Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 1997
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 3: Disruptive Truths of God’s Kingdom
Chapter 6: Rise and Reign of David: The Disruptive Truth of Messianic Leadership
Lesson 68 – King David: Messianic Type, Bathsheba & Confession of Sin (2 Samuel 7)
06 Nov 1997
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
I’d like to review, coming from the big picture down to the little picture so we put David in perspective and we get this period of history firmly in our grasp. One of the things that David centers in theologically is that it’s a revelation of what Messianic leadership looks like, and it clashes with the world’s idea of leadership. That’s the big picture that’s going on. There are a lot of stories in David, we’ve known them from Sunday School, but we want to think back through the series of contrasts that we’ve looked at. We started off with Abraham, 2000 BC. At that point we have a division occur in that with the revelation of Abraham in Genesis 12, God reveals the fact that He has an election, He has justification, that He chooses out from among the human race a subgroup with which to work and through whom He will reveal His Word. So that act, that revelation that occurs in 2000 BC contrasts with the pagan view of history.
In the pagan view of history you have finally chance, because there’s no sovereign personal God. So every unbelieving view of history at bottom, where they talk about gods and goddesses or this or that, ultimately they have no intelligent plan. History is not run intelligently, there is no rational plan; there is no rhyme and reason to history. This is not just theoretical, it’s very practical, because if there’s no meaning and no reason to the whole, there can’t be any meaning and reason to your life, or mine, and the things that happen in our lives are just random chance happenings. That’s the fallout of that position. So either you have to go with the idea that ultimately there’s no meaning, or ultimately there is, and that’s what the Bible insists, that there’s a personal God who created history, who elects, i.e. He has a plan of what He is going to do, nothing is going to stop Him from executing that plan, and when we come to Him as fallen creatures He perfectly justifies us, because we can’t be in covenant with Him unless we share His righteousness.
After Abraham there was the Exodus, this was about 1500 BC, actually 1440 BC, and at that point we have God revealing Himself as the One who judges and saves, the One who disturbs history. Every one of these things we’ve looked at is a disturbance relative to civilization at large. Every one of these actions cuts across the grain of society. Every time we see an event in the Scriptures we have God interfering with what man wants naturally to do. At this point, in 1500 BC we have a tremendous thing; this is the only time in history that you ever had a revolution from top to bottom in a society and the deliverance of a remnant, a minority, without an army, devoid of all politics, devoid of all military. The Exodus is an amazing event, utterly without precedent; no politics, no military is involved, it was sheerly a miraculous intervention and a disturbance by God. In contrast to that, what man tries to do is he tries to build his Babels. He has a system of works; he has a system of some sort of governmental solution to the problem, or something else. That’s the pagan view. In other words, we deal with chaos by trying to impose an order on the chaos; we try to keep the marbles in place.
After the Exodus we came to Mt. Sinai, again 1500 BC, and there we have God revealing the basis of law, that man doesn’t make law, God makes law. When we study in school the three branches of the government, the executive, the judicial and the legislative, it’s instructive to observe which of those three branches of government is missing in the Old Testament. We have the executive branch, the elders of the nation. We have the judicial branch, the courts. Where’s the legislature? This is a question we need to ask, it’s a significant question. Why is the legislature function of government missing in the Bible? The answer is because God makes the law, man doesn’t make the law. So this gives you insight into which of the three branches of government is most closely related to God Himself. Why is that? When we make a law, supposedly we’re trying to make a law that’s just, we’re trying to run society in an orderly and just fashion. But in order to design a law, you have to have an idea in your head an idea of the standard of right and wrong. Where do you get the standard from? That issue forces us back to where do the standards come from, and when God reveals, He is the standard. Then over and against that concept we have man’s law, man’s attempt at manufacturing good, the stems of good and evil. This is the result of the fall, because at the fall what was the temptation? You shall be as gods knowing both good and evil. In other words, the temptation is to become the determiner of good and evil.
We saw the result of that, which was the conquest and settlement era. This lasted from 1500 BC on down to the time of the Judges, about 1000 BC, five centuries. It ended in a disaster in the book of Judges. The nation totally lost its character, everything fell apart, the nation completely ran out of gas so there was nothing that was happening here. But the important point in this was the holy war. It’s this section of the Bible that critics love to attack us, they love to criticize the Christians, how can you Christians believe in a God that would order the genocide, genocidal war against an innocent group of people in the land. This has been traditionally one of the vulnerable points in the Christian gospel. Sometimes Christians get intimidated and start backing up, and apologizing for it. There’s something wrong if we have to apologize for something our God did. Either we don’t get it, we lack faith or something, there’s something wrong, something doesn’t smell right about that approach.
What was the answer to that? The answer is that we take it even further, we say why do you have to have holy war, it is related to the fact that in history, according to the Bible…, this is how you can turn this criticism around and use it back against the person who’s doing the argument, because the criticism is saying that God is evil to have cruelty in the Scriptures. We’re going to see more of it with David. Why holy war? What’s the rationale for holy war biblically? What’s our answer? The answer is it goes back to the problem of evil itself. There are only two views about good and evil. Either you have to believe that good and evil are normal, they coexist everywhere forever, have always been with us, always will be with us.
For example, in the modern theory of evolution creation comes about by the struggle of good and evil, survival of the fittest, the death of the weak. In other words, death, evil and struggle become the source of good, so good and evil are always vying and competing with one another over the span of time, always has, always will, there’s no end to suffering, there’s no end to death, every generation will forever experience it. People don’t like to express it this way, like I’m doing it, but what other answer is there. If you don’t accept the biblical view, where we have a point in time where there was a fall and a beginning of evil, and you don’t accept the fact that at the end there is going to be a judgment and a separation of good and evil, such that evil is bracketed on the left and on the right side of the chart, then you have unlimited evil. Either evil is limited or it isn’t. In the Christian position evil is limited and its days are numbered.
So the justification for holy war and the extermination of a so-called innocent group of people, number one is they’re not innocent, there never has been a group of innocent people, all of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God, all of us are intruders in God’s universe. The grass we walk on is His grass, His sign of ownership, and we transgress His universe, this is His universe! With all due apologies to the Sierra Club, this earth is God’s earth. He owns it and He will renovate it. We have contaminated it, in that the ecologist is correct, but we have contaminated it in a way far more radical than the most radical ecologist. They’re worried about throwing garbage out on the highway and the ozone level emissions in the city. We, biblically, are concerned with the fact that through our transgression in our father Adam and mother Eve, we brought into existence all death everywhere in the universe. So we’re not talking about coke bottles along the interstate. We’re not talking just about ozone levels. We are talking about the utter, complete contamination of the biological universe all the way down to the molecular level, that’s how radical we have wrecked the environment. And we have wrecked it in such a radical way, the only way it can be resolved is through a recreation, which the Bible promises. This is our view; this is how we come out as biblical Christians. This is our view; there is the non-Christian view, and there are no ifs, ands or buts, there’s no difference, that’s it, it’s either one or the other. Every person you are going to talk to is walking in one area of they’re the other area, one or two.
Let’s look at why we have holy war and cruelty and extermination in the Old Testament conquest and settlement period. The reason is that God reveals on a small scale over a small domain, not one part on the continent where Asia, Africa, and Europe come together, He’s chosen that former real estate to reveal what His final judgment is going to look like. The bad news about the cruelty in the Old Testament is the good news that good and evil will be separated, and if it were not for the cruelty, and if it were not for that bloody mess and that judgment in the Old Testament we wouldn’t have anything but a sweet dream that there was ever going to be any serious separation between good and evil. It is only that that gives us the assurance, because when Jesus comes back, His garments, they say in the book of Revelation, will be covered with blood. Why? Because there’s war, people are dying; there is a holy war to beat all holy wars. There is an eternal separation, the day of grace has come to an end, the day of grace is only between these two periods of time. There was no grace before the fall, there was no need for it; and there can’t be any grace after the separation because once good and evil have been separated there’s no transition across the boundaries.
That’s the background for why there’s cruelty and judgment in the Scriptures. It is part and parcel of the Bible’s answer to the whole good and evil question. You can’t have it both ways. We want to have it both ways. Here’s how we’d like to have it both ways, we want to have relief from some evil. The problem is, the cry to have relief from suffering, death and evil isn’t radical enough, because if it were really a cry to end good and evil and end suffering, death, sorrow and sickness, what about me, what about my flesh. In asking for the removal of evil, death and suffering, aren’t I also asking for the removal of my own sin, my own flesh, my own corruption? Of course. But when you start pushing that request for relief to its logical conclusion, then people back off, oh, we don’t want quite that much relief. Well the Bible says sorry, you can’t have it both ways.
God is allowing a time of grace of the coexistence of good and evil so we have time to grow in Christ. If we’re dissatisfied with His letting good and evil coexist, the only other answer we have is this. Which way do we want it? We have it here with sickness that will be in a zone, or we get rid of all the sickness, death and sorrow and go to this. But if we go to this there’s no salvation. So death, sorrow and suffering is the corollary of grace. Maybe you haven’t thought about it that way before, but this is another way of coming at it. It is the corollary of God being gracious. Either He is gracious and there is sorrow and death, or He’s judgmental and pure and there’s no suffering and death any more. One or the other. We want to kind of mix and match. We want to get rid of the evil but we want the continuing grace to do our own evil.
That’s the background, and now we’ve come to the last of these events which is where God reveals what a Messianic leader looks like. This is about 1000 BC, and in this case we see David as a man of faith who operates by grace over against Saul and all other pagan imitators who act by works and self-effort. That’s why in the notes I took some careful quotes from the Assyrian kings and the Egyptian Pharaohs so you could see how men of David’s day acted, and set that over against how David acted. We came to the conclusion that David was given a covenant, pages 107-108 of the notes, 2 Samuel 7 and during that period of time we have David settling down.
Let’s look at the Davidic Covenant again, because this sets up the structure for the rest of the Old Testament, and in fact prepares us for the New Testament. This is the Davidic Covenant, there are various covenants in Scripture, we saw the Abrahamic Covenant, we saw the Sinaitic Covenant, and under the Sinaitic Covenant is something called the Palestinian Covenant. The Abrahamic Covenant: land, seed and a worldwide blessing. The Sinaitic Covenant was a conditional covenant given to the nation Israel on an if-then basis. The Abrahamic Covenant was absolutely unconditional, the Palestinian is. The Davidic Covenant promises that the Messianic leadership will perpetuate into eternity future, there never will be a time when the Davidic Covenant dynasty does not control, not only planet earth but ultimately the universe. David’s seed will reign. It’s not the Martians that are going to have the last word; it’s not some alien galaxy xyz. Ironically it turns out that the universe is going to be run by David’s seed. So the Davidic Covenant is quite radical in that it defines human leadership, the highest office of human leadership. Therefore the Davidic Covenant shapes history, and this is why David’s covenant will be eternal, it’s an eternal dynasty, rooted in the very plan of God, and so Jesus traces His lineage to David.
All this is background to what happens next, and this story, the David story, we’re going to look at some material and complete it because next week we’re going to go to the application of this truth in matters of Christian sanctification, spiritual growth, confession of sin, etc. that we’re all involved in. But lest those things become principles and become abstractions and you don’t have any content in your mind to visualize, we want to go through some of these rich stories, hoping that as we go through these stories that our memories will become embedded with them and in our moments of crisis and our moments of troubles we can sit down and recall, wait a minute, what did God do with David, let me think through this, here I am and here’s David, how did God deal in David’s situation; well how is He going to deal in my situation? Then the Holy Spirit can resurrect these memories of these stories and it’ll all be connected.
The story begins in 2 Samuel 7, that’s where we left off with the covenant. 2 Samuel 7 terminates the covenant, the discussion ends there, and then you have a series of chapters that begin to give a record of David’s reign. These would the royal chronicles. In fact there’s a book called the Chronicles in the Bible. This is God’s interpretation of history. I said that history did not start with the Greeks like you always learned in school. History started with the Old Testament and it started with the prophets, the writing prophets. Why did it start? What was the motive behind the first history book? That’s a good question. What was the motive, what was the driving force that made men write things down? What was the driving force that made men want to record historical events in the Old Testament? Why Judges, why Samuel, why Chronicles? These are histories, theological histories, but they’re histories. The answer is this: Because God made a covenant and we are measuring His behavior. What does a covenant do? If you make a covenant for payments, a covenant on your car, on your house, a covenant defines the behavior of the parties to the covenant. Therefore the Bible has God making all these covenants, well who’s monitoring the behavior. The history is the unfolding of the behavior, and so these histories are organized materials, not everything that happened in David’s life, but there’s enough here so that we can start to track who’s being faithful to the Davidic Covenant, what does God’s promise look like in the ebb and flow, and chaos, of history.
2 Samuel 8 is a lot of stories of military victories, etc. this is after the covenant, it says in verse 1, “Now after this it came about that David defeated the Philistines and subdued them….” In chapter 10 you have some more of the wars that David had to fight. 2 Samuel 10:19, “When all the kings, servants of Hadarezer, saw that they were defeated by Israel, they made peace with Israel and served them. So the Syrians feared to help the sons of Ammon anymore.” They got creamed when they tried to come in and help these people in the northeastern frontier of the nation Israel.
Trapped between 2 Samuel 8 and 10 is chapter 9 where there’s a little note as to what was going on with the Davidic dynasty at this point. 2 Samuel 9:1 is neat, “Then David said, ‘Is there yet anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?’” How does this differ from what we read the last couple of times of Esar-haddon? What did Esar-haddon do to his rival dynastic people? He wiped them out, killed them all, slaughtered them. What is David doing? Is he wiping them all out? No, he made certain promises he would be gracious and these are men and women in a rival dynasty that in normal politics would have tried to do him in. This is a man who is so confident of the plan of God that he can be gracious.
Do you see the connection? People that act like Esar-haddon are insecure; they’re so insecure they have to destroy everything that might bother them. David doesn’t have to do that. David has the promise of God; God will take care of the issue. So David can really be, deep down in his soul, a lot more relaxed because he’s operating underneath the sovereign promise of God and therefore because he is secure, the principle is he can show grace and he can love people. His security is a prerequisite for being relaxed enough and secure enough so that he can give to others; it comes about because of that rigid dogmatic faith in the sovereign God of the Bible. That’s always true; love can’t be released out of an insecure basket. As long as I am insecure my first concern is of my security, not with you, not with anybody else, with me. After I decide that I’m secure, then we’ll talk about you. That’s the way it is.
So this is how David operates. There’s the whole story in chapter 9, a wonderful story of how he searches out the son of Jonathan who was crippled in his feet, Mephibosheth, and Mephibosheth becomes part of the story here. Then the story drops and we move through the wars of chapter 10 and then we come down to chapter 11. In chapters 11 through 20 in this chronicle of David’s reign is an interesting principle. There’s a whole bunch of stories in here, and we want to look at the outline of these stories. 2 Samuel 11 and 12 is the famous scandal that hit David’s reign, David is always known for this scandal, his adultery with Bathsheba, but chapters 11 and 12 don’t finish the story. Notice I said it’s chapter 11 through chapter 20, that whole section of Samuel teaches us something about a phrase that was embedded in the David contract.
Hold the place and turn back to 2 Samuel 7:14. Embedded inside the fine print on the contract was the following clause: “I will be a father to him, and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men.” What does that say? Does that say that David is going to lose out and his dynasty is going to lose its eternal standing? No. Is his dynasty going to be secure? Yes. But one reason it’s going to be secure is because God is going to take care of iniquity when it’s in it, so any kind of sin in this thing is going to be punished in some way, he says “by the sons of men,” i.e., there’s going to be other people act against David, or his son, Solomon, or anybody else in that line. So sin will not go unpunished in this story. From chapters 11 to 20, chapter 11 and 12 deal with the sin, chapters 13-20 deal with the outworking of this. This whole clump of Scripture is to show 2 Samuel 7:14 at work. That’s what’s happening. I want you to see this because we’re going to draw a conclusion from all this to the Christian life. What we want to see now is that this sin story, along with its consequences, is given coverage in these chapters.
I also want you to see that this whole section of Scripture comes underneath 2 Samuel 7:14 which is the controlling principle over all this chaos that’s going on here. There’s people killed, there’s people raped, there’s armies that are destroyed, there’s people who suffer, horribly, die horrible deaths, all through this section. But it is not social chaos in an ultimate sense. God is behind it all, and much of the very chaos has been shaped by 2 Samuel 7:14. That’s the lesson to see here. On the surface it looks like everything’s falling apart, but no, God said this is the way I run My kingdom, if this happens, then that’s going to follow, it’s predictable. That’s what this whole section is, so let’s look at some of the details of the section.
I said in chapter 8 and 10 you have all the military campaigns; what do we know of David’s lifestyle from the Psalms? Normally in the Psalms, Psalm 5:3, “I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustains me.” We could go to many different Psalms; I give you some references on page 108. What do you notice is stylistic about David in the morning? In the morning he’s up, he’s praying to the Lord, and he’s ready to go. Turn to 2 Samuel 11:1, normally in chapter 8 and 10 he was leading his armies in the battle, but now in verse 1, “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 destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But…” says the Hebrew, “David stayed in Jerusalem.” By itself maybe that’s not… it’s just an observation about what was going on in his life at the time, he wasn’t out there with his troops, he wasn’t out there with his friends who were in battle, he was at home. Then in verse 2 he gets up from bed in the evening, does that look like the David of the Psalms? The guy who was talking about meeting God in the morning? So right away in verses 1-2 we have a disturbance, this is not like David, something is going on here.
What I’m trying to get at is this, there’s a big sin coming, but it didn’t happen out of the clear blue. There’s a precursor to all this, and we all know this from our own life and our own experience, that big sins just don’t happen, there’s little sins that build up to the big sins, so the stuff going on here and here and here, and then finally boom, you have a real blowout. But the blowout wasn’t the first step. Something has gone on here in verses 1-2. In verse 2 there’s an observation, it’s a very graphic picture, “Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance.  So David sent and inquired about the woman.” We know the story. But there’s some things to observe about verse 2, some questions to ask the text. Besides the fact that he’s walking abound having just got up in the afternoon, when he normally gets up in the morning, he’s looking down from the roof. This woman is out here without her clothes on taking a bath in a pool, with roofs higher than the pool so people can look at her. This is not to avoid blame for David, but it’s just to say that Bathsheba does not come across in Scripture as the smartest woman who ever lived. In fact, there are references elsewhere in Kings where she gets so screwed up in the politics of the palace that Nathan has to come to her and explain, honey if you don’t act this way you’re going to lose your son. Yoo-hoo, are you there? She’s kind of slow. David had six or seven other wives; one was a very brilliant woman by the name of Abigail.
Christian artists have always had the problem, what do these guys and gals look like. There’s very little evidence in the text of even what Jesus looks like. The only idea we have of what Jesus looks like is from a Mosaic that was in an early Christian church that shows Him with short hair, not like a hippie left over from the 60’s. In this case it was a mosaic, short hair because Roman men wore short hair, not long hair. The reason was because with long hair you can grab it and cut their throat, so it was a security issue, you don’t have a big pigtail to grab onto. Roman soldiers did not have long hair and apparently Jesus did not have long hair. The fact of the matter was that the men who did have long hair and they did it as unto the Lord, was the Nazarite vow and this was unusual. We at least know that physical feature about men. But that’s all. The Scriptures just leave us kind of to our imagination, what do these people look like.
It’s unusual when in verse 2 the prophet who’s writing the Scripture under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit stops to inject this material. When you read the Bible and you question the text, like in a Precepts Bible class, or Bible Study Fellowship, they always tell you to look at the text and ask questions of the text. This is a question you always ought to remember, that very rarely in the Bible do you have physical descriptions of people. We saw it once before, when Saul comes on the scene there’s a physical description of what he looks like, he’s very tall, and that’s used later on in the story to let you understand about this man. This is here to let us understand what’s going on. David’s not so much interested in who the woman is, he’s interested that here she is, a woman without her clothes on, bathing. There’s even intimations based on the text, and this is a debated point among scholars based on verse 4 “and when she had purified herself from her uncleanness,” that she was involved in some of the Levitical bathing for menstruation. If that’s so, it was a funny kind of bathing to be doing out in public. It’s not quite the best situation.
David gets involved, and then the tragedy unfolds from one worse thing to another. In verse 5, God worked it out so that she was fertile at the point where he committed adultery, so she conceived. This is the amazing thing how God works. What our view of sin is, because it comes from rebellion, is that everything’s out of control, and yet here’s one of those ironic things, here this woman gets pregnant right in the middle of all this, and this is going to be one of the sons of David who’s going to die. Four sons are going to pay for their father’s sin, four of them are going to die and this man’s going to die. Yet involved in this also is the woman who becomes part of the Messianic line, and she bears, not Abigail, not the other six women, one of his wives is Michal and we know she’s never going to bear anything, so all these women who could have borne the seed of the Messiah, aren’t, and this woman, of all things… you say why does God do this in history? In fact, the women that show up in Jesus’ genealogies most of them, there’s a debate about Bathsheba, but they’re Gentiles in a Jewish Messiah’s line. I wonder what God’s saying about that.
She gets pregnant, now he’s got a problem with her husband. So in verse 6 he comes in and he tries to get her husband to go home and have relations with his wife, then he can blame the baby on the husband and that doesn’t work out because Uriah has integrity. So he knocks off Uriah. This is great, David’s really scoring here. Here’s a guy that build his army out of men who are losers, the cave of Adullum, carefully spent years building a tremendous officer corps. The thing people don’t understand about military is that you don’t build an army overnight, it take years to build military leadership. And David at this point is losing one of his finest officers, Uriah. So here’s a guy, and this is what sin does to us, he wrecks one of his key military officers by giving a very stupid and deliberately sneaky order to the commander to get this guy out in the heat of the battle somewhere where he can become a casualty, get rid of him.
The Scriptures present in chapter 12 one of the classic Bible passages on counseling, a very interesting passage. [blank spot] … God’s out here and the problem is that we flip, we’re going this way and we should be going that way, but we’re going this way instead, we’re going away from God. The problem is how do you deal with that. Nathan has a neat approach; here the prophet of God walks in and he knows very well two things. First, a general observation about this text: in no other country on earth would you ever have had a lay person walk in and chew out the king, you never see this. You wouldn’t have somebody going to Pharaoh and telling him he sinned, about two minutes and that would have been the end of his life. Or you wouldn’t have had somebody walk into Esar-haddon, the Syrians had a neat way of killing you, they’d stake you down to the ground and they’d peel your skin off till you died. These were nice guys in the ancient world. So here’s David, and a guy walks in… what’s the difference, what makes the difference? Is this disrespectful to the king? No it isn’t, Nathan walks in because he’s a man under the umbrella of the Word of God, and David’s under the umbrella of the Word of God, there’s an absolute over both of them, and that provides the forum for discussion. So Nathan comes in.
The second thing to notice is he uses an indirect approach, he tells a story, he comes in obliquely because had he come barreling in straight on, David’s defenses would have been up. You can see that because remember what happened with Samuel when he went up to Saul and said Saul, what’s going on here? Well, I just brought these up, I’m going to have a big contribution, wait till you put all this booty on your accounting sheets… they’ve always got an excuse. So Nathan is going to come to David and he’s going to come around. He tells the story about the ewe lamb and then in one of the most ironically powerful passages of Scripture, verse 5, “Then David’s anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, ‘As the LORD lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die.  And he must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion.” How many fold? Fourfold, and how many sons is David going to lose? He’s going to lose four. Out of his mouth in his moment of anger he pronounces his own sentence. This is powerful drama; it is how carefully God superintends every little detail.
Verse 7, “Nathan then said to David, ‘You are the man!’ Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul.  I also gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your care,” that’s the harem, Saul’s harem, “and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these!’” Now interestingly, here’s the depth psychology of sin.  “Why have you despised the word of the LORD by doing evil in His sight?” Notice what it doesn’t say, why did you do that naughty thing, why did you kill one of your officers, why did you commit adultery with this woman. That’s all there but what we want to look at is the first point is lack of thankfulness to the Lord. “Why have you despised the word of the LORD by doing evil in His sight?” Then he convicts him and tells him what he did.
Verse 10, “Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.  Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before you eyes, and give them to your companion, and he shall lie with your wives in broad daylight.  Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.” That’s the story of his harem being taken over by his sons.  “However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.” So number one, in verse 19, “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 here’s number one child. We don’t know his name, we’ll call him X, he’s dead. That’s 2 Samuel 12:19. Now let’s watch the dramas unfold.
2 Samuel 13:28, Amnon, one of David’s sons by one of his wives, notice what starts it, the first child is the product of fornication. The second guy dies because he raped the sister of one of the other brothers. You see how it’s kind of a pattern that repeats, sex and murder, sex and murder. God is teaching us. “And Absalom commanded his servants, saying, ‘See now, when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon,” then put him to death. Do not fear; have not I myself commanded you? Be courageous and be valiant.  And the servants of Absalom did to Amnon just as Absalom had commanded.” So number two dies, that’s 13:28.
Let’s go for number three, 2 Samuel 18:9, “Now Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. For Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak. And his head caught fast in the oak, so he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him kept going.” There’s something humorous and pathetic about these stories, scholars say that this is some of the most magnificent narrative ever written in human history, it’s not just the intrigue of a dynasty but it has all these neat little events going on, but you have to read the events, not like we usually learn them in Sunday School, as just isolated things, you want to see the isolated things as part of this ongoing magnificent drama of the dynasty.
Now here he is hanging there in a tree,  “When a certain man saw it, he told Joab and said, ‘Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.’” Joab is the commander in chief of David’s armies.  Then Joab said to the man who had told him, ‘Now behold, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? And I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a belt.’  And the man said to Joab, ‘Even if I should receive a thousand pieces of silver in my hand, I would not put out my hand against the king’s son; for in our hearing the king charged you and Abishai and Ittai, saying, Protect for me the young man Absalom!’ ” See, David was sentimental toward his sons, even though Absalom had run a revolution against him, had taken over his harem, David was trying to exercise grace toward Absalom.  “Otherwise, if I had dealt treacherously against his life (and there is nothing hidden from the king), then you yourself would have stood aloof.’  Then Joab said, ‘I will not waste time here with you.’ So he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through the heart of Absalom while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak.” So number three dies. This is 2 Samuel 18:1:4.
Number four, the fourth son. 1 Kings 2:13, this is after David’s death. By the way, this is also the chapter where Bathsheba shows up again in all of her glory. “Now Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. And she said, ‘Do you come peacefully?’ And he said, ‘Peacefully.’”  Then he said, ‘I have something to say to you.’ And she said, ‘Speak.’  So he said, ‘You know that the kingdom was mine and that all Israel expected me to be king; however, the kingdom has turned about and become my brother’s, for it was his from the LORD.’  ‘And now I am making one request of you; do not refuse me.’ And she said to him, ‘Speak.’  Then he said, ‘Please speak to Solomon the king, for he will not refuse you, that he may give me Abishag the Shunammite as a wife.’  And Bathsheba said, ‘Very well; I will speak to the king for you.’  So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah. And the king arose to meet her, bowed before her, and sat on his throne; then he had a throne set for the king’s mother, and she sat on his right.  Then she said, ‘I am making one small request of you’ do not refuse me.’ And the king said to her, ‘Ask, my mother, for I will not refuse you.’  So she said, ‘Let Abishat the Shunammite be given to Adonijah your brother as a wife.’”
This looks like it’s a very innocent request, but Bathsheba, again she’s not too quick in wit, what’s happening here is this Adonijah wants the claim on the throne. The woman he wants to marry is part of the harem. So by asking for her hand, this is more than just a marriage deal going here, this is a political statement. And Bathsheba is just going along, she looking out for her son, she doesn’t think about this, and she’s getting herself in some messy waters here. Verse 24, “Now therefore as the LORD lives, who has established me and set me on the throne of David my father,” this is Solomon speaking, “and who has made me a house as He promised, surely Adonijah will be put to death today.  So King Solomon sent by Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; and he fell upon him so that he died.” So in 2 Kings 2:24 we have number four.
We have four sons that die, all listed in the fine print, because of 2 Samuel 7:14. What is the controlling verse that controls this under God’s sovereign plan? God said “I will be a father to him and he will be a son,” and I will discipline this dynasty. I will preserve the dynasty, it will be eternally secure, but I can be very nasty about disciplining it. This is loaded with all kinds of truth for Christian sanctification. But tonight I just want you to get this picture of what’s going on with this dynasty, and all this chaos of history that’s caused by David.
In the notes on page 109 I put another quote. I put the quotes in because I find them useful to ask myself where is the Bible unique over against the world, where’s the real contrast going on. David confessed his sin, and here are the Psalms to remember, Psalm 32, 38, and 51, those are three penitential Psalms and they were written by David during this time. Psalm 51 is a classic penitential Psalm; it’s been used down through church history for centuries. It’s the story of David’s confession of his sin, and what he did with it. David recognized that he had sinned, but on page 109 let me show you briefly what the pagan world was doing:
“Nowhere else in the ancient world could the king be so censured—especially for a moral wrong—as David was, and certainly nowhere else in the world would it be so publicly condemned as in the royal record of 2 Samuel. Outside of Israel and her Law there was no developed sense of sin.” Note this very carefully, outside of Israel historically there was no developed sense of sin, which tells you then, what did Israel have that the Assyrians and the Egyptians didn’t have in their national life? What do these nations not have? The law. Where does the sense of sin come from? The law. Does law have a function? You bet it does, and here’s an illustration: “The Egyptian viewed his misdeeds not as sins, but as aberrations…. It is especially significant that the Egyptians never showed any trace of feeling unworthy of divine mercy.” You can read their poetry; you can get it out of the library. “For he who errs is not a sinner but a fool, and his conversion to a better way of life does not require repentance but a better understanding…. The theme of God’s wrath is practically unknown in Egyptian literature; for the Egyptian, in his aberrations, is not a sinner whom God rejects but an ignorant man who is disciplined and corrected.”
See the difference. We want to hone in on that difference. When God talks to David, “why have you despised Me?” It’s ultimately with Me that you have an issue, it’s not Bathsheba and Uriah ultimately, it’s with Me, that’s the nature of sin. It’s not with society, it’s not what the jailor is going to do, it’s not what the court system is going to do, it’s with Me.
Let’s conclude by going to Psalm 51:7 that shows this. As David writes this Psalm and you’ll notice many of the Psalms have titles, and for years these titles were treated like something put in there by the publishers. That’s not true. If you look at the Hebrew text, verse 1 of Psalm 51 is not our verse 1, in the original text it’s “For the choir director. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.” That’s verse 1. Verse 2 is our verse 1; unfortunately in our English translations we’ve kind of butchered the headings out, but the heading is a part of the Hebrew text, that was in their originally. So here’s David confessing his sin, he’s talking about  “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.  For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.” Look at verse 4, how can you reconcile what he’s saying here with what happened? Doesn’t this look like he’s being frivolous toward Bathsheba? Doesn’t it look like he’s kind of being frivolous toward the thing with Uriah, murdering her husband? But he has this to say:  “Against Thee, and Thee only, I have sinned, and done that which is evil in Thy sight.”
“Against Thee and Thee only,” that’s the essence of sin when we can see it, yes we have wronged other people, this is not to minimize the social consequences, believe me, and it’s not minimizing the social consequences. Why do I say that? Because what have we just read from chapters 11-20, aren’t those the social consequences? You bet there are tons of social consequences; we don’t have to be reminded of those, everyone knows those. What we have to be reminded of is that it’s between us and the Lord, that’s the dimension that we have to be reminded of. “Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned.” Why have you despised Me, after all that I’ve done for you? It’s only when we focus on that, as you’ll see later, is that we can have confession. Confession isn’t confessing we did something wrong, everybody knows we did something wrong, but confession is to God for what we have done in rebellion against Him. That’s where the confessing is going on. That’s one of the great truths which will emerge from this whole David story.
Finally, the last few chapters of 2 Samuel deal with a few summary stories that show after all, the Bible’s final conclusion is on page 109, “God’s evaluation of David was that he ‘went fully after Yahweh,” in spite of everything that happens, all the social consequences of the scandal, God has, in 1 Kings 11 given his assessment of this man; he is a Messianic leader and he went wholly after Me. It doesn’t mean sinlessness, but it means something else which we’ll come to grips with in the next week or so.
Question asked: Clough replies: He’s bringing up the point that as the law diminishes in visibility, the sense of right and wrong, real right and wrong, not just arbitrary rules and regulations… The problem in our day, and we’ve never had more laws, it’s interesting, we get the Federal Times and you can see a bar graph of the growth or the contraction of different parts of the executive branch of government. Every branch of government is going down except one. Guess which one is growing, in spite of all the talk about reducing government? The military, the education group, the health group all are going down, but the justice dept. is growing like crazy. Who does the justice department have? Lawyers. What do they deal with? Endless regulations. I discussed this with some of the people in the federal government; what we’ve got is a neo-Pharisaism; we’ve never had more talk about rules and regulations that are less meaningful than we’ve ever seen. What it amounts to is that our court system and our law system, it’s the technicians; it’s who gets this, or the mechanics of applying the law. And the mechanics overshadow completely the ethical issue that’s going on. Let’s get back to basics here.
As you get away from that and bury yourself in the regulations that you can’t have a conviction of sin; society can’t be reminded of that. There’s an agenda behind all that, not that the people are necessarily deliberately doing it, it’s just there are spiritual forces that are bringing this about. So as law, in its ethical sense, gets weaker… personally when we don’t live in that context, and for a non-Christian who just floats around in that environment it puts them further and further away from the gospel. So you have much more of a culture gap, when you start talking about Jesus died for your sins, that’s a meaningless expression, absolutely meaningless. When I was a non-Christian I used to go around and see signs “Jesus Saves,” and there was a crude joke when I was a teenager: What does He save—green stamps? People used to laugh at that, and that’s because we had no idea that we had to be saved. So to me it was a meaningless statement to say “Jesus Saves,” because I didn’t know what He saved from, what’s my problem that I need Him to save me from? Without that, the rest of the gospel is just hot air, so that’s why it’s so critical, we think about history, I always like to approach history because it keeps the argument from being so personal, it’s not what we fundies have cooked up in our back rooms or something, like we’re some sort of a theological queer group that just dreams this stuff up. This stuff if rooted back centuries before, centuries before, and here we have a clear cut case, we’re talking about Egypt, the literature of Egypt is known in any university library you can go and read the literature of Egypt, everybody knows about Egypt, but isn’t it striking that nowhere in all the thousands of pages of Egyptian literature is there a concept of sin? I think that’s significant.
When we read the Bible, it’s there, so then you ask yourself what’s going on different between Israel and Egypt? Something’s going on that’s different. That’s the technique you want to use so that when you think through the Scriptures you don’t let the world out-maneuver you. That’s why I’m going over and over and over it, review these fundamental themes because these are universal themes. It gets back to the fact that you’ve got the whole, the big picture, helps you to deal with the little picture. But if you’re just sitting here and you lose the forest for the trees, you get out-maneuvered, because somebody will come at you or a situation will happen, you get oppressed and you fly off the handle, you get your eyes off the big picture and just fall flat on your face. So it’s good to keep going back to the basics, back to the basics, review, review, over and over again.
This issue of sin and law comes up in the Old Testament, it comes up in the New Testament, it comes up every day in our lives, so it’s something we have to deal with. It’s interesting that only when this happens, here in David’s life, of all the places in the Scripture I don’t know of any place to go in the Bible that is clearer on what it means to confess sin than in David’s life. This is THE illustration of confession of sin in all of Scripture.
Question asked: Clough replies: The question deals with how much does David know, how self-conscious is David about the connection between what’s going on in his life, from chapter 11-20, and the sentence passed on him by the prophet. I think there’s two answers to that, one of them is that he must have known, he realized the sin issue pretty early on because he wrote the Psalm as a result of that, so it’s quite clear that within what must have been a period of months, at most, that he had time to think this thing through and got it straight. Why the text doesn’t say, ding dong the bell doesn’t two, and ding dong number three, why isn’t it clearer? I think that’s part of the way the Holy Spirit preserved history. David might well have thought of this, but remember this Bible is a selection of material gathered by the prophets under the inspiration of the Spirit, and they seem to be more concerned not so much with the consciousness of what’s going on in David’s heart. That material appears to be selected to tell us the story of God’s behavior in history, the emphasis is always on that.
For example, the third book of the trilogy, there’s three books here that are involved, Samuel, Kings and Chronicles, if you look at Chronicles there’s not a mention of this whole episode. This episode is instrumental in shaping what happened to his dynasty. Yet Chronicles dispenses with it completely and starts with the ark coming up and what he did for the temple, because Chronicles is written from the standpoint of how God is building the temple, it totally ignores this other stuff. It’s just because there’s themes, appears to be, the Holy Spirit has themes that he pursues. And when He’s pursuing this theme He kind of leaves that one off to the side.
Question asked, why such a weighty punishment? Clough replies: You tend to get the image from the text that David is a Messianic leader and he is supposed to be a Christ type, and it appears that there are these odd cases, and talking about these weighty punishments that seem all out of proportion to what went on, like the poor priest that reaches out and touches the ark, he gets blasted; why does that happen? The only way you can answer it is that the Holy Spirit does that in order to give us a shock, maybe, to get truth across to others. Frankly, He uses us in a nice sense, and that’s how He used that whole episode, to teach the whole church down through the centuries of the consequences. Maybe because he was such a central figure, everybody is going to look to David, the original king of kings, and look what he did and look at the consequences. The theme of what the consequences were is set over against the perpetuation of his dynasty because woven into the themes, if we had time, going on from chapter to chapter what you would find, like in that last episode with Adonijah and Bathsheba, what you noticed was there was nothing going on with the harem, and you noticed that happened with Absalom a little bit, so when you read the text in detail what you begin to see is that the rebellion that is coming up through the sons threatens the Davidic Covenant because God’s promise is to one and only one boy, and that’s Solomon.
Question asked: Clough replies: Just say God’s a super chess player. The unfolding of the death of his sons, I kind of twisted it a little bit tonight because I was trying to get through and just show you the four, but don’t let me have given you the wrong impression just because I showed you the four deaths of his sons, I didn’t mean to rip that out of the context in which those deaths occurred. My whole point is that if you read the text, and we’d gone through it verse by verse, you would have seen that in each case of those four deaths a dynastic issue was going on, and that’s really the story of 1 and 2 Kings. Is the Davidic dynasty going to dissolve? Will it stand up to the political pressures? At one point later on, the whole dynasty goes down to one six year old kid that’s hidden inside the temple; if he dies the whole Davidic Covenant goes down the tubes. There’s another spin off with David’s wives, another one of his sons is in Christ’s line; have you ever noticed that when you come to the New Testament Jesus has two genealogies, and you go into a college class sometime and some smart aleck professor will get up and say ha-ha, contradictions in the Scriptures. Then they’ll really hurt Christian students who are in the class by drumming them over, see, the Bible is contradictory, how you explain that one. And some 17 year old kid is sitting there and they haven’t studied the Bible that much, this guy’s supposed to have studied the last 15 years and he just crushes them and destroys them in class, big game, pick on the Christians.
The two genealogies go back to two of David’s sons. Here’s David and here’s Solomon, and his line comes down and then his line gets cursed down at the end of the Kings account. Now what do we do, we can’t have the Messiah, on the one hand He has to come through the royal line, but He can’t come from that one because that line is cut off. Now we’ve got a big problem, Jesus has to inherit the royalty through Solomon but he can’t sit on the thrown. How did God work it out? Super chess player again, virgin birth. Mary has the genes of another son of David, so ha-ha, won again, because she carries the Davidic line so legally Jesus is Davidic, but He’s not of the cursed line.
Question asked, something about Saul and the Holy Spirit: Clough replies: Saul lost his kingship, and it was instituted as a conditional kingship, and the Holy Spirit came upon Saul, etc. Saul probably was a believer, but we don’t know that. The key is that the text is emphasizing the kingship issue, not their individual salvations. This is why you have to be careful when you read Old Testament theology; you’ve got to learn to read Old Testament theology emphasizing what the Old Testament is emphasizing at that point. I’m not going to build personal sanctification off of David as a person, I’m building personal sanctification off of the mechanics of the Davidic Covenant, so I’m not limited that way.
But you’re right, Saul might very well have been a believer, presumably he was. But in the scheme of the stories his life is an illustration of something, David’s life is an illustration, they played different places on the team, they may be on the same time but they’re playing a theological drama here, there’s plays with their lives and it illustrates through them, and Saul certainly was an example of the conditional kingship spawned by men, the Spirit left him and people use that to say oh, you can lose your salvation and all the rest of it. But keep in mind, when it says in the Old Testament the Spirit comes upon a person, often that doesn’t refer to a spiritual thing like in the New Testament. It often refers to what would say… here’s an example, when the Tabernacle was made in Exodus, it says the Spirit came upon the carpenters and they got carpenter skills. This strikes us as funny because we’re so used to reading in the New Testament when the Holy Spirit comes we think of Christ’s life and the ethical and moral dimensions, but when the Spirit came upon men in the Old Testament He often had a very non-spiritual physical social thing.
For example, Samson’s out of it, and the Spirit of God comes upon him and it gives him the ability to kill people. I don’t know whether he’s in fellowship or out of fellowship when it happened, but it sure worked, he pulled the whole temple of Dagon down, wiped out a whole bunch of people there. So the Spirit of God coming upon Samson, the Spirit of God coming on Saul, he prophesies. I have always taken Saul as a believer, but when you read the Old Testament story I’m not looking at that issue when I’m looking at Saul, that’s how I resolve it. These guys may very well have been believers, but they’re used, their life stories are used as illustrations of different things.
Question asked: Clough replies: God, if He’s going to do something He’ll find another way to do it and in His mind there are thousands of ways that fit His promises. And example of that in the New Testament, here’s a strange one, in the New Testament Jesus comes up with a very mysterious saying. He says if you had received John the Baptist, he would have been Elijah. Try that one for size, what does He mean by that, because if the people had accepted the message of John the Baptist as a nation the millennial kingdom would have happened and the prophecy of Elijah coming before the millennial kingdom would have had to happen, so now you’re got John the Baptist being Elijah all of a sudden, or the spirit of Elijah. You get into these “what ifs,” Jesus says later when He’s going to die on the cross and His disciples are worried about it and He says I could ask My Father and there’d be 10,000 angels here right now, legions of angels. Now what if He had, if the angels had come and defended Jesus then He wouldn’t have died on the cross and if He didn’t die on the cross we wouldn’t have our salvation. This is what happens when you get into the realm of history and that’s why the only way to do it is go back and say what did God promise, and we have to trust Him with how He’s going to fulfill a promise, because He has a million ways of doing it. You’re right, if had not gone up on the roof, then somehow or other there would be one of his children who’d still go on to be king.