A talk on temptation that I gave at Becontree Avenue Baptist Church in Dagenham on 9th August 2009.
2 Samuel 11:1 – 5
1 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. 2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (She had purified herself from her uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”
Have you ever been somewhere you should not have been? And done something you shouldn’t have done?
A case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
You may regret it and say “if only I hadn’t been there, it wouldn’t have happened”.
If only one beautiful June morning in 1981 my nearly new car hadn’t suffered a cracked piston and nearly wrecked the engine, I would not have been driving my mum’s badly in need of a service Hillman Avenger on the A6 that afternoon. And I would not have over taken the annoying weaving car in front of me just as I clipped a double white line and the keen member of the Leicestershire constabulary would not have pursued me and flagged me down in Market Harborough and have me charged for driving without due care and attention. I would not have ended up with a fine and a record! If only I hadn’t been there!
I am sure that we’ve all done things we shouldn’t have done and paid the consequences for our actions.
Lets look this morning at a man who like us gave in to temptation. For him and the others involved it had disastrous consequences.
David was king of Israel. Described in the Bible as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel13:14). If you remember the story, this is the man who danced before the Lord when the ark was brought into Jerusalem. The writer of many of the Psalms. In Psalm 119:9 – 11 he wrote “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” as well as v105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”
A man mightily blessed by God and used by him. You could assume that such a man would know and obey God’s commands. And yet…
What went wrong?
Firstly he was in the wrong place. He should have been with his army. 2 Samuel 11:1 says “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army.” It was his job to be there even though Joab was a very capable commander, it was David as commander in chief who should have been there.
The army were doing what they were meant to do in the campaign, they were dealing with the Ammonites who had been trouble for many years. And what was their King doing? He was at home, in his palace in Jerusalem. We are not told why he was there, but we know that it didn’t seem to be anything strenuous or important that was keeping him there.
David has clearly had a siesta and is now taking the night air, even perhaps wondering how his army is doing without him. “One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace.”
And now things take a turn for the worse. It’s bad enough that he has thrown a “sicky” or gone absent but worse is to come.
Some of you may have been taught the Sunday School song “Be careful little eyes what you see, be careful little feet where you tread, be careful little ears what you hear.” Its such a shame that King David didn’t know it because it could have saved a whole heap of trouble.
We read in v2 “From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful,“ I am sure that in our lives we see people or things that are very attractive or pleasing to the eye. I believe the modern term is “eye candy”. Its okay to admire someone or something and leave it at that. Its when we take a second or third look and the old brain starts thinking and the imagination takes over that we can find ourselves on a very slippery slope.
It doesn’t have to just be people we look at and lust after. One of our neighbours was a “shopaholic” and just couldn’t resist buying clothes, shoes etc. By the time the law caught up with her for obtaining money by deception and various other misdemeanours she was bankrupt owing some £38000. Her desires had got out of control and she paid the price for her lusting after material possessions.
So King David sends a messenger to find out about her and even the fact that she was married didn’t stop him. David himself had several wives and had inherited Saul’s concubines and yet he wanted more. He lusted after Bathsheba, someone else’s wife. At this point any thought about God’s commandments goes out the window. After all David would have been familiar with the 10 commandments which include: Deuteronomy 5: 18 “You shall not commit adultery.” and v21“You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife.“
The next step is when David turns thoughts into action 2 Samuel 11:4 “Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her.” Before anyone thinks “Well Bathsheba should have said no to the King” its not that easy. Women in that culture were very much second class citizens and the king had great power and authority which the average person would not dispute.
So David possibly thinks he has got away with it. But our sins, our misdeeds, have a way of catching up with us or being revealed. 2 Samuel 11:5 “The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.“”
Years ago I worked with Derek, a young Geordie lad, and like many Geordies he liked a drink. When in his teens he was “home alone”, he decided to work his way through his parents’ drinks cupboard. He found he really liked his mum’s Pernod, an aniseed flavoured drink. He panicked when he realised that he had drunk most of the bottle. What to do? His parents were due home shortly. He topped up the bottle with water. What he didn’t know was that Pernod a clear liquid turns cloudy when you add water. The game was up!
And indeed the game was up for David. If we read on in 2 Samuel 11 we find he tries desperate measures to hide what he had done and in the end he has Bathsheba’s husband killed to hush things up.
But brothers and sisters we can never get away from our sins. We can hide things from each other and try to lie and cheat our way out of trouble. We may succeed for a while but Hebrews 4:13 reminds us “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
The bottom line is whilst we think we have got away with our sins on this earth, on the day of judgement we will have to account for each and every one of them. There will be no excuses. We will know that in each and every situation we had the choice to do something or not.
All through the story of David and Bathsheba, David had choices to make. He could have said no. He could have got off the roof before anything happened. But no he went with his thoughts and his feelings rather than follow God’s teachings and do what he knew was right.
Eventually God sent the prophet Nathan to deal with David and you can read about that encounter in 2 Samuel 12. It can be difficult if God calls you to be his prophet, his spokesman and take his judgement to people. I don’t think that any of the Old testament prophets had an easy job and today if God speaks to you to talk to someone about their life style, their sins, it is not easy.
David did repent and as he sorted his life out he wrote Psalm 51.
And for us when we sin the bible assures us in 1 John 1 :8 & 9 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Jesus understands about temptation but he is the only man in history not to have given in to it. Hebrews 4:14 – 16 tells us “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
So we can be forgiven when we sin but it is better that when we find ourselves in a place of temptation we do what David should have done we get off the roof.
Today lets ask God for the wisdom and the courage to not only listen to him and the Spirit’s prompting but also to obey him even when our desires and longings would have us stray into trouble. Amen.