King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart (28)

ps60-05David’s Song of Praise (2)

2 Samuel 22:17-20

In the previous passage David describes God’s wrath and its consequence on his enemies.  David now describes God’s purpose.

17 “He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
    he drew me out of deep waters.
18 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
    from my foes, who were too strong for me.
19 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
    but the Lord was my support.
20 He brought me out into a spacious place;
    he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Thus, God’s acts were in support of His sovereign choice to make David king.  However, by the combination of David’s (God-given) character and David’s (God-ordained) experience, the resulting nature of this king was unlike any other.  That is, God has seen to it that David’s kingship would be the seed from which would grow the church of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  John Calvin brilliantly describes this act of God thus.

Here there is briefly shown the drift of the sublime and magnificent narrative which has now passed under our review, namely, to teach us that David at length emerged from the profound abyss of his troubles, neither by his own skill, nor by the aid of men, but that he was drawn out of them by the hand of God. When God defends and preserves us wonderfully and by extraordinary means, he is said in Scripture language to send down succor from above; and this sending is set in opposition to human and earthly aids, on which we usually place a mistaken and an undue confidence.

John Calvin’s Commentary on Psalm 18

Thus, David’s experience of God’s grace was so clear, so profound that he could not possibly conclude that it originated from “human and earthly aids.”

Finally, when David says that God “delighted in me” he is speaking from the position of divine election.  We in this life cannot claim a shred of justification for why God should have “delighted in me.”  However, how can one so redeemed, protected and justified discuss such an ultimate salvation without reference to the personal nature of this mysterious, blessed gift from God?

King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart (27)

week3-large-2David’s Song of Praise (1)

2 Samuel 22:1-16

David’s song of praise in 2 Samuel is also included (with minor differences) in God’s Word as Psalm 18.  I will therefore lean on John Calvin’s commentary on Psalm 18 as we work our way through this magnificent prayer.

David sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said:

Note first that this prayer was composed late in David’s life, after he had experienced danger and want due to everything from persecution by King Saul, to foreign wars, to treason by his own son, among much more.  Let Calvin provide the background.

David had discomfited many foreign enemies, and had also suppressed the rebellion of his own son Absalom. But, persuaded that it was a singular manifestation of the grace of God towards him, and eminently worthy of being remembered, that he had for so many years escaped from innumerable deaths, or rather that as many days as he had lived under the reign of Saul, God had wrought, as it were, so many miracles for his deliverance, he firstly mentions and celebrates in particular his deliverance from the hands of this relentless enemy. By calling himself the servant of God, he doubtless intended to bear testimony to his call to be king, as if he had said, I have not rashly, and by my own authority, usurped the kingdom, but have only acted in obedience to the oracle of heaven. And, indeed, amidst the many storms which he had to encounter, it was a support highly necessary to be well assured in his own mind of having undertaken nothing but by the appointment of God; or rather, this was to him a peaceful haven, and a secure retreat in the midst of so many broils and strange calamities.

John Calvin Commentary on Psalm 18

So now King David begins his prayer of praise and thanksgiving.

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield and the horn of my salvation.
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—
    from violent people you save me.

 

When God ordained that young David would become King of Israel the powers that be did not quietly submit.  Rather, they struck out with cunning and cruelty, making every possible attempt to void God’s purpose by killing David.

What surprises is, after reading the story in 1 and 2 Samuel, we see that it apparently was David’s own guile and prowess by which these enemies were defeated.  And yet, here we find David in prayer, giving all of the glory to God.  How can this be so?

When we examine the facts, though, we see that throughout David’s entire life on the run the opposition usually had an overwhelming power advantage.  An unredeemed man who had overcome in these circumstances would find the temptation of pride irresistible.  However, David, redeemed and justified by God, responds in the opposite way.  Thus, this prayer of thanksgiving and praise was spoken not because David was a better person, but because God chose to work through this particular person.  Perhaps the Apostle Paul can help us to understand.

For I am the least of the apostles and am unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:9,10)

David now proceeds to describe in vivid detail the depth of danger and the height of grace which he had experienced.

“I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
    and have been saved from my enemies.
The waves of death swirled about me;
    the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
    the snares of death confronted me.

We simply cannot imagine the terrors that David had experienced.

“In my distress I called to the Lord;
    I called out to my God.
From his temple he heard my voice;
    my cry came to his ears.
The earth trembled and quaked,
    the foundations of the heavens shook;
    they trembled because he was angry.
Smoke rose from his nostrils;
    consuming fire came from his mouth,
    burning coals blazed out of it.
10 He parted the heavens and came down;
    dark clouds were under his feet.
11 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
    he soared on the wings of the wind.
12 He made darkness his canopy around him—
    the dark rain clouds of the sky.
13 Out of the brightness of his presence
    bolts of lightning blazed forth.
14 The Lord thundered from heaven;
    the voice of the Most High resounded.
15 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
    with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
16 The valleys of the sea were exposed
    and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at the rebuke of the Lord,
    at the blast of breath from his nostrils.

What troubles so many current Western Christians in the above passage is the violence of God’s response.  God is filled with anger at those who oppose His decree.  He thus induces terror in those who oppose Him.  This response is the opposite of the kumbaya expectation of those who have fallen prey to the “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” theological error.  Therefore, too many current Christians choose to spiritualize or even outright ignore passages such as this.

I don’t stress this point to provide blanket justification for any act of war/violence by a Christian majority group/country.  Rather, my purpose is to correct those among us who have turned Christianity into a suicide pact when confronted by aggressive evil.  This idea is spread by the falsehood that pacifism is central to God’s character.  I have addressed this issue in detail, starting here.

 

Decoding Progressivism (8)

Communism/Socialism must be counted as one of the most tragic, persistent and deadly lies of all time.  Stalinism was just one particularly monstrous phase of the lie that has reaped tens of millions of murdered humans and ruination for hundreds of millions more.  And yet, the elite Progressive Leftists choose to contribute mightily to the keeping of this lie alive.  Here’s what the lie looked like in the 1950s.

It is in the nature of Stalinism for its adherents to make a certain kind of lying – and not only to others, but first of all to themselves – a fundamental part of their lives.  It is always a mistake to assume that Stalinists do not know the truth about the political reality they espouse. If they don’t know the truth (or all of it) one day, they know it the next, and it makes absolutely no difference to them politically.  For their loyalty is to something other than the truth.  And no historical enormity is so great, no personal humiliation or betrayal so extreme, no crime so heinous that it cannot be assimilated into the ‘ideals’ that govern the true Stalinist mind, which is impervious alike to documentary evidence and moral discrimination.

from a Hilton Kramer essay.

Never Give Up on Socialism

The nostalgia for Communism is never far beneath the surface in the Progressive Left, as was recently reemphasized in a New York Times oped (emphasis added).  There could be no better confirmation of my recent condemnation of the Progressive Left’s whitewash of Communist genocide (see below figure from this post) than the statements from this oped.  Here’s how the lie looks today.
communistevil

The top two are just unsuccessful do-gooders while the third is utterly evil!  Let’s keep trying Socialism until we finally get it right!

New York Times Oped:

We can get to this Finland Station only with the support of a majority; that’s one reason that socialists are such energetic advocates of democracy and pluralism. But we can’t ignore socialism’s loss of innocence over the past century. We may reject the version of Lenin and the Bolsheviks as crazed demons and choose to see them as well-intentioned people trying to build a better world out of a crisis, but we must work out how to avoid their failures…

But since Communism doesn’t currently have the power to destroy Western Civilization, other “strong horses” must be used to achieve this fundamental goal.
In a recent Kurt Schlichter essay (emphasis added), Stop Lying to Us, we find that although the specifics of the lie have changed, the destructive civilizational purpose of the Progressive Left remains essentially unaltered.
But for the so-called elite that seeks to rule us, it’s all lies, all day, every day, about everything, since they can’t be honest because we normals reject what they want whenever we are exposed to the truth and are allowed a say. So their go-to move to impose their sick will is to obscure or hide the truth, and try to suppress our voices.
When it comes to terror, they prioritize their cocktail party clichés over our lives. They are willing to accept the risk of dangerous Muslim radicals infiltrating our country rather than admitting the truth and taking action.
Then there are the informal ways the left seeks to protect the lies – the attempts at public shaming, plus the intimidation by political correctness that tells the truth-speaker that his reputation, his job and maybe his physical safety will be in danger if he dares point out that the lies are lies.
No, they would rather you lie and die than tell the truth and live. But unless we choose not to stand up for ourselves, our families and our Constitution, we still get a say.
What is “rather you lie and die than tell the truth and live” other than the purposeful sacrifice of human beings to the idol of their own narcissism?
Finally, closing the circle between idolatry and lying.
Such idolatrous lies falsify a person, obscuring and distorting who the person is.  The lie destroys true relationship as humans stop relating to God as he knows himself to be, instead treating him as they have fashioned him.  Idolatry strongly expresses human sovereignty, but sovereignty at the expense of true relationship.
Passively in the face of lies causes us to become complicit in their evil consequences.

Decoding Progressivism (7)

These poor professors were members in good standing of the “progressive community” right up to the moment when they grasped the last shred of adulthood / common sense (left), free speech / debate (center) or critical thinking / intellectual standards (right).

academic-hyenas

They had imagined that they were running with Unicorns but realized their error too late.

For their loyalty is to something other than the truth.  And no historical enormity is so great, no personal humiliation or betrayal so extreme, no crime so heinous that it cannot be assimilated into the ‘ideals’ that govern the true Stalinist mind, which is impervious alike to documentary evidence and moral discrimination.

(from a Hilton Kramer essay)

The tragic truth is that many “intellectuals” realize that they are running with a hyena pack, but lack the decency and/or courage to exit (Jonathan Kay on the tyranny of Twitter: How mob censure is changing the intellectual landscape).

… you will find intellectuals who have made extraordinary financial sacrifices to pursue their artistic or activist passions, and whose entire livelihood hinges on a thin patchwork of government grants, modest book advances, sessional teaching contracts, and honoraria from small journals, websites and magazines. Just one wrong Tweet or misplaced open-letter signature can send these people back to a life working for Uber or foodora.

Sarah Hoyt provides an accurate summary of the current academic Progressive left.

Their behavior is so insane, their on-command ability to jump on anyone or anything who deviates from the now-current party line so absolute, their arguments so ridiculous, it took me a while to realize what they’re doing is the equivalent of Mao’s brigades of aggressive young people fanning out to rural areas to teach the peasants how to think and what to do.

Our colleges and universities are purposefully creating hordes of these cultural revolution goons … tragic credentialed, entitled lives with no actual useful skills but masters of personal and civilizational destruction.  So, it hasn’t stayed on the campus.  Buckle up, it’s going to be a rough ride.

King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart (26)

King-David-at-Prayer-Pieter de Grebber

King David in Prayer – Pieter de Grebber

King David and Bathsheba (6)

Concluding Remarks

I have liberally used John Calvin’s commentary on Psalm 51 as a key resource for indicting David’s behavior.  It thus is only fitting that John Calvin’s comments should also be central to an explanation of God’s revealed purpose and motivations in this particular matter.  This issue is of the highest import because it sheds light on a core issue of the Christian life — that being the torturous tension between our salvation and our continuing irresistible compulsion to sin.

Firstly, let there be no doubt that we the saved elect are not supposed to sin.

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin (Romans 6:6, NIV)

However, in this earthly life that possibility for sinlessness falls prey to the residual power of sin in our lives.  The Apostle Paul’s anguished words connect this abstract issue directly to our living flesh and blood selves.

14We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (Romans 7:14-20, NIV)

This is the state in which King David existed, and, in which all humans, including Christians still exist.  Thus, the pretense of some Christians that they are more “moral” or “disinterested” or “loving” than the rest of us is a deadly lie.  No, the terrible truth is that, were it not for the fact that Christ’s obedience and satisfaction had been imputed unto us, we would be ultimately indistinguishable from any other human being.

What then is the distinguishing mark of a Christian with regard to sin?  It is this — that the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work exposes our sinfulness which leads to, over time, increasing acknowledgment of and repentance from the power of sin in our lives.  This sanctifying work is never completed in this worldly life.  But sure proof of our elect state is provided by the Spirit’s progress in moving us towards the goal.

What then, you might ask, is the definition of sin?  It is not defined by a secular political movement, or by highly credentialed academics or by celebrities or by anyone else.  No, sin is only what God’s Word says that it is.

With this preamble, let’s then turn to John Calvin’s discussion of this sanctifying process at work in the specific life of King David.  First, he comments on the humility with which David responds to the exposure of his terrible sin.

This is such a humility as is altogether unknown to the wicked. They may tremble in the presence of God, and the obstinacy and rebellion of their hearts may be partially restrained, but they still retain some remainders of inward pride. Where the spirit has been broken, on the other hand, and the heart has become contrite, through a felt sense of the anger of the Lord, a man is brought to genuine fear and self-loathing, with a deep conviction that of himself he can do or deserve nothing, and must be indebted unconditionally for salvation to Divine mercy. That this should be represented by David as constituting all which God desires in the shape of sacrifice, need not excite our surprise. He does not exclude faith, he does not condescend upon any nice division of true penitence into its several parts, but asserts in general, that the only way of obtaining the favor of God is by prostrating ourselves with a wounded heart at the feet of his Divine mercy, and supplicating his grace with ingenuous confessions of our own helplessness.

John Calvin on Psalm 51:17

This is the humility to which the Apostle Paul gave eternal voice in 1 Corinthians 1:27-31.

27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

The+MessageCalvin then proceeds to comment on the situation of God’s Church.

From prayer in his own behalf he now proceeds to offer up supplications for the collective Church of God, a duty which he may have felt to be the more incumbent upon him from the circumstance of his having done what he could by his fall to ruin it. Raised to the throne, and originally anointed to be king for the very purpose of fostering the Church of God, he had by his disgraceful conduct nearly accomplished its destruction. Although chargeable with this guilt, he now prays that God would restore it in the exercise of his free mercy. He makes no mention of the righteousness of others, but rests his plea entirely upon the good pleasure of God, intimating that the Church, when at any period it has been brought low, must be indebted for its restoration solely to Divine grace.

John Calvin on Psalm 51:18

When we survey the wreckage of the modern Western church these words burn bright both in condemnation and hope.


The bottom line is that, although we are not supposed to sin, we yet will; and that our sin, be it individual or corporate, cannot obstruct God’s providential purposes.  King David indeed sinned terribly.  Yet his sin could not obstruct God from His sovereignly decreed purpose of building His Church from King David’s house.

Therefore, when you encounter Christians who presume that some sort of moral superiority (of any kind, from any source) lies behind their faith and/or opinions, you should become very skeptical.  For, to place yourself outside of the only true source of salvation — the imputing of the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto you — is to utterly misunderstand both God’s acts of providence and your own place in His creation.  That position of ignorance can only result in terrible errors and heresies.

 

King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart (25)

nathan-confronts-davidKing David and Bathsheba (5)

The Collapse: 2 Samuel 12:7-14

The LORD God works in an unspecified manner through the prophet Nathan to expose King David’s sin.  Nathan lures David into self-condemnation by conveying a story that is different in detail, but directly analogous to David’s actions.  Thus, when David condemns the protagonist in the story, Nathan immediately turns upon the king with this powerful rebuke.

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. 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.

God had protected David and had delivered all that King Saul had into his hands; even those things that while pleasing to man are yet at odds with God’s ultimate purposes.  Thus, God includes the polygamous situation of many wives in this list of “good things.”

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.

The full truth that David had worked so carefully to coverup is now out in the open.  The consequences will damage terribly David’s life, family, kingship and nation.

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.’

Now the specific judgement of God is revealed.

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.’”

Were we to discuss the entire remaining chapters of 2 Samuel the direct and indirect consequences of this curse would be unambiguously apparent.  David sought to hide the shame of his sin from the nation.  Therefore, God will humiliate David before the nation in broad daylight.

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

This is the instant when the fact of David’s election by God is revealed.  David’s conscience is reanimated by this terrible event.  He doesn’t try to continue hiding or to justify his sin.  Nor does he attempt to minimize its true nature — for he names it as sin against the Lord.

We can never know for sure if a person is “elect of God” who has been “effectually called” into salvation.  Here we must include some doctrine in order to grasp what is happening.

Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

Westminster Confession: Chapter XI, Paragraph 1.

But what are the “marks” by which we could know that someone is indeed “elect?”  This issue is discussed in our confessions, with the underlying understudying that we cannot ultimately know the answer, as it lives in the impenetrable mystery of God’s sovereign grace.  However, one thing is clear, that being that an elect person will continue to commit sins, and that God’s sovereign justice will be applied to that sin.

God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified; and although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may by their sins fall under God’s Fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of his countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.

Westminster Confession: Chapter XI, Paragraph 5.

Let there be no doubt that King David did indeed confess his sin, beg pardon and renew his faith and repentance.  Let Psalm 51 testify to this fact.

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
 
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
Psalm 51:1-4 (NIV)
John Calvin rightly comments:
This will be the exercise of every true penitent. It matters little to obtain our acquittal at the bar of human judgment, or to escape punishment through the connivance of others, provided we suffer from an accusing conscience and an offended God. And there is, perhaps, no better remedy against deception in the matter of our sins than to turn our thoughts inward upon ourselves, to concentrate them upon God, and lose every self-complacent imagination in a sharp sense of his displeasure.

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.”

Note that David has indeed been found to be within the bounds of God’s sovereign grace: “by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone.”

We should not be concerned that King David, who lived prior to Christ’s time on earth, was a beneficiary of this same grace.

The justification of believers under the Old Testament was, in all these respects, one and the same with the justification of believers under the New Testament.

Westminster Confession: Chapter XI, Paragraph 6.

I will certainly not dare to judge just whom, in His infinite, unsearchable mercy God has sovereignly chosen to justify through election.  However I must say that anyone who claims this blessed status for themselves yet clings to their fantasies of self righteousness, or, who condones sin — they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them (Romans 1:32b, NIV) — should consider their situation with fear and trembling.saved-by-grace

King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart (24)

bathsheba-mourns-tissotKing David and Bathsheba (4)

The End of the Road: 2 Samuel 11:22-27

We now follow David to the end of the road that he started down at the beginning of chapter 11.  This is by no means the end of the story, for the consequences of this sin will torment David to the very end of his life.

22 The messenger set out, and when he arrived he told David everything Joab had sent him to say. 23 The messenger said to David, “The men overpowered us and came out against us in the open, but we drove them back to the entrance of the city gate. 24 Then the archers shot arrows at your servants from the wall, and some of the king’s men died. Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.”

It appears that the messenger has further embellished the story, adding details that explain why the Israeli warriors were so close to the city walls.  But, once the cover story is in place he wastes no time before sharing the key information: your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.  Can we not surmise with confidence that the messenger was well aware that this situation was deeply wrong?  He thus feels obligated to contribute his own part to the creation of this evil lie, both for purpose of self-preservation and standing with the king.  Thus, David’s sin has corrupted everyone who has become involved in the vile coverup.  

25 David told the messenger, “Say this to Joab: ‘Don’t let this upset you; the sword devours one as well as another. Press the attack against the city and destroy it.’ Say this to encourage Joab.”

Here we reach the disgusting, putrid moral sludge.  King David has turned all of the wit and cunning that had before been used to survive King Saul’s murderous assaults to the rape of a man’s wife and then this same man’s murder.  In so doing he also irrevocably undermined his own political and moral standing as king.  Is there in the annals of Scripture a more complete and disgusting example of sin through the abuse of power?

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.

The final step is obvious.  For what purpose all the evil if the prize is unclaimed at the “victory?”  Thus, the widow Bathsheba is made King David’s wife and she bore him a son.

I can find no Biblical text that suggests the slightest moral failing on Bathsheba’s part.  Some say that her public bathing was a purposeful incitement of King David’s lust.  Perhaps, but the Biblical text, besides simply describing the event, makes no mention of her motives.  Thus David and David alone bears the explicit responsibility for all of this monstrous sin.

But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.

David has conducted the perfect coverup from a human perspective.  To all who are outside Uriah’s death is indistinguishable from the other thousands who have given their lives for the nation.  For those few in the know, they are so personally complicit with the crime that their lips are sealed.  And, Bathsheba is not under the King’s power as his wife.

There’s just one loose thread…the LORD God Himself, who is displeased.

From a human point of view all is lost.  In the next chapter we will see just how God’s promise is yet preserved in spite of King David’s sin.  John Calvin provides the preview.

Upon the fall of one who was so great a pillar in the Church, so illustrious both as a prophet and a king, as David, we cannot but believe that many were shaken and staggered in the faith of the promises. Many must have been disposed to conclude, considering the close connection into which God had adopted David, that he was implicated in some measure in his fall. David, however, repels an insinuation so injurious to the divine honor, and declares, that although God should cast him headlong into everlasting destruction, his mouth would be shut, or opened only to acknowledge his unimpeachable justice.

Commentary on the Psalms — 51:4

road-end

 

King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart (23)

Uriah_killedKing David and Bathsheba (3)

Foul Murder: 2 Samuel 11:14-21

The Biblical text gives no hint that David was uncertain of or reluctant to take the next step.  His instructions to Joab are direct and explicit — see to it that Uriah dies in combat.

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.”

This is nothing other than murder most foul.  There are no extenuating circumstances.  King David is using his power to kill the man whom he has wronged, for the express purpose of covering up that wrong.

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.

Joab follows David’s orders to the letter.  As a direct consequence, Uriah falls.

18 Joab sent David a full account of the battle. 19 He instructed the messenger: “When you have finished giving the king this account of the battle, 20 the king’s anger may flare up, and he may ask you, ‘Why did you get so close to the city to fight? Didn’t you know they would shoot arrows from the wall? 21 Who killed Abimelek son of Jerub-Besheth? Didn’t a woman drop an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you get so close to the wall?’

Note that Joab’s primary concern is King David’s reaction to the colleratial damage caused by use of this corrupt plan of battle.  That is, because Joab had to include other warriors in the plan in order to obscure the true purpose, they too died unnecessarily.  King David apparently cared about Abimelek son of Jerub-Besheth, who was caught up in this evil scenario.

If he asks you this, then say to him, ‘Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.’”

Joab knows that all will be forgiven if David is informed that Uriah is dead.  The depth of corruption is terrible to observe.  David has over a few weeks thrown away all honor and morality as a consequence of indulging his lust for a married woman.  He may have imagined that this massive set of sins had been covered up.  Was there any sorrow, any bad conscience at work in him?

sinJohn Calvin, in his commentary on Psalm 51:5, succinctly sums up David’s (and our) true situation.

We have no adequate idea of the dominion of sin, unless we conceive of it as extending to every part of the soul, and acknowledge that both the mind and heart of man have become utterly corrupt.

King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart (22)

rembrandt-uriah

David and Uriah – Rembrandt

King David and Bathsheba (2)

The Attempted Coverup: 2 Samuel 11:6-13

David’s initial attempt to coverup his sin seeks the least destructive path.  However, he has started down a dark, dangerous road that, if followed, will lead to ever greater levels of sin.

So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going.

Note that the scope of David’s sin went far beyond adultery.  As the King he was the “commander in chief” of the army.  Thus, while Uriah was in the field of battle David had used this absence to enable his elicit liaison with Bathsheba.  Thus, David had utterly corrupted his military and political authority as well.

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. 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!”

Note that it is Uriah’s honor that defeats David’s coverup.

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

dangerous-pathDavid has done everything in his power to deceive Uriah into sleeping with his wife.  But, since he must exercise this power in the shadows there are powerful limitations on what he can say and do.  David’s sin has thus led him down a road of degradation and powerlessness.  He is now in a terrible, dark place; lost within the shame and lies of the situation that he has created for himself.

This is his last chance to turn back before he has done something utterly irrevocable from the perspective of worldly consequences.

 

King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart (21)

tissot-david-sees-bathheba-bathing-640x459King David and Bathsheba (1)

The Adultery: 2 Samuel 11:1-5

In chapters 8-10 King David consolidates his position internally through wise policies and externally through military victories.  He thus, perhaps for the first time in his adulthood, has room to enjoy life’s pleasures.  Sin’s ingenuity within us is terrifyingly exposed in what follows.  For, it leverages what is at the very beginning an “innocent” desire into a vile, hellish experience that appears to shake the very foundation of God’s eternal decree concerning David and his family.

John Calvin placed the monumental issue that this event raises in it’s proper context.

To have a clear apprehension of their meaning, it is necessary that we reflect upon the covenant which God had made with David. The salvation of the whole world having been in a certain sense deposited with him by this covenant, the enemies of religion might take occasion to exclaim upon his fall, “Here is the pillar of the Church gone, and what is now to become of the miserable remnant whose hopes rested upon his holiness? Once nothing could be more conspicuous than the glory by which he was distinguished, but mark the depth of disgrace to which he has been reduced! Who, after so gross a fall, would look for salvation from his seed?”

John Calvin’s Commentary on Psalms – Volume 2; Psalm 51:4

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.

This is where the moral disaster began.  David’s flesh desired far more than rest from battle, it sought reward for the years of violence and terror that he had experienced.  But, at the beginning, he likely thought of this dereliction as a minor but well deserved and innocent respite.

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,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.”

Had David only looked away!  But, as frail flesh and blood he experienced what we all have when we purposefully choose to lie, gossip, lust, covet, hate and blaspheme, among so many others sins.  Is there a Biblical statement with more empirical evidence in support than the Apostle Paul’s from Romans 3:23: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

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

consequencesKing David used his power to act on his sinful desires.  Here he made the mistake so common to those who wield power in this world: yes, he could turn a desire into a concrete act, but he could not control the consequences of that very same act.  Those consequences only began with Bathsheba’s illicit pregnancy.  They would not end until David’s kingship, family and nation had been torn into bloody shreds.