Part 4: Un Cordero

By August 31, 2013 Crooked Branches No Comments

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part 4 un cordero

We have spent the past few weeks discussing some stories from the lives of the children of Abraham and we have covered just about all of the key eras in Israel’s history including the patriarchs, call of Abraham, birth of Isaac and Jacob/Israel, we looked at one of the twelve, namely Judah, we looked at the conquest of the Land and the story of Rahab.  Last week we looked at the time of the Judges and the story of Naomi in the book of Ruth.

The book of Ruth ended with the genealogy that started with Perez, the son of Judah and Tamar and ended with King David – one very important character in the era of the Kings in the history of Abraham’s children.

I love King David.  Listen to what the Bible has to say about David.

In Acts 13 Paul recounts the history of Israel.  In the midst of that he says beginning in verse 20: “After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. 21 Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. 22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart

1 Kings 15:5 For David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep any of the Lord’s commands all the days of his life

This man had essentially kept the law of God, all of the commandments of God all the days of his life. What a testimony —except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.

He had one blemish on his record.  The case of Uriah the Hittite.  Let’s look at that incident this morning.  Do me a favor in celebration of our 3rd birthday as a church open your Bibles with me to 2 Sam 11

2 Sam 11:1ff In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.

2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.)Then she went back home.  Here is David.  He has now slept with another man’s wife.   Nobody ever has to know, right?  It can be their little secret.  No one ever needs to find out, especially Uriah, her husband.  One little problem…

5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”

Oops.  Houston, we have a problem…well, David has a problem.  This woman, Bathsheba is now pregnant.  But her husband is off fighting a war on behalf of Israel.  When he comes home from war and his wife is pregnant or has a kid, he is going to find out.  He is going to do the math and it won’t add up.  Wait, nine months and…I didn’t do that.  He will know this child is not his.  So what is David to do?  Let’s find out.

6 So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. 7 When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. 8 Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him.

So, David is thinking that if he can get Uriah to come home and make love to his wife while he is home, the math will add up.  It will appear as though the child belongs to Uriah and all will be well.  But, there is one little problem.  Uriah has this virtue that we looked at in week one, this virtue that was lacking in Judah.  Uriah was a man of integrity.

9 But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house.

10 David was told, “Uriah did not go home.” So he asked Uriah, “Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?”

11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”

Uriah thought it wouldn’t be fair for him to get to come home, eat in the comfort of his home, sleep in the comfort of his bed and make love to his beautiful wife while all the other fighting men are sleeping with the spiders and scorpions on the ground.

He said, “As surely as you live, David, I will not do such a thing.”

Well, that plan didn’t work.  Think, David.  Okay, we have to get him to sleep with his wife so that the math works out.  This has to look like Uriah’s child.  How can we make this happen?

Aha.  Plan B.

12 Then David said to him, “Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. David thought, if I can just make him drink enough alcohol, his judgment will be impaired.  He is a man of integrity, but if he drinks too much, maybe he won’t be so selfless.  Maybe he will set aside those righteous thoughts and go home and lay with his wife.  This will be even better.  So what does Uriah do?

But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home.

Plan A didn’t work.  Now plan B didn’t work.  This man, Uriah, has way too much integrity to sleep with Bathsheba.  Now David is in big trouble.  He is going to be found out.  So how can he cover up his tracks?  How can he hide his deeds?  How can he get out of this?  How can he avoid being found out?  Think, David, think!  Aha.  Plan C.  Execute order 66.

14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”

16 So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.

David’s plan worked.  Now David doesn’t have to worry about Uriah finding out because Uriah is dead.  Now, David can take Bathsheba to be his wife and the math will add up; this is brilliant.  Now nobody will ever know.  It will all look very legitimate.  In fact, David might even look like a hero, because he is taking Bathsheba in a time of hardship, comforting her in her trouble, caring for her in Uriah’s absence.  Not only does the math work, but it takes care of that problem of the possibility that the child end up looking just like daddy dearest.

Skip down to verse 26

26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son.

And the chapter ends with the following phrase.

But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.

Everything worked according to David’s plan.  It may not have been plan A or B, but shoot, plan C is better anyway, right?  Perhaps David is feeling very pleased with this execution.  Except, the thing David had done displeased the LORD.

As we have stated previously, God speaks to his people through his people.  God’s typical way of communicating his message to people is by sending messengers or prophets to them with a message.  We are going to continue in the text into chapter 12 where God sends Nathan the prophet to let David know just how displeased the LORD is with him.

2 Samuel 12 The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said,

Now if you have been zoning out up to this point, listen carefully to the words of Nathan the prophet.

“There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, 3 but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.

4 “Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”

Look at David’s response:

5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”

Isn’t it sometimes so easy to burn with anger against someone else’s sin?  We can overlook our own sin so very easily, but we find out about someone else performing an injustice or doing something wrong, we can get angry about it.

7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says:

‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. 9 Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’

David, you are that man.  This story is a metaphor about you!  You are like a man who had a lot of sheep.  Uriah is like a man who had only had one and boy did he love that one.  Boy was he thankful for that one.  Boy was he satisfied with that one.  And you took it for yourself.

11 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’”

13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

David is stricken with an overwhelming sense of guilt in awareness of his sin.  Sin has consequences.

I have heard it said that sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay.

The LORD pronounces some very specific consequences for David’s sin.

Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.”

VIRTUES (PRESENT/LACKING)

Now as we have been looking at these stories in the history of Abraham’s descendants, we have taken some time each week to discuss a virtue that was either present or lacking in the characters.  In this story about David, one virtue that we see lacking is contentment.

Contentment is a lovely virtue. The dictionary defines contentment as the state of being content.  It defines content as…

Content: satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else.

I believe it was a lack of contentment that drove David to act as he did.

A lot of commentaries will point out that David was in the wrong place at the wrong time and if he would have just been where he was supposed to be none of this would have happened.  And there may be some truth to that.  The text opens by saying it was the spring time when Kings go off to war.  Now, the way that reads it sounds like it was mandatory.  First off, it was never prescribed by the covenant, we find that mandate nowhere in the LOM.  So we can’t say that David was sinning by not going.  In fact, some might even argue that it was in the best interest of the nation for a king to send a worthy delegate to lead the military campaign on his behalf.  If he died, that may leave a 7 year old on the throne.  But that is neither here nor there.  Perhaps it was a custom of the day.  Perhaps it was tradition.  We don’t know.  We just know that he remained at the palace and was not with the military fighting.  So if he was off to battle with the men, he wouldn’t have been on his roof and he wouldn’t have seen Bathsheba.

But, who is to say that if he was off at war he wouldn’t have seen some hot foreign chick bathing and pursue her and go find her husband and run him through with his own sword?

The bottom line is that it seems that no matter how much God had done for David, no matter how much God had given to David, it wasn’t enough.  David wasn’t satisfied.  David lacked contentment.

God said to him through Nathan:

‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.

David, was that not enough?  God said if it wasn’t he would have given even more.

A LACK OF CONTENTMENT CAN BE SELF DESTRUCTIVE.

Look at the pain it caused David.  Look at the consequences of the sin he committed out of his lack of contentment.  The son borne to him would die and the sword would never depart from his household.  As you read the rest of the OT narratives that involve the life of David you see this very thing fulfilled.

A lack of contentment was self-destructive for David and it can be self-destructive for you and me.

FOCUS

When we lack contentment, I think it is safe to say that our focus has shifted from what we do have to what we do not have.  A practical key to contentment is to recognize that and to realign our focus upon what we do have and learn to be satisfied in it.  As the apostles states in

Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have

BEING THANKFUL – ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE

Another practical key to contentment is being thankful – having an attitude of gratitude.

Imagine if when you woke up this morning the only things that you had today were the things that you thanked God for yesterday?

What did you thank God for yesterday?

  • Did you thank God for your spouse?  If not, you don’t have your spouse today.

  • Did you thank God for your children yesterday?  If not, you woke up today and you don’t have them.

  • Did you thank God for your house

  • or your apartment

  • or your job

  • or your car?  If not, you don’t have any of those things today.

  • Did you thank God for the meals that he provided for you?

  • Did you thank God for electricity?

  • Air conditioning?

  • Your eyesight?

  • Your health?

  • Your legs?

Imagine we you woke up today and we lacked everything we failed to thank him for yesterday.

God is the source.  He is the one who has provided you and me what we have.  For us to lack contentment, is in a sense, to express that we are not thankful for what God has given us or for who God has created us to be.

CONNECTION TO COVETOUSNESS

Additionally, when we find ourselves in a state of discontentment, is that not often accompanied by covetousness.  We may be driving down the highway and see a billboard or watching TV and see an ad for something that we don’t have and a desire is stirred within us.  But is it not true that often times our lack of contentment with what we have is stirred by a desire for what someone else has?

We see someone else’s

  • circumstances, or

  • someone else’s life, or

  • someone else’s possessions,

  • someone else’s mind or body,

  • someone else’s wife

…and we say, “I want what he has” or “I want what she has.”  In a sense when we think or say such things, we lack trust in God’s provision as if to say that we know better for ourselves than God does.  God, you gave that to him, but don’t you know that it was supposed to go to me?

What will it take for us to be happy with what we have?  When will we really be satisfied?  When we get that next thing?  When we have what that other person has?  When we get the promotion at work?  When our credit card is paid off?  When we achieve that goal?  Perhaps, but if we lack contentment that happiness will last only for a time.  Then, almost inevitably, it is only a matter of time before we have our eyes set on something else that we lack, something else about which we say:

  • if I only had that.

  • If I only looked like her.

  • If I only had that job.

  • If I only possessed this one thing.

  • If I only had a wife

  • If I only had a husband

  • If I only had kids

Then I’ll be happy.

Rarely do such things ultimately satisfy.  They are short term solutions for what is perhaps a deeper problem.  That deeper problem is a lack of contentment.

SO WHAT IS THE ULTIMATE SOLUTION?

For you and I living in the age of the New Covenant, the Bible gives us a very simple and yet profound insight – a secret, if you will, the secret of being content.

Turn with me to Phil 4.  As you turn there I will set up the context.  This is a letter that Paul wrote to the church in Philippi.  He wrote this letter from jail.  Why was he in jail, you ask?  For preaching the gospel!  One of the main reasons that Paul writes this letter is to thank the Philippians for the monetary gift they sent him.  We are about to read what Paul writes in this letter just before thanking them for their gift.  Beginning in verse 10.

Phil 4:10ff 10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Here is that famous verse that people always take out of context, verse 13.  Now you can see it in its proper context; he is referring to his ability to be content in every situation whether things are going well and he has a lot or things are going bad and he has nothing.

He doesn’t say, man, I just had no satisfaction until now that I received your gift.  Now I’m happy.  He doesn’t say, Once I get out of jail I will be happy.  He finds contentment in prison through Christ.

Getting that next thing or being like that other person or a change in our circumstances may make us happy but only temporarily.  The key to ultimate happiness, ultimate satisfaction in the depth of our souls, the secret for true contentment in any situation is found in Christ.

If we cannot be content in Christ, when will we be content?  If Christ does not satisfy us, what will?

CONSIDER WHO CHRIST IS AND EVERYTHING WE HAVE IN HIM!  HE IS:

  • The one who has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt 28:18-20)

  • The one who stooped down to wash the feet of his disciples.

  • The one who laid down his life for his friends.

  • The one who walked on water, healed the sick, drove out demons, raised the dead, turned water to wine, turned one little boy’s lunch into an all you can eat buffet for 5000 men plus women and children.

  • The lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

  • The one in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily (Col 2:9).

If we cannot be content in Christ, when will we be content?  If Christ does not satisfy us, what will?

He is:

  • The light of the world.

  • The true vine.

  • The good shepherd

  • The gate through whom we enter into the sheep pen of the Kingdom.

  • The resurrection and the life.

  • The bread of life.

  • The way, the truth and the life, the only avenue to the father.

  • The one who offers water that will become in believers a spring of water welling up to eternal life (John 4:14), rivers of living waters flowing from within (John 7:38).

  • The one who invites men, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

If we cannot be content in Christ, when will we be content?  In what will we find satisfaction?  He is:

  • The one that God presented as an atoning sacrifice on man’s behalf (Rom 3:25).

  • The one who was delivered over to death for our sins and raised to life for our justification (Rom 4:25).

  • The one through whom we have peace with God, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand (Rom 5:12).

  • The one in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Col 1:14).

  • The one through whom we are presented to God as being holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation (Col 1:22).

  • The one in whom there is now no condemnation (Rom 8:1).

  • The one through whom we have been adopted as sons and daughters (Eph 1:5).

  • The one in whom we have been made alive even when we were dead in transgressions (Eph 2:5)

  • The one who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us.

If we cannot find contentment in Christ, where will we find it?  What will it take to satisfy us?

NARROW TERMS (OUR VISION)

Now, I realize that I have been speaking in very narrow terms.  But I do so intentionally because our vision as a church is to cultivate a loving community of Christians with a Biblical worldview.

Not just a loving community of people who have nothing to do with Christ or the Bible.  So the secret of contentment I present to you is the secret found in the Bible and I stand by it wholeheartedly.  Are there people who find contentment outside of Christ?  Sure.  There are content Buddhists and Hindus, Muslims, and even atheists; a lot of contentment has to do with one’s mindset and perspective.  But, as a church that is committed to cultivating a community of Christ-centered people who see the world through the lenses of Scripture, the solution we offer is Biblical in nature.

And for what it’s worth, my personal testimony corroborates those truths; I was not truly content in the depths of my soul until I came to know the Lord Jesus.  I lacked the peace that transcends understanding.  I was a person who was always looking for that next thing, always wanted to obtain that next level, buy that next toy, upgrade this, outdo that.  And I was never as satisfied in my soul as I have been in the time that I have known Jesus.

And if you aren’t a Christian, if you haven’t placed your faith in Christ, I invite you to do so today.  Recognize who Jesus is and see all of the amazing wonders and blessings that are offered to us in Jesus, recognize that he is the Messiah and place your faith in him, join in the covenant community and share in those blessings as a child of God.

For in Christ is the secret of being content in any and every situation; for we can do all this through Christ who gives us strength.