Machir, at Lo-debar (located, in all probability, in Gilead, on the east side of the Jordan River).II Samuel 4:4 reveals that Mephibosheth had experienced a debilitating injury, when he was five years old.This injury left the boy disabled for life.

C.     Davidís decree concerning Mephibosheth (vv. 9-13):According to the decree of the king, Ziba and his family would serve Mephibosheth.David required that they work the lame manís inherited land, and Mephibosheth was to eat at the kingís table.Some have speculated that David commanded this because he anticipated treachery at the hand of Mephibosheth.Our current text gives no indication of Davidís suspicions, but the II Samuel 16:1-4 may indicate that Mephibosheth conspired with Davidís enemies, during the revolt of Absalom.


II.                Israelís Continued Military Conflicts (10:1-19)

A.    Davidís gracious overture to the Ammonites (vv. 1-2): The Ammonite people descended from Lotís incestuous relations with his youngest daughter (See Genesis 19:30-38), and this tribal group often had troubled relations with Israel.Nonetheless, when King Nahash died, David sent a delegation to express grief over Ammonís loss.

B.     Hanunís disgraceful treatment of Davidís emissaries (vv. 3-5): The princes of the Ammonites convinced Hanun, the son of Nahash, that the Israelite messengers had a sinister motive-- spying on the Ammonites.Foolishly, Hanun believed his unreliable counselors, and he ordered that the messengersí beards and clothing be mutilated.Shaving half the beard and exposing the loins of the envoys constituted a grave humiliation, in ancient Middle Eastern culture.

C.     Davidís defeat of the Ammonite/Syrian League (vv. 6-19): Quickly, the Ammonites realized they had irked David, and they prepared for war.These preparations led them to ally with the Syrians, and the two armies converged on Israel, on a large, open plain somewhere east of the Jordan River. Joab, commander of Davidís army, and Abishai faced a two-front battle.Joab engaged the Syrians, and Abishai fought the Ammonites.God gave the Israelites victory, but the Syrians pressed another battle (See vv. 15-19).Syrian reinforcements arrived, and David himself took command of the Hebrew army.Hadadezarís troops met such a resounding defeat that Syria was reduced to a vassal state.


III.             Davidís Sin with Bathsheba (11:1-12:31)

A.    The complexity of Davidís sin (11:1-27): These two chapters faithfully recount the grievous series of events that led King David, deeper and deeper, into disobedience to God.The sinful spiral began with a lustful look and ended with Davidís insensitivity to the seriousness of his transgressions.As often happens, the sin of lust did not stand in isolation; rather, one act of disobedience led to a complex sequence of sad events.

1.      failure of duty (v. 1): Perhaps I press the text too far here, but I wonder why David did not go to battle with his troops.This verse highlights Davidís absence from his army.

2.      lust (vv. 2-3): David saw Bathsheba bathing, and her beauty overwhelmed him.If David had handled this situation wisely, the problems would not have escalated.Men, of course, find women attractive.I think this attraction, properly understood and expressed, makes up part of Godís healthy design (I encourage the careful reading of the Song of Solomon for more insight here).The beginning of Davidís problem centers, it seems, on the kingís inquiry about the woman he saw from his roof.The text gives no indication that David spied on Bathsheba; rather, Davidís observance of the woman seems incidental and without serious consequence.

3.      adultery (vv. 4-5): The king followed through on his lustful desires for Bathsheba, and, after their illicit affair, the woman conceived a child. Note that the text indicates that Bathsheba had just completed her days of uncleanness (during her menstrual cycle); therefore, the baby was undoubtedly Davidís child.

4.      deceit (vv. 6-13): David, in an effort to conceal his sin, sent for Uriah and tried to persuade him to go in to Bathsheba, but Uriah honored his military commitments and refused to go to his home.Desperate, David made Uriah drunk in hopes that the alcohol would distort the judgment of the loyal soldier, but the scheme did not work.

5.      murder (vv. 14-27): Finally, David conspired to kill Uriah.The king told Joab to place Uriah at the most intense part of the fighting; then, David required the soldiers to withdraw, thus abandoning Uriah amid the enemy.After Uriahís murder, David comforted Joab, the commander who had given the fateful order to abandon Uriah.Bathsheba fulfilled the obligatory period of mourning for her husband; then, she married David.

B.     Nathanís confrontation with King David (12:1-12): The prophet confronted Davidís sin by telling the king a fictional story, a story that mirrored the horror of Davidís sin.David, outraged at the cruelty of the rich man in the story, commanded that the offender be executed, and Nathan revealed that David was the oppressive rich man.The prophet predicted severe consequences for the kingís sin.

1.      ďthe sword will not depart from your houseĒ (v. 10)

2.      ďI will take your wivesÖ and give them to your neighborĒ (v. 11)

3.      ďI will do these things before all of IsraelĒ (v. 12)

C.     Davidís repentance (vv.13-14): Davidís repentance was quick and sincere.God pledged not to kill the king, but the temporal consequences of his sin were not cancelled.Psalm 51 reflects the depth of Davidís grief over his sin.

D.    The birth and death of the child (vv. 15-23): The Lord afflicted the baby, and, after seven days of illness, the newborn died.David prayed earnestly for the baby, but God did not spare the little one.

E.     The birth of Solomon (vv. 4-25): In time, God gave a new son to David and Bathsheba, and they named the boy Solomon.This son, of course, will later become king of Israel.

F.      Military victory over Ammon (vv. 26-31): The narrative returns to the military conquests of David.Joab defeated and enslaved the long-time enemies of Israel.