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From The Mountain To The Valley [2 Samuel 12:1-14]

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04.30.2023 From The Mountain To The Valley
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04.30.2023 From The Mountain To The Valley
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From The Mountain To The Valley

2 Samuel 12:1-14

When I was back in high school, they came out with this invention that lots of the kids were getting - it was this little device, it didn’t connect to the internet or anything, some of them could take pictures, but mostly they were only good for audio communication back and forth. It was called a flip phone. And I might be dating myself, but even with no camera and no internet access - they were still the latest and greatest and every kid wanted one. Now, of course, with new technology came rules about that technology. Suddenly every teenager had a flip phone in their pocket - and so at school flip phones were not allowed in class. Now this is hard to understand for the younger generation, because kids these days always have their phone on vibrate. They never have the sound on - I’ve never met someone under the age of 25 who knows what a ringtone is. But when I was a kid a thousand years ago, phones made noise, and the worst thing that could happen to you was to have your flip phone go off in the middle of class. Now it’s bad to have your phone go off in any class, but the worst one was band class. Band is all about noise, and we had a phenomenal conductor - Mr. McCoy. And he was very strict about cell phones in class, because if a phone went off in the middle of a song we were playing - it ruins it. So Mr McCoy told the leader of every section - the first chair - you are responsible for making sure no one in your section has their phone on.

So - lots of flip phones in pockets, leaders of each section had to make sure nobody in their group had a phone go off. And at the time no one took it more seriously than the leader of the trombones - let call him Brian. Brian was so strict about it, if your phone went off he would yell at you before McCoy even found out. And so there was one day we were in the middle of band practice. Now the way band music works, not everyone plays all the time. The trumpets will come in and then the flutes, and so during the song there’s some downtime - chunks of a song where a section is not playing. And there was this amazing moment, where we are in the middle of a song, playing along - and we hear the cell phone go off. And it goes off for a long time. Normally, if a cell phone goes off, Mr McCoy would stop the song, and yell at whoever it was that had the cell phone - but this time, he stopped the song and started laughing. He was just cracking up for some reason. And we’re all super confused, but then he told us what happened. The cell phone started ringing, and it was during a part in the song where the trombones had a rest. The cell phone goes off, and Brian is furious. He’s got his trombone resting on his knee and he’s just glaring around at everyone - where is that sound coming from. The song is still playing and Brian realizes that the sound is coming from his own pocket. And Mr McCoy watched as Brian’s face switched from outrage to horror as he realized the one he was mad at was himself. McCoy thought it was the funniest thing and we all laughed at Brian and we never let him forget it. “Alright everybody silence your cell phones - you too Brian”

Today we are continuing our study of the Chronological Bible - as a church we are reading the entire bible together in a year. Now I try to always mention two things as we start out. First - even if this is your very first Sunday with us - one of the beautiful things about scripture is that all the stories tie together like threads woven into a tapestry. You can jump in at any point - and you may not know how all the threads connect, but you can still catch sight of the picture. If you want to jump into this study with us, come talk to me after service and we will get you a bible today. Second, because we’re reading the entire bible in a year - we are going to talk major themes and highlights in our time together this morning. We’re skimming along the surface, but these are deep waters. And if you want to dive deeper, we have Chronological studies that meet during the week at various times. Feel free to reach out, we’d love to plug you in to one of those studies.

Alright, so we are jumping into the story of Israel. And to give you a little backdrop - we’ve been following along with the story of King David. Last week we talked about David and Saul - and we saw how David had a heart for God, and Saul had a heart for the world. And last week, a little bit, David was the hero, he was the good guy. But today - we see what happens when the one you are mad at is yourself. We’re going to spend most of our time in chapter 12, but we have to back up one chapter to understand what is going on. Now David is supposed to be out fighting, leading his armies - but he chooses not to. He stays behind, and one day he sees a beautiful woman, her name was Bathsheba. And he does a horrible thing, brings her to his palace, and he sleeps with her and she gets pregnant. Now this is already horrible - he’s the king, she’s a married woman - he is ruining her marriage. But then, he tries to cover it up - and long story short, he has her husband Uriah killed. Not only did he take her, but he tries to lie about it, and then has her husband killed. One bad thing leads to another. It’s like his sin was wildfire, it just spread to everyone around him. And so that’s the backdrop for chapter 12 - oh, and there is one more thing you need to know. When God gave Israel a King, God knew that kings were going to go corrupt - so he created another category of leader called the prophet. The prophet was the mouthpiece of God, and his job was to come alongside the King and smack him upside the head when he got out of line. It’s sort of like a checks and balance thing for the monarchy - prophets and kings. Now prophets are going to be really important later in Israel’s story, but they are around from the very beginning of the monarchy with King David.

[read v.1-3] - so Nathan, the prophet, goes to David and starts telling the cutest story I’ve ever heard. You know that old stereotype of Dad not wanting to get a puppy, and then the puppy ending up being Dad’s favorite. Like Mom and the kids really want a dog, but dad says no - I don’t want that animal in this house, I just know I’m going to end up cleaning up after it - and then you fast forward two months, and dad’s sneaking it scraps under the table and cuddling with the pup on the couch. Rich man and a poor man - rich man has lots of flocks, the poor man has one little lamb, and he’s letting it drink from his cup and cuddles it like a baby daughter. I think it’s gross to let animals drink from your cup, but you get the picture - right? We are drawn in by the precious connection [read v.4-6]. The rich man takes from the poor man, shatters the beautiful picture and David is furious - and so are we! Stealing that poor man’s lamb is a horrible thing. And then Nathan hits him with the big reveal, and I know you probably knew it was coming - but it doesn’t make it less epic.

[read v.7-9] Aha! It’s not a cute little story about a baby lamb that cuddles with the poor man - it’s real life shown to us with a slightly different lens. Now there’s three quick things that I want you to pull from this. First - the one David is mad at is himself. Just like Brian the trombone player, the villain is found in the mirror. The story is a metaphor. The rich man is David, the poor man is Uriah, and the innocent little lamb is Bathsheba. The guest who visits the rich man is David’s lust. It’s the same story as what David is living, but Nathan gives it to him in this very clever framework to pull David out of the story. And he does that, because - and here’s the second point - we are so good at lying to ourselves. When we tell our own story, sometimes we are the hero, sometimes we are the victim, but we never seem to make ourselves the villain. Sometimes we’re the princess in the tower, sometimes we’re the knight in shining armor - but we never seem to see ourselves as the dragon. And what’s crazy to me is that it is SO obvious. Right? Like, you read the events of chapter 11 -and you see all the stuff David is doing, and then you start chapter twelve and Nathan starts out with this story about a cute little lamb, and we all know where it’s going but David doesn’t see it. He walks face first right into Nathan’s metaphor. And the reason David doesn’t see it, is the same reason we have such a hard time seeing it in our lives - humanity is very practiced in self deception.

We are always the hero, never the villain - but the gift of Nathan’s story is to give David clear eyes to look at the situation. And this is the third thing I want you to pull from it. First - the story is a metaphor, the one David is mad at is himself. Second - we, just like David, we are so good at lying to ourselves, at rewriting the story so that we are never the villain, but the third thing I want you to catch is that the gift of Nathan’s story is giving David God’s perspective. Notice what it says in verse 9, obviously what he did was a sin against Uriah, and obviously what he did was a sin against Bathsheba, but verse 9 phrases it, [read v.9a]. This thing David did, it’s not just against Bathsheba and Uriah, but it’s against God. Sin is sin against God. That’s the perspective we need. We can rationalize and twist up stories all day to make ourselves the hero - but if you step outside of the story, look at it from God’s perspective you can see the problems with clarity.

But Nathan’s not done. He says, [read v.10-12]. So, first - gross. Your household will rebel against you. You did this horrible thing, it was sinful it was against God - and then there’s more horrible stuff coming. And this shows us something really key - sin begets sin. Evil begets evil. In a really simple way - doing bad stuff is going to lead to doing more bad stuff. Sin is contagious, evil is like a virus - it spreads and it grows. And I don’t know if you’ve read ahead at all - the whole Tamar and Absalom story - it’s like David cracked the door open on evil just a little bit and sin came busting in like the kool-aid man. We talked about this a little bit last week with David and Saul. Saul was doing evil to David, and David responds to evil with good. It’s the only way to break the cycle of brokenness that the world is offering. Responding to evil with evil - it’s eye for an eye, and that just makes the whole world blind. Sin begets sin, and more importantly - we actually get from the book of Romans, in chapter six it says. [read v.23]. Sin leads to more sin, but it also leads to death, and we see that in this story with David.

So Nathan’s got David dead to rights - you did a bad thing, there’s consequences, bad things coming. And it can be frustrating, because I thought David was supposed to be the hero of the story! Last week we spent all this time talking about how David had a heart for God, we compared him to Saul and David was the good guy! But this is such an important thing, and I don’t want you to miss this - having a heart for God doesn’t mean you never make mistakes. To be honest, without the story of Bathsheba - it’s like David doesn’t even seem like a real person. He’s like a super-hero - Mr Perfect, always gets it right. But this horrible sin that David commits - in a weird way it actually makes him more relatable. This guy is just as messed up as you and me. The key to having a heart for God is not being a perfect person. If that was the standard, none of us would have any hope. No, the key to having a heart for God is what comes in verse 13. [read v.13] David confesses. He owns his sin. If you want to have a heart for God, you have to be able to say that. We have to be able to look at our sin with clear eyes, and be able to say sorry. I have sinned against the Lord. I saw this post this past week on Facebook from a lady named Kelly Hopping. There was a kid in her church that had gotten in trouble, and everybody found out and this is what she wrote in response, “I heard someone say a few days ago, “See, that just goes to show that you can raise your kids in church all you want to, but…” and it literally shattered my heart. All because that kid had made a mistake. All because that kid’s sin was brought to light. Let me just tell you…. We don’t raise our kids in church so they can grow up perfect. We don’t raise our kids in church because it magically makes them unable to sin or holier-than-thou. We do however raise our kids in church so WHEN they mess up and WHEN they fall short, they know just who to run to. So they know that their Lord and Savior will NEVER leave nor forsake them no matter how big or small their mess up might be. So they know their heavenly Father will always leave the 99 if they are that ONE that needs saving. So they will know what grace is like and give it out freely. So they will know the unconditional love of their Father and love those around them just the same regardless of anything else. So they know that there is absolutely NOTHING in this world they could do that our Savior’s blood hasn’t already covered. I will never apologize for raising my children in church. I will never apologize for making sure our family makes church a priority over anything else. Because it’s more than just a song and a sermon. It’s more than just a memorized Bible verse in Sunday School. It’s for when this cruel world we live in comes knocking on their door, they personally know the solid rock on which they stand.” I shared that on my Facebook pages, because that’s a mom who gets it. We don’t come into this place because we’re perfect or even put together people. Because we’re not. We don’t study the heroes of old in this book because they were perfect and we want to be like them. We study this book, and the broken, messed up people in it - because they have a heart for God, and we have a heart for God - so that when we make mistakes - we will know how to come home to God, just like they did.

David and Bathsheba, it’s a horrible story - but verse 13 is so beautiful. I have sinned against the Lord, and look at the rest of that verse. [read v.13]. Yes, you have sinned. Yes, BUT the Lord has forgiven you. Do you see how quickly the assurance of forgiveness comes. There is punishment. The baby Bathsheba is pregnant with dies. Sin brings death. And David weeps and mourns, there are days when he doesn’t eat, just lays there on there ground - sin brings death but there is life after death. David says down in verse 23, someday I will go and see my son who has died, someday - and he picks himself off the ground, cleans himself up and continues to live. Sin brings death, but with repentance there is life after death. Harken back to Romans 6, [read v 23 again]. With repentance there is life after death.

There’s one more thing I want you to catch before we move on. The assurance of forgiveness should make us EAGER to confess. If we have a culture of shame where we all pretend that we’re perfect people who have it all together - it leads to cover ups and hearts that are unwilling to repent. Like that lady with the kid who’s sin had been discovered at her church. We should be people who are eager to confess their sins and repent because we know forgiveness is offered through Jesus, the one who washes us clean. Most people don’t confess, because they don’t believe forgiveness will come. If they find out that I’m not the perfect person I present myself to be - they will not forgive me. My friends, if that is the culture we have created in the church - we have got it completely backwards. It is not shameful to share your sins, to share your struggles, to share the parts we hide from the rest of the world - it is not shameful because we believe in forgiveness. We believe in Jesus, the one who knows everything about us and still loves us, still died for us, still rose for us. Confession and repentance and assurance of forgiveness should be common in the church.

Let me practice what I preach - I’ve been here for a couple weeks now. And you all have been so wonderful and welcoming, and everything is always shiny and new in the beginning, but I don’t want you to get the wrong idea that I am one of those who has it all together. When I was a kid, I lived in a house with a lot of rules. When I went off to college, I had to adjust - and one of those adjustments was unrestricted internet access. Over the years I became deeply addicted to pornography. Now, this isn’t a shocking revelation or anything, I have confessed this in every Church I’ve been in - but I’m still really embarrassed about it, ashamed. For years I was addicted to it, it was something I brought into my marriage, but with confession, repentance and a lot of hard work - I have been porn free for over a decade. Now the only reason I can admit that to you - to get up in front of a bunch of people and tell you the truth about who I am and who I used to be is because I have been forgiven in Christ, I have been washed clean. The assurance of forgiveness takes away my shame. I have repented and that led to forgiveness and new life. And because I talk about it, most people and all men struggle with lust, but because I talk about it openly - men have come out of the woodwork to share their struggles with me and I have even gotten to help lead some of them away from pornography. There are people in this world who have walked away from pornography completely because we believe in the assurance of forgiveness, and that assurance let us look honestly in the mirror. You don’t have to lie about how good you are, because God knows the real you, and he offers forgiveness through faith in Jesus to the real you. The last thing I want to pull from the David and Bathsheba story is that with repentance there is life after death.

The good news today is that God holds us accountable. Now if you’re living in sin right now, that doesn’t sound like good news. Wait a minute, what do you mean God holds us accountable? God’s going to pull us out of our own little world of self deception - he’s not going to let us lie to ourselves? God’s going to send us a Nathan, who is going to tell us a story and convict us of what we have done wrong? That doesn’t sound like good news. Well let me rephrase. The merciful God in heaven, who gives an assurance of forgiveness through Jesus, is going to hold you accountable. And with that, we have a choice. You can take your sin and lay it at the foot of the cross. Or you can pretend it’s not real, keep it inside your heart. When you come through the fires of accountability, sin gets burned up (sin leads to death, we’ve seen that). And that sin can either be left behind at the foot of the cross, or it can still be in your heart, burning you up from within. With Jesus we have a way through the fire. We’ve all messed up. Maybe we’re not quite at David’s level - we’ve never slept with a married woman and then murdered her husband - but we’ve all got something pulling on our heart, keeping us away from God. But forgiveness is there in Jesus’ arms. And THAT, that is very good news.

Now I always end my sermons with a challenge. And today I actually have two challenges - well.. it’s one challenge with two parts. My challenge for you today, coming out of the text, coming out of the good news - my challenge to you is to seek repentance with your life. But this has two parts - 1.) In our life, when we repent of the things we have done wrong and 2.) in our connection with others, when other people have harmed us. Basically, I want you to look at the story of David and Nathan and I want you to imagine that you are each character. Sometimes we are David - sometimes we are the one who did the bad. And in that moment we need to search for God’s perspective, hold onto our humility and repent - just like David did. Think about it like this - if you’ve done something, and people have been hurt, but you don’t think you did anything wrong - try to tell your story like Nathan did. Are you the poor man, are you the sheep or are you the rich man? Try to look at your story from God’s perspective, and not through the lens of your own justification. Search for God’s perspective, hold onto humility and repent.

The second part of seeking repentance is when we are Nathan! We are calling out sin that we see in someone else’s life - holding someone else accountable. If we are Nathan, notice what he does - he tells the truth, but he gives an assurance of forgiveness quickly. He doesn’t sugar-coat it, but he emphasizes forgiveness. My challenge for you this week is that you would seek repentance with your life. And Christians, people who follow Jesus with their life - we have to be quick to repent, like David and we have to be quick to forgive like Nathan.

This past week I heard somebody describe the scripture as the “bashing David” passage - where we focus on how terrible David is, but that’s not what I see. I don’t know about you, but if I want to see someone who has made mistakes in life, and needs the forgiveness of God - I don’t have to look past the mirror. Whatever you’re struggling with in your life this week, I hope you see the good news this story gives us. Sin leads to death. But with repentance there is life after death. Let’s pray.


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