I wonder how many of us have ever had the experience of being completely busted. Like you thought you were getting away with something, but you were not.
Well most of you know my much, much, much older sister Holly. She looks much older than I do. Just kidding. Two years. That's a joke because everything thinks I'M older now, which I do not appreciate. When we were kids, I remember when Holly got a slinky. You guys remember Sinkys? I remember when I first saw that gorgeous silver slinky bouncing down the step (we had one step, we did the best we could), I became so jealous I could not believe it. The fact that I didn't have a slinky, but my smelly sister did, I couldn't handle it.
So one day she was at gymnastics practice, and I went into her room, grabbed that slinky, and proceeded to pull it, bend it, stretch it out, stomp on, bite it, until it was basically a metal tumbleweed. It was just this rats nest of metal. The rage subsided, and I saw what I had done. I panicked. How do you cover up a crime like this?
So I grabbed the metal tumbleweed and shoved it behind HER dresser. Worst plan ever. I'm not sure what I was thinking was going to happen.
My sister comes home, 'Hey David, do you know what happened to my slinky?' - 'Who me? No. Why would I have any idea about you slinky? I hate slinkys. Slinkys are stupid.'
Well eventually my mom comes into my room holding the metal tumbleweed and says "David, can I talk to you for a minute?" - And at that moment, I just collapse and wail and the guilt and shame. And the punishment was that I had to buy my sister a replacement slinky with my birthday money. Which seems like a major overreaction on my parents part.
I was Completely busted. Completely exposed.
2 Samuel 11 & 12 - David - exposed - Fall hard
In 2 Samuel 11 and 12, we find a moment where David will be exposed. David will sin big. And David will think he's getting away with it, but he ain't getting away with nothin. David will fall and fall hard.
We're seen David is a lot of different seasons. We've seen David anointed, we've seen David kill Goliath, we've seen David lose his best friend, we've seen David dance around in a way that absolutely humiliated his wife. - I mean it's been a great story so far.
By the time we get to 2 Samuel 11, David is a weathered man. He's experienced heartache he's experienced betrayal.
In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 11:1)
All his troupes are out in battle. David, he's king, so he's not out fighting, he's staying at home and being King. - He gazes across the way and he sees his friends beautiful wife, Bathsheeba bathing on a rooftop. Growing up I used to think how unfortunate for this lady to be named after a bath. BATHsheeba. But turns out that was a coincidence, and likely does not translate to hebrew. So that's a little disappointing.
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, (2 Samuel 11:2)
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.” (2 Samuel 11:3)
Oh awkward. This is the wife of Uriah. Who David's knew well. Uriah was one of David's 'mighty men' - which was this band of misfits that followed David. And this is Uriah's wife! When he sees her, he's captivated by her beauty. I started to say that his heart is captivated, but I don't think it's his heart. This is a moment of pure lust.
She's beautiful and David wants her. David at this point is a man who's used to getting what he wants when he wants it. Notice how David is always SENDING people to do things for him. He SENDS for Bathsheba.
She comes to the palace, she spends the night with David, a one night stand. And you might be thinking "David! How can you do this to us man? What happened to the innocent boy watching the sheep in the field, and singing songs to God?" - Well it's about to get much worse.
The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.” (2 Samuel 11:5)
Disaster David has a one night stand with his friends wife and now she's pregnant. This is what bible scholars call your sin coming back to bite you in the butt.
But David has a plan. He calls for Uriah, so they yank him off the battlefield and he comes and see's King David.
When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. (2 Samuel 11:7)
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. (2 Samuel 11:8)
So this phrase 'wash your feet' - is a Hebrew euphemism for sex. So go home and enjoy your wife sexually.
So this is David's brilliant plan. He sends Uriah home to sleep with his (now secretly pregnant) wife. So then when he finds out she's pregnant, he'll assume that he's the father. What Bathsheba feels about all this, we do not know. This is not a culture that's particularly concerned with that to be perfectly frank.
But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house. (2 Samuel 11:9)
Disaster again. Uriah, out of solidarity with the other soldiers, doesn't sleep with his wife.
In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. (2 Samuel 11:14)
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.” (2 Samuel 11:15)
So this is truly despicable.
David comes up with another plan. - He sends Uriah to the frontline of battle, where it's most dangerous, and then at the last minute, have everyone retreat but Uriah. This is David having Uriah killed. And that's what happens, Uriah is killed that first day. Word comes back to David and the situation seems to be taken care of. And now everything's cool. Disaster averted.
There's a lot of thought about what had to happen in David to become the type of person that would has sex with married women, get her pregnant, and then have the husband killed to cover up his sin. How can that be David?
Well David at this point in his life is a long way from being that little boy in the field watching over the sheep.
Now, he's the King. And everyone else is 'subjects'. He SENDS for this, he SENDS for that. It's safe to assume that at this point in his life, David gets told no precisely zero times in a day. I mean, who's gonna question the King?
Well the answer to that question is a man named Nathan. - Nathan is a prophet in David's court. Think of Nathan as David's pastor.
Comes to David and Nathan tells him a situation that's going on.
There once was a man who has all this land and livestock and all these sheep of his own. And this mans neighbor, he has one tiny little lamb as a pet, that the man loves with his whole heart, this lamb is all this man has.
But because the rich neighbor is so greedy, that he TAKES the mans only lamb from him.
David hears this story and he gets outraged.
David does what we always do when we're talking about someone else's sin. He gets all self-righteous. You ever noticed that? You never feel more holy then when you're pointing out someone else's sin. That's how we are about stuff we don't do.
David is furious. "Who is this man?!?! He must be put to death!!!" Nathan turns to David and says "You are the man."
David is busted. David is absolutely busted. His great scheme is laid out in the open and there is nothing for David to hide behind. "I'm talking about you David."
And believe it or not, this is not a message of condemnation. Believe it or not, this is the moment of grace. "You are the man." And not "you are the man" as in you just threw the winning touchdown. No, "You are the rich man who has everything who stole the one beloved sheep from their neighbor."
This is the moment of grace for David. That God loves him too much to let him continue on this road which would absolutely lead to his destruction.
2 Samuel 11:This isn't God cutting David off, this is God bringing David back in.
And in the same way, understand that in your life God coming in and challenging how you're doing something is not pushing you away, it's pulling you near.
I'm really grateful that God has used me in the way that he has to speak to people. And I know that sometimes my sermons can be a little challenging. Sometimes I hear people joke leaving a service "I feel like the worst Christian on the planet." - Look, God calling you to a higher place is not rejection. It's love.
And so when you're going on with your day, and something happens and you hear God saying "Hey you know that person you despise? - You are that person." - Listen, that's grace.
Psalm 51 is what David prays in this moment of recognition. It's my favorite psalm. I'm a pastor, so I'm allowed to have 10 favorites of everything. I think it's possibly the most beautiful picture of repentance in the entire bible.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. (Psalm 51:1)
Talk about getting right to the point.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. (Psalm 51:2)
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. (Psalm 51:3)
David in this moment, isn't spending any time on his accolades, and accomplishments. "God you gotta cut me a little slack. You'll recall I was the one who defeated Goliath with 5 smooth stones. I defeated the lion and the bear to protect the sheep that you gave me." - None of that. He appeals to nothing but the mercy of God.
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 51:4)
Again, this may seem like a really damning, condemning thing happening, but I believe this is the moment of grace for David. "I have sinned against a merciful God." - I mean, that's the best case scenario. That if you're going to sin against someone, to sin against the God who has always been shockingly merciful.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)
I love this idea: CREATE in me a pure heart, O God. That this God who created the entire universe from nothing, would come down, all the way down to hand craft something in you. And for those of you who feel like you've blown in so badly that there's nothing left to salvage, that God would come and create something new.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. (Psalm 51:11)
Just a really basic point here: I love that David says "Don't take me away from your presence." What does that say about where David is, even now? He's low. But he's not out of the presence of God. Isn't it so great that even at your lowest moment, that God is still present there? David isn't praying "Hey come back here God!" - No God is still there.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Psalm 51:12)
Now verse 16 & 17 is what I really want to focus in on. This phrase right here:
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. (Psalm 51:16)
God is not impressed by extravagant gestures. Trying to prove that you're really sorry.
He's not interested in you bartering or bargaining with him.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. (Psalm 51:17)
In that prayer, there's some really profound truths. I have 2 points and then another one. "Isn't that 3 points?" - Nope. This is 2 points and then a bonus one. It's not every day that you get a bonus point, so you came on the right day.
King David is going to give you the best news you're going to get all day: God is not pleased with sacrifices. He doesn't need you to do anything to convince him that you are adequately sorry.
This is huge revelation from David b/c David grew up in the sacrificial system. And in this culture everybody would assume that when David did something this horrible, that the solution would be to give God some elaborate sacrifice. This is so bad, killing one lamb won't cut it. Maybe if you slaughter a whole lamb family.
Jordan - Leviticus My wife is currently reading through the Bible and I believe she's in Leviticus. Pray for her. Pray that her faith would not fail. The Torah, which is to say the first 5 books of your bible go into UNBELIEVABLE length and detail on exactly how sacrifice should happen. So how is it that David can come and say 'You do not delight in sacrifice.' - I don't want to get bogged down into obscure theology. Perhaps I will revisit this soon. The sacrificial system wasn't worthless, it did serve a purpose. It had it's value, but it was never what God WANTED. It wasn't God's best for his creation.
And David is right. God isn't interested in David making a sacrifice.
Bargaining w/ God
And I don't know about you, but that's where my mind always goes when I do something stupid, is to try and make a bargain with God. A bargain that we should know by now, we're not going to hold up. How's that been working so far?
You can't. And even if you could, God's not interested in it anyway.
God is not interested in you paying him for stuff. That's just not how he works. He's a gift-giver. Not a stock-broker.
A pastor friend of mine tells the a story that when he was young, he was a preachers kid, his dad was this larger than life itinerant preacher, and one day he was traveling with his father and they were asleep in their hotel room and he was woken up to the sound of his father throwing up blood. Just losing an incredible amount of blood. Rush him to emergency room and they determine what happened was his esophagus had eroded away from his stomach. And this normally just happens with alcoholics, but being raise the way he was he had never had a sip of alcohol. And this preacher tell this story of being a little boy at the hospital more scared than he had ever been in his entire life. When you're 10, you've never considered the possibility that your parents may die, let alone that they will die.
And as a little boy, his favorite thing in the whole world was professional wrestling. I did too. It was the great love of my life at one point. I LIVED for Monday night raw. Heroes : Macho Man Randy Savage, Brett the hitman Hart, The Bushwhackers, The Nature Boy Rick Flair, The Undertaker, Bruce the Barber Beefcake, Triple H, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Ultimate Warrior. I could go on for days.
I would get this computer paper and I would make charts on who I thought was gonna beat who to become the champion. And I would keep records of who beat who. I would spend hours analyzing and recording everything I could think of. Isn't that great?! I kept this all up till Wednesday of last week. Just 3 to 4 hours, every single day, just working on my wrestling stats.
Ok, back to the story, this boy loved professional wrestling, but even more than that he loved his wrestler action figures. And he had this WWF ring, and he would play with them for hours every day. And he really wanted his dad to live. But there he is in the hospital, more scared than he's ever been, afraid he's going to lose his dad. And so he goes into the little chapel and makes his first bargain with God. He prays 'God if you let my dad live, I'll never play with my wrestling action figures again.' Super sincere.
Well the dad did live thankfully, he's still alive to this day. And the little boy didn't ever play with his wrestling action figures again. For about 6 months. And then the temptation hits. "Lord I know I made that promise about never playing with my action figures again, but man, I really miss em." - And he goes and asks his preacher dad about what he should do and the dad sits the boy down and said basically 'Son, I don't think God was ever that concerned about your action figures. He's a God who delights in healing.' So he goes into his room and pulls out his action figures. Then runs back into the living room to make sure his dad is still alive.
This is where this boy first learns that God is not interested in bartering and bargaining. That tendency to barter and bargain is never stronger than when we feel like we've messed up and we're concerned that maybe God is mad.
"God if you forgive me, I'll do this every day for the rest of my life." - No you won't. And even if you could, God's not impressed by that.
Stop trying to buy what God is trying to give you for free.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. (Psalm 51:16)
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. (Psalm 51:17)
Amazing : David (man after God's own heart):
Understand God's heart - "Broken and contrite heart"
But what's amazing about David, the man after God's own heart, is that he seems to understand God's heart in a way that nobody else does. And he says to God "Look, I know that a sacrifice isn't what you want here. My sin is so awful, that finding just the right animal is not going to help. What you really want here is the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart."
Young : confused - brokenness
I remember when I was young being really confused when the Bible would talk about 'brokenness' is a positive way. Of course that English word often points to things like: Discouragement, despair, suffering. - All things that would seem to be antithetical to what a loving father would want for his kids. I love my daughter, and the idea of her living her life as a 'broken person' is a horrible thought.
But the Bible also uses brokenness in a positive sense. It's all over the Psalms that what God desires is brokenness. So what does that mean? Brokenness is the positive sense can be understood as openness before God. That all our walls, all our defenses, have been destroyed. All our pretending and posturing, and hiding, it's simply saying "God you know my inner heart, all my strengths and my weakness, and I'm not trying to be something other than what I really am."
Contrite means 'repentant'.
So it could be said in todays language like this: What God wants is an open and repentant heart.
That's what's so beautiful about the heart of David, that David, in the midst of a sacrificial system understands that what God REALLY wants, is an open and repentant heart. That's the sacrifice he's looking for.
And so if you ever find yourself where God comes to you like Nathan came to David, and says 'You are the man.' And confronts you on your sin, that he's not interested in anything other than you offering yourself up to him. That's all he wants.
(BONUS POINT) This is something I've been thinking about this week:
In Psalm 51 we have this beautiful prayer of repentance, but understand what David understood, that God wasn't concerned most of all with the words. - What God's interested in is David's heart. That's open and repentant before him.
When I read this story of David and Nathan, I can't help but think of the story of the prodigal son, where the son betrays his father for wild living, then comes to his senses, prepares this big beautiful speech. "Oh father, I am not even worthy to be called your son. I'm a worm, no I'm less than a worm, I'm the dirt in a worms bellybutton. Just let me work as a hired hand." And so he's practicing this all the way back home.
When he arrives, his dad RUNS to him and embraces him, and doesn't even let him finish his speech. He's not interested. And the fathers just like 'Shhh… You are my son. And you've come home. This is a celebration.'
And I was thinking about this.
That us religious people, we've made a whole religion around the speech. That the thing that matters MOST is the speech. If your prayer is just good enough, man God is gonna answer that one for sure. But that awkward prayer, PSH! That'll never work.
It's like we pray and then all of a sudden, we're all King James and super eloquent. "Lord of hosts. We gather here today…" - And before you know you're performing a wedding or something. One thing the father of the prodigal son teaches us is that God's not THAT concerned with the speech.
I've personally learned this very simple fact: Sometimes the simplest prayers are the best.
Me ≠ eloquent - praying people
I've told you this before, but there's nothing particularly eloquent about me. And it's twice as bad when I'm praying. If you think I'm a spaz up here, you should hear me when I'm praying for people. Oh man. But here's the thing, I'm not trying to impress other people with my prayer, and get this: I'm not trying to impress God with my prayer. And when I'm praying I'm trying to focus on him and less on whether or not I sound idiot.
Hear heart - prayer school
And hear my heart here. I know people that go to prayer schools and that's super cool. And if you want to become a better, more effective prayer, that's awesome, that's amazing. Just know that when you pray, just like every other time in your life, that God is looking at the heart.
And so in whatever way you're able to get to a place that when you pray, you don't care a thing about looking cool, that will actually work about a thousand times better for you.
I've experienced people - WANT come back - Hesitate
I've experienced people who WANT to come back to God, but they hesitate because they're concerned that they're not gonna have the right thing to say. God's not interested in your speeches. He just wants you to come home.
Thinks about Romans 10 - If your believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, you will be saved. How's that for an elaborate speech? - "Jesus is Lord." Check out this sinners prayer: Repeat after me, 'Jesus is Lord'. Amen. That's all you have to say. And even then it's not mostly about the words. What God needs from you, David has figured it out here, is an open and repentant heart. That's it.
There's not a lot of sinners prayers in the Bible, but here's one I can think of: "Remember Me." - Boom. Worked like a charm. B/C it's about the heart.
Me : Bible college Pass prayers - proper atonement theory
I remember being in bible college and trying to pass all my prayers through proper atonement theories as I understand them. So I'm there trying to tell God HOW he saved me.
And like explaining the very particular effect God's blood has on my sin. Like I'm there explaining the chemistry. "God, imagine my sin is in a cup, and then your blood goes in that cup, and you swirl it around through faith, and when the sin touches the blood, it's like bacteria that …." I don't know if God rolls his eyes, but.
Or it would be praying trying to appeal to covenantal law. "God, you'll recall in the Exodus that you required a blood sacrifice, and through the blood of Jesus, I'm able to pass through…" And I just think, man, that must have been exhausting for God!
If you think about David's prayer in Psalm 51, the vast majority of the prayer is about the mercy of God. There's very few verses that even mention David's sin. There's only so many ways that you can describe your sin.
Why do you think that is? Here's some good preaching: Because your sin is not that interesting.
Your sin is never original. You can't come up with new ways to sin. You've never invented a sin, I promise you that. All sin boils down to these few things that humanity has done generation after generation since the beginning of mankind.
Your sin is not that interesting.
But we think it is. So we come to the Lord thinking we've done something that he's gonna be all shocked by. We say 'God, you are never gonna BELIEVE what I've done!' 'God you are gonna be SHOCKED when I tell you how bad I've been!' And then you tell God and he's like 'Actually I've heard that one 4 million times today.'
And don't get me wrong, the recognition is all important. Just like David, that moment of recognizing 'I am that man.' - That's all important. But the speech?! Not so much.
We can spend so much time trying to convince God how sorry we are. And I just don't think God's all that impressed by it.
It's almost like we're trying to CONVINCE him to forgive us. I've got news for you: If God didn't want to forgive you, do you really think you'd be able to persuade him?! Like a lawyer. "Well Lord if you'll recall the precedent established in the book of Leviticus…" - "I want to appeal the book of Nahum!" - Like do you really think you're gonna make a case. God's gonna come back and say "Wow. I totally forgot about that Nahum thing. You're right. Can't argue with that."
What I love about the father in the story of the prodigal son - The only thing he cares about is seeing his son come up over the hill. That's all he's looking for. He's not waiting to see if his son can phrase his apology in just the right way. He's not sitting back waiting for his son to convince him.
Me : Groveling - God : "Shut up"
I'm gonna tell you how I perceive the voice of God. And this is my perception, so don't write me emails. But sometimes I come to God and I'm just groveling and following and he just comes and says "Would you just shut up and get in here?!" And I'm saying "No, no, no, I still haven't gotten to the part of the chemical properties of the blood of Jesus. I haven't appealed to Nahum! I haven't reminded you of the people you've forgiven before. I haven't told you how despicable I am. I am pond scum."
Good & Bad News
I've got good and bad news for you. However bad you think your sin is, it's actually much worse than that. The good news is, God loves you regardless and will not let that come between you two.
And Jesus came and died because he would not allow there anything to come between you.
All he wants is to have you home.
Laughing: Words - first come - Christ.
I was laughing the other day thinking about these words that we use when we first come to Christ. Some professional preacher guy is like repeat after me. "I receive the atoning sacrifice of the blood of calvary." - You're praying that prayer, you don't even know what you mean. You can't possibly understand what you're saying.
You tell God that you've giving him every part of you. You have no idea what you're saying.
You don't know what you're saying any more than you knew what you were saying the day you got married and said 'For better or for worse.' - You had no idea what you were getting yourself into.
And as we close, we come to the table of Jesus. I think religion has a way of complicating stuff that's really simple.
Bachelors degree properly repent. That you have to make a bachelors degree to properly repent. Religion and us preachers have that in common. We can make things really complicated.
So I'm gonna make this really simple: What God wants from you is for you to come home. He doesn't need you to barter with him, he doesn't need you to strike up a deal, or wow him with your impressive words. Just come home.
And I don't want to make you uncomfortable, but let me say that for some of you, it's time for you to come home. Get over your ego. You've been out there alone for long enough. So come home. That's a message for somebody today, stop planning out the perfect speech, stop wallowing in your own misery, and just come home.
And there's no greater response to a message like this.
I want to make it perfectly clear that this practice is open to every single person in the room today. He loves you, he wants to embrace you, so let him.
The very moment you let your defenses down, God is all over that. He's broken into a sprint to get to you.
You know that saying 'You give the devil an inch, he'll take a mile.' The devil has nothing on God. Talk about an 'inch'. You open the door this much (fingers 1 inch) to him, and bam there he is in the room, at the speed of light.
I've said a lot of words today, so I want the prayer to be really simple.
We will not dwell in our sin, we will not buy what you're trying to give us for free.
Here I am. Here is my broken and contrite heart. Here are my dirty hands. Here is my haunted mind. We bring it into your presence. We admit it: I am the man. I am the woman.
But lord we ask now, merciful God, that your cleansing and your forgiveness, that we would be able to receive those free gifts.
Open hands, open hearts - we receive the gift. We're stopping all the earning and pleading and groveling, and we just receive.
And I want to proclaim to you under the authority of Jesus Christ, sons and daughters, you are forgiven.
RECEIVE his grace. RECEIVE his mercy. RECEIVE his love. RECEIVE his kindness. RECEIVE his peace.
You can't earn it! You can't talk him into something we doesn't want to do! So just receive.
Chase us down with goodnesses and mercy. And even when we run away, your grace and mercy are faster.