Sunday, August 2, 2009

2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a: Totally busted

Westminster Presbyterian Church
August 2, 2009
How cool is it when people get caught.  Put the candid cameras up….Or the cameras at the traffic lights (those aren’t so cool). Hidden videos.Mystery novels and television programs that focus on someone doing something WRONG, and then trying to figure out how to catch them prove who done it. 

This was the case with David. He was so totally busted. In one of the greatest stories told of all time: David and Bathsheba.

The model king who can do no wrong. He has defeated Goliath and the Philistines. He has conquered the Ammorites and united the Kingdom of Israel,
he has restored the Ark of the Covenant containing the sacred Ten Commandments to the hands of their rightful owners.  And now he sits upon the throne and what other good can he do? 

It’s spring time, when most kings in those days went off to battle.  David didn’t go.  Maybe he was contemplating other good things he could do: A shelter for the homeless?  A way to feed the hungry? A plan to reform immigration? Insure everyone has proper healthcare?  Maybe he was contemplating peace….
…As he walks around his palace, and one evening there…below…bathing, beautiful Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, in plane view…
And then: David invites Bathsheba into his quarters
And then: Bathsheba calls David a few weeks later, “I’m pregnant”
And then: David commands Uriah home from battle, “Go, stay in your house, with your wife.”
And then: Uriah refuses to go into his house
And then: David sends Uriah off, back to the battle field carrying his own death sentence, signed and sealed by David’s own hand. 
And then: Uriah is killed
And then: David takes Bathsheba to be his wife. 
And then…
What happened to our hero…our king  David? He was wrong! How could he do such a thing? So much potential for good.  Who knew he could do such bad. And how often is this the case.

Fallen heroes.  Our favorite musician busted for drug use. Our favorite actor, caught in another affair. A politician we had put so much hopes on, tied to corruptions and scandals.  It even happens among us little people: 
I thought so and so was a good husband…How could he have done that to his wife?

That young girl was so nice growing up….she must have gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd? How can that nice old man say such racist remarks? We see, we know…we point fingers….It was wrong.  But what about us?  What about things we’ve done wrong? Well, when it’s us…I mean…we can justify what we’ve done.
It wasn’t our fault, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The devil made me do it!

John Calvin said that we humans have an infinite capacity to rationalize our actions, no matter how bad they may have been. If we’re honest, there are times in our lives when, like David, we take a step that seems innocent enough…down a dangerous path.  And then we get away with it.  And then we take another step. 
And then that we just keep going….until when? But, hey, as long as we get away with it…well then I guess it’s alright.  Sure, we do a lot of good things.  We do a lot of things right.  What about this one little thing that’s wrong…it’s not such a big deal.

As Martin Luther King Jr pointed out in a sermon called, “Rediscovering Lost Values”  Preaching in the 1950s he said of society, it seems like for everyone it’s okay to break the 10 commandments…so long as we don’t break the 11th.  Don’t you know what the 11th commandment is?  Sure there’s one. “Thou shalt not get caught.”

It’s about survival of the slickest. Instead of survival of the fittest, it’s the slickest people, the people who don’t get caught doing wrong who were going to rise to the top. …

We may have come along way since 1950 in many respects, become much more advanced in our ability to do good.  But we still abide by the 11th commandment.
Or we just forget that God gave any commandments at all.  Or we just forget that there is a God who sees, who knows….even when we think we’re trying to get away. . God knows…and it ain’t about Christmas presents….  The gospel of John says: On his part Jesus would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people…for he himself knew what was in everyone.

IN Romans we find a very honest Paul who says:  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. And later in the same chapter Paul says: So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand.

Here’s how Russian Novelist 
Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918 - 2008) Russian puts it "The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between political parties either -- but right through every human heart."[1]

Which is why we can do so wrong, not only as individuals, but collectively:
How many people saw what David was doing…and just went along with it.
I’m just following orders—What about our collective ability to do harm
Our country continues to wage wars all over the planet, cheap goods made in sweat shops, destruction of creation. As long as we don’t get caught….

So what are we to do? 

You know what makes this story about David and Bathsheba so memorable, an instant classic?  Why we love it so? David gets: TOTALLY BUSTED!

Finally someone speaks out! It’s so cool:  The prophet Nathan. I bet he was scared…Do you notice….the way he “busts” David, is beautiful.  With thought, love, care, consideration he crafts a story: A rich man with countless flocks. A poor man with a single ewe lamb.  A traveler comes to town and the rich man takes from the poor man. Instead of pointing a finger at David….David ends up pointing the finger at himself.  With Nathan, it wasn’t about who was right and who was wrong. It wasn’t about relishing in seeing David totally busted. It was about allowing David, who clearly had some major blinders on, to see…

“I have sinned before the Lord,” David says.

It was funny. ON Thursday evening, a group from a church in Agua Prieta, Mexico called Lily of the Valley stayed in our church. Many of you know Mark Adams who is affiliated with that church…he was on the trip with his family, and his youngest child is 16 months, walking around like a champ while sucking on his pacifier, and his name is Nathan. We had a cookout for the group using the grill out back (for the first time since I’ve been here), and while hanging out we hear this yelling coming from one of the businesses behind the building filled with expletives and: You don’t value my work; and No Your WRONG!  It was pretty disruptive and went on for about 20 minutes.  And then things quieted down.  Just then, little Nathan comes walking up to his daddy Mark, and I tell Mark, we need more Nathans around.  And Mark says….your right. DIdn’t you see that, yelling going on over there, Nathan disappears, and now no more yelling? Huh. We do need more nathans…not judges, but people who might be willing to confront us when we are doing wrong with child-like humility. Nathans who lovingly, pastorally help someone to see.

Have any of you been in that role? …

Even in as relativistic and live and let live, postmodernist as the world gets,
we still know right from wrong.  It’s wrong to hate.  It’s wrong to abuse power.
It’s wrong to hurt. Maybe there is someone you know, that you care for and love, that needs you to be that for them in their life; there certainly will be in the future.  We can point fingers at David, and at anyone else who has been defamed for their wrong. But when we realize that we are just as susceptible for doing wrong as anyone else…we are no better than David, or anyone else …for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. When we know this, we can take on this prophetic role, this loving role, without judgment, but with courage and good intentions, “Let me tell you a story of a rich man with many flocks…and a poor man with one little ewe lamb”

And on the flip side, maybe you’ve met a Nathan in your life. I know I have…more than once, when I was heading down the wrong path.  And someone graciously, and lovingly helped me to get back on track.  I have sinned before the Lord. 

Maybe you need a Nathan in your life right now.  Maybe you’ve taken that one step in the wrong direction..and then. You’ve kept going.  Are the blinders still on? Maybe this morning, by God’s grace, I’ve been a Nathan for you…to help you consider ways in which you behavior has been destructive ways you have sinned against the Lord. 

If so, praise God, know that God is a just and loving God, quickly to forgive.  Ready to help us get back on the right path.  Please know that as I have come to know, care for, and love this community, I am available to talk and listen, and help you to stop whatever it is that you need to stop.
Or please seek out a Nathan, that you can trust, a friend, or someone you respect.

It’s not about getting away with stuff, avoiding getting busted, trying to gain without regard for the hurt and pain it may cause others…it’s about getting right before God.

Yes, the awesome thing is that we can turn to God and repent of ways in which we have let things get out of hand in our own lives…take responsibility for our actions, and beseech God for forgiveness and mercy…and take confidence that God does create in us, clean hearts.

We are going to sing together Psalm 51 as a prayer of confession. Many think that it was after David was confronted by Nathan, and pronounced these word, I have sinned before the Lord. That he wrote this Psalm. A tender, touching Psalm that I hope becomes an important part of our lives, when we need to right before the Lord and before others whom we have hurt.

Rev. Avery.

[1] The Gulag Archipelago

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