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"David - Dealing with Difficulty, Pt.5: Desire & Discipline"

July 12, 2015 2Sam.12:13-25


Humans are living souls, "nepheshes" (Hebrew) - little bundles of desires. Pleasurable desires can tempt us into sinning; it may seem the act itself passes very quickly, but fleeting pleasures can have devastating long-term consequences. Proverbs 20:17 "Food gained by fraud tastes sweet to a man, but he ends up with a mouth full of gravel."

Sexual desires are some of the more potent temptations, often with the most devastating consequences. A bit of humour, though, to start...A woman summoned for jury duty said to the Judge, "Your Honour, I can't serve on a jury.I don't believe in capital punishment." The judge said, "Ma'am, this isn't a capital charge so that doesn't matter.This is a case where a husband emptied out the wife's savings account of $14,000 to take a three-day weekend with his girlfriend in Las Vegas." The woman said, "Okay, I'll serve.And I could be wrong about capital punishment." (!)

But sexual desires run amok in real life are no laughing matter. One of the most famous comedians of the last half of the 20th Century was Bill Cosby - even had a long-running, family-values based sitcom that was well loved by many. A CBC news item notes, "Bill Cosby admitted in 2005 that he secured Quaaludes with the intent of giving them to young women he wanted to have sex with and that he gave the sedative to at least one woman and 'other people,' according to documents obtained Monday by The Associated Press...Cosby, 77, has been accused by more than two dozen women of sexual misconduct in episodes dating back more than four decades." What an awful way to wrap up one's career! Later, it was confirmed that Cosby's statue was removed from a place of honour at Disney World's Hollywood Studios theme park. From "distinguished" to "disgraced" as a result of one's indiscretions.

Church leaders can fall prey to sexual temptation as well. In June, Christianity Today reported that Billy Graham's grandson, Tullian Tchividjian, who had succeeded D.James Kennedy at Fort Lauderdale's Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, resigned as a result of having an affair. "He said that his wife had an affair, and in response, he sought comfort in a friend and their relationship turned 'inappropriate.'" Tchividjian stated, "Both my wife and I are heartbroken over our actions and we ask you to pray for us and our family that God would give us the grace we need to weather this heart wrenching storm."

Sinful desires may be delightful for a moment, but bring heartbreak and terrible consequences in the long run.


As we continue our series looking at how David deals with difficulty, we come to one of the sorriest chapters in the life of Israel's greatest king. As we come to 2Samuel 11, it seems David's fortunes have finally turned: he's had a long string of victories over Israel's former foes. He is no longer running as a refugee from King Saul; politically, the northern and southern areas have been unified under his leadership. He's at the point where he can finally start to "kick back and relax", as it were. But that's partly the problem: enter opportunity for trials of a different sort, not pain but pleasure. He allows his WIRING to run roughshod over God's WORD.

We won't go into much detail over the Bathsheba incident itself (we've covered it before); but to summarize, let's ask - how many of the Ten Commandments did David's initial sin lead him to end up breaking?

To start off, there's the sin of ADULTERY. Commandment 7 of 10, Exodus 20:14: "You shall not commit adultery." 2Sam 11:2-4 "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..." He could have simply looked away - but no, he deliberately pursued another man's wife, even though 3:2ff shows that he already had at least SIX wives!

The ninth commandment, Ex 20:16, says: "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor." David is very deceptive, tricky, and manipulative in 11:7-13. He brings Bathsheba's husband Uriah back from the front; Uriah is actually one of David's elite soldiers or 'Mighty Men', one of "The Thirty" (2Sam 23:39). Repeatedly he tries to get Uriah to go home and sleep with his wife, thus to cover-up David's indiscretion, but Uriah is more honourable than his master. He refuses to take it easy when all the rest of the troops are far from home at war. David even gets him drunk, yet Uriah sticks to his principles when it comes to sleeping arrangements (11:13). David's falseness isn't working.

So the next commandment David breaks is the sixth, Ex 20:13 ""You shall not murder." 2Sam 11:14f "14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah.15 In it he wrote, "Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die."" Such grim irony, to make the man himself unknowingly the bearer of his own death warrant! But David is determined to cover up his evil deed.

Not coveting your neighbour's wife or property is the Tenth Commandment, another one David breaks. 2Sam 11:27 "After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the LORD."

The eighth commandment forbids stealing; in a way, this is what David was doing, as Nathan draws a parallel by his story of the rich man taking his poor neighbour's sheep instead of his own to prepare a meal for a guest. Ex 20:15 ""You shall not steal." 2Sam 12:4 "Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveller who had come to him.Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him." He outright STOLE it. This is also the emphasis in God's rebuke to David through the prophet Nathan in 12:9f: "You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own...You despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.'"

So far David's dalliance has impacted mostly the horizontal dimension, human relationships, numbers 5-10 of the Ten Commandments. But those governing the vertical dimension, relationship to God, are affected here, too. Particularly command #1, Exodus 20:3 "You shall have no other gods before me." Also #2, Exodus 20:4 "for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God..." As the rebuke by prophet Nathan reveals, God views David's sin as PRIMARILY against God, and only SECONDARILY against Uriah and his wife. Nathan thunders speaking for the Lord in 2Sam 12:9f,14: "9 Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? ...10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own...14 because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die."

God's honour, God's reputation and glory, are at stake in the way we behave. We reflect on Him - either for credit, or dishonour. To desire forbidden things - for David to lust after that beautiful woman bathing - is to despise God, reject His word and promises, show contempt for His loving goodness and all He's done for us. Note what God says through Nathan, recounting all the ways He's blessed David, in 12:7f: "7 ...This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.8 I gave your master's house to you, and your master's wives into your arms.I gave you the house of Israel and Judah.And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more." NLT "I would have given you much much more."

By desiring the forbidden thing, David missed out on the "much much more" with which the Lord WOULD have been delighted to bless him. By sinning with Bathsheba, he settled for the BAD deal. God wants us to trust Him to know and give Him what's best for us, not just the passing pleasures that appeal to our flesh. Don't let the tempter trick you into the worse deal!

Psalm 51 was written by David as a result of Nathan's rebuke. 51:4,10 "Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge...Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." A pure heart equips us to have holy desires, what's pleasing not evil in God's sight.


We can see various stages in God's disciplining of David after he blows it. Discipline is no fun; punishment is painful. Discipline is tough; it helps us become tougher with ourself, so we don't mess up in the same way next time hopefully.

A schoolteacher injured his back and had to wear a plaster cast around the upper part of his body. It fit under his shirt and wasn't noticeable at all. On the first day of the term, still with the cast under his shirt, he found himself assigned to the toughest students in school. Walking confidently into the rowdy classroom, he opened the window as wide as possible and then busied himself with desk work. When a strong breeze made his tie flap, he took the desk stapler and stapled the tie to his chest. He had no trouble with discipline that term!

In David's case, Nathan the prophet opens with a story from a pasturing scenario that would have drawn the shepherd-king right into it before delivering the tough message he as a sinner needed to hear. A rich man needlessly and heartlessly stealing a poor man's darling pet lamb to feed a visitor. Vv5-7 "5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, "As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity." 7 Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man!"

There is a place for REBUKE in the Christian church. Without accountability, without caring loving voices calling us back to holiness, we wander. We need each other for rebuke - always grounded in the common reference point of God's Word. Jesus commanded in Matthew 18:15, "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over." Paul told the Galatians (6:1), "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted."

David responds with REPENTANCE: not trying to excuse or justify himself, but accepting God's view of his evil actions. 2Sam 12:13 "Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD."" Simple acknowledgment he had blown it. Psalm 32:5 "Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"-- and you forgave the guilt of my sin." Come clean with God, admit you've transgressed, crossed the line, erred according to HIS definitions and categories - not the world's. 1John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

While undergoing discipline, David HUMBLES himself. As Nathan prophesies, David and Bathsheba don't die as a result of their sin - though the penalty under the law of Moses was death for both adultery (Lev 20:10) and for murder (Lev 24:17); but the baby they conceived together dies a week later. David humbled himself interceding for the child to be spared. 2Sam 12:16f "16 David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the ground. 17 The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them."

After the child dies as predicted, David surprises his officials. 2Sam 12:20 "Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the LORD and WORSHIPPED." This is the goal of discipline: God bringing us back to Himself, into relationship with the Holy One, when we had been rejecting Him and wandering away. We remember God is GOD, not us! Respect, honour, submit to Him. Hebrews 12:9 "we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it.How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!" NRSV "be subject to", BBE "be under the authority."

Finally, this whole process of REBUKE and REPENTANCE leads to RESTORATION. God reaffirms us as His children, reconciled to Him through the blood of Christ, shed at the cross for us sinners.

Vv24f"24 Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and lay with her.She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon.The LORD loved him; 25 and because the LORD loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah ['loved by the Lord']."

Believe it or not, discipline is one of the ways God shows He loves us! A caring parent teaches and disciplines their toddler so they learn not to burn their hands on a hot stove, or get run over by a car by darting out into the road. Discipline is an essential part of parenting. Through the painful process of discipline, God trains us in holiness, so we grow in righteousness, reflecting Him more. Hebrews 12:5ff,10f "5 ..."My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons.For what son is not disciplined by his father?...10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."


David desired Bathsheba and despised God's word. Better would be a beautiful woman who delights in God's word and shares His ways with others.

Tony Campolo tells of an encounter with a beautiful woman on an airplane flight that had a happier outcome than David's fling... "The effectiveness of one-on-one witnessing became clear to me one day when I was on an airplane heading to Orlando, Florida. I was scheduled to speak at a huge outdoor festival that would bring together thousands and thousands of young people to hear the gospel. As I sat in my seat, I looked across the aisle, and saw sitting by the window in the seat opposite me one of the most attractive women I had seen in a long, long time. I don't want to sound sexist, but I have to say she was stunning.

"Coming up the aisle of the airplane was a very "New York" looking guy. He was wearing a satin shirt with the top three buttons undone. This allowed us to clearly see evidence of his hairy chest covered by some golden chains. There was an arrogance to his step. It was an almost empty airplane, and I had a pretty good idea as to where he would choose to sit. And I was right! He sat next to that beautiful woman.

"What followed was more than entertaining to watch. He did all the things that a guy like that does when he moves on a woman. When he had her thoroughly engaged in conversation, I watched her smile at him as she reached into her pocketbook and pulled out a New Testament. For the next two hours she had the Scriptures open and was explaining to him what the gospel story was all about.

The plane landed and we pulled up to the exit ramp. People stood and got their belongings out of the overhead compartments. It was then that I saw that the one-time make-out man had his head bowed and eyes dosed. His new friend had her hand on his shoulder, and she was praying for him to accept Jesus as his Saviour.

"Taking in that scene [Campolo concludes] I thought to myself, Who am I kidding? In the end, its that kind of evangelism, not my preaching, that does the most for spreading the message of the gospel of Christ."

Let's pray.