As we open to 2 Samuel 11, David has finally made it to the top. Giants are killed, enemies are dead, life on the run is over, and normal life has finally started for David. As we will see, it is precisely when things are going “great” that we face some of the most lethal spiritual pathogens.
We are lulled into thinking we don’t quite need the Lord as much as: when we were sick; or when we were single; or when we were unemployed; or when we were under attack. Most people think wouldn’t it be nice to succeed, to make it, to win the lottery of life and have everything you’ve ever wanted. Actually, if you do a scientific study of those who have “made” it, most wish they hadn’t. Many find that great success often ruins their lives.
The greatest lesson of this chapter may well be:
Beware of Life at the Top
David is at the top of his career, a firmly established and secure King.
David is at the top of his family life with a good home and education for his children all safely settled into Jerusalem, his wives are all busy and have full lives caring for the kids and for David.
David is at the top of his spiritual life: he has written and published some of the greatest songs of all time, like Psalm (or Song 23), Psalm 19, 101, 24, and on and on. David is at the top as far as he or anyone else but God could see.
But as we’ll see as we read 2 Samuel 11:1-26 it was here in his strong, top of his life years-he was tempted and failed miserably (2 Samuel 11). Join me there as we read these fateful words of the dangerously powerful lusts of sin, and the worst moment of David’s life.
2 Samuel 11 (NKJV) It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. 2 Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. 3 So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house. 5 And the woman conceived; so she sent and told David, and said, “I am with child.” 6 Then David sent to Joab, saying, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David. 7 When Uriah had come to him, David asked how Joab was doing, and how the people were doing, and how the war prospered. 8 And David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah departed from the king’s house, and a gift of food from the king followed him. 9 But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. 10 So when they told David, saying, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “Did you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?” 11 And Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are dwelling in tents, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are encamped in the open fields. Shall I then go to my house to eat and drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.” 12 Then David said to Uriah, “Wait here today also, and tomorrow I will let you depart.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 Now when David called him, he ate and drank before him; and he made him drunk. And at evening he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house. 14 In the morning it happened that David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 15 And he wrote in the letter, saying, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die.” 16 So it was, while Joab besieged the city, that he assigned Uriah to a place where he knew there were valiant men. 17 Then the men of the city came out and fought with Joab. And some of the people of the servants of David fell; and Uriah the Hittite died also. 18 Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war, 19 and charged the messenger, saying, “When you have finished telling the matters of the war to the king, 20 if it happens that the king’s wrath rises, and he says to you: ‘Why did you approach so near to the city when you fought? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? 21 Who struck Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Was it not a woman who cast a piece of a millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you go near the wall?’-then you shall say, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.'” 22 So the messenger went, and came and told David all that Joab had sent by him. 23 And the messenger said to David, “Surely the men prevailed against us and came out to us in the field; then we drove them back as far as the entrance of the gate. 24 The archers shot from the wall at your servants; and some of the king’s servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.” 25 Then David said to the messenger, “Thus you shall say to Joab: ‘Do not let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another. Strengthen your attack against the city, and overthrow it.’ So encourage him.” 26 When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. 27 And when her 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.
After 2 Samuel 11 we have a series of events captured by interweaving the record of 2 Samuel and 1 Kings with those incredible Psalms that flow from these final years of David’s life.
The Rest of the Story: A Big Picture Overview
God made the most of David’s failure by capturing for us what went on inside David and around him during the year of hiding his sin, covering his sin, and then confessing and forsaking his sin. Then for the rest of his life David wrote about what the aftershocks were like in his life. To the end of his life and even after, the results of his sin were still around, as in the rivalry between Adonijah and Solomon for the Throne.
So what can we glean from the days after the worst moment in David’s life? Here is the overview:
From the depths of conviction after his fall into sin with Bathsheba, David wrote Psalms 32 and 38-explaining the Miracle of Complete Forgiveness and also how to sing the Song of a soul set free.
If you want to write those two Psalm numbers in the margin of 2 Samuel 11, that will jog your memory each time you go by this chapter. Now turn there and at look at each of them for a moment.
- Psalm 32 A Psalm of David. A Contemplation
- (Maschil: “Understanding” or “teaching,” particularly public instruction. Psalms 32; 42; 44; 45; 52; 53; 54; 55; 74; 78; 88; 89; 142).
- The Old Testament has 15 different words describing how bad sin is; this Psalm opens with 4 of them.
- Also, it is very interesting that Psalm 32 opens with same three words for sin that Psalm 51opens with.
- There are seven Penitential Psalms or Psalms of Confession: Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143.
- Psalm 38 A Psalm of David. To bring to remembrance.
Later, when we come to 2 Samuel 11:27-12:14: David-was painfully chastised and then restored (2 Samuel 12). As a result of the pain of chastisement leading to repentance and restoration, David sang of his faithful God in Psalm 51-The Pathway Back to God.
- Psalm 51 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
- v 3 words of mercy: mercy, love, compassion;
- v 3 words for sin: transgression, iniquity, sin;
- v 3 desires from God: cleanse, wash, blot.
After David is fully restored in his relationship with God, as we read 2 Samuel 15:13-37; 16:1-14 we see how David has to learn about overcoming Personal Attacks and Abuse which he writes about in Psalms 3and 63.
- Psalm 3 A Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom his son. This is the first of the Psalms with a setting and the first with a Selah.
- Psalm 63 A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah. Because v. 11 calls David King this is most likely running from Absalom in 2 Samuel 15-19.
The rest of David’s life from 2 Samuel 22 onward is another incredibly rich portion of Scripture. David extolled his Master and King in Psalm 18-how to overcome feelings of loneliness in the last days before death.
- Psalm 18 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David the servant of the LORD, who spoke to the LORD the words of this song on the day that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. And he said:
- This Psalm could be entitled: Embracing God-A Long Obedience in Seeking the Lord.
- The words of this Psalm are recorded in God’s Word twice. Once at David’s coronation (probably Psalm 18) and then again at the close of his life (2 Samuel 22:2-51)-it was like a way of saying that he wanted to start his career right and end it well for the Lord!
1 Kings 1: David suffered intense loneliness in his waning years-He had to come to terms with old age and impending death. During this stage, David wrote Psalm 71–how to overcome feelings of loneliness when you’re about to leave behind health, comforts, friends, family and security.
- Psalm 70-To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. To bring to remembrance.
1 Kings 2: Gracefully Heading Toward Home (Psalms 23 and 116) As a mere mortal man, David truly was so much like us. But he learned to rise above the downward pull of his flesh and cling to the only One who could satisfy and complete him-Christ.
- Psalm 23 A Psalm of David may be from David’s youth but as most other saints through the ages, he surely must have clung to these truths as his life waned and he prepared to go to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
- Psalm 116 quotes Psalm 56 (in Psalm 116:8 we see Psalm 56:13) so David most likely wrote this at the end. What a beautiful pathway for getting ready to go is captured in this Psalm.
But now back to the sobering lessons of 2 Samuel 11.
As we meet David in this chapter, he is at the top of his career-a successful king, powerful ruler, undefeated general, wealthy businessman, and surrounded on every side by God’s blessing. David is writing
worship music, serving the Lord in public worship, practicing personal worship, and loving the Lord.
Nevertheless for David’s sake the LORD his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, by setting up his son after him and by establishing Jerusalem; 5 because David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.
God saw David’s life not as perfect, but as a surrendered life of a servant who did God’s Word. For just a moment, consider if you look on the Bible as what God has commanded you to do in your life.
God’s Word is how we know what we are to do; and what we will be examined by in the Day we stand at Christ’s feet and answer for our lives. David’s sin was forgiven and gone, but the results of David’s obeying God’s Word would last forever!
Although the Lord forgave the sins, and forgot the iniquities, David’s consequences and losses were recorded in the Bible-God’s “forever settled in heaven” Word.
God not only recorded David’s key role in one of the greatest events in history-that climactic moment as a teenaged shepherd boy who victoriously stood alone in battle against the most fearsome warrior of his day-but He also sadly recorded the role David later played in a horrible sequel.
In today’s world, books and movies often have sequels. Well, there’s a sequel to “David and Goliath” that is perhaps more tragic than the glory of its initial run. You see, less than thirty years after the historic victory over Goliath, David had a disastrous fall. In that sequel known as “David and Bathsheba”-the giant-killer himself was slain by a giant.
But didn’t David kill Goliath? Yes, wonderfully by the Lord’s power the humble David slew God’s enemy. However, later on a proud David ignored His Word and allowed another giant to come right into God’s city, Jerusalem. In fact, David, the man after God’s own heart, even welcomed that enemy into his presence. And so, in midlife (perhaps in his early 40s), David was slain by the giant called LUST! And that story is forever contained in the Holy Scriptures.
David Slowly Stepped Downward Into Sin
Far more dangerous than the Goliath he faced as a teenager, the Giant Lust had crept slowly into David’s own inner chambers. In a moment, blinded by his own selfish desires, when his guard was down, David was slain. He had been enticed, baited, hooked, and finally reeled in by lust!
David the giant-killer was slain by the Giant Lust because he had ignored God and His Word. It’s very insightful how this occurred. Note the five dreadful steps downward that led to a disastrous fall which destroyed his life and testimony:
- David desensitized his conscience by incomplete obedience (2 Samuel 5:13).
- David relaxed his grip on personal purity (2 Samuel 11:1).
- David fixed his heart on physical desires (2 Samuel 11:2).
- David rationalized his mind about wrong decisions (2 Samuel 11:3).
- David plunged his life into lustful sin (2 Samuel 11:4).
Death, deceit, murder, immorality, spiritual oppression and poverty and famine of the soul are only a few offspring of this act of momentary pleasure with Bathsheba!
Before we go tonight, turn with me to I Corinthians 10:11-13
1 Corinthians 10:11-13 (NKJV) Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
We have 2 Samuel 11 as an admonition from God.
When Tempted Look for God
We need to never think that we are immune. David fell so FAR so FAST that it is breathtaking to really think about it!
Temptation is always around, we all share common temptations. But the key is the God who is THERE! This week, even tonight, when faced with a temptation to displease the Lord, cry out-He is THERE!
2 Samuel 11 is one of the amazing facets of the word of God, that we would have this chapter so clearly written by the Holy Spirit of God for our admonition, as we’ll see later, that Paul tells us. As you open their, to the 11th chapter, David has finally made it to the top. Giants are killed. His enemies are dead. His life on the run is over and normal life has finally started for David, like a dream come true. As we’ll see, it’s precisely when things are going great that all of us face the most lethal spiritual temptation, when things are going great. We’re lulled into thinking we don’t quite need the Lord as much as when we were sick, or when we were single, or when we were unemployed, or when we were under some kind of attack. Usually, it’s when those things are over, the sickness, or the financial, or the emotional, or whatever, that we go, ah, now we’ve made it through that. That’s the danger point.
Most people think, wouldn’t it be nice to succeed, to make it, to win the lottery of life, and to have everything that you’ve ever wanted? Actually, if you do a scientific study of those who have made it, most wish hadn’t. In fact our family, we lived in the east for so long, go back to Cape Cod for our family reunion. We’ve learned to go on the tours of the industrial giants of the formation of our country. They had their summer cottages along the shores of the islands out there in New England. There’s one stretch of that where the Asters, and the Vanderbilts, and the Morgan’s, and all the titans had side by side their great cottages. Their cottages are unbelievable. 50 foot ceilings. Seating hundreds of people at meals. When you go on those tours, the rooms are hollow. When you hear the tour guides, they say this house was by the divorced wife of this Rockefeller, who remarried four times, and finally died an alcoholic. You think, what was the profit of being that wealthy? The empty cold houses filled with furniture that was fought over? Many find that great success often ruins their lives.
What 2 Samuel 11 is to me is, a warning from God of being beware of life at the top. To most of us, the lives of the rich and famous are fascinating, but God says beware of life at the top, it’s dangerous. David is at the top of his career. He is a firmly established and secure king. He’s at the top of his family life. Finally, all the kids are in one place, they’re in school, they’re safe, all of his wives have a nice home, and things are running great. They’re settled and they’re busy. They have full lives caring for the kids and caring for David. Family life is finally just right.
His spiritual life, David has written and published some of the greatest songs of all time. Like song 23, we call it Psalm 23, but it was just song 23 for David. Psalm 19, and 101, and 24, and on and on.
David is at the top, as far as anyone else, but God could see in his family life, in his career, in his spiritual life. As we’ll see, as we read in these verses here, in David strong, top of his life years, there is where he’s tempted and fails miserably. Did you know all of David’s other struggles, feeling that God abandoned him, going crazy in front of the Philistines, being in the pits of life, and struggling with all the things he struggled with God doesn’t even mention as a negative in David’s life. It’s only this moment, in all of David’s life, that God says was out of place.
These fateful words are words of the dangerously powerful lusts of sin. Those lusts combined to make this chapter a record of the worst moment in David’s life, 2 Samuel chapter 11. These 27 verses, Paul says, should be a warning to us.
Let’s stand together for the reading of God’s word, then we’ll pray, and then we’ll get as far into them as we can tonight.
2 Samuel 11:1, “It happened…” I love the way it starts, it happened, amazing. “…in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel” to battle. See that? It happened, that he sent everybody away. Every male from old enough to be in the military age upward were evacuated. Just David was there with all the ladies. He should have been with the men, but he stayed back. “And they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. Then it happened…” You notice the repetition? The Spirit of God, He’s drawing us into the story.
“Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing.” Temptations often strike when we’re alone, when we don’t have planned schedules, and those in between times. She “was very beautiful to behold.” It’s interesting, that word means he didn’t just notice, he’s standing there watching. Verse 3, “So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said…” The first barrier, whoa… “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” Now, David wasn’t looking for a family tree here and the person wasn’t trying to give it. What they were trying to do is say whoa, she’s married, she’s connected, everybody knows who she is. What are you doing? He was unheeding. Verse 4, “Then David sent messengers…” plowed right over all the obstacles, “…and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house.”
Verse 5, “And the woman conceived; so she sent and told David, and said, ‘I am with child.’ Then David sent to Joab saying, ‘Send me Uriah the Hittite.’ And Joab sent Uriah to David.” He tried to cover his sin. That’s normal operating procedure for humans, cover our sin, hope it goes away. Verse 7, “When Uriah had come to him, David asked how Joab was doing, and how the people were doing, and how the war was prospered. And David said to Uriah, ‘Go down to your house and wash your feet.’ So Uriah departed from the king’s house, and a gift of food from the king followed him.” Verse 9, “But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all his servants of his lord, and he did not go to his house. So when they told David, saying, ‘Uriah I did not go down to his house,’ David said to Uriah, ‘Did you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?’ And Uriah said to David, ‘The ark and Israel and Judah are dwelling in tents, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are encamped in the open field. Shall I then go to my house to eat and drink, and lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.’ “
What a man of honor. This is one of David’s 30 mighty men. This guy is real. Verse 12, “Then David said to Uriah, ‘Wait here today also, and tomorrow I will let you depart.’ So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. Now when David called him, he ate and drank before him; and made him drunk. And at evening he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.” Verse 14, “In the morning it happened…” Interesting, “…it happened that David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. And he wrote in the letter, saying…” Look at these words. I’ll never forget when we were over on the other side of the Jordan with a Jordanian tour guide, who was a believer, a converted Muslim, that he quoted this as we were over there by Rabbah. Look at this message, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die.” Can you imagine the guy that could write the 23rd, and then the 19th, and the 3rd, and the 24th, and the 32nd, and the 38th, and on through half of the Psalms, that he could write stuff like that when the Holy Spirit wasn’t inspiring him. Amazing.
“So it was, when Joab besieged the city,” verse 16, “he assigned Uriah to a place where he knew they were valiant men. Then the men of the city came out and fought with Joab. And some of the people of the servants of David fell; and Uriah the Hittite died also.” Verse 18, “Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war, and charged the messenger saying, ‘When you have finished telling the matters of the war to the king, if it happens that the king’s wrath rises, and says to you: ‘Why did you approach so near to the city when you fought? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? Who struck Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Was it not a woman who cast a piece of millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you go near the wall?’ Then you shall say, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.’ “
Verse 22, “So the messenger went, and came and told David all that Joab had sent by him. And the messenger said to David, ‘Surely the men prevailed against us and came out to us in the field; then we drove them back as far as the entrance of the gate. The archers shot from the wall at your servants; and some of the king’s servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.’ “ Then David said to the messenger, “Thus you shall say to Joab: ‘Do not let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another. Strengthen your attack against the city, and overthrow it.’ So encourage him.”
Verse 26. “When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. And when her mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son.”
Then this last phrase, “But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.” Did you know, that all that really matters in life is what God thinks of it. That’s what that verse says. What mattered in this whole chapter is, what David did displeased the Lord.
Let’s bow before Him in prayer.
Lord, you who watches at all times. You who have told us that the purpose of our life is to please you. You who measure every motivation, know every thought. You know every pressure and stress we’re under. You know every craving and desire of our heart, and mind, and body. You look at us and you are displeased when we do things that we don’t have to do. When we’re tempted, you are closest to us. You, when we are tempted, are right there making a way of escape so that we do not have to succumb and be as David was. I pray that tonight, we would learn a lesson about the God who is there and that we would firmly choose, and resolve, and decide in our hearts that whatever form our temptations take, whether food, whether pleasure, whether reputation, or power, or our pride being fanned, or be it the lusts of the flesh as David had, may we realize that in that moment you God are faithful to be there. To personally be offering us a way of escape. I pray that we would become more and more used to taking the escape path that you offer us. Teach us tonight. Change us tonight. May we be men and women, young men and women of holiness because we choose to flee from lusts. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.
You may be seated, as you’re seated, we are going to begin a little survey of this. Because this is pivotal, this is the watershed of David’s life. After 2 Samuel 11, we have a series of events captured and framed by some of the most majestic psalms. It’s almost like masterpieces that have these incredible frames around them. If you’ve ever been to an art gallery, the frames are stunning, just like the picture. You don’t just have a little plastic frame around a masterpiece. They make these elaborate frames to go around them. God makes incredible psalm frames around each of the aspects that flow from this watershed chapter. I want to show you what I mean.
From 2 Samuel and 1 Kings we have the psalms that God uses to underline truths of what David learned from this disaster. God made the most of David’s failure by capturing for us what went on inside David and around him. First of all, during the years surrounding the sin, you notice that a whole year has gone by. We are at least nine plus months because it rapidly goes boom, boom, boom through the events. All of a sudden Uriah gets killed, right after, the husband does… Uriah. Then, all of a sudden, she bore him a son. We know that the 40 weeks have gone by, minimum. What’s going on in a man so close to God as David? What’s going on around him is just a fascinating thing that God captures for us and puts it in slow motion for us. During this year of hiding his sin, covering his sin, and then confessing and forsaking his sin, David is stretched in a greater way than any other time in his life, painfully and spiritually. To the end of David’s life, and even after the end of David’s life the results of this sin are still around. You notice that even after David is on his death bed, that we have sons fighting over the throne. There’s all kinds of repercussions and shockwaves from this event that never stopped.
One of the things about sin is, though God forgives it, and though the penalty is paid, and though God forgets it there are the laws, which Galatians 6 says, be not deceived, God is not mocked. What you sow, you’ll reap; it’s the consequence engine. A lot of us think that under grace, there’s no consequences to sin. There are no spiritual penalties, judgments, record, answering for any sin we ever commit because Jesus paid it all, but the consequences are not taken away. That’s what this is all about. That’s what I think the 21st century Church needs to realize, that though we are forgiven, and though there’s no condemnation to us in Christ, there are choices and sins, that we as born again believers, in dwelt by the Spirit do, that we don’t realize. They unleash like ripples in a still. Though the stone sinks out of sight and it’s gone, the sin is gone and forgiven, the waves of what happened don’t stop. They go on and on. What’s amazing is, for David, for the rest of his life he’s writing about the aftershocks of this forgiven sin. There are incredible aftershocks, and we’ll see this.
What can we gleam from the days after the worst moment in David’s life? Here’s an overview. What I do is, actually to aid me, I write over in the white column, in the middle of my Bible the Psalms that track with these events. Then I go in the Psalms, and I write 2 Samuel 11. You want to do this so that you can continue to learn from these events. This is what I have written by 2 Samuel 11, I have Psalm 32, Psalm 38. From the depths of conviction after his fall into sin with Bathsheba, David writes two psalms about the time before he confessed, what was going on inside while he was hiding his sin. In these psalms he explains the miracle of God’s forgiveness and how wonderful it was to be set free from the rack of conviction that he was under. If you want to note those two psalm numbers in the margin of 2 Samuel 11, it’ll jog your memory every time you pass this chapter.
Now, go with me to Psalm 32. I’m going to point to these, where we’re going to spend a whole evening on each of these, Lord willing. Let me just show you where we’re going in the future. Psalm 32, it says in your Bible, “A Psalm of David. A Contemplation.” This psalm is one of the first two psalms that flow from this event. It’s a contemplation, that’s a maskil. It’s the first of a series of maskil’s that are in the Psalter. That word contemplation is a Hebrew word that’s translated into English, but the Hebrew word is repeated in this psalm and in Psalm 42, 44, 45, 52, 53, 54, 55, and 74. It’s just all the way through, but this is the first one. It’s his contemplation.
What’s amazing is, Psalm 32, it stands out. Especially if you’re studying it from the perspective of 2 Samuel 11. There are 15 Old Testament words for sin. Sin is so bad there are 15 different words that describe it. Four of them are in the first two verses. It is a psalm about sin and its effects on our life. I think that maybe we hear too little about how horrible sin is nowadays. I think the pendulum has moved more to talking about positive things. The church is more into positive things. This psalm is not positive. It’s very much about sin. It’s very interesting.
The Psalm 32 opens with the same three descriptions of sin that Psalm 51 does. They’re very related, we’ll see that when we go through them. By the way, this is the second of the penitential psalms. Not penitentiary, but penitential as far as confession psalms. Psalm 6 is the first one, Psalm 32 is the second. Psalm 38 that we’re going to see in a moment is the third. The middle of the penitential, those are the confession psalms of the Psalter, the middle one is Psalm 51, that we’ll see in a moment.
That’s Psalm 32, now turn over to Psalm 38. That’s another one that comes from this time period. By Psalm 32, I wrote 2 Samuel 11; David and best Sheba. Also, by Psalm 38 I wrote the same because, actually Psalm 32, 38, and 51 are a trilogy. Two, he talks about what was going on in his life as he went through the time of hiding a sin. Then one, about the whole pathway back to God, that’s the 51st psalm.
Psalm 38, you notice what it says, “A Psalm of David. To bring to remembrance.” He remembers all of this chastening. Look at verse 1. “Your hot displeasure!” David is writing from the pain he had.
That’s those two, now let’s go back to 2 Samuel 11, because I want to show you where these psalms fit. Back in 2 Samuel 11, keep your finger there, were going to be bopping back and forth. In 2 Samuel 11, starting in verse 27 notice what it says, “when her mourning was over,” David took Bathsheba, never even named her, it says, “brought her” “and she became his wife.” Even in verse 26, “When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead.” If you even look in the genealogy of Jesus, I think it’s fascinating how the Lord even looks back on David’s sin in the genealogy of Christ, in Matthew chapter 1.
It’s fascinating how it goes through all the genealogy, and it says, “David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.” Bathsheba’s name is not mentioned. You notice that it’s not mentioned in the New Testament. She’s the one that was Uriah’s wife. Doesn’t that show you how strongly God looks at the covenant of marriage. That was the quintessential adultery and breaking up of a marriage God forms into His word, He doesn’t mention her. Verse 26 of 2 Samuel 11, “the wife of Uriah,” and then “her” in verse 27. The God of Malakai that hates divorce, hates it, forgives it, blesses those who, as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7, those who are unmarried.
Paul has three categories of people in 1 Corinthians 7. The virgins that’s never married, the married – those are obviously married, and the unmarried. There are three groups of people in the church. Those who have never been married, those who are married, and those who are not now married. Grace and forgiveness does a lot but it doesn’t change God’s view, which is so clearly recorded in the scriptures. It is a great warning of the dangers of destroying a covenant.
If you look starting in verse 27 of 2 Samuel 11, the words there, “the thing that David had done displeased the LORD,” is a reminder of the deep chastisement that David is going through. Painful chastisement. As a result of the pain that led him to repentance and restoration right there, by verse 27 I’ve written Psalm 51. That’s probably the clearest place when it talks about David’s being displeasing in the sight of God and what he did. That’s what he talks about in the 51st psalm.
For just a moment, now keep your finger there, but let’s go to Psalm 51. I want to point out a couple of exciting truths. By the way, someone came to me in our Monday or Tuesday Bible study, and they said to me, the biggest problem of Bible study is knowing where to start. They said, I sit in front of my Bible and I don’t know what to do. I said to them, why don’t you just study what we studied this morning in our Bible study. They went, oh, what a great idea. I said, and tomorrow I want you to study the next chapter after that. There, now you’ve got a start. For some of you that never started anything, tonight if you’ve got time on your hands, this is a time for you to, in preparation for the future, read through these psalms. We were going to, Lord willing, hit Psalm 32. You ought to read it. Psalm 38. You ought to read it. Psalm 51. If you don’t have another Bible study, if you’re not reading through the Bible sequentially, it’s a great thing to do.
Psalm 51, notice the superscript, this is what the Hebrew manuscripts said, this is what is verse 1. “To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.” Wow. That’s that gives the setting, because that is from verse 27 onward, with the whole Nathan story.
Remember there are seven penitential psalms, confessional psalms. In the Hebrew mind, when you have a group of seven, you have the first and the seventh, you have the second and the sixth, you have the third and the fifth, and then you have the one that’s right in the middle. It’s like candles going up and that middle one is higher than all the others. It’s interesting how the Hebrew mind thinks in a symmetrical way. They don’t use rhymes in their poetry. They use structure and lists of seven. Heptadic, that’s sevens, often point toward one as very important. To do that, you put it in the middle. It’s interesting that there are seven penitential songs and the middle one is this one. Psalm 6 is the first one. Psalm 32 is the second and Psalm 38 is the third. That’s three. Psalm 51 is right in the middle and probably it’s the most well-known confessing psalm. It’s the greatest and it opens with the same three words as Psalm 32 does. It has a series.
If you spend time reading it, one of the first things you’ll see is, if you do a chapter study, I did one of these for my chapter studies, it’s so personal. Me, my, me, I, my, me, my, I, my, my, my, my, my, the first person is 32 times. When David’s caught in his sin, 32 times he says it’s me. It’s me. It’s me. I’m guilty. I’m guilty. I’m guilty. I’m guilty. I’m guilty. When Saul’s caught in his sin he goes, it’s them. Never said, it’s me. That’s why God allowed Saul to self-destruct, and he didn’t allow David to. David said it’s me.
There are a lot of threes. There are three words for mercy in here. Mercy, love, and compassion. There are three words for sin. Transgression, iniquity, and sin. There are three desires God has. To cleanse, to wash, to blot. It’s just beautifully constructed insight into how God looks at our sin and how He doesn’t just get rid of it, He judicially has to pay for it. That’s what the psalm is so beautifully about.
Let’s go back to 2 Samuel because we’re going to spend, Lord willing, a whole evening there. Go back to 2 Samuel and look at what happens after chapter 12. Nathan confronts him down through verse 15, the little baby dies, but look what happens in chapter 13 of 2 Samuel. Amnon and Tamar, the whole brother raping the sister thing. Just like that, consequence.
- First consequence is the baby dies.
- Second consequence is the son rapes the daughter.
- Next one, in chapter 13, Absalom murders Amnon.
- Then starting in verse 23, another consequence. The sin is forgiven completely and forgotten by God, but that sin sets in motion this cascading effect in David’s life, that he has to live through. Absalom runs away, comes back in chapter 14. Absalom in chapter 15 does an insurrection, treacherously against his father. On and on it goes.
Do you know what happens? Turn to Psalm 3, I want to show you what happens. Go back to the book of Psalms, keep your hand there in 2 Samuel, but right there by 2 Samuel 15 I’ve written Psalm 3. Look what it says in Psalm 3. Have you ever noticed this right at the beginning of Psalm 3? It says, “A Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom his son.” Psalm 3 is the first psalm in the whole Bible that has a background to it. A little story of what’s the background and it’s this background, it’s 2 Samuel 15. It’s Absalom as a cascading consequence to David’s sin. Absalom, trying to kill his own dad. You talk about deep pain, when your own child hates you and wants to destroy you, then you ought to read Psalm 3. That’s what David wrote when he was facing the murderous hatred of his own son. Amazing what he went through.
After David is fully restored in his relationship to God, in 2 Samuel 15, we see how David has to learn about overcoming personal attacks and abuse. When we go through that, it’s just a phenomenal study of how David is so aware of his forgiveness that when Shimei curses him and when Absalom tries to kill him, Psalm 3 says, I will lay me down. Look at verse 5. If you’re in Psalm 3, verse 5, “I layed down and slept.” God gives perfect rest. David can sleep on the ground outdoors while an army is coming to kill him, because he said my life is in God’s hands. What a psalm. It’s going to be so much fun to study that one.
Another one, you don’t have to turn there, Psalm 63. That’s also what David writes about. It says in verse 11 of Psalm 63, that “the king” is running. Now it could have been running from the King Saul but most likely, the way the structure is, David is calling himself the king. The only time he ran as king to the Judean wilderness is here with Absalom.
Go back now to 2 Samuel 22, we’ve got all the Absalom stuff over. When we get to 2 Samuel 22, we find one of the most interesting things. We find in 2 Samuel 22, a repeat of a psalm. It’s not only Psalm 18. If you have marginal notes, or the little center column, or a lower bottom, some kind of notes, it’ll say: starting with verse 2 of 2 Samuel 22, it will say this is parallel to Psalm 18. It’s interesting, that right here at near the end of David’s life, an incredibly rich portion of scripture. David is extolling God in Psalm 18, after his life of conquests and victories.
The 18 psalm, and this probably was written at David’s coronation as King, how he had overcome so many enemies. But also, it was written at the end of his life and repeated because it’s a bookend. The God who took care of him is the God that he extols at the end. We’re going to have a great time in Psalm 18. Notice, if you turn over to Psalm 18, you’re in your Bibles in 2 Samuel 22, but if you go to Psalm 18 it has one of the longest introductions. The first verse says this, it’s an inch in my Bible, the superscript, verse 1 in Hebrew, it’s the little thing that’s above the Psalm in our Bibles. It says, “To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David the servant of the LORD, who spoke to the LORD the words of this song on the day that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all of his enemies and from the hand of Saul. And he said:” and then it runs right into that psalm. “I will love You, O LORD, my strength.” What an incredible psalm this is. This psalm could be entitled, how David embrace God. It could be entitled, a long obedience in serving God. It is an incredible song and it’s recorded twice.
Let’s go back to 2 Samuel 11, you can just stay there. I see you have too many fingers in your Bible, pull them out and just stay in 2 Samuel 11. David has more psalms. 1 Kings 1, he writes from that probably Psalm 70 and 71. That’s a psalm about growing old and we’re going to have fun going through that. It’s a psalm about how to be godly to the end of life. It’s a psalm about how to end. It’s a psalm about how to have the end of your life be the greatest days of your life. That’s not how it is in America. Usually that stretch from 50’s to somewhere in the 70’s, and maybe to the end of the 70’s is good but then it gets bad after that. People talk about their failings, but the scriptures say that the older we get the closer we are to what we were created for and what God has been preparing for us. We should be getting more, and more, and more into the greatest days of our life the older and weaker we get. When I am weak, then He is what? Strong. The weaker, and older, and more frail, and more financially insecure, and more everything insecure, then the Lord should be stronger and stronger. That’s why the church traditionally has extolled the older people, they have been the model. It’s only this generation, where you shove them aside. It used to be that you revered having those wise, the ḥāḵam in Hebrew, it’s white haired, elders around you. I have clear hair, but I wish I had white hair. It was always, you wanted to have as many ḥāḵam’s, white haired people around as possible because they had lived long with God. They were like a maple tree that put out the best sap and made the best, the finest syrup. They were long in the courts of God.
That’s what the 70th and 71st psalms are about. They’re like twins. Psalm 70 is intro to Psalm 71. In the Hebrew Bible they are joined. The last five verses a Psalm 40 are in Psalm 70, so we know that David wrote these. He wrote this, even though he didn’t put his name on it. In the 71st psalm we know that he’s writing about how to end well. Probably David’s last psalm is right at his nearing the end of his life. What I like to think is, in 1 Kings 2 when David is passing away and heading home, there are two psalms that were right there at the end. As a mere mortal man, David truly was so much like us, but he learned to rise above the downward pull of his flesh. At the end of his life, he clung to the only One that could satisfy him. I think that the twins from the end of his life are from him still holding on to Psalm 23 as his favorite. What older dying person, or even younger dying person doesn’t have Psalm 23 somewhere in their mind. I’ve done 300 funerals and in probably 99% of them the 23rd psalm is there, there’s just something about that. I’m sure David was clinging to that psalm.
The 116th psalm almost looks like a final list of David’s confessions of how he’s clinging to the Lord. We’ll go through that 116 psalm. He quotes Psalm 56, and he wrote this at the end. It’s a beautiful pathway for getting ready to go. If you feel a little shaky tonight and like you might not make it through the night, pop out your Bible and read the 116 psalm. It’s a great way to get ready if the Lord’s coming to call tonight.
2 Samuel 11, let’s just go through this for a few minutes. I’m going to just start this. We will not finish this tonight. Basically, as we’ll see, Paul says that this account was written for our admonition. God went to great efforts to get these 27 verses down and He wants us to learn from them. Let’s look at the sobering lessons. As we meet David in this chapter, remember he was at the top. We talked about that. He was a successful king. He was a powerful ruler. He was an undefeated general. He was a wealthy businessman. David is surrounded on every side by God’s blessing. This is why this is so scary. If you were living back then and went to Jerusalem, and you looked at David, you would see him hedged about with blessing. Everything he touched God was blessing, it was unbelievable days. 2 Samuel 11 is the watershed because God summarizes the events of David’s life.
If you’re a Bible marker, a note taker, let me read to you something. 1 Kings 15:4 is God’s summary of this chapter in just a verse. Let me read to you what it says. “Nevertheless for David’s sake the LORD his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem, by setting up his son after him and by establishing Jerusalem; because David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.” In God’s assessment, in 1 Kings 15 verse 5, it says David never turned aside from anything God commanded him except with Uriah. To me, it’s staggering that God says everything else David went through was dealt with correctly. David. He didn’t have happy marriages. He didn’t have a happy home life with his kids. In fact, he didn’t have any kids that even turned out, I don’t think any of them what we would call, turn out. He didn’t. Other than Bathsheba he seemed, and maybe might’ve had a few other happy parts of his life, but everything didn’t seem to turn out. God says, David did everything I commanded him except this.
What I like about this is, I love getting God’s perspective. God saw David’s life not as perfect, but He saw him as surrendered. He said he did everything I commanded him except with Uriah. His whole life was surrendered. If you consider David’s life, though David struggled emotionally, he had what we would call emotional breakdowns. He had meltdowns. He had depression. He had constant stress. David was a man that though he struggled through, he always wanted to do what God commanded him to do. He wanted to be a servant.
God’s word is how we know what we’re to do. The scripture says, “He, that has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.” (John 14:21) Jesus said, this Book, these are my commandments to you. This is what I want you to do. If you’ll do it, you’ll show that you love me. David, except for the matters around Uriah, everything’s erased, God says this guy just loved me so much because he did what I commanded him to do. If we don’t do anything else in our life except read the Bible and obey God, we have a life that pleases God.
David shows us that, for all his struggles he did what was commanded him. Although the Lord forgave the sins and forgot the inequities, David’s consequences and losses are recorded in the Bible. God not only recorded David’s key role in the events of history, but He also recorded his key failure, for us to learn something. This is what God wants us to learn.
First of all, look at verse 13. Let’s back up for just a second, I want to get a running start. Look at chapter 5. I want to show you when David’s sin started. I think, this is just my opinion. Look at 2 Samuel chapter 5, and I want to show you something. In the next week we’ll go in depth, but 2 Samuel 5 verse 13, notice what it says. “And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he had come from Hebron. Also more sons and daughters were born to David.” You say, why is that? Do you remember several weeks ago, we looked at David had to copy the law when he became king. He had to copy it. It says in Deuteronomy 17, you’re supposed to make a copy. The first thing David was supposed to copy was, the king was not to multiply wives. It says, don’t multiply horses, golden, silver, and wives because they’ll turn your heart away.
I believe David and Bathsheba started way back in 2 Samuel 5:13. Do you know why? Because David desensitized his conscience by incomplete obedience. That’s the first lesson from this study of David’s fall into sin, that as soon as we say this is what God wants me to do but it’s okay if I don’t obey this part because I’m old, or I’m tired, or I’m poor, or I’m sick, or I have needs. What we do is, we just cover up this one thing. God, I want to do everything, but this is my pet area. You said not to multiply wives, but before I wrote that I didn’t realize, and I started multiplying wives. So, as long as I started out, I’ll just keep on. That’s how David thought. He thought, I already have all these others. Now that I’m king, I’m going to keep multiplying. He did the little Bible study, and it says don’t multiply wives, and he just kept undoing it. That’s a danger thing, he desensitized.
In 2 Samuel 11, let me just show you some more, that we’re going to cover in the days ahead. Verse 1, David remained in Jerusalem. David didn’t discipline himself to do his duty as king. When we were reading, I mentioned that. I call that, he relaxed his grip, he didn’t hold the expectations he had on others. He didn’t keep those himself. What do we call that? A lack of integrity. Integrity is when, what we project are our standards and we impose on others, we maintain them ourselves. David expected his army to go to battle when armies go to battle, but he didn’t. He relaxed.
Look at verse 2 of 2 Samuel 11, not only was he desensitized and relaxed, but he began fixating on his personal desires. That’s what this whole lust thing is about. He had a whole stable full of wives. It’s like Rockefeller. Remember John D Rockefeller? Remember when someone asked him, when he made his first billion, what else he wanted? He said just another dollar. I thought what the scriptures say, the eyes of us humans are never satisfied. We get the best we can have and all of a sudden, we look over and we want just one more. We just want a better house, or a better job, or a better car, or a better wife, or a better husband. We’re not satisfied. David fixed his heart on his physical desires.
Look at verse 3, we’re going to go through each of these. “David sent and inquired.” Then, these roadblocks. Isn’t that Bathsheba? Verse 3. Isn’t this the daughter of Eliam? Isn’t this the wife of Uriah the Hittite, one of your 30 mighty men? David rationalized. He said, yeah, but I’m king. Yeah, but I want her. He just pushed away. Those were brave servants. David was an incredible man and for them to confront him and say, you shouldn’t be looking at her and running after her, those were brave servants. But David rationalized.
Look at verse 4, “Then David sent.” He was unheeding. He was uncaring. He had a lack of discipline. He fixated on what he wanted. He slid right into sin.
We have just enough time. I’m going to be obedient tonight. It’s not very many times your dear friend walks up to you, my dear friend walked up to me tonight… as you’re turning to 1 Corinthians 10 this is my last verse, this is where we’re going to end. My good friend walked up to me tonight and he said, don’t go over tonight. I said, okay Phil, I will not.
Look at 1 Corinthians 10. I’m just going to read this and we’re going to be done. David plunged his life into lustful sin which resulted in death, and deceit, and murder, and immorality, and spiritual oppression, and poverty, and famine. That all happened from one instant. Look at what 1 Corinthians chapter 10:11-13 say. We’re going to pick this up next. This is after 10 verses. The first 10 verses of 1 Corinthians 10 are just a listing of Israel sins, like a catalog. Not all of them, just a lot of them, big ones. 1 Corinthians 10:11, “Now all these things happen to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition.” Do you know why I read the Old Testament over, and over, and over again? I want to get admonished over, and over, and over again about what displeases God, what He doesn’t like, what He doesn’t want, and what He will respond with the consequence engine to. These “were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the age have come.” Verse 12, look at this, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” David had come to a point where he stopped having the rails and the barriers up in his life. He pushed the barriers away. Taking the training wheels off, I can do it. That’s a dangerous moment, when you think you stand, “take heed lest he fall.”
Look at verse 13 and this is the essence of what we’re learning tonight. Verse 13, “No temptation has overtaken you.” First lesson, temptations are always chasing us. Have you ever seen that person running behind the school bus or the city bus trying to get on? Every time I see someone, and it happens all the time up here, because the buses come, they pull up, and people are running from the apartments, I see it all the time. Every time I see that I think about, that’s life for every one of us. Temptation is running, trying to catch up with us. Trying to grab and get on the bus with us. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man.” There are only so many, we all face them. It’s not like you’re the only one that’s struggling with whatever, or me.
“But God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape.” The active agent there is God and God is standing by with an escape hatch open in that instant of temptation. He’s got the hatch open. He’s got the slide ready. The temptation is smoldering in front of us, ready to burst into flame. He’s looking at us and He’s saying you don’t have to, come on, I am faithful to make a way.
Look what it says in verse 13, “the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 2 Samuel 11 is an admonition from God. The admonition is when we’re tempted look for God. We need to never think we are immune. David fell so far so fast. It’s breathtaking when you think about it. How quick and how far he fell. Temptation is always around. We all share common temptations, but the key is the God who is there this week, even tonight, when faced with a temptation to displease the Lord, you know what He says? Cry out, I’m there. I’ve got a way of escape and you’ll be able to bear it. That’s what David didn’t do. That’s why it’s in the Bible, so that we will the next time we face temptation, do what David didn’t do and we’ll take the way out.
Let’s take a moment to pray tonight. Why don’t you stand? You’ve been sitting so long. Let’s stand for a word of prayer.
Father, as we stand before you tonight, we stand before the God who is there. You are present. Not only are you with us always, even to the end, but when we’re tempted you are making a way of escape. O Father, and the name of your Son, our precious Savior, the Lord Jesus, that your servants, your saints, that we who love you will decide tonight that we, when we face the temptations that are common to us, that we’ll look for you. That we will turn our eyes to look upon you and look full into your wonderful face. We’ll find that the things so alluring and our temptations will grow strangely dim as we take your way of escape. Lord, help us to decide that tonight, and practice that. No matter how many times we fall, to get back up and say God, you’re there; teach me, help me, draw me, flow out your grace through me so I may take your way of escape. Thank you for being the God of new beginnings. Thank you for being the God of the second, and third, and the endless chances. May we not displease you like David, but may we take your way of escape. In the precious name of Jesus we pray. And all of God’s people said, Amen.