April 21, 2015

II Samuel 11-13 ...One late afternoon, David got up from taking his nap and was strolling on the roof of the palace. From his vantage point on the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was stunningly beautiful.... David sent his agents to get her. After she arrived, he went to bed with her.... Then she returned home. Before long she realized she was pregnant.  Later she sent word to David: “I’m pregnant.”

David then got in touch with Joab: “Send Uriah the Hittite to me.” Joab sent him. ...  Then he said to Uriah, “Go home. Have a refreshing bath and a good night’s rest.”...  But Uriah didn’t go home. He slept that night at the palace entrance, along with the king’s servants....

Uriah replied to David, “The Chest is out there with the fighting men of Israel and Judah—in tents. My master Joab and his servants are roughing it out in the fields. So, how can I go home and eat and drink and enjoy my wife? On your life, I’ll not do it!”... The next day David invited him to eat and drink with him, and David got him drunk. But in the evening Uriah again went out and slept with his master’s servants. He didn’t go home....  In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. In the letter he wrote, “Put Uriah in the front lines where the fighting is the fiercest. Then pull back and leave him exposed so that he’s sure to be killed.” ...

When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she grieved for her husband. When the time of mourning was over, David sent someone to bring her to his house. She became his wife and bore him a son.  But God was not at all pleased with what David had done, and sent Nathan to David. 

Nathan said to him, “There were two men in the same city—one rich, the other poor. The rich man had huge flocks of sheep, herds of cattle. The poor man had nothing but one little female lamb, which he had bought and raised. It grew up with him and his children as a member of the family. It ate off his plate and drank from his cup and slept on his bed. It was like a daughter to him.  One day a traveler dropped in on the rich man. He was too stingy to take an animal from his own herds or flocks to make a meal for his visitor, so he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared a meal to set before his guest.”

David exploded in anger. “As surely as God lives,” he said to Nathan, “the man who did this ought to be lynched!... You’re the man!” said Nathan. “And here’s what God, the God of Israel, has to say to you: I made you king over Israel. I freed you from the fist of Saul. I gave you your master’s daughter and other wives to have and to hold. I gave you both Israel and Judah. And if that hadn’t been enough, I’d have gladly thrown in much more.... And now, because you treated God with such contempt and took Uriah the Hittite’s wife as your wife, killing and murder will continually plague your family.... This is God speaking, remember!... You did your deed in secret; I’m doing mine with the whole country watching!”

Then David confessed to Nathan, “I’ve sinned against God.”  Nathan pronounced, “Yes, but that’s not the last word. God forgives your sin. You won’t die for it. But because of your blasphemous behavior, the son born to you will die.”

After Nathan went home, God afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he came down sick. David prayed desperately to God for the little boy. He fasted, wouldn’t go out, and slept on the floor.... On the seventh day the child died. David’s servants were afraid to tell him... 
David noticed that the servants were whispering behind his back, and realized that the boy must have died.... David got up from the floor, washed his face and combed his hair, put on a fresh change of clothes, then went into the sanctuary and worshiped. Then he came home and asked for something to eat. They set it before him and he ate.  His servants asked him, “What’s going on with you?” ... “While the child was alive,” he said, “I fasted and wept, thinking God might have mercy on me and the child would live. But now that he’s dead, why fast? Can I bring him back now? I can go to him, but he can’t come to me.”

David went and comforted his wife Bathsheba. And when he slept with her, they conceived a son. When he was born they named him Solomon. God had a special love for him and sent word by Nathan the prophet that God wanted him named Jedidiah (God’s Beloved)....

Some time later, this happened: Absalom, David’s son, had a sister who was very attractive. Her name was Tamar. Amnon, also David’s son, was in love with her....  Amnon had a good friend, Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimeah. Jonadab was exceptionally streetwise.... “Here’s what you do,” said Jonadab. “Go to bed and pretend you’re sick. When your father comes to visit you, say, ‘Have my sister Tamar come and prepare some supper for me here where I can watch her and she can feed me.’”... 

David sent word to Tamar who was home at the time: “Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare a meal for him.”  So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house. She took dough, kneaded it, formed it into dumplings, and cooked them while he watched from his bed. But when she took the cooking pot and served him, he wouldn’t eat.... She took the nourishing dumplings she had prepared and brought them to her brother Amnon in his bedroom. But when she got ready to feed him, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, sister!”

“No, brother!” she said, “Don’t hurt me! This kind of thing isn’t done in Israel! Don’t do this terrible thing! Where could I ever show my face? And you—you’ll be out on the street in disgrace. Oh, please! Speak to the king—he’ll let you marry me.”  But he wouldn’t listen. Being much stronger than she, he raped her.  No sooner had Amnon raped her than he hated her—an immense hatred. The hatred that he felt for her was greater than the love he’d had for her. “Get up,” he said, “and get out!” .... The valet threw her out and locked the door behind her.

Tamar was wearing a long-sleeved gown. (That’s how virgin princesses used to dress from early adolescence on.) Tamar poured ashes on her head, then she ripped the long-sleeved gown, held her head in her hands, and walked away, sobbing as she went.  Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has your brother Amnon had his way with you? Now, my dear sister, let’s keep it quiet—a family matter. He is, after all, your brother. Don’t take this so hard.” Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s home, bitter and desolate.

King David heard the whole story and was enraged, but he didn’t discipline Amnon. David doted on him because he was his firstborn. Absalom quit speaking to Amnon—not a word, whether good or bad—because he hated him for violating his sister Tamar.  Two years went by. One day Absalom threw a sheep-shearing party... and invited all the king’s sons. He also went to the king and invited him.... But the king said, “No, son—not this time, and not the whole household. We’d just be a burden to you.” Absalom pushed, but David wouldn’t budge. But he did give him his blessing.

Then Absalom said, “Well, if you won’t come, at least let my brother Amnon come.” “And why,” said the king, “should he go with you?” But Absalom was so insistent that he gave in and let Amnon and all the rest of the king’s sons go....  Then Absalom instructed his servants, “Look sharp, now. When Amnon is well into the sauce and feeling no pain, and I give the order ‘Strike Amnon,’ kill him. And don’t be afraid—I’m the one giving the command. Courage! You can do it!”
Absalom’s servants did to Amnon exactly what their master ordered. All the king’s sons got out as fast as they could, jumped on their mules, and rode off.

While they were still on the road, a rumor came to the king: “Absalom just killed all the king’s sons—not one is left!” The king stood up, ripped his clothes to shreds, and threw himself on the floor. All his servants who were standing around at the time did the same.  Just then, Jonadab, his brother Shimeah’s son, stepped up. “My master must not think that all the young men, the king’s sons, are dead. Only Amnon is dead. This happened because of Absalom’s outrage since the day that Amnon violated his sister Tamar. So my master, the king, mustn’t make things worse than they are, thinking that all your sons are dead. Only Amnon is dead.”  Absalom fled....

When Absalom fled, he went to Talmai son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. He was there three years. The king finally gave up trying to get back at Absalom. He had come to terms with Amnon’s death.

 I Corinthians 10 -  Remember our history friends and be warned....

But just experiencing God’s wonder and grace didn’t seem to mean much--most of them were defeated by temptation during the hard times in the desert and God was not pleased.  The same thing could happen to us.  We must be on guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way as they did.  And we must not turn our religion into a circus as they did---”First the people partied, then they danced.”  We must not be sexually promiscuous- they paid for that with 23,000 deaths in one day.  

We must never try to get Christ to serve us instead of us serving him...We must be careful not to stir up discontent....Don’t be so naive and self-confident.  You’re not exempt.  You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else.  Forget about self-confidence:  it’s useless.  Cultivate God-confidence.  

No test of temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face.  All you need to remember is that God will never let you down:  he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.

So my very dear friends, when you see people reducing God to something they can use or control, get out of their company  as fast as you can.

I assume I’m addressing believers now who are mature.  As with communion, because there is one loaf, our many-ness becomes oneness---Christ doesn’t become fragmented in us.  Rather, we become unified in him.  We don’t reduce Christ to what we are, he raises us to what he is....I don’t want you to become part of something that reduces you to less than yourself.  And you can’t have it both ways, banqueting with the Master one day and slumming with demons the next.  Besides, the Master won’t put up with it.  He wants us--all or nothing.  Do you think you can get off with anything less?  The point is not to just get by.  

We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well. With that as a base to work from, common sense can take you the rest of the way.

I am not going to walk around on eggshells, worrying about what small-minded people might say.  I’m going to stride free and easy, knowing what our large-minded Master has already said....So eat your meals heartily, not worrying about what others say about you --you’re eating to God’s glory, after all, not to please them.  As a matter of fact, do everything that way, heartily and freely to God’s glory.