Saturday, May 17, 2008

Looking Behind David's Sin ... And Ours

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.
2 Samuel 12:9
This is David's offense, right? This is the sin he has committed that has displeased the LORD (2 Samuel 11:26b) and brought the rebuke of Nathan, right? This is what is evil in God's sight, right?

Before I answer with a conclusive "yes," I must ask myself why, then, did the LORD's response to David after David essentially condemns himself begin in verse 7 and not verse 9? After Nathan relates a parable to David in which a rich man with many lambs takes the only lamb of a poor man to kill, prepare, and set before a visiting guest instead of using one of his own, David pronounces judgment over any man who would do such a thing, not realizing that the man is himself in his dealings with Uriah the Hittite and his wife, Bathsheba. And Nathan responds:
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.'
2 Samuel 12:7-9 (emphasis added)
And then Nathan continues to speak the LORD's words of judgment towards David.

But as I listen to the words of the LORD to David after Nathan first pronounces David to be "the man," I must ask myself why God doesn't just begin with verse 9. If the LORD had begun with the section where He asks "Why have you despised the word of the LORD...?", would you think that something was missing? My answer is that I wouldn't. So I must ask myself why God says what He says prior to that (the bolded text). Why does God list what He has done for David, how He has:
  • anointed David king over Israel?
  • delivered David out of the hand of Saul?
  • given David's master's house and David's master's wives into David's arms?
  • given David the house of Israel and of Judah?
And on top of this, God says that if all this were too little, He would have given David much more! Why does God take the time to speak of all that He has done for David and would do for David instead of just getting to the actions that David has committed?

I think the answer is that, without this, we wouldn't see the reality behind sin and what makes it so evil in the eyes of God. And to put another spin on it, we wouldn't see the reality behind sin that enables us to effectively battle and defeat it. This reality is the reason why David's sin is described:
  • by God as having despised God Himself (12:10)
  • by David as having sinned against the LORD (12:13, Psalm 51:4)
  • by Nathan as having utterly scorned the LORD (12:14)
Without in any way wanting to belittle the fact that Nathan wronged Uriah (an understatement) and Bathsheba as well, committing adultery, deceit, and murder, the issue doesn't ultimately lie in what David's actions show about David, sinner that he is, but rather the issue ultimately lies in what David's actions show about God, the Father of lights from whom every good and perfect gift comes from heaven above (James 1:17).

When David looked down at Bathsheba bathing from his palace rooftop, all he could think about was this woman that he didn't have. He had forgotten all that the LORD had graciously bestowed upon him, including three wives. It seems like this is were his sin began. Is this not why God begins His indictment of David by listing the benefits He had bestowed upon him?

Was this not the same place that Adam and Eve went wrong, forgetting all in the garden that they were granted to eat because they didn't have the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

Was this not the same place that both the young prodigal and his older brother went wrong, one desiring the inheritance and the other desiring a goat to celebrate with his friends, forgetting that all that was their father's was theirs (Luke 15:31)?

Is this not where we go wrong, forgetting that He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all will also with Him graciously give us all things (Romans 8:32)?

And so we take things into our own hands to get for ourselves what we want, showing God to be a withholder of something that is good when He has told us that no good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11). And in so doing, we heap scorn on His name as David did, instead of magnifying Him as the all-satisfying grace Giver that He is. This is the heart of the evil in all of our sin. We steal glory from the One who does all things for His own name's sake (Isaiah 48:11). We do all this in spite of the fact that God has told us, just as he told David, that if we are lacking in any way, He will give us what we need (Psalm 23:1, Matt. 6:31-33, Matt. 7:7-11, Philippians 4:19). Perhaps we do so because we know that if we ask God for what we want, He will not give it to us. And yet the evil in our hearts supplants the Almighty in His grace-giving power and wisdom by replacing Him with ourselves as the orchestrator of our lives. I think we can see how this plays out for David if we contrast the way David takes Bathsheba to be his wife (2 Samuel 11) with how the LORD grants Abigail to be his wife (1 Samuel 25).

In his book Future Grace, John Piper's thesis is that "sin is what we do when we aren't satisfied in God." In other words, sin is what we do when we are blinded to and forgetful of all that God is for us and has given us in Jesus and through Jesus. And satisfaction doesn't come primarily by looking to the past, but rather by looking forward to the certainty of what God will do for us and be for us from this moment forward ("If this were too little, I would add to you as much more.").

This means that the primary way that we fight against sin is by continually praying, as Paul prayed for the Ephesians, to have the eyes of our hearts enlightened, that we might know what is the hope to which God has called us, what are the riches of God's glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of God's power toward us who believe (Ephesians 1:18-19), giving God the glory in doing so by rejoicing in God's work.

We pray that God would enable us to never lose sight and esteem of the worth of what He has done for us through Christ in the gospel according to the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at his right hand in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:20) after the Son had lived a perfect life to be credited to our account and died a perfect death to absorb the punishment that we deserved.

And we fix our eyes on Jesus, the One who was without sin because He never lost sight of His Father's all-satisfying worth and all that His Father had given into His hands, which we see in the act before His death that most clearly symbolizes what He has done for us in taking on human flesh.
Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.
John 13:3, 4

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