SCRIPTURES: Psalm 25; 2 Sam. 11:1–12:14; Gal. 2:15–3:14; Luke 7:36–8:3
The author of Psalm 25, our Introit, cries to God, “Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins. Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!” It is David crying this, in fact, for he wrote Ps. 25. Did he write this before, or after, his terrible sin with Bathsheba? We don’t know.
David’s sins, beginning with his lust for Bathsheba, present a great challenge to faith. If God is among us and knows us, as the Bible proclaims in many places, then why does He sometimes fail to guard our souls? Why does He allow, and not prevent, great sins and the evils they bring, such as the sins we hear about in 2 Samuel 11?
Ø David takes Bathsheba, another man’s wife, and sleeps with her. It could be argued that, because he was the King, he could not be resisted. This was rape.
Ø He misuses his servants, and corrupts them, to do this.
Ø He orders her husband’s death to cover his sin – and involves Joab, the General over his army, in this sin.
The list of sins and terrible consequences could go on. Ultimately, David “scorned the Lord,” as the prophet Nathan pointed out. Why didn’t God step in to not only stop David but prevent the misery he caused? Why didn’t He guard his soul?
Don’t think He didn’t try. God gave David warnings; when, for instance, David asked his servant who the woman was and was told, “Is this not Bathsheba?” Bathsheba: her name means, “Daughter of seven.” Now, David was a man of God who knew the Scriptures. The “seven” of Bathsheba’s name would bring to mind the story in the Bible of another leader of Israel who lived just 100-150 years before David: Samson. Seven braids of hair crowned his head, for Samson was a Nazirite, a man whose life had been set apart for God from his birth. As a Nazirite his hair was uncut and was braided into seven braids. A man of great strength, he attributed it and his victories over the Philistines, Israel’s enemies, to this sign of his devotion to God. But, his desire for a woman he shouldn’t have – Delilah, a Philistine woman – ended with her betraying him and cutting off his seven braids. He was then captured and enslaved by the Philistines, and Israel suffered. David knew this story. Bathsheba’s name could also bring to mind God’s creating all things in six days and resting on the 7th day, which He then blessed. God would bless David also if he followed God’s good and turned away from his lust! The point is, David knew God’s will; but he shoved it aside and ignored God to pursue his sinful desires. David, and not God, is to be blamed for the evils that followed his sins. Sadly, it was hard for him to admit this.
It can hard for us to admit our sins, also. Sometimes it’s hard because, like David, we don’t want to bear the responsibility for them and suffer the consequences. We bury them – David did for months – in the hope that they’ll somehow just go away and be forgotten. They won’t. Sins always find us out.
Let’s be honest: there are also times when we feel like we don’t need to confess sins. Simon the Pharisee in our Gospel reading lived a far better life than the woman who cried on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. He studied and taught God’s Word. He strove to follow it to the letter. He didn’t sin like she did! I’ll bet that you’re a pretty good person, also. Sleeping with your neighbor’s spouse? Stealing and cheating people? Shooting up with illegal drugs? That’s not you, or me. How easy it is, then, to, like Simon the Pharisee, look down upon those who are guilty of such things and consider ourselves better than them!
“Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins. Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!” This plea of David needs to be ours, also; and not just after we sin. We all have sinful desires and lusts within us. David, after being rebuked by Nathan and repenting of his sins, wrote Psalm 51 and in it said: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me!” He wrote this confession and prayer for us all. Regularly admitting and confessing your sins, including your sinful desires, and receiving the Lord’s forgiveness not only helps to keep you from committing sins; it also keeps you from becoming arrogant and uncaring, like Simon the Pharisee. It helps to make you a humble servant of sinners, as was Jesus.
Sometimes we may wonder why God seems to be so permissive and not act to prevent great sins and evils, such as David’s. But, we should be very thankful that our God is so gracious and gentle.
Ø Christ’s power was very evident. He was able to heal every disease and even raise the dead to life! But, it was His gentle mercy and love in receiving and forgiving even the worst of sinners that drew the sinful woman to Him and filled her heart with love.
Ø That same gentle mercy and love led Jesus to reach out to Simon. He knew his sinful arrogance. It was evident in Simon’s not even showing Jesus the common courtesy of washing his feet and greeting him with a kiss when he entered his house. But, Jesus still entered. And then, after the woman came and honored him with her love, he confronted Simon with his sin through a simple story. Jesus hoped to lead him to repentance also, and draw forth from him love for God and for others.
God doesn’t want our sins to be hidden and only find us out later. He doesn’t want this in this life, nor especially in the final Judgment. And so, He deals gently with us that He might draw us to Himself. Through the gentle love of His Son, who made Himself one with us sinners and humbly bore the curse of our sins for us on the cross, God has forgiven you. Through the gentle teachings of His Word and the humble voice of absolution He brings this forgiveness to you, that you might be freed from your sins. He gently teaches you by His Word that you might be aware of temptation and not give into sin. And, God especially forgives you that Christ might live in you and you might love and live for others. This is His ultimate desire for you.
A final note on this story of David’s sin. How wrong it seems that the child born to Bathsheba dies! What did he do? He’s an innocent victim of another’s sin! Yes, he is, as was Uriah; and, as was Jesus. He died so that others would see that not even the king could get away with sin, and so would turn away from temptation and not give in to sin. The child’s death served a redemptive purpose; as did Christ’s. He shared in Christ’s death, and so he also shares in Christ’s resurrection life. David prayed that God would lift His judgment and spare the child’s life, but when he was told that the child had died, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. When his servants wondered about this, he told them: “Why should I mourn? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” (2 Sam. 12:23) David knew that his child now lived with God. We will see him in the resurrection on the Last Day!
Thanks be to God that you know that Christ has redeemed you from the curse of the Law, the eternal punishment for your sins. Thanks be to God for the blessing of being able to confess your sins and receive His redemption, the forgiveness of your sins. This faith saves you! In the name of Jesus. Amen.