In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
She was bathing. In her garden. In full view of the palace. Did she know the king was there? Did she not realize anyone would see? We don’t know. But what was David doing? Why was he up there playing the peeping Tom? He should have been waging war. King-ing it up. Protecting his nation from the aggressors around him. Doing his duty. Being a father to his people. A strong protector. Not a pervert to his officers’ wives.
That’s where all sin starts. Like Eve in the garden. “Mmmmmmm, doesn’t that look good? You know that you want it,” said the Snake. “You know God’s holding out on you. Look at what He’s holding back from you! Look at how much you’ll get if you just reach out and take it.” And so desire is born in the heart. Sin pounces on you. Like a pack of wolves picking off a straggler. It gobbles you down whole.
For when God does not give you something, especially when He places things out of bounds, it is for your protection. It is out of love for you that He does this. He knows how destructive those out of bounds things are to your soul. To your eternal salvation. For they become your “god”. A god who demands sacrifices. A “god” who will devour your wealth, your children, your soul.
This sin was a “god” he worshiped until it was taken away from him. The truth is, he was not in faith while he clung to this sin, and tried to cover it up; while he denied that it was not sin.
And that’s what we all do. We deny that our sins are sins. We try to justify them. We try to cover them up. We seek socially acceptable excuses for them. We try to convince the world that they are not actually sins, but virtues. As if that would pull the wool over the Lord’s eyes and let us off the hook.
“You are the man,” he said. David was so caught in his sin, so enthralled by it that Nathan—whose name means “gift”—had to go at David’s sin—whose name means “beloved”—sideways. He couldn’t attack it straight on. David loved that sin. He loved what he’d done. He’d been smart. Been savvy. Gotten away with it. He even looked good (so he thought).
After all, when the poor widow of one of his top soldiers died, and she was pregnant, he took her in to his own house! He honoured her and her husband by acting as though the dead man’s son--nudge, nudge, wink, wink—was his own son. What a good king! What a great man! What a fool.
Sin makes us stupid.
He hung his head. His sin was out in the open. Exposed. He hadn’t admitted it, but there was no denying it. God’s Word showed it to him plain as day. God’s Word slayed him where he stood. Birthed that man after God’s own heart in him again. Faith returned. His idols were thrown down. The sacrifices to his false gods were over. What a fool he’d been.
Suddenly, it hit him: when Saul had done similarly the Lord took away His anointing, His Spirit from Saul.
David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me! (Psalm 51) I need you Lord. I need you now more than ever. I am a wretched sinner, sinful from my mother’s womb. I denied it for so long. For nine. Long. Months. Of the pregnancy. But it was like a fire shut up in my bones! Until I acknowledged my sin to You and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.” (Psalm 32)
We can’t fathom that.
This is mercy? Huh? What?
Yes, this is mercy. For even though the child dies for the father’s sin, it does not mean that the child’s Heavenly Father will not give him eternal life. We cling to this life, as though it were all there is. We look upon life here as the end all and be all, forgetting that we were made to be our Heavenly Father’s children! His beloved. We forget that when Our Lord takes His children from this veil of tears it is unto Himself, in His eternal paradise, without sin, death and sadness. There we abide with Him in the everlasting innocence and blessedness of His Son. Since Jesus, the Door, has opened Himself to us by His death, blessed in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints!
But David, beloved, who remained here below while his child went on ahead, comforted his wife in their grief. It led to another child: Solomon, whom the Lord, by Nathan, gifted with the name Jedidiah--beloved of the Lord. By this promise David knew that he was beloved, that he would not be cast off by his Lord. This word worked faith in him. He clung to and believed on his Lord’s mercy. Which is why while his first son by Bathsheba yet lived he fasted. For despite what the Lord said, who knows, maybe the Lord will be merciful to this child who is beloved of the Lord. David’s sin had been forgiven. Removed. Maybe the Lord who is great in mercy would remove His righteous judgement. But the Lord was merciful in a different way, by calling the child directly into His loving arms.
David got up and went on with life. For he believed. He knew His Lord was merciful. This suffering was real. But by it the Lord taught David to rely upon His grace alone. For that is the purpose, and love of our Lord to you in the crosses you bear. By them He calls you back to Himself. He absolves you of your sin. He faiths you once again. He strengthens you to face life here below trusting in Him, till He calls you home on high.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON