Rising From Our Greatest Failures (part 3)
Today, we’re in II Samuel 12. And you might be wondering, weren’t we there last week and the week before? And the answer is yes. Yes we were, but we’re going to jump into this. I’ll tell you a little bit why in just a moment, and I promise this is the last week or last week that we’re going to be in chapter 12. But as we’ve gone through this together, we have seen God do some extraordinary things in the life of David. This is a valuable section of scripture for us, because we’re watching an individual go from really a child to a man in the Lord. And just really immature to wise in the Lord, and following after him. And just seeing what that journey looks like, and I told you last week scholars have said there is no figure written on more in all of antiquity than there is for King David. You just get a front row seat to what God is doing in his life, has done in his life and how he grows. And God has used him to do some pretty incredible things.
David, he conquered a giant or giants really. He overcame a rogue king. He made deep friendships. He united all of Israel. He wrote incredible worship Psalms. He brought the Ark back to Jerusalem. Some wonderful things happened in David. He was a remarkable person before the Lord, and the Bible even says repeatedly about him. He was a man after God’s own heart. And while we’ve seen God do some incredible things in David, we also find chapter 11 and chapter 12 of II Samuel, which is where we are today that even the most godly people are capable of falling. While we see all these great things that happened in the life of today, I want us to consider not just the wonderful things David has done. We’re also going to look once again at this fall and what happens related David. The last couple of weeks, we looked at how we recover from our own personal failures. Today we’re actually going to look at how we recover when really life falls on us.
And this is I think an important message for those that like to feel like you’re in control all the time. Because if we fool ourselves in that facade, what we find is this gut punch in life. The truth is we’re not in control of everything. And when things are out of our control, what do we do? And when you look at David while God did use him to do many wonderful things, it’s also worth considering the difficult things David went through. David, he bore a lot in life. I remember in the very beginning when God called David that his father labeled him as the insignificant child in the family, yet God wanted to use David to do great things. He was treated as unimportant member of the family, as a boy. He faced Goliath. And that’s incredible in of itself, but as a young man, he had a king that pursued him and wanted to kill him. And he had to hide in caves and in the wilderness for years. His best friend, he said that David loved as he loved himself, his best friend dies. He later carries the stress of being a king.
He has this personal and very public fall before the kingdom after he unites Israel. And now today, what we’re going to look at is David’s own child dies. And as you think about David’s life, just one of those things could break a person. And perhaps you’ve gone through something like David or maybe you’re in that season right now. What do you do? How do you respond? I mean when I think about just the year 2020, what all of us have gone through together. I mean this year started with the death of Kobe Bryant. And then the last couple of weeks we lose James Bond and Alex Trebek. Like what in the world? Or even just the idea of this year with Coronavirus, and it being a political year and racial tension. There’s just this stress I think in society and on us. How do you respond? As we consider the tragedy of the death of David’s son, we’re going to look at just a couple things. We’re going to answer the question, how do we arise when we fall? But we’re going to do it through two ways that David falls to the ground. What we’re going to find in this passage, he falls to the ground and he pleads with God.
We’re going to ask the question why, which for some of us that might seem like a silly question, but I’ll get to in a moment. Why is David fall into the ground and pleading like this? And the second is David gets up and we’re going to ask the question, how? How does David get up? Well, first David falls to the ground and he pleads. And so let’s answer the question why. If you look in verse 15 of II Samuel 12, we come to this passage. I want you to know this is a very difficult passage of scripture. And really this was the reason I’ve spent three weeks here. We looked at some very important things for our spiritual walk. When we fall and we make mistakes, and how to recover and how does God see that? And how does God see us in light of that? But the story doesn’t end there. Now David gets to a position where he faces a very difficult circumstance, and I could very easily … We’ve been going through I and II Samuel pretty quickly. And I could just blow past this and ignore it.
But I want you to know that sometimes in life, you come to hard passages and we’re not afraid to enter in those passages here at ABC. We want to consider these texts. We want to wrestle with these texts. And even when they make us uncomfortable, and verse 15 is one of those passages. Look at what it says later. The Lord struck the child that Uriah’s widow bore to David so that he was very sick. In verse 16, David, therefore … do I have verse 16, or is it missing? It’s missing. Okay. Well listen here. David therefore, pleaded with God for the child and David fasted and went and lay all night on the ground. The elders of his household stood beside him in order to help him up from the ground. But he was unwilling and would not eat food with them. Then it happened on the seventh day that the child died. And David’s servants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead for they said, “Behold, while the child was still alive, we spoke to him and he did not listen to us. How then can we tell him that the child is dead, since he might do himself harm.”
Ever been there? So mch pain in your life that you can’t get up. I mean, even friends around you, like we find with David in this passage come alongside David to try to support David, to help David get up but they couldn’t even get David up. How do you get up? You see in the story why David is on his knees, is his child is struck and is very sick about to die. So we ask the question, why? Why is David here? I mean I think the most simplistic answer that we can give, and maybe it’s not even worth making a point over because it’s so basic in it’s understanding this passage is that life is important and death is hard. David is on his knees because he knows life is important and death is hard. But let me just tell you guys why I do think it’s important to answer to question why David is doing this.
It’s because sometimes I hear in Christian communities we have the hope of Jesus, right? But sometimes I hear in Christian communities believers will say this. “When I die, I don’t want anybody to cry at my funeral because for me it’s a celebration. So my funeral should be a party, right? It’s my home going. So we should all rejoice over my death. I don’t want anybody crying there, I don’t want anybody sad there. It should be a happy time because of everything that I have in Jesus.” And I just want to say, I understand the sentiment of a statement like that. Right? I understand what the person’s ultimately trying to communicate is they have a greater hope that exceeds the moment. I understand the sentiment of that, but I don’t think it’s healthy. And let me just give you the practical example of why I don’t think it’s healthy. I don’t think it’s healthy because that’s not even what Jesus did.
You think about leading up to his own death, Jesus weeping in the garden of Gethsemane. The pressure, the pain of that. And I know he’s bearing sin there, but even when you see in Jesus’s life, when Jesus goes to funerals and Jesus was a great funeral disruptor. But Jesus’ close friend Lazarus, and when Jesus goes to the funeral of his own friend Lazarus and Jesus being the resurrection of life. Just moments away of knowing that he’s going to resurrect Lazarus from the grave, we get the shortest verse in all of the Bible. What does it say about Jesus? Jesus what? Wept. Jesus, who is the resurrection of life about to resurrect Lazarus from the grave is content in that moment and completely okay with weeping. How much more, how much more in our lives that when we go through that kind of experience should we not find our souls grieved in such a way? It’s an important part of our life to recognize the significance of what life is, and no better time to do it than when life has taken. Granted it may be temporal, but it’s still life.
Life is important and death is hard, but at the same time while we recognize that or at the same time, I think what’s also important is to see in these moments David’s reflecting God’s heart in death. Jesus weeps at the death of Lazarus. And so David, in this moment crying out, wrestling with God on the ground. I think it’s important in grief that we don’t lose sight of the idea that as much as we know how important life is, God does more so. God knows even more so. I know when we do funerals here at the church, we have someone that passes away. Just the idea of weeping in death and recognizing life becomes such an important recognition of the beauty of what life is. And as we recognize the beauty of life, I think God does more so. Weeping in death, I think is a very worshipful thing because it’s acknowledging before God the value of life, and human beings created in his image. And reflects God’s heart in death.
And God, I think even knows more so how much important life is because Jesus has given his own life for us to find life in him. I mean Jesus sacrificed his life because he knows how important life is. Jesus placed the value of life by giving his very life for our lives. That’s what makes our life so significant. That Christ would come and even give himself for us. So when we grieve, we don’t do it separate from God, but honestly, reflective of God. And sometimes when we go through difficult things in life, we always ask the question, where are you God or how could this happen, Lord? I know there’s a place to wrestle with God in there. There certainly is. We’re not experts of everything that we go through and asking that question, especially in those most vital points of life is crucial. It’s important. We should do that, right? And I think it’s also important to recognize that we also, we’re not doing it separate from God because God’s very heart is about life as well. He created you for life. He gave his life that you could have life.
So in grief, we’re not doing it distinct from God or distant from God, but reflecting the very heart of God. Tim Challies, an author that I enjoy. He’s also a popular blogger today. I just read one of his books last couple of weeks on church history, and relics and church history. He has a 20-year old son, I think is the one that goes to Boyce College. And within the last two weeks, his son was in college and they were playing games together. Some board game with a group of friends and all of a sudden he just dropped dead. And the day after, Tim got on his blog post and just wrote a very short blog, but this is what he said. “Yesterday, the Lord called my son to himself. My dear son, my sweet son, my kind son, my godly son, my only son. Yesterday, Aileen and I cried and cried until we could cry no more, until there were no more tears left to cry.
Then later in the evening, we looked at each other in the eye and said we can do this. We don’t want to do this, but we can do this. This sorrow, this grieve, this devastation, because we know we don’t have to do it in our own strength. We can do it like Christians, like a son and daughter of the Father who knows what it is to lose a son.” Not separate from the Lord, but with the Lord in pain. Life is precious, so grieving in death is worship. I always think of the great passage of C. S. Lewis’ book, The Grief Observed, where he summarized it like this. He lost his wife to cancer and he says, “The greater you love, the greater the grief you observe.” And when you weep in deepest pain, you worship before a Lord who created that life in his image. What greater thing does God call you to in this world than to love one another? The way that you love God is seen how you love one another. And even in grief, and should I say most especially in grief, the depth of that love is demonstrated.
So David reflecting God’s heart in death, David seeks God in worship. God is working even in David through this heartbreak. I think one of the most beautiful things about the Lord in the midst of our tragedies that we go through in life is how God still works everything together for good. And we get to these places in life and we get to such despair, and we can’t see the light forward. And we don’t even know how tomorrow … how you even make it through tomorrow, let alone even think about the things you need to do today. We’re on the ground and we wrestle. And we think, “God, how in this pain can you bring any light?” But as believers, I think that’s the very reason we carry the emblem of the cross in the darkest of days in all of history. Jesus brings the greatest hope to his people. That’s what the cross is to us, right? It’s a symbol of God taking the darkest of moments, and turning it into the symbol of hope for his people.
And when you look about David in these moments seeking God in worship, you think about what his life has been up until this point. David was a humble young man who used his life to serve others for their benefit and God’s glory. And recently what we see in the life of David, he’s began to use others to serve himself for his own glory and benefit. Bathsheba was a tool for his pleasure. Uriah was a roadblock he had to remove. Joab was his instrument that he used to do it. David used people as tools. And God in this moment uses the circumstances to bring David in this vulnerable state back to him. Last week we looked at Psalm 51, right? But truthfully, I don’t think Psalm 51 was written until this circumstance. And you see the vulnerability of David’s heart in these moments. So we think about why is David approaching this moment the way he is? Well, it’s because he has a relationship with the Lord, and he’s connecting to God in worship in these moments.
And his heart is very reflective and understands in the midst of tragedy that he’s carrying the very heart of God in life as he weeps for his child. But the more astounding question I think we can answer is how does David get up? What we find in this story is that David does get up and, it talks about David doing that in this passage, but how in the world does David get up? And David is going to go to tell us in verse 23 in just a moment, I’ll read it. But I’ll never forget this. I had a friend that went through some extremely difficult seasons in life. I mean it was just some of the most tragic things happened one after another. And it’s one of those moments where you think to yourself as you’re listening to them tell the story of everything that’s happened to them, or retelling the story because you’re aware of what’s happened to them that you say to yourself, “Lord, don’t let that happen to me. Please, don’t let …” How do you even make it through something like that?
I remember I looked at him and I said, “How did you do it?” And his answer, I’ll never forget. But his answer is exactly where David’s heart goes here. He says this, “Nathaniel, good theology makes good therapy. Good theology makes good therapy.” When I think about wrestling with some of the difficult things I’ll go through in life, how valuable that statement is, because one day I’m going to get to that spot where the world is going to feel like it’s falling apart. But before I enter into those moments, there is a place that I can walk with Jesus to solidify myself in him for that day. The truth of who he is in the middle of those circumstances, because there’s going to come a time where my feelings are going to speak different to me. And what do I want to hold on to? It’s the truth of who God is that transcends the way in which I feel. And we asked this question, David gets up, how. What makes it so important is what verse 15 says to us.
Later, the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s widow bore to David so that he was very sick. Do you see that? Who strikes the child? God. How do you deal with that? That’s a difficult verse, isn’t it? How do you walk through a passage like this in tragedy? Text says the Lord struck the child. And the question you want to immediately ask is, is God killing the kid? I mean is that really what it’s saying here that God kills this kid? Well, when we approach this text I think it’s important just to remember a few things as we enter into what this phrase is saying, because I think it helps us understand good theology leads to good therapy, right? And I want you to remember in II Samuel 12:13, God said something very clear to David. And I think I got it up here. In chapter 12:13, David said to Nathan, remember this was right after his sin with Bathsheba and Nathan comes before him and David makes this statement.
He says, it should be chapter 12 not chapter 18. I have sinned against the Lord. And look what Nathan said to David. The Lord also has allowed your sin to pass. You shall not die. And so God says to David, look here’s the sin of your circumstance. Or David confesses I know that I’ve sinned, God. And God says to him, okay, I am not going to punish you for your sins. Your sins are now beyond you, right? And I’ve said this to us a couple of times last few weeks that God is not primarily interested in your condemnation, but your transformation. God is not about just punishing you to punish you. What God’s interested in is your heart. God wants transformation. God just doesn’t punish his kids. Right? You use a parent. Like when you think about what it is to nurture your children, it should not be about punishment. What we’re called to in the Lord is discipline.
Punishment is for meting out vengeance, right? But as a parent, you want to see your kid grow. So God is about discipline. So when you come to this passage, you think what is God doing here? Whatever the answer you land on is to understand this. That what God is doing in this moment is not punishment because he tells David look, your sins have been forgiven. Not only that, something else to consider Ezekiel 18. There’s a few verses in scripture like this. Let’s have Ezekiel 18 here. The person who sins will die. So what he’s saying is when you sin, you’re responsible for your sin. A son will not suffer the punishment for the father’s guilt, nor will a father suffer the punishment for the son’s guilt. The righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be up on himself. So what he’s saying is every person is accountable for their sin. That’s where God judges you.
That’s where God’s justice comes in, where we don’t carry the punishment for someone else. And when you look at this passage of scripture, I think it’s important for minds to recognize is that God is not punishing David, and God is not punishing the kid because of David. There’s not punishment happening here. So as you figure out what the interpretation is for this passage, how to relate it, it’s not punishment. So what is it? Well, something else that I think is important in this passage to look at is the following verses in I Samuel 31, I have on the screen as well. If we can get there. I Samuel 31:4-6. There is something that theologians refer to as the permissive will of God and the prescriptive will of God. Okay. Prescriptive will of God is what God ordains immediately specifically to happen. And permissive will of God is the things that God knows will happen, and allow to pass through, right?
He’s got this prescriptive will and this permissive will. God very specifically wanted Samuel to go and anoint David to be king. That is prescriptive will of God. But it’s also important to recognize that there’s this permissive will of God, that God is aware of everything. And in this passage that I have on the screen, I just want us to think about how they reflected on God’s behavior in the Old Testament. Look, remember King Saul was killed. He was the king that pursued David, wanted to kill David and God promises David, you will have the front throne. You will be the next king. Your kingdom will endure forever. Well, this is the demise of King Saul described for us. And I want you to see how two different passages describe it. In I Samuel 31, then Saul said to his armor-bearer, draw your sword and pierce me through with it. But his armor-bearer was a willing, because he was very fearful. So Saul took his sword and fell on it. So Saul died with his three sons.
So you see the end of Saul’s life, Saul is injured. He doesn’t want to be captured and tortured. So it tells us Saul takes his own life falling on the sword, right? In I Chronicles, and reflecting back on that. Look what it says here in verse 13. So Saul died for his unfaithfulness, which he committed against the Lord and did not inquire of the Lord. Therefore, he the Lord, killed him and turned the kingdom over to David. So the question you look at this passage is who took Saul’s life? Well, ultimately God knows everything that will happen. Ultimately, permissively God allows things to happen. Specifically Saul fell on the sword. When I see this passage in II Samuel related to David, what I think the author is illustrating here is to recognize that God is sovereignly in control, and permissively allows the death of David’s son.
I think part of the reason God shares that David’s son is about to pass is because David is in a precarious state of everything that he just is going through. And this is the preparation of David’s soul for what he’s about to endure. One of the difficult things that we go through as people in those kinds of moments is we don’t have control, right? You think about the life of Job in this circumstance. Job went through some difficult things, and God permissively allowed those things to happen. He wasn’t punishing Job, but he permissively allowed those things to happen. And Job wrestles with that. That’s the whole book of Job, and his friends come to him and make the situation awful by saying, “Look Job, good things happen to good people, bad things happen to bad people. Therefore, you must be a bad person.” And Job continuously defends himself that’s not how life works. That we all go through hardship, right?
And finally, Job gets to the end of the book and he just says, “Look, I’m going to close my mouth before the Lord, because I don’t completely understand everything.” And that’s the reality, we don’t. We won’t understand the full picture until we were in eternity. But what Job rests in is the truth of who God is. The promises of God. And so when you asked the question, well, how did David get up? That’s exactly the answer David gives. Look at this in verse 19 of II Samuel 12. It gives us the story. But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David perceived that the child was dead. So David said to his servants, “Is the child dead.” And they said he is dead. So David got up from the ground, washed, anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went to the house of the Lord and worshiped. And then he went to his own house and when he asked, they served him food and he ate.
Next verse, verse 21. Then a servant said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive. But when the child died, you got up and ate food.” And he said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept for I said, who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me, and the child may live.” And here comes the answer. But now he has died, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I’m going to him, but he will not return to me. David, in these moments trusts in the promises of God. God’s promises outlasts life’s problems. Therefore, David chooses to put his hope there. Pain and promises can often feel like a conflict with our soul. But what David is doing in these moments is he’s choosing to stand on God’s promises through his pain. I have no doubt in my mind that when David gets up from the ground, his heart is still wrestling. But his friends are amazed. David, how did you get up?
And his answer though David is going through a very difficult time, and though his heart is still grieving is that David chooses to rest in the promises of God. If we base our spiritual life on how we feel, life will always be a roller coaster, but if we based our spiritual life on God’s promises, there’s always hope for God’s people. John 16:33, last moments Jesus had on this earth as he spent with his disciples, he said these. He said, “I have told you these things so that in me, you may have peace.” And he says this. “In this world, you will have trouble but take heart, I have overcome the world.” When you think about what David has gone through in these moments, the promises of God that he’s even learning in these circumstances are living in the circumstances. David has seen number one, God is with him. And God is with him, God has been speaking with him in this, even in this struggle God is still speaking to David. God is with him.
And Jesus said to his disciples in this world, as he sends them out in this world, he knows that the disciples are going to go through trouble. And so as he calls them to live for him in this world, he gives that promise in Matthew 28:20. I am with you always. Second, David learns that God is in control. And in II Samuel 12:15, we saw that the Lord is aware that this child is going to pass. David and God, they’re both aware of this child’s life in this circumstance, and God is ultimately in control. To the point that he has plans even beyond this world, Colossians 1:17 says God holds all things in his hands. And God works all things together for good. David in these moments, that’s the promise that he clings to. I mean throughout his life, he has seeing how God has orchestrated his plan in David’s world, though David’s walk has not been easy. He’s always seen God has been faithful, God things together for his good.
That’s what David states in verse 23, right? I will see my child again. Romans8:28 tells us for all things work together for good to those that love God, who are called according to his promise. These promises of God don’t make problems immediately go away, but what it does do is it helps us put it into perspective. David’s people ask, how did you get up? David’s response, “I believe because of who God is and what he says, he will do.” And I think about the adversity of life and the promises of scripture, the Bible tells us at the end of Revelation that one day he will wipe away every tear from our eye. And there will be no more pain, and no more suffering that the first has passed and all things are made new in him. You look at this passage of scripture though it’s difficult, the question for us is what has you worried right now? What has you broken hearted right now?
Perhaps in the middle of that pain like David, we’re closer to Jesus in that pain than we realize. God sees what you’re going through and work it all out for your good. And promise that although there is a struggle, it will be more than okay in everything that is to come in Christ. And we don’t always understand why things happen the way they do. But in the promises of the Lord, God’s people always have a hope that transcends because he is good and he is for you. And he holds all things together in his hands. Almost 13 months this week, TobyMac wrote a song for his son who was 21 years old, that tragically passed away. I was listening to it this morning, and in the second verse he says this. I just can’t make sense of this. Everything is so dissonant. Somebody said he was meant for this, but I am just straight missing him.
And then the chorus where you find TobyMac repeats over and over is while there’s the reality of the struggle that he’s just honest with. I think David’s honest with. The thing that he hopes and the thing that he celebrates, the thing that he trusts and it’s the promises of God. And this is what he says. Well, until the show is over and you run into my arms, God has you in heaven, but I have you in my heart. I think for us, it’s important to know grieving is not something that we should run from. In fact, in your life if you go through tragedies, if you’ve had tragic events take place, there are moments where you may not even plan for it. But you’ll be walking alone, and all of a sudden they call it the grief monster. It will just hit, right? But I think for us, those become moments of worship, where we stop in our hearts and are able to reflect on the goodness of the thing that we cherish so much that we lost.
The beauty is, for God’s people it doesn’t end there. That that’s not the end of the book, but God has written a greater story that is to come for those who love him, for those who hope in him, who are called according to his purpose. That Jesus makes all things new.