David: King of Israel (November 18, 2018)
2 Samuel 5: 6-7, 9-10; 12: 1-15
David: King of Israel
So, we are continuing today our series on David and looking at David’s life and the lessons we can learn from David’s life. And today were going to be looking at the period where David is truly the king of Israel. David is crowned the king of Israel in the town of Hebron, which is just south of Jerusalem. And he reigns there for seven years. He was not crowned king in Jerusalem because Jerusalem was not captured during the conquest of the Holy Land. It’s a pretty strong fortress at this point: it’s up on the hill, it’s wall is high, and the Israelites just did not take it out when they conquered the holy land. The other reason that David is not crowned in Jerusalem is he’s not truly crowned king of Israel, he’s crowned king of Judah. There’s another child of Saul and he was crowned the king of Israel. And for seven years is a little bit of infighting that goes on, and people trade sides, and things happen. Eventually David winds up growing in power and prestige, with the tribe of Judah behind him, and he is eventually given the title king of Israel by the other tribes. At this point David decides that he needs to have a neutral capital; a capital that was not a part of any of the tribes in hopes of kind of bringing some unity. If you know American history, you know that this kind of idea works. And so, he decides to attack the city that wasn’t captured; the city of Jerusalem. And he does. He plans to the strategy that ultimately works, asking for someone to basically go up the sewer shaft and get in the city that way. And they do, and they conquered the city. David becomes the king of all Israel, with a capital in Jerusalem, which he renamed the city of David.
It’s this fortress where David would consolidate his rule. He reigns in the city of David for 33 years. He builds a massive, powerful kingdom; the kingdom that was a very influential kingdom in the entire area. Eventually, after his son Solomon came to power, the borders of this Kingdom would contain all of what is now Israel, what is now Jordan, what is now Syria, portions of southeast Turkey, and portions of northern Saudi Arabia. This is the strongest and largest the kingdom of Israel will ever be, at least up until today. And were told that David grew in power like this because God was with him.
But what we see as we look at the story is that David was not always with God. There’s a saying I like that says that if you can’t see God’s face it wasn’t God who turned around. And we see here that David comes to a point where he begins to make decisions on his own. He’s not waiting for God’s timing like he used to when he was a servant of Saul. He’s not waiting for God to show him when things should happen, or even if they should happen. He just goes and does whatever he wants. Perhaps the story that the exemplifies this the most is the story of him and Bathsheba, where he sends the army off to war in and he stays home in the comfort of Jerusalem. And he looks out from his palace, which is at the top of the of the City of David looking down upon the rest of the city, and he sees a beautiful woman. And he wants the beautiful woman, but he finds that this woman is the wife of Uriah, the great warrior that you sent to do war for you. And David says, “I don’t care,” and so they bring Bathsheba to him, and he takes advantage of her. You probably know that story, which is why I went ahead and read what happens next. The prophet Nathan, mouthpiece of God, comes in. He speaks truth to power. Nathan is called to bring David back, and Nathan goes and he speaks prophetically to David, and he tells him the story about a rich man in a poor man where a rich man took what the poor man had rather than taking from his own stores in order to do what he needed to do.
David becomes enraged, which tells us that he still has a moral center somewhere, and states that the rich man needs to die for this, and that he must be restore to the poor man whatever was there. And Nathan replied with those powerful words, “you are the man:” what David did to Uriah was no different than what the man in the story had done. And furthermore, yes David, you deserve to die over what you did.
But of course, David didn’t die. And the reason for that is because of David’s response to Nathan: “I have sinned against the Lord.” David repents. David begs for mercy. David promises to do better in the future at serving God and being God’s king and not his own man. And because of that Nathan responds that David is forgiven, and that David will not die, but the natural consequences of his actions will still happen.
And we see that this happens. Bathsheba‘s child dies, and I have little doubt that everything Bathsheba goes through causes a bit too much stress in her pregnancy and the child dies as a result of it. That is a natural consequence of David‘s actions. And David’s house is turned upside down: from this point forward there is infighting in his family; his children or fight against others of his children, some of his sons will assault his daughters by other mothers. There will be murder, there will be rebellion: some of his sons will attempt to overthrow him. David is forgiven, but he still suffers the consequences.
This is lesson number one today. We see that forgiveness does not mean we are absolved of all consequence. God is still with David because David repents. And God still builds David’s kingdom because David repents, and truly does try and do better going forward. David accepts the molding of his heart by God but is not absolved of everything. There’s no prosperity gospel here; there is no “you can do whatever you want, and then if you come to church and donate 1000 bucks life will be great, and will be $3000 waiting for you in the mailbox at home!” That’s not the way it works. God washes us clean, and God makes our soul healthy moving forward, but there may still be earthly things to deal with. I want you to hear this phrase: just because you are forgiven does not mean your life will be easy; and likewise, just because your life is hard does not mean that God isn’t with you.
The second lesson we can take from this is that there will come times in our lives when the Lord shows us our sins. There will come times in our lives when Nathans walk into our lives and tell us “you are the man,” or “you are the woman.” And when that happens, we have two choices. We can become angry, and we can begin to blame others, or even blame God, as to why we really had no choice. “It’s not my fault, it’s Fred’s fault. You see if Fred hadn’t done what Fred did to me, then I would not have had to defend myself. I’m not going to be pushed around, obviously, and so it’s really Fred‘s fault. He started it.” “I didn’t mean to do that, the devil made me do it.” (love that phrase) Or, “God, I told you to take the wheel, it’s not my fault the car ran off the road. You had the wheel.” We could go that route. Many of us do. But I don’t think that’s the route that God wants, and it’s certainly not the route that David takes.
Our other option is that we can accept that we made a decision, whatever the circumstances were around us, and God is calling us out and saying that we need to do better in the situation in the future. Don’t make that decision again. And we can accept that direction, and repent. This is what David did. Ancient manuscripts actually have a break right here right after Nathan‘s speech and we believe that that is in order to insert Psalm 51. David of course writes many of the Psalms that we have in the book of Psalms, and these are poems and expressions of where David’s mind was; his attitude at various moments in his life. And the compiler of Psalms tells us where David was in many of those places. And Plasm 51 is right after when Nathan has confronted him. I want you to hear psalm 51 now. And listen for where David’s heart is, because this is how we are to respond when God tries to perfect us.
“1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment. 5 Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me. 6 You desire truth in the inward being;[a] therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right[b] spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing[c] spirit.”
God wants us to be perfect. And I say that not in a judgmental way, not where God is going to be watching out for us to mess up ready to pounce on. Rather God wants us to be perfect in a way that a coach wants you to be perfect. God is going to look for how you can improve, and then try and help you to improve there. We must trust God enough to be molded, to respond to God‘s teaching in the way that David did. This is the second lesson.
A third thing to recognize is that both Nathan and David are part of a covenantal community here. Both men are called by God. When we look at the story, especially as pastors, we tend to focus on one or the other: to point out the one who’s being prophetic and speaking truth to power, or the one who’s repenting and realizing his sin. But reality is we need both people in the church. We need the people who are going to be prophetic, who are going to speak truth to power when called upon. But we also need the people who are willing to accept reproach from others, and be more accountable to each other, and try and do better. And of course, part of us recognizes that each of us are both at different times: there are times in our life and we need to call people out in love, and there are times in our lives when we need to accept being called out and repent. And remember the goal of this interaction is repentance. It is not condemnation. Nathan leaves happy because David repented, even though the punishment that even David said should have happened doesn’t.
As David’s reign continues, he will face rebellions, and he will face turmoil. Several of his sons will attempt to become king before he dies. A couple of times there is even conflict between two of his children, between half siblings of each other. And David throughout it seams powerless to stop that conflict, and indeed he was. But even through it all David remains a servant of the Lord. I want to look at another psalm, Psalm 3, written during one of those rebellions. I want you to look at how David is responding, and how David has truly repented.
“5 I lie down and sleep; I wake again, for the LORD sustains me. 6 I am not afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. 7 Rise up, O LORD! Deliver me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. 8 Deliverance belongs to the LORD; may your blessing be on your people!”
What we can see here is that David has returned to being a person who waits for God‘s timing, who listens to God‘s direction in his life, and who accepts what God is doing and what God is not doing through him. David is once again a man of God. The repentance which he promised to Nathan has happened and has taken root. David has grown and become more perfect. May we truly be open to God‘s molding work in our lives. Pray this week for an area where you could improve and commit to improving there. Next week we will talk about the end of David‘s reign. Come to hear David’s legacy. Amen.