King David is famous for his reputation. He conquers historic enemies of Israel. He even slays the giant in the valley of Elah. But for some reason, David hit a wall.
September 28, 2023
Speaker: Gary Peters
Passage: 2 Samuel 11:1-5
If you have a Bible, turn to Second Samuel chapter 11. In the context of Pastor Greg’s teaching, since he’s been back from a sabbatical on Reset, this is something the Lord laid on my heart back in March or April of this year. I’ve been sitting on it for six or seven months. I was going to share it in the summer, but I didn’t feel like I was released to do so.
This is something that I think all of us have heard of if you’ve been in the church very long. That is a tragic, deeply troubling story from the life of David that I believe even non-Christians have heard of.
Second Samuel 11:1 says, “Then it happened in the spring at the time when kings go to battle. David sent Joab and his servants with him and all of Israel, and they brought destruction to Amnon, but David stayed in Jerusalem. Now, in the evening time, David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof, he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful in appearance. So David sent his servants and inquired about this woman. And they said, ‘Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’ Then David sent messengers and brought her, and when she came to him, he slept with her. When she had purified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house. But the woman conceived, so she sent word to David, and said, ‘I am pregnant.'”
If you know the rest of the story, when David found out she was pregnant, one of his mighty men was Bathsheba’s husband, one of his mighty men, Uriah, the Hittite. He was a mighty man of God, a mighty man for David. David orders that Uriah be put at the front of the army, and pull back all the other forces knowing that that would cost Uriah his life.
Not only was David guilty of not leading the army, he was guilty of adultery. He was guilty of murder. How does that happen to someone? That’s what I want to talk to you about. How many believe David needed to reset in his life? By the way, this is only one year of David’s life. Everything else David did was righteous and good. For one year, he took a vacation from God. None of us ever do that. I understand. Maybe not to the extent of what David did, I understand that. But I’ve taken time off from my calling and from what God has called me to do.
What causes a person to go from a shepherd, who in Psalm 78 or 72 says, leads Israel with integrity of heart and skillful hands, to this? What causes a man who wrote so many of the songs we sing even today to change? What causes a man who was a powerful worshipper to fall to sin? What causes a man whose very words and songs drove the demonic away, who had an incredible passion for God, to become an adulterer, to some degree a sexual predator, a deceiver, a manipulator, and even guilty of ordering the murder of a loyal man of God who was fighting for him?
To gain some insight, I think we need to look very quickly at the previous three chapters of this story. In chapter eight, David is finally king over all of Israel. Does anybody know how long it took him to have that happen? 20 years. From when he was promised to be king over Israel to when all of Israel was finally under his domain, 20 years took place. 13 years it took for him to become king over Judah, and another seven years for all of Israel. How many believe 20 years is quite a long time? When we’ve been promised 70. Let’s say you live 100; it’s still a long time. But in light of eternity, it’s not.
He becomes fulfilled and comfortable. So David reigned over all of Israel and did what was just and right for all of his people. He had comfort without compromise at one time. There’s a passage of scripture in Proverbs chapter 30 that has always been my prayer when we’re sending somebody out from the house, as a missionary or a pastor, or someone that has been called even to this ministry in house, or myself constantly. I pray this prayer.
“Oh God, I begged these two favors from you.” This is a prayer of Haggar, who wrote some Proverbs 30. “Help me before I die. First, let me never tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches. Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, who is the Lord? And if I am poor, I may steal and thus insult your name.”
How many believe that’s a good prayer? Have you ever prayed it? God, don’t give me too much that I forget you. But don’t give me too little that I feel I have to take matters into my own hands.
In chapter nine, David is grateful and motivated. He shows compassion to a servant called Mephibosheth, who is Jonathan’s son. In this chapter, he shows incredible gratitude for Jonathan’s service to Him by honoring his son Mephibosheth. Most kings kill any heirs. David shows kindness to this heir to the point that for the rest of his life, he eats from David’s table, and David takes care of him.
In chapter 10, he tries to do the same thing to a new king of Amnon. His father dies, and this young whippersnapper king comes up. He says, I want to show my kindness to you because your dad was kind to me. So he sends an envoy to this kingdom, this new king, and says, how can we help you?
This new king doesn’t listen to the elders, instead listens to the younger ones. They say he’s spying in this time of weakness in our time of grieving. He’s spying on our kingdom because he wants to take over.
No, David is following what he did in chapter nine. He wants to show kindness to somebody who’s been kind to him. Instead of receiving his envoys, his ambassadors, this man has his servants cut the beards off of all of David’s servants, which was, at that time, a sense of religious righteousness and dedication and devotion. These men had beards because they were devoted to God, a Nazirite vow. The other thing they did was they cut their robes right at the waist and expose all their private parts. Total humiliation.
What does David do? He kills them all. This is where I believe David began to turn. See, he helps Mephibosheth, and that is reciprocated. He wants to help this new king, and it is rebuffed. David becomes angry and bitter.
Then we come to chapter 11. At the time when kings go out to war, David sent Joab, the commander of his armies, and he stayed in Jerusalem. I just heard an interview with the Ukrainian president, and they said they have about six weeks of good weather left. It’s harder to fight in the winter in Europe. It’s harder to fight anywhere in the wintertime. It’s wetter. You bog down your army.
Hitler found that out, thank God, at the gates of Moscow in World War II. He got a late start. He wanted to start Operation Barbarossa in April. It started in June, and they were two months behind. They ran through the Baltics and ran through the Soviet Union until they came to the gates of Moscow, and the winter of 1941 or 1942 hit. Thank God for the sovereignty of winter. You always fight battles when it’s nice, or you try to in the springtime. This was especially true at this time in history. It was in the springtime when kings normally went to war. David stays back in Jerusalem.
He can’t sleep one night, and he goes up to the rooftop because it’s cooler on the roof. Many times, they slept on the roof. But I believe he knew that there was possibly someone bathing on the roof next to him. The enemy works that way.
David is worn out. I believe he’s not any different than any of us. At times, we all hit what I call the wall. Middle age is real. You reach a point where you go, what have I accomplished, and I don’t have many years to accomplish what I don’t think I’ve accomplished yet. The wall is real. The problem is what we do with it. In North America, when we get to a certain age, we just put it in cruise control because we worked all our lives. We think, now I deserve some time off. I’m going to take a break, not only from the Kingdom of God, but from Jesus Himself. I’m just going to relax because I deserve this.
I’m not saying you can’t have retirement. I’m just saying be careful in retirement, those of you that are my age and older. Because you have never ever, ever, ever reached this age before. When I was in my 40s, my wife and I had been married for probably 20 years, our kids were getting older, our son was almost out of high school and our daughter was not far behind. It’s probably the roughest patch that Karen and I have had. We loved each other, but we didn’t really like each other.
In that season, we were more like roommates than we were lovers. I went to a friend of mine who was a mentor and about 20 years older than me. I shared with him what was going on in my life. He said, “How much of it is your age?” I said, “I don’t know, I’ve never been this old before. How am I supposed to know that?”
I want to give you some encouragement as the old guy. You will hit the wall. Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Press on through. Don’t go into Jerusalem and sit in your bed when others are going to war, and watch others fight your battles for you because it will be a trap that will clean your clock.
It amazes me what happens here. David didn’t understand the seasons of life. He allowed hurt and disappointment to cloud his vision and purpose of God. You know, life mimics the four seasons of life that we see in nature. Let me encourage you. Sometimes, it even mimics spring and summer like we just had this year. Where there’s another season inside of a season where you have so much rain and turmoil. It’s called life.
I am sick of Christians getting to a point and saying, “I’m going to quit on God.” You’re hurting God, yes, you’re grieving His heart, but He’s not the one who’s going to lose through all of this. You’re the one who’s going to lose through all of this.
You know, when people get angry at God and pull back and say, I’m not going to go to church anymore, I’m not going to fellowship anymore, I’m not going to pray anymore, I’m not going to do the things of God anymore, guess who you’re hurting? You grieve the heart of God, but you’re hurting yourself. I see it happen all the time. I’ve seen it happen in my own life.
Tired of war. A stressful occupation is war. When the spring comes, when you’re supposed to war, you say, I’m just tired of war, can I have some peace? Do you know when peace comes? After war. You don’t understand peace until you’ve had war.
God, don’t give me too much that I forget who you are or too little that I steal from you. It’s a been there, done that attitude. It’s an I’m looking at somebody else’s life versus my life attitude. Again, none of us do that in this room except me. Nobody ever looks at somebody else’s life and asks why they seem to be at ease?
Asaph, who wrote one of the Psalms, Psalm 73, says that very thing. He and I understand that principle. We all do. Quit comparing yourself, Paul says to the Corinthians. He says that those who compare themselves with themselves are “idioties.” We get our word idiot from it. It means you’re not thinking clearly. You don’t have the brain to think clearly.
Discontentment is what God has allowed in my life. A discontentment to drive me not away from Him, but to Him. Comparing yourselves with others, “I gave, I served, I sacrificed, and what has it benefited me?” Has anybody ever felt like that? If you feel like this in the room, well, maybe I’m your Nathan the prophet today.
Because Nathan, after a year of David’s life, came to him and said, you’re the man. Maybe the Holy Spirit, through this teaching, is saying to you through me, you’re the man, you’re the woman. I have something better for you. Quit stopping in your tracks. Keep pressing on to what God has.
Zachariah said, speaking of Jesus, and someone will say to him, “What are these wounds in your hands?” and He will say, “Those with which I was wounded, in the house of My friends.”
I was wounded in the house of my friends. I was wounded by people I trusted.
Does anybody ever have a dark night of the soul besides me? Where you go through something, and you think you’re the only one who’s faced this. The second to last song we sang today is a song from a writing that Pastor Dustin found of a saint in Russia who was about ready to be martyred. He gave it to pastor Greg, and pastor Greg put it to music. He is saying, thank you, God, I’m about ready to die. But thank you. Thank you.
That can come out of your dark night of the soul. That you understand who He is and what He’s done for you. I read “The Prodigal Son” by Henry Nouwen again for the fifth or sixth time recently. In that book, he deals with the prodigal son, he deals with the father, but he deals with a couple of chapters on the elder brother.
I know Christians who are suffering from what I call the elder brother complex. You haven’t given up on your faith, you just aren’t much good for the Kingdom. You’re still going to heaven. But are we useful on this earth? God didn’t save us to just get us to heaven. God saved us to make us people who will carry His presence on this planet.
We need to reset because the father says to the elder brother, all that is mine has been yours all along. But you’re so focused on this one that has come back. Thankfully, God the Father has slayed the fatted calf for every one of us in this room. He’s given us authority. He’s put the robe of righteousness on us. He shod our feet with the gospel of peace. He’s done all of those things for us.
But sometimes I sit back and go, man, what have you done for me lately? What have you done for me? I see this affecting people in ministry all the time. You serve God faithfully; you’ve done nothing to deserve what happened to you. It’s not your fault. People are stupid. Stupid people do stupid things. Hurt people hurt people.
People who don’t want power sometimes take advantage of those who are compassionate and humble and walk in the obedience of Christ. Because of that, you have shrunk back because it was too painful to walk where you’ve walked before. Now you have this elder brother complex. I’m not going to get close anymore. I’m not going to do the things God’s called me to do anymore. I’m not going to press in anymore because I’m afraid of being hurt because that hurt, hurt so deeply.
Guess what? That was a decade ago, it was 20 years ago, it was 30 years ago, it’s time to get back on the horse. It’s time to get back in the battle, church. It’s time because every one of us in this room has reason to shrink back. We’ve all been hurt. Welcome to being a human being.
I’m not minimizing your pain. I’m not saying that at all. I’m just saying, I’ve had a church turn on me. I’ve had people treat me terribly. Some of it, I think, might have been deserved, but even if I deserved a little bit, what they did went far beyond what I deserved.
Guess what? I wouldn’t be here today if I shrunk back. By the grace of God, I’m able to say, God, those people were not your heart for me.
How do we reset? Pastor Greg makes a statement all the time: “You either live with discipline or you will live with regret.” The first thing is this fight for your first love. Fight for your first love. There is no substitute for the daily encounter. If David had pressed in instead of doing what he did, there would have never been a Bathsheba.
There’s redemption. Bathsheba is mentioned in the lineage of Jesus in Matthew. She’s called Uriah’s wife, but she’s mentioned. She carried the lineage that carried the Christ child. Isn’t that incredible? God can redeem our mistakes. Aren’t you glad for that? Fight for your first love.
His voice, a listening ear. His word, our guide map. Prayer, honest and raw, full of compassion. I always tell people this, and you’ve probably heard me say it 100 times already. God’s not shocked by what comes out of our mouths.
I love David for some of the things he says. God get them. Hamstring their horses. Bust their teeth out, God. But then, at the end of the Psalm, he’s saying, God forgive me because I know I’m taking matters into my own hands. Honest and raw.
God, I don’t believe I just got what I deserve there. I believe they went overboard. I have felt the stirring in my heart to stand and tell this message to the church. I apologize. I stand and ask forgiveness for the church and for church leaders who have asked you to overcorrect in your life and maybe kicked you to the curb. That wasn’t God’s heart. There was a correction that needed to come, but not in the sense of kicking you to the curb and thinking you’re kicked out of the Kingdom.
The second thing is never to give yourself permission to violate boundaries. Billy Graham, when he traveled, always took somebody with him. There are certain boundaries I will not violate. You can get ticked off at me, but I’m not going to violate them. I’ve been married to the same woman for 44 years, and I haven’t been alone with another woman for 45.
Each violated boundary leads to another violated boundary. David should not have been in Jerusalem. He violated that boundary. He should have been leading his army. When he violated that boundary, it was easier for him to violate the next boundary, which was going up on the rooftop. It was a voyeurism thing, probably. It was the porn of his day. He knew women would be up there bathing. In a moment of weakness, he went anyway. I believe David knew what he was doing.
He violated one boundary, which led to another boundary, which led to getting that woman, and by the way, she was abused. She had no right to say no. It could have been a death sentence. He was the king. That’s the authority he carried. You talk about the Me Too movement, that’s why she bathed herself and washed of her cleanliness. That’s why she went back home.
Uriah was more righteous than David in this season, and Uriah slept on the doorsteps and said, I can’t go in tonight to have sex with my wife because my men are out fighting for David.
When you violate one boundary, you can violate another. Nobody wakes up one morning and says I’m going to have an affair. I want to cheat. Nobody wakes up one morning like that. I guarantee there are steps that you and I have taken along the way where we violate God’s principles. Then we violate another principle, we violate another principle, and we violate another principle. Finally, we can cross that threshold. Whatever it may be.
The third thing is that compressed pain always leads to unintended circumstances and consequences. I believe David was really hurt. I believe his heart was right when he tried to help this young king. But instead of saying this young king’s an idiot because he’s young and he’s listening to others, I’m going to grace him, David became angry.
There’s nothing wrong with anger. But don’t go to bed with it. Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath is a principle in marriage. It’s a principle in life. If you go to bed with anger in your heart towards someone, sleep has a way of soothing your conscience. But it never deals with the issue at hand. Then what happens is the next time you’re angry, you have that anger to deal with and what you slept on for a while. Never let the sun go down on your wrath.
The fourth thing is to position yourself to receive accountability. I’d never seen this before. I’ve read this story a million times. Sort of an exaggeration, but not much. Someone said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah?”
Someone said, stop. That’s what’s happening here. Somebody in David’s court goes, wait a minute. Isn’t this the daughter of someone? Isn’t this the wife of someone? I remember riding with a pastor one time, and I called somebody who cut in front of me a jerk. This pastor goes, “You know, that somebody’s son. It might be somebody’s husband. It could be somebody’s brother.” I wanted to pop him, too. But I said, “Yeah, Larry, you’re right. God, forgive me. Forgive me for wanting to pop you, and forgive me for wanting to run over that person.”
The people we get angry with, the people we harbor things against, the people we abuse with our mouths or with our actions, isn’t that somebody’s daughter? Isn’t that somebody’s wife? Isn’t that somebody that God created in His image? Would it arrest us in our hearts if somebody had the grace to speak in our life?
First of all, you have to have people that you trust. I don’t entrust my life to everybody because some people aren’t trustworthy. I can forgive somebody, but I don’t have to trust them. There are people I would trust my life with. I would lay down my life for them, and I would trust my life with them. One of them is our pastor. We’ve walked together for 35-plus years. Two others are sitting in this front row.
There are people in my life I trust and they would have the grace in my life and the permission to say, isn’t that somebody’s wife and somebody’s daughter? To try to get my attention and say wait a minute. Stop, David. You’re about ready to cross a boundary you never intended to be close to.
In your path and in my path of walking in sin, there will be definite roadblocks and hurdles that we will have to cross to continue down that path. One of my favorite quotes is by Matthew Henry. He says, “If sin is on one side of the road, walk on the other side. No, take another road altogether.”
I wish I could say that everything in my life has been that. But sometimes I stay on the wrong side. Sometimes I peer in the window. Sometimes I am righteous enough to walk on the other side. God, grace us with the ability to not be on that path to begin with because we’ve listened to your voice, and we’ve allowed others to speak in our lives.
In my ministry time, there have been times I put it in cruise control. There have been times I’ve kicked it in low gear and rode down a path I shouldn’t have. I never committed adultery, never cheated on my wife. I’m not talking about that. But there are things in my heart I know that I haven’t trusted Him with. I’ve trusted others. I manipulated situations to get my own way. It’s easy to do.
With all my heart, I want to breathe my last, knowing that my life counted for the Kingdom. I have purposed, in my heart, to allow the roadblocks to stop me before I get there. To go to war when God says it’s time to war. To enjoy peace when it’s time to have peace. To enjoy the blessings of God without them perverting my understanding of God. To enjoy the hardships of God without that perverting my understanding of God. To know that life sometimes sucks. It’s hard. But God is good all the time.
If I see something that I’m thinking is saying God’s opposite of his character, then that thing is lying to me. That is not God. It amazes me people that have affairs and break up a marriage and then marry that person. 10 years down the road they are shocked because that person now wants to break up their marriage.
I’m not saying there’s no forgiveness for anything in this room. I’m just saying sometimes we’re like, how can that be? We walked in the same thing, church. We’ve walked in the same thing. Then we wonder, and we’re shocked because now it’s happening to us.
God, grace us with the ability to truly walk in repentance and our brokenness before You, not in condemnation, not in overcorrection. Not thinking that if we don’t, we’re getting kicked out of the Kingdom and definitely Vintage.
That’s what the church does with people.
Jesus is standing today with arms wide open, saying, grace is available for whatever I’m asking you to walk in. Whatever I’m saying. Quit cheating in any form. Quit lying in any form. Walk upright before God. It’s possible.
I wish I could say I’ve done it for 50 years. Sometimes, I need to say, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” Sometimes, I say, “Don’t do what I just did. Because I was being an idiot.” Follow me.
I’m going to invite the Prayer Team to come up. If you need prayer for anything as we close today, don’t leave here without doing business with God. Because you know what happens? David turns things around, and he’s known as a man after God’s own heart. This is one year of a whole life. Even as a teenager, he served God. I would love to say, we don’t have any “one years” taking a vacation from the things of God. It can wreck your life and others.
Father, grace us with the ability to walk where You’ve asked us to walk and do what You called us to do. Father, I release any condemnation that the enemy would try to bring. Instead, I release the conviction of the Holy Spirit so that people would hear the still, small voice saying, “his is the way, walk in it.” That God, we would release our hurts and our pains to You. We could say, “God, that really, really, really, really hurt. I feel taken advantage of. I feel used and even abused. But God, I release that to You and ask that You apply the healing balm of Gilead, the Lord Jesus Himself.” Upon that hurt, I release those. By the grace of God, I release those who have hurt me into Your care and say, “God, they’re Yours.” Thank you for Your grace. Thank You for Your mercy. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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