Last night marked our 2022 return to Union Gospel Mission Dallas where we’ve been leading 4th Friday Chapel since 2011. Like everything else, COVID threw a big fat wrench into our serving there in 2020 and 2021. It finally (praise God) looks like we are returning to some sort of normalcy, albeit it different than it was before all this contagious virus mess began.
This time around, our group consisted of just Terri, myself and our longtime friends and ministry cohorts, Bill and Ann Bailey. The Baileys have been going down to the Mission for more than 16 years. Another friend (Ed Czarnecki) had planned to join us but ran into car trouble on the way down and couldn’t make it.
We walked into a full house. There were roughly 200 men staying there at the Mission which offers guys a chance to get their lives back on track through several initiatives including a discipleship program. I’ve known two of the chaplains since they sat in the crowd listening to my sermons as they were in the process of trying to get their lives right.
Sometimes in life, I’ve discovered, we veer off course. That’s what shaped the message Friday night as we looked at King David in 2 Samuel 11. If you’re familiar with Chapter 11, you’ll know it marks a godless chapter in the life of David, a man after God’s own heart. David finds himself straying off course in a major way.
Isaiah 53:6 says we all like sheep go astray. We all turn, at some point in our lives, and go our own way—away from God. When we distance ourselves from God, we find ourselves enthralled in the iniquity of sin. So it was with David.
In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem. Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. She had just completed the purification rites after having her menstrual period. Then she returned home. Later, when Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant, she sent David a message, saying, “I’m pregnant.”2 Samuel 11:1-5 (New Living Translation)
Sin leads us astray. In the spring of the year when kings are usually out in battle, David sat at home chilling. He wasn’t where he was supposed to be. That’s usually when we get in trouble. And we quickly see in the text that proved to be the case for King David as well. He wakes up from his nap—-mind you he has soldiers fighting on the battlefield on his behalf—walks out on his roof and sees beautiful Bathsheba taking a bath. He inquires who she is and upon on learning she is married summons her to his house anyway.
Sin occurs in the mind before it occurs in the flesh. We think before we do. That’s what Jesus is getting at in the Sermon on the Mount when he talks about our thoughts convicting us even before we actually carry out the deed. Upon seeing Bathsheba, David entertained thoughts. He didn’t flee from them nor did he usher them away. Rather, he let them simmer and guide his next steps. David, overcome with lust, invited Bathsheba over with the intent of having her for himself. Mind you, David was married and numerous concubines. He wasn’t lacking for sex. But, like any appetite we over feed, David hungered for more.
Sin leads to more sin. Bathsheba winds up pregnant. So what does David do? He walks further astray and deeper into the darkness of sin. Read what happens next:
Then David sent word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent him to David. When Uriah arrived, David asked him how Joab and the army were getting along and how the war was progressing. Then he told Uriah, “Go on home and relax. ” David even sent a gift to Uriah after he had left the palace. But Uriah didn’t go home. He slept that night at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard. When David heard that Uriah had not gone home, he summoned him and asked, “What’s the matter? Why didn’t you go home last night after being away for so long?” Uriah replied, “The Ark and the armies of Israel and Judah are living in tents, and Joab and my master’s men are camping in the open fields. How could I go home to wine and dine and sleep with my wife? I swear that I would never do such a thing.” “Well, stay here today,” David told him, “and tomorrow you may return to the army.” So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day and the next. Then David invited him to dinner and got him drunk. But even then he couldn’t get Uriah to go home to his wife. Again he slept at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard. So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver. The letter instructed Joab, “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.” So Joab assigned Uriah to a spot close to the city wall where he knew the enemy’s strongest men were fighting. And when the enemy soldiers came out of the city to fight, Uriah the Hittite was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers. Then Joab sent a battle report to David. He told his messenger, “Report all the news of the battle to the king. But he might get angry and ask, ‘Why did the troops go so close to the city? Didn’t they know there would be shooting from the walls? Wasn’t Abimelech son of Gideon killed at Thebez by a woman who threw a millstone down on him from the wall? Why would you get so close to the wall?’ Then tell him, ‘Uriah the Hittite was killed, too.’” So the messenger went to Jerusalem and gave a complete report to David. “The enemy came out against us in the open fields,” he said. “And as we chased them back to the city gate, the archers on the wall shot arrows at us. Some of the king’s men were killed, including Uriah the Hittite.” “Well, tell Joab not to be discouraged,” David said. “The sword devours this one today and that one tomorrow! Fight harder next time, and conquer the city!”2 Samuel 11:6-25 (NLT)
Holy Moly! That’s something akin to what happens in TV shows like “Yellowstone,” “Empire,” or the likes of “Dallas” (for my 80s friends). We see David ignite a scheme to cover up his sin that makes the writers of “General Hospital,” green with envy.
Sin leads to death. Do you see how David’s initial thought of sin has grown into a conspiracy that now involves others? That’s the way it is with sin. It grows and spreads like a virus until it reaches pandemic levels. David has gone from lustful adulterer to murderer in just a few heartbeats. Uriah the Hittite, on the other hand, is the picture of faithfulness and loyalty. Unlike David, Uriah is where he is supposed to be, doing what he is supposed to be doing.
When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the Lord was displeased with what David had done.2 Samuel 11:26-27 (NLT)
Sin separates us from God. I find it interesting that the Lord doesn’t come up until the final verse of Chapter 11. God’s fingerprints are all over David’s life until now. David, God’s anointed, finds himself mired in sin, apart from God. That’s what happens to us. Sin separates us from the Lord.
Thankfully, as is true for David, God made a way for us to return to Him. That way is called Jesus. He is the way, the truth, and the life. We can come to the Father through Him because of His sacrificial atoning death on a hill called Calvary. Jesus died as payment for our sin. All you and I have to do is confess our sin, ask for forgiveness, and trust Jesus to serve as our Lord and Savior. He is able if we are willing.
Friends, we all go astray and veer off course from God’s good and righteous plan for our lives. Remember, we don’t have to stay lost. God has paved a path home.
May the rest of your day and weekend be filled with blessing.
I pray that you will find the time to refresh, recharge, and refuel. It’s a long race. Make sure you do what you need to do to ensure you stay on course so that you cross the finish line well.
The Devotional Guy™
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