King David was a mighty conquering hero. As a shepherd, he killed a bear and a lion to protect the sheep. After he was anointed by Samuel with the Holy Spirit to be the next king, he killed the Philistine giant, Goliath of Gath. David was the leader of Israel’s army, popular with the people, the king’s court. After he became king in I Chronicles 18, it says David defeated the Philistines, the Moabites, the Syrians, the Edomites, the Amorites, and the Amalekites. The spoils of those victories filled Israel’s treasuries with gold, silver, and bronze. He was handsome, powerful, wealthy, loved by the people, famous. King David was on top of the world, and the scripture says the Lord gave David victory.
Yet this story also tells us how the mighty have fallen. In the spring of the year when kings go off to war, David has lost his initiative. He’s stepping away from his responsibility. He stays in Jerusalem. He is restless and bored. In the middle of the night as he is out on his rooftop pacing, and he sees a woman bathing, a beautiful woman.
To live is to be tempted. Martin Luther said, “You can’t stop birds from flying overhead, but you can stop them from making a nest in your hair.”
David inquires of this woman and the servant reports back. She is married to Uriah, the Hittite. David blows past that barrier as if it hadn’t been said to him. He sends servants, who took her to the King. That same word “took” is a word used in Hebrew, meaning to pluck a grape from a cluster or take the life of a soldier on the battlefield. David took Bathsheba and used his power wrongly to justify his momentary lust.
Later she sends word to David that she is pregnant. David is in a dilemma. So he sends word to Joab, the commander of the army to send Uriah home on furlough. He rationalizes that the sin he committed will be covered because Uriah will enjoy the company of his wife, and no one will be the wiser. Except Uriah carries himself with great integrity in contrast to David’s weakness, immorality, coverup, and lies. The king’s lazy shirking of duties gives birth to lust, his power is misused, adultery happens, and to cover up the misdeed – murder. True to the prophet’s word, insurrection never leaves David’s house (II Samuel 12:10). How the mighty have fallen!
I think it is important for us to realize that each time we are tempted in life, a vulnerability underneath us makes us more susceptible to the temptation. One example would be pride. We become intoxicated with people’s praise and begin to think we’re very important. We can become drunk with power.
Or maybe it’s spiritual ambivalence and a lack of gratitude. We forget that the Lord is He who has given us our blessings.
It might be pure lust, being addicted to pleasure. Lust is a beast that is never satisfied, and we can end up singing rocker Mick Jagger’s song, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.”
Maybe we’re under stress. Perhaps we are an insecure person easily manipulated. Maybe we’ve been hurt a great deal in the past and the chaos of our emotions is reacting in a way that does wrong. Perhaps we’re disillusioned or depressed. Maybe we struggle with low self-esteem. Maybe we are so lonely that we’re willing to violate our own faith in God in order to be with someone. Always we’re vulnerable if we are unaware or underestimate our enemy Satan, the great tempter.
Sin never happens in a vacuum. It’s not just conceptual. People are hurt. Lives are changed forever when we force ourselves on others in selfish deeds and attitudes in our sinfulness. Think of this story and remember that Satan lies to us. He tells us, No one will get hurt, or No one will know. He’s good at lies.
David fails his army. He fails to be the leader that would inspire them, guide them, and do battle at their side. David, in his sin, takes a married woman and violates her. He violates the holiness and sanctity of the marriage covenant, and she, a married woman, ends up being pregnant by another man. David steals the wife of Uriah, then innocent Uriah is murdered in order that the king’s reputation not be marred. David misuses the power of the army on purpose to kill Uriah, and the woman Bathsheba is left with tremendous grief and loss. The chaos in David’s house never leaves. Scripture talks about lust giving birth to sin, and then sin giving birth to death. We don’t sin in a vacuum.
By the way, did you know that Uriah’s name means “Yahweh is my light”? So King David, in the succession as a forefather of Jesus himself, is weak, immoral, and tries to cover his sin. But Uriah, whose name means Yahweh is my light, carries himself with loyalty to God and king and army and cause. He’s a noble man.
How do we fight temptation when it comes? We all have a shadow side, and Satan knows how to use it to hammer away at us.
The first weapon for resisting temptation is the Word of God, the Bible. Psalm 119 it says, “Thy word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against thee.”
The second weapon for resisting temptation is prayer. Be in tune with the Holy Spirit, walk in conscious awareness of the Lord through prayer, confess our weakness in prayer. Ask God’s Spirit to purge that weakness out of your heart and put to death its sinful tendency within us. Pray for Jesus to be raised up in us. “Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world” (I John 4:4).
A third weapon for resisting temptation is Christian fellowship. Find a Christian friend with whom you can talk freely about your vulnerabilities, your faithfulness, and your faith journey. Name the struggle, invite them to hold you accountable. Call on them when you need to be strong. Christian fellowship.
Fourth: Be vigilant. Remember when Daniel was thrown in the lion’s den? He prayed for God to close their mouths, but do you think he slept that night? I think he probably stayed awake and watched those lions. He was vigilant; he was alert. In I Peter it says Satan comes at us like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Be vigilant.
Next, battle the temptation. Don’t give in; don’t give up. Keep fighting! Even if you get knocked down, get up and keep fighting! Someone in a past church used to say, “Any dead fish can float downstream.” Swim with vigor. Battle temptation. Don’t give in.
Also, run from the temptation. Another friend has said, “If you sit in the barbershop long enough, eventually you’re going to get your hair cut.” RUN from temptation. It says in I Timothy, “Flee temptation; flee immorality.”
When Joseph in the Old Testament was serving Potiphar, Potiphar’s wife tempted him every day to be with her. But Joseph said no. One day she dismissed all the servants, grabbed his shirt, and begged him to lay with her. Joseph wriggled out of his shirt and ran from Potiphar’s house. He ran from the temptation.
Don’t stay in proximity to that which holds you as a vulnerable temptation. Get out of there. Run! Sometimes I tell Satan, “In the name of Jesus, leave me alone! My heart belongs to Jesus Christ.” Resist temptation.
It’s really important for us now to know that, though David failed miserably and the consequences were very poignant, yet God did not give up on David, and God will never give up on you. The moment of failure is a key moment because our enemy attacks us hard to convince us that we have crossed a point of no return. He wants to keep us in an attitude of defeat. But God never gives up on us. He finds us at the point of our failure and offers us the nail-scarred hands of Jesus. He embraces us again in love.
I come back to where David conquered Goliath and took his head to the outskirts of Jerusalem. Do you remember that the place where Jesus was crucified was called Golgotha? Some biblical scholars believe it is too coincidental that Goliath of Gath – Gol of Gath – sounds in alliteration so close to Gol of Gath – Gol-gath-a. They believe that the place of the skull, the place where Jesus was crucified, the place where Jesus was lifted up in paradoxical victory, is the very place where David put the head of the giant Goliath when he gained tremendous victory. So Jesus paradoxically gains victory for us. Our sin crucified Him on the cross, but the cross is the place where victory flows to us in the blood of Jesus, our Savior. In the name of Jesus, your sins are forgiven.
Today He again invites you to come. Do not let temptation have its way. If you fall, do not stay defeated and in the clutches of the enemy who wants to continue pulling you further and further down. Instead, bring your sins to Jesus. Bathe with the confidence of faith that Jesus will forgive you just as He has promised.
Maybe you know someone who had a great fall like David. Maybe in your own life journey, you’ve had a David-immoral moment. Maybe you are presently still living in a pattern of immorality and defeat. Today is a day of grace. Today is a day for forgiveness. The Word of God promises if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I praise God that my relationship with Him is not based on my perfection. My salvation is based on the free grace of Jesus Christ crucified for you and me. Amen.
Pastor Lee Laaveg