Rising From Our Greatest Failures
Let’s jump in today’s text. We’re going to be in 2 Samuel 11, a beautiful passage of scripture. One of the things I love about this, diving into God’s word together, we are a church that wants to make disciples that love Jesus and everyone else. And Jesus gave us the great commission, great commandment. The great commission, “Go into this world, make disciples.” Great commandment, “Love God, love others.” I mean, that is why we exist, to make disciples that love Jesus and everyone else. Right?
When I look at this passage of scripture that we’re going to be in this morning, this is a beautiful passage of scripture, of hope. And here’s why this is important, while the world goes crazy out there, we have a beautiful message of rescue, hope, redemption, renewal in Jesus in here. We have a reason to rejoice, a reason to be excited. And we’re about to dive into a text that is an extremely popular text and a very difficult text.
I want to take a few weeks to go through this because this gets to the struggle of humanity and any time we have any failure in our life, we can get up and look in the mirror again. Okay? When you struggle, you know you’re not perfect, you mess up, what do you do with that? Do you sweep under the rug, pretend that it didn’t happen? Do you act like that that wasn’t really you? You’re the good person that does the good things. When the bad things happen, someone just takes over your body. Don’t count that as you. But when the good things happen, that’s who you really are. Right? I mean, you’re not responsible, you can justify anything you do.
Everything we do, either foolish or not, we tend to think we have good reasons for it if people just understood our reasons. Right? And when you get to this passage of scripture, I just want to tell you that none of those things I just shared before you are healthy. There is something within those that will just rip at your soul, tear it apart and diminish the value of who you are before God and what he intends for your life.
In 2 Samuel 11, we get to examine the life of David and in a very hard fall. I mean, he gets so deep into sin in his life and tries to cover it up and it only makes things worse. And so what do we do when we fail? That is this passage of scripture. You’re likely familiar with it, but we’re going to talk about together how we rise from our failures.
When we think about this passage, I think there is nothing more healing than the gospel truth we find in this story. If you want to know as a pastor, I don’t know if you realize this yet or not, but I am not perfect. I am not perfect, but I want you to know the story that takes place here in the life of David and what he writes, even in the Psalms from this, are words I echo in scripture in my own soul on a very regular basis. I feel like I want to say every day, but in case that’s a lie, it’s almost every day, okay? This helps me in my relationship with Jesus immensely to understand how God views me and how to walk with him, despite when I get in the way. Right?
And so we look at this text of scripture. Actually what I’m going to do is I’m going to, I read through portions of it for us. And I’m want to tell you I’m not going to read the whole story. If you want to think through this story more, please read this story. But I want to hit the highlights so we can get the idea of what this story contains. So live with me. Second Samuel, chapter 11, verse one to five, right? “Then it happened in the spring at the time when Kings go out to battle that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel. And they brought destruction on the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed in Jerusalem. Now evening time, David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the King’s house.”
This is where you can start to break out in Jeff Buckley’s hallelujah, right? He walks around on the roof of the King’s house. “And from the roof, he saw a woman bathing and the woman was very beautiful and appearance. So David sent servants and inquired about the woman. And someone said, ‘Is that not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah, the Hittite?’ Then David sent messengers and had her brought. And when she came to him, he slept with her. And when she had purified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house. But the woman conceived so she sent word and informed David and said, ‘I am pregnant.'”
And if you skip down with me to verse 14, verse 14 goes on: “So in the morning, David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. He had written in the letter, the following: Station Uriah on the front line of the fiercest battle and pull back from him so that he may be struck and killed. So it was as Joab kept watch on the city that he stationed Uriah at the place where he knew there were valiant men. And the men of the city went out and fought against Joab. And some of the people among David’s servants fell, and Uriah the Hittite also died.”
Chapter 12, verse one. I’m going to skip to just these last seven verses. Chapter 12: Then the Lord sent Nathan to David and he came to him and said, “There were two men in a city, the one wealthy and the other poor. The wealthy man had a great many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing at all, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nurtured and it grew up together with him and his children. It would eat scraps from him and drink from his cup and lie in his lap and was like a daughter to him.
Now, a visitor came to the wealthy man. And he could not bring himself to take any animal from his own flock or his own herd to prepare for the traveler who had come to him. So he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him. Then David’s anger burned greatly against the man and said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this certainly deserves to die. So he must make restitution for the lamb four times over, since he did this thing and had no compassion.” Then Nathan said to David, “You yourself are that man.” This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says. “It is I who anointed you as King over Israel. And it is I who rescued you from the hand of Saul.” Amen.
When you look at this passage of scripture. Very, very significant. I’m going to hit the highlights of what it’s talked about. There’s more I could draw from this passage, but only have so much time. And this is the key that I want to get into our minds in this first section of second Samuel, chapter 11. God wants us to recognize the power of sin, right?, the power of sin in our lives. If you think about this story, David is supposed to be at war. It says at the very beginning, he’s doing something out of the ordinary, something he’s not accustomed to. And so he develops a new routine in life. And this routine is not one that’s disciplined in the Lord. And what happens in these moments?
He goes up on his roof. He sees Bathsheba, invites her to his house. A child comes from this, right? And then he tries to cover it up. The first thing that he does is he gets Uriah, the Hittite. He tells [inaudible 00:06:58] Uriah the Hittite back to me. I want him to report on how the battle is going, right? And David’s plan is this coverup for what he’s done. Because he thinks, you know what, if I can get Uriah back from battle, he’ll come back and spend the night with his wife. And then I can just cover up what I’ve done. And we’ll send Uriah right back out to war.
And what ends up happening Uriah comes in, and because he knows his fellow mates are still out battling he refuses to go home, but he stays out in the middle of the open night refusing to go back to his wife until the troops of Israel can return. And so David then frustrated by that, then writes a letter to Joab and sends it with Uriah, and has Uriah go to the front of the battle lines and intentionally has Uriah killed in order to try to cover up what he has done. It’s an awful story.
You think about everything that we’ve learned about David to this point, and now to read this, it shows the power of sin in our life. Then when you think about just the details of how far David goes to cover up his sin. He asked, “Who was your Uriah?” Well, when you read about the life of King David, what you find in first Chronicles, chapter 11, it shares with us how David unites Israel. And in the unification of Israel, it then talks about his valiant men. And these are the men that came and helped rescue David when Saul was coming against his life, David’s mighty men.
They help preserve and protect David until he gets to this place of being a King. And after he’s a King, they continue to fight for David, even in this battle. And Uriah is one of those individuals that David owes his life to. And not only does David take the life of Uriah, verse 17 of chapter 11 tells us that Uriah wasn’t the only one David’s men that died because of David’s letter written to Joab. It tells you at the very end of verse 17, “And some of the people among David’s servants fell and Uriah, the Hittite, also died.”
Don’t you see the repercussions and the ripple effect of David’s sin and how it affects multiple people? And then you think about this, how many of the 10 commandments can you break at one time? And David, he covets, adultery, lies, murders. And I’m sure we could probably think of more on top of that. This is an awful situation. And David was such a godly guy. In the stories that we’ve seen together, God has used him to do some incredible things.
And not only has David done some incredible things, he’s written some incredible things. I mean, when you read through the Psalms, David writes half of the Psalms and he really demonstrates to us how to open up your heart before the Lord and just cry out to him wherever you are in life, how to connect with God. And yet even David falls.
When you look at scripture that seems to be a perpetual occurrence of leaders God uses, or people God uses. When you think from the very beginning of the Bible as you just go through from the very first people created, I mean, Adam had it made. He ran around naked in the garden all day with his wife. And then what happens? Sin.
Or you look at Abraham who was called by God and what happens with Abraham? Well, every time he goes to Egypt, he lies and he tries to pretend like Sarah’s not as wife. And then he tries to accomplish God’s will on his own strengths and has a child with Hagar. Or Moses. Moses sees himself as this great leader and he tries to step into that position without God leading and he ends up killing somebody. Or Jacob is a deceiver. Or Joseph before he goes to Egypt is a little arrogant.
And now David. Now David. You see the power of sin in this story. I think it leads us to maybe even consider, ask the question, if David is capable. I mean, this is a man after God’s own heart. He says of David in both the Old and New Testament, a man after God’s own heart. And if David is capable of this and other godly leaders are capable of similar things, what about you and me? What about you and me?
Now, the Bible talks about this idea of original sin, that the sin nature that’s on Adam and Eve really plagues all of humanity to the point that Jeremiah 17, nine says this, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” Jesus even tried to warn us about the depravity in our own human nature. I think when you look in scripture in Matthew chapter five. Jesus even said to us in Matthew, chapter five, verse 21 to 25, Jesus tries to get us to examine our lives. Because in this point of his first sermon that he’s preaching, he’s preaching to a bunch of religious people that think life is about just living the law and showing God how good you are.
And this is where in verse 21, Jesus then starts to say, look, you’ve had anger in your heart. If you’ve had anger in your heart, that is murder. And first John 3:15 says, if you’ve angered against your brother and sister, you’re a murderer. And the point is what it’s saying is, look, it’s not always about the behavior like the behavior. You certainly don’t want to act like a ruthless person in this world. But he wants us to understand that the idea of our behavior originates in what is saturated in our heart. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”
I think sometimes we look at cultures today. Just think about Nazi, Germany. How in the world could a developed civilization get to a position like that, right? I mean, we’re better than that. It’s not possible, right, for us? It’s a reminder of just the depravity that rests within our soul and the need for God’s redemption. When you think about this, and even in practical terms as human beings, no one wakes up in the morning and says, “You know what I’m going to do? It’s a great idea. I’m just going to wreck my life. I want to do all of these horrible things.” We just don’t wake up with those intentions in life, right? But what happens is we’re giving into the desires of our flesh. And before you know it we’ve built a similar circumstance of what led David to where he is. One sin to try to cover it up. Greater sins to do that, and before you know it all is lost, right. Is there hope?
These kinds of thoughts are why Christians, I think we should get a little timid when someone uses this expression, “Just follow your heart. Just follow your heart.” Because I want you to know that is not biblical. It’s not biblical. I know I say this to us every once in a while, but the prisons are full of people who followed what their heart was telling them to. Right? You’ll meet people that their moral framework is so screwed up that they think bad is good, and good is bad. And what are they following? Their heart. Do you know why? Because they see themselves as being in charge.
You know what scripture says? Scripture doesn’t say follow your heart. Scripture says follow Jesus. You know why? “Because the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can help it?” There are times in your life where you might believe something might be good for you. But man, if it has no wisdom from scripture, what are we doing? What are we doing? It is possible for an entire group of people to pursue something contrary to God and damaging to our soul and others. I already used the example everyone always uses, right, Nazi, Germany. But they’re not the first group to do that. And they won’t be the last.
Follow Jesus. So this story, I think if we make some just applications, we think through it, is to say to us, be reminded of the power of sin. Jesus’ first message in the Sermon on the Mount and the first topic he’s addressing. All the religious leaders out there that think life is about just demonstrating to God how great you are, you need to recognize is how much our heart needs Jesus to transform it. I think it’s also important for us to know that when we talk about sin, look, it’s not wrong to be tempted, right?
Temptation itself is not where sin happens. It’s where sin is birth for sure, but it’s not necessarily a sin to be tempted. It’s what you do with it. Right? You’re tempted all day long. There are things that come into your life that tempt you. I mean, that’s what television commercials are there. They are one temptation after another, every 15 to 30 seconds, firing across your screen if you’re watching TV. And you know how much you care about most of it? Very little, right? Very little. It’s a temptation that’s put out there to lure you in but most of it, who cares?
So the temptation is not necessarily what produces the sin, right? I mean, you’re tempted all day long. Billboards, advertisements, promotions. Everyone’s trying to grab your attention to get your dollar, to make you think you need something. But it’s when the temptation meets your lust and you give into that that sin is born. So temptation in itself, it’s not wrong. It’s an occurrence that happens to us every day. But the desire of our soul is to walk with Jesus. And this is the warning here with King David, right? The warning that we consider here is not let temptation grow into the sin. And if it does kill it. Kill it.
You think in life, just the idea of how things grow. You think about an oak tree. An oak tree is massive tree, but do you know how an oak tree starts? It’s a little bitty acorn, right? And once that acorn gets the right amounts of sunlight and water and nutrients that it needs, it can grow into this mighty oak tree. And so it can happen in our lives in walking with Jesus. You nurture that, it grows into a mighty oak tree. And I think that’s what God desires for your life. But if you live contrary to that, you think about a life of sin. You bury that in the ground and you provide the right nutrients and you give into that lust, and before you know it, what do you start growing? An oak tree.
The encouragement for us in the stories, I think, when you look at godly David and all these wonderful things, and he’s susceptible to this. It’s to look at our lives and say, “Okay, and if he is, so am I. And I don’t need these things growing in my garden.”
Now I want to be careful here and say this. When we hear a message like this, the tendency in our human nature is to start thinking in terms of morality. And I want you to know if we go down that route, we will completely miss the gospel, right? I am not preaching morality. You can go to any religious group in the world and find that. That is not what the gospel is about. That’s not what Jesus is about. Jesus certainly wants you to live good, live a life that’s honoring to him. But good only comes from God.
And so what Jesus is interested in isn’t preaching morality to your soul. It’s to get you to understand where your soul has deviated from him so that you can get your life back in line with relationship to him. And when you’re in relationship to Jesus, then great things happen in your life. It’s the fruit of the spirit. Our motivation as Christians is not to simply get up and live good. That’s not what we’re about. Our motivation in life as Christians is to know God. As we know, God, he transforms our life and the fruit of that is good. We don’t live fruit. We live for Jesus. And we see the result that has produced this fruit.
Do you understand? That is like a major chasm between Christianity and every religion in this world. Now the question is in the midst of our failure, how in the world do we do that? Like when you mess up, what do you do? Cause I can look all day long and say, look, ripple effects of sin and see how that affects relationships, and how that has a lingering effect on families. Or even for David, how it impacted his kingdom.
But then also say, look, the solution, isn’t try harder. The solution is to die to self. Live for a whole nother purpose. This is why on Wednesday morning, I’m going to wake up and regardless of what happened, I’m going to be all right, guys. Because I live for a different King and he has a completely different kingdom, not of this world. And so when I die to self and I live to him, my life isn’t about avoiding sin. That would be an awful life. Hopefully your life is not about avoiding sin either.
My life is to live [inaudible 00:21:27] to my King and honor him and everything that I do. Right? And sometimes I deviate from that and I need to understand if I fall on my face and I fail, how can God embrace me? How can I get back in relationship with him? What needs to happen? Is it something I can do? What does that look like for my life? So what happens when we mess up? Do we pretend like it wasn’t honest? Do we sweep things under a rug? Can we just justify it?
Like David could have done that here, right? Oh, you don’t understand the pressure of being a King and my wife, I’ve been gone a lot. My wife wasn’t meeting my needs. And Uriah, if I just let him go, it would have destroyed the kingdom. Right? I mean he could completely justify what he was doing. Doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t help his relationship with God.
So what do we do? I’m going to give you a simple answer and I want you to know this week, I’m going to talk in terms of corporate and next week I’m going to talk in terms of personal. I’ll explain a little bit about that, what it means. But here’s what we need. To be captivated by the power of grace and pardon. Be captivated by the power of God’s grace and pardon. It’s interesting. When you read chapter 11 of second Samuel, where we’re into this sin of David’s life and the destruction that it brings. And then you get to chapter 12 and it’s like, what is going on? Cause all of a sudden what you find is Nathan, the prophet before David, and he’s talking about sheep.
Well, how do we go from chapter 11, where David leads to the death of his own friends. And all of a sudden we’ve got Nathan in front of the King talking about sheep. Out of all the things you might bring up to David, like, why are you talking about sheep, right? Why is Nathan doing this? And Nathan, he’s teaching us something about the grace and pardon of God in our lives and how to be captivated by it. So just think about this. Why is Nathan sharing the story about sheep?
Well, number one. Number one is it was common for Kings during the day of Nathan and David to serve as a judge. So David’s not going to be shocked by this. We can look at this and be like, “Why would you go before a King and all of a sudden start talking about sheep problems?” Like that would be a little bit weird for us. But in David’s day, this was completely common, where people have problems and they need a judge, and sometimes the King would intervene as a judge to rule on a circumstance. And that’s exactly what David’s doing here. So this would not be out of the norm for him. Nathan’s coming with a problem. He probably came to David with several problems happening in the kingdom before. So not out of the norm.
And so he starts talking about the sheep. He talks about this rich man who has a bunch of animals and this poor guy who has one animal and he loves this animal so much that this animal sleeps with him at nights, sits at the table. I mean, this is like ultimate dog lover here. That’s this guy. Right? And what does the rich man do? He takes the sheep. He kills the sheep. And then you see David’s response, right? In verse six, he says this. He says, “This man, he needs to pay fourfold for stealing the poor man’s sheep.” That’s not out of the norm. If you think, how did David come up with this idea that he pays four times the amount? Like was David just flying off the cuff, throwing out a number? How did David come up with four times the amount? Well that’s Mosaic law. If someone steals, someone gets caught stealing, he has to make restitution. When he makes restitution, he has to pay four times the amount of what he took from the individual.
But David also does something else here. He goes beyond the Mosaic law. And when he goes beyond the mosaic law, what David demands in verse five is the life of the rich man for taking the sheep of the poor man. David mentions Mosaic law, but out of his rage in this moment, verse five, he wants to take the life of the rich man. Now why is David like that?
I think David is revealing something within his own nature that we often do as individuals. We try to compensate for our failures by becoming these justice warriors in areas to cover up our own weakness. I think David’s anger is rooted not so much in the story, though it’s a story to get frustrated by that Nathan is sharing. But I think his anger is pent up from his own actions in doing the same thing in chapter 11. And because of it David has become this moral warrior to protect his own shortcomings by pointing his finger at others.
And we, as people, do it all the time. There’s actually articles about social media. I don’t want to freak you out about this or make you paranoid, but I’m going to say this anyway. There’s articles about social media, where people that have difficulty in their relationships will go out of their way to promote their relationships online, to sort of cover up for how they treated their loved one, to let everyone know how great they are. Right?
I think David is really doing a similar thing in this story, though he’s using rather than flattering words, he’s using anger to justify himself. This is his way of trying to move past what he’s done and sort of covering it up because he hasn’t opened up his heart to the Lord yet to let God really deal with it. So why is Nathan sharing the story? One, he is sharing the story because this was a common thing for Kings to act as judge. But two, Nathan’s also sharing the story because if he came out and just simply confronted David directly, how do you think David would respond?
Nathan, isn’t taking this pursuit of communicating with David because he’s weak or he’s afraid. Nathan’s a prophet and prophets during this time they’re bold, right? They come out and they speak the truth. But Nathan is taking this approach because Nathan cares. He cares about his people, and he cares about the King. And so when David is confronted by Nathan, Nathan knows, look, if I just say this outright to David, David could harden his heart. Or David could try to justify his behavior, neither of which are going to get to what Jesus needs to do in his heart to heal him.
So Nathan comes reflecting God’s grace to David. And I love this, because this is what it communicates to us, guys. Not just for David, but for all of us. Nathan could have come right into this room and just condemned David. But he doesn’t. And the reason he doesn’t is because he’s teaching us something about the nature of God in the midst of David’s failure. That what God is interested in your life isn’t your condemnation, but your transformation. God is interested in what’s happening in mean your heart, not because he wants to just condemn you where you are, but he wants to rescue your soul and transform your life.
And transformation for us happens when we have conviction, and then we have submission, and then we find conversion. Right? Nathan could have come in like a wrecking ball in the life of David, but rather he comes in more like a surgeon caring for his heart. And what does that do for David? Well, it leads him to put down his defenses. David lets down his guard and he gives a place for Nathan to speak into his life.
So if all God wanted to do was directly condemn David, you would have never had verse 13 of chapter 12. Will you look at verse 13 with me for just a moment? “Then David said to Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord.” There it is. The first place of healing, right? This conviction and submission and confession. 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.” You shall not die.
Nathan intervenes for David, and it’s a rescue to his soul. Just like in our lives we need someone to intervene for our soul from death. And someone does, right? His name is Jesus Christ. Not about condemnation, but transformation in your life. And here we said, as we look at the story, the nature of God today, we have opportunity to introduce people to the same thing. You know, when you think about this story, and what’s going to happen here, we’re going to read next week just some beautiful things that David works through in his own heart and in his wrestle with God and how to find this reconciliation. Practical ways.
But I want to look now at what the Lord uses and what the Lord uses is other people. We need to be Nathans in this world. We’re not this moral authority above other people, that are coming in the lives of people just to tell them how things are, right? Put them in their place and preach condemnation. That’s not what we’re about. I mean, John 3:17 tells us Jesus came to the world, not to condemn the world because the world was already condemned, but to save the world through him.
It’s one of our values as a church that, look, there are plenty of things that we could be against in this world. But the most important thing that we want people to know is what we’re for. We’re for Jesus. And because we’re for Jesus, we’re for you. We want you to know Jesus and have your life transformed in him. And that’s why we say as a church, when we speak the truth, we want to speak the truth in love. That’s our value statement. Speak the truth in love because people can take the truth, and use it to just beat you over the head with it. And that’s not what we’re about because we see the truth that God has delivered to us to use it to help elevate us in the goodness and glory of who he is.
We need people to be Nathans in this world. We need to be a church of Nathans. And not only that, we need to make friends with Nathans. Because if David can fall so can we. Because you need a Nathan in your life. We need to surround ourselves with people like that. And I’m not just saying people that want to speak flattering things to you. I’m talking about people that have given their life to Jesus that want to pour into your soul and desire the best for you, and are willing to say hard things to you to do that. And if you’re thinking, man, you know, I might have a few of those, but how do I let that person in? How do I give them that to do that?
Let me give you one question, okay, to ask. If you find someone in your life that you think is a Nathan, I’ll give you one question to ask. But let me tell you this before I give you this question. When they respond, don’t justify, don’t attack. Okay? Just listen. Here’s what you ask: If you were me, what would you do differently?
I mean, if you’re serious about wanting to see the shortcomings in your own life, the places that you might struggle. And don’t do that with everybody. Don’t say that question to everybody. Pick a trusted friend that you know is not going to go out and just share everything about you, right? If you were me, what would you do differently? You find a person that demonstrates the grace of God that you knows is for you. You think about you cannot be a Nathan and you cannot find a Nathan without investing in relationships in your life, which is a great thing because Jesus is all about relationship.
Love God. Love others. That is all about relationship. You cannot be that without investing in relationship. And, look, know sometimes I say words like that and I can stress you out. A relationship, I’ve got to have a relationship with people that love Jesus. Those things take time. So you have to start investing in people now to build that kind of connection, to pour into one another. But it’s important that you invest. I think it would be worth just saying to us, guys, don’t get to the end of your life having never made a disciple for Jesus and having never walked with disciples of Jesus.
So here it is. Let me give us this recap and I’ll pray and close us. Be aware of sin and the destruction it brings. Don’t downplay that. Don’t sweep it under the rug. Don’t act like it’s not significant. And don’t look at moralism as the solution. Look to Jesus. Be saturated in the grace of God that transforms you. I mean, verse 13 should become just that song of hope that we can sing in the midst of all that we see here that we’re going to talk more about. But the Lord also has allowed your sins to pass. You shall not die.
The Lord allows your sin to pass. When you look at what God does for David and his sin, we find in our own heart that we have a place to be renewed because of the Lord. When you turn from these things in your life, you’re not earning a way to salvation. What you’re doing is you’re receiving the way that Jesus has provided for you. Pursuing Jesus is not about being good enough. Can I tell you guys, grace is not for good people? Like if you think you’re all right or good, you don’t even understand grace. We don’t understand grace.
Grace is about recognizing in our own lives, in our hearts, man, there are things that come out of me that I don’t like and I like to pretend that they aren’t there. What I realize is they’re ugly and they need Jesus. And the beauty is Jesus pursues me right there. He knew that and that’s why he came, because he loves you right there. And he wants to transform your heart in that moment. Be a Nathan. Find a Nathan. May God work in your life.