Friday, September 9, 2011

learning from a broken man

Have you ever messed up really badly?  I mean, really, really badly?  You get to that point where your heart sinks to the bottom of your stomach and you just know that you've ruined everything?  David was definitely at that point.  There he was: a King, a warrior, a husband (a few times...), even a man after God's own heart, and he'd blown it.  Completely.  He had just been minding his own business when suddenly he was over come with lust for another mans wife and, rather than flee that temptation, he enabled it.  He used his power as King and called her to him, slept with her, then sent her back to her husbands household like nothing had ever happened.  On top of all of that, when he found out that she was pregnant, he tried to get out of it by sending her husband to her so it would look like the child was his.  When that didn't work out, things went from bad to worse as he sent her husband into battle, purposefully, to be killed (2 Samuel 11).

I read that story recently and was again struck by how utterly selfish David's actions were.  But, thankfully, I'm not the only one who noticed that.  In the next chapter (13) Nathan, a profit at that time, was instructed by the Lord to talk with David.  He told him a story, painting the picture of a poor man who could only afford to have one sheep.  This man loved the sheep and treated it almost like it was part of the family.  Then, one day, a rich man entertained guests and, rather than kill one of his many sheep, he took the poor mans lamb and killed it to feed them.  David burned with anger against the rich man in the story and claimed that he should be put to death.  Nathan simply pointed out that David was this man.  

Talk about a revelatory moment.  There David was, thinking he had gotten away with his sin - the woman's husband was dead, she was now his wife, they were having a child - all was well.  But no, the Lord brought David's sin to his attention through Nathan.  But the part that gets me is David's response.  He simply says, "I have sinned against the Lord."  It's short and too the point but I'm sure those words held a lot of weight.  In that moment he was recognizing that he hadn't just sinned against Uriah (the husband) and he hadn't just sinned against Bathsheba (the woman) but that he had sinned against God.  

Unfortunately, as is always the case with sin, there were consequences that came with David's actions.  The child Bathsheba bore became ill.  And what did David do?  He didn't walk away and say, "Oh well, that's what I get for messing up",  thinking his sin still held him captive.  Instead, he inquired of the Lord on the child's behalf and fasted, laying on the ground all night.  When the child eventually died and David found out, he got up, took a shower, changed his clothes, and asked for something to eat.  Those who had wondered at his sanity only a few hours before were amazed at this change.  He replied to their questions by saying, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, 'Who knows, the Lord may be gracious to me, that the child may live.'  But now he has died; why should I fast?  Can I bring him back again?  I will go to him, but he will not return to me." (2 Samuel 12:22-23).

In the midst of David's sin and grief, he held fast to the Lord.  He understood that he had sinned against God, and he also remembered that the Lord is in control of all things - his child's health as much as his own eternity (v23).  I feel as if I can look to David and learn so much just from these two chapters.  At Hume Lake this year the theme was centered on David and a week studying that has forever affected my view of this King and "man after God's own heart".  It's not so much that David was perfect and worthy of being in the position he held, but the fact that he understood who he was in perspective to who God is.  David messed up.  Big time.  Yet, in each of those situations he took rebuke and owned up to his sin only to fall on his face before the Holy God in true repentance.  

I want to respond like David when faced with my own sin.  I want to recognize that it is a sin against God and, in turn, repent and move on.  It's much too easy to get weighted down by past sins, allowing them to change the direction of your future, but if we understand true forgiveness and what Christ did on the cross for us, I think we'd think less about ourselves and more about Him.  The beauty of Christ's sacrifice is the fact that it doesn't take anything from us to accept Him.  Not a clean slate or a good work.  All it takes is an understanding of our own sin and an acceptance of His sacrifice on our behalf.

A final word from David:

The Lord is gracious and merciful;
Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.
The Lord is good to all,
and His mercies are over all His works.

Psalm 145:8-9