Pr. Eric Swensson

June 20, 2013


photo of Pr. EricWhen the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she lamented over her husband. And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.

And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, "There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him." Then David's anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, "As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity."

Nathan said to David, "You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, 'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.' Thus says the Lord, 'Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.'" David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord." And Nathan said to David, "The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die." Then Nathan went to his house.

Oh my. No ambiguity in this text, is there? David sinned and was caught. It occurs to me that David as a psalmist wrote one of the most memorable lines in Scripture, “my sin is ever before me,” in Psalm 51, and here in this text his sin is rubbed in his face, as it were, by the prophet Nathan” when he says, “You are the man!”

David, the shepherd boy turned warrior and then King, is held up in Scripture as a model for us, and several times as a model of what not to do. This too is obvious. The Bible does this saint-yet-sinner thing many times. It is hard to name a major figure who did not have feet of clay. Abraham, whom we hold up as a model of trusting God, put his faith in his own understanding at several critical junctures. Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land. You would think that not only church people but everyone would get the point that when it comes down to it there is no perfect person, but we do not. We build people up and then crucify them. We do this to ourselves even. Vanity, vanity. Vanity is vanity.

David’s in your face sin. What was it? Murder and lust, right? Open and shut case if charges were to be read against the accused in court. What was he accused of? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.

Conspiracy to murder. Adultery. But look again. What was the first charge?

Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight?

Oh my. Why have you despised the word of the Lord? After naming his crime of murder and lust, the prophet speaks for the Lord and says, “I annointed you,” that is, “I made you king over Israel” and describes how he gave him everything that had belonged to the previous king. Were not Saul’s wives and concubines enough?

But see, what began with a wandering eye and then sexual lust when he saw Bathsheba taking a bath, it was not really about lust. David was already in trouble. He had decided not to go out with his army. That little bit of information is important. Perhaps he had already decided his fate when he decided this battle did not require that he actually go physically. So he was not vigilant. But what is at the root of his great sin here, his premeditated murder? It was pride, was it not.

Pride it was at another calamity. Remember the story about David wanting to do a census? His desire here was not related to his administrative style. Rather, it was about wanting to let everyone know what a great king he was. It was pride, and it almost cost him his life, and not only his, but the lives of many of his people.

There is a lesson here for political leaders. We see it time and time again. Men who have everything, wealth, power, office, family, the respect and even adoration of the majority and they lose it all or nearly all when they are caught committing adultery. We may not be the virtuous Christian nation that we once were or that we think we were, but we still like to build people up and then crucify them. No, it is never about lust, it is about one thinking that they are special, and they deserve that special something. This is a lesson not only for poiticians but also for pastors, and spouses and I suppose everyone else who has people depending on them, which is about everyone. Everytime we see something we desire and we say to ourselves, “Did God really say...”

Oh my. Why have you despised the word of the Lord? I stand accused. All the sudden I also am in the docket. See I know this thing, that whenever I am faced with temptation, real temptation, I am also tempted to despise the word of the Lord. What else is it but to despise when we do not respect?

Am I alone here standing before the Judge? No, as I look around I see that everyone else is here in court. We all stand accused.

We stand accused of despising the law. And this now we have come to the most important point, the issue that is so in your face I do not even have to say it, the law has already accused you, you probably heard it when the lesson was read and already when I proclaimed it in the sermon, you know the same pride that was at work in David and in our promiscuous politicians (and not just the sexually promiscuous but all who think they are above the law) the same deadly pride is at work in you.

We need to admit our sin. What do we do? We need to admit our sin. No, that is too simple. No, it is enough because One has already stood in the docket for us. Jesus Christ took all the sin of the world upon Himself. We crucified him. We threw him a party on Palm Sunday and killed him for Passover, but Good Friday became Easter and His resurrection power became ours at Pentecost.

He is the man.