'Point of Reference' with Fred Price
Originally posted on 01/11/2019
Last week we looked at a number of people who seemed to have little to recommend them for greatness who none-the-less were used by God to accomplish extraordinary things. We ended up with David, a man of great success and failure, who was repeatedly redeemed by God for a greater purpose. And while much of what he did was disappointing, his life was much like ours – full of contradictions and failure, even as we struggle to understand what God’s will for us is. Jesus characterizing us well when he said, “The spirit is willing but the body is weak.” Matthew 26:41
We must never, however, use that as an excuse for bad behavior, rather use it as a reminder to be on our guard for the temptation that so easily entangles us. For if we commit ourselves to fleeing the evil desires that entice us to sin and purposefully pursue the righteous acts of God – we won’t so easily fall prey to the Devil’s wiles. (2 Timothy 2:22)
Once again, we look to David; who learned this lesson the hard way. In doing so, he showed the inevitable consequences of sin, even when sorrow for it and repentance from it are equally evident; further exemplifying the virtue of accepting responsibility for our actions accompanied by a desire to make things right as much as is possible.
The hazards of laziness and idleness, often a prelude to sin, were shown at their worst in David’s involvement with Bathsheba. To begin with, he wasn’t where he should have been, at the head of his army, and was apparently bored; looking for something to fill the void and excite his senses. (2 Samuel 11:1) He “observed” Bathsheba bathing on her rooftop (a common practice of that day), became filled with lust and desire, and decided to invite her over for some “conversation.” The evening ended up with communication of a whole other kind; David – knowing she was married, committing adultery with her. (2 Samuel 11:2-5) Upon learning she had become pregnant, he sent for her husband who was at the battle-front. He did so, not to make things right but to coax Uriah to rest and relax for a while; hoping to then convince him that Bathsheba’s child was his own. It didn’t work because Uriah refused to take his ease and find pleasure with his wife as long as his comrades-in-arms were still on the field of battle. Frustrated, David finally instructed Uriah’s commander to post him in an exposed position during battle and then to fall back, leaving him alone to face the enemy. A highly disguised form of murder. (2 Samuel 11:6-17) But murder none-the-less.
This incident in particular demonstrates the pervasive progression of sin. Where did the act of murder get its start? In idleness? Maybe. In a passing glance? No – in not looking away! There are times when we will find ourselves in temptation’s way unintentionally. The key being, when we realize we’ve stumbled into something we shouldn’t have, we must immediately remove ourselves from harm’s way and temptation’s grasp. David was merely tempted by a glance, the sin came about when he continued to look and then arranged to meet up with the object of his temptation; flirting not just with Bathsheba but with the desire to do what he knew he shouldn’t – placing himself in danger. In arrogant defiance of what he knew to be right, he took what he wanted; and when the consequences of his actions became evident, he attempted to cover them with a lie and then more drastic measures to save face and his reputation as a Godly king. As a consequence, he did indeed pay a heavy price, losing the respect and support of much of the nation and many within his own family; precipitating years of struggle and bloodshed within both. (See James 1:13-15)
In this and one other incident in particular, we are shown the real frailty of humans as well as the true heart of a man who routinely fell to temptation but who, when convicted of sin was quick to repent and, even after suffering severe consequences, rose once more to usefulness. (2 Samuel 12) 1 Chronicles 21 records David, again indulging his arrogance in numbering the warriors in his army, evidently beginning to trust in the size of his war host rather than the strength of his God; and is punished with a pestilential plague among his people. (Innocent bystanders often becoming tragic collateral damage in these types of situations.) David’s response was, again, typical of the man’s heart. “I have sinned,” punish me instead of my people. In preparing then to offer a sacrifice for his sin, he refused to accept a well-intentioned offer of a gift of land and sacrificial animals, buying them instead; personally paying a price – as must we all. (1 Chronicles 21:24 – In our own personal circumstances, we can’t do anything to gain salvation but must respond to its offer; accepting responsibility and repenting of acknowledged sin, relishing our gift of salvation, and then turning to a new life in Christ.)
Jesus said, “…where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 Explaining how, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” (and our actions arise) Luke 6:45 But as David showed, most of us aren’t strictly one or the other; the best of us being a combination of good and bad battling for dominance. (See Paul’s exclamation of Romans 7:15-25) David was a perfect example of many of us, our treasure stored in chipped and tarnished vessels, with a deep down desire to serve the Lord in spite of our shortcomings. That’s not meant to excuse David’s or anybody else’s sin, but a real-life assessment of the importance for even the “saints” of God to exercise care in what they expose themselves to, guarding our minds and hearts jealously from evil influences. As God declares, “…be sure your sin will find you out.” and “…God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Numbers 3:23 & Galatians 6:7,8
Many years later, John the Baptist’s father prophesied a coming redeemer and the part his son would have in announcing his arrival, praising God because, “...he has come and has redeemed his people. Luke 1:68 Jesus himself confirming that the primary purpose of his ministry was, “…to seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19:10; ransoming us from our sinful way of life. (Matthew 20:28 – see also Romans 3:23,24) And the purpose of this ransoming of our lives? “…to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:13,14
It is through him that we have the capacity and ability to do better, to become something more than we were before. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10