Sunday Sermon 1st August - David: Actions and Consequences
The chosen hymns for this week, Focus my eyes and Amazing grace can be found below along with a transcription of the sermon for those who prefer to read.
David: Actions and Consequences
Welcome to our time of reflection for Sunday 1st August.
We have been working through the story of David, working through this complex character.
Last week we saw David literally get away with murder. A murder he initiated to hide an affair that he had committed.
This week we see that no one gets away with anything, there is always a cost to the mistakes we make, always a consequence to the actions we do or do not do.
But we will hear about that after our reading and first prayer.
2 Samuel 11: 26-12:14 (on own)
in praise and in hope, with eyes open to the wonder of your grace,
we present ourselves before you in this building, in our homes,
separated in space but united in your love.
Be with us today, join us together in a radical spirit of change and new perspectives,
shine your light on the possibilities and the potential for a different way through you.
As your church continues to work out our path forward
we ask for the boldness to hold what is good, and overturn what blocks our path towards service of you and each other.
We pray for all those who bear the heavy burden of leadership; leadership in churches, or in the political sphere, or the workplace or the family home, that they find the
wisdom to serve all people whose lives they touch.
We pray for the isolated and the lonely, that they will find strength and comfort in you and that they gain the courage to leave their comfort space and seek life giving relationships.
We pray in silence for those we know personally who are struggling just now...
that they know your care and that we are guided as to how to help them..
And on this day as we strive to follow your Son Jesus, on the path of love for all,
caring for ourselves, and each other,
help us to work to see and to seek the change for which this world is so desperate.
In Jesus’ name we pray.
Ok I am just going to come out and say this...I find this a wonderful reading of HOPE.
Sure what David did to Bathsheba and her husband is truly horrific.
There is no place in this passage where we get the impression that Bathsheba has any say in what happens to her.
David sends for her.
David has sex with her.
David kills her husband Uriah.
Then David sends for her again and she marries him. But what choice does she have?
This is a man who has killed her husband because he didn’t do as he was told, what would he do to a woman who embarrasses him by refusing to marry him?
What David does is truly horrific, And yet there is hope.
For God cares enough about this man that he gives him a chance to find redemption.
This is shown in the whole story that Nathan gives to get round David’s defences. To put a mirror to David’s face and say, ‘You are that man...’
If God didn’t care then he would have let David carry on as he had, just let his character deteriorate and deteriorate until there was no hope for David or Bathsheba or the country David ruled.
But God cared enough to confront David and give him a chance of changing.
And Nathan must have cared enough about all those involved, about the country,
that he was willing to face a tyrant face-to-face and confront him with the evil he had committed.
Maybe this is even a sign of how much God cared for Bathsheba, that if he could change David then her life would be so much better.
But what are we to get from this in our lives?
The first lesson is the most obvious but I still think needs to be said, ‘God cares.’
For all David had done, God still cared.
I have yet to meet someone that hasn’t done something that they deeply regretted.
I think COVID has been a disaster for so many with their mental health because they have had so much time to reflect, and reflect on stuff they wished they had done, or wished they had not done. They have reflected on all the failures of their life and it has brought them down psychologically.
Months and months and months of self reflection.
No ability to distract themselves with sports or nights out or random company.
Just themselves and their thoughts getting darker and darker.
I was watching a Netflix stand-up by Bo Burnham called Inside, written while he was alone in lockdown. Amazingly funny if you like that type of humour, but it gets progressively darker and darker and as the show went on I wasn’t too sure if it was meant to be a comedy or a commentary on the world developing a progressively darker psychology as we went from one lockdown to another.
By the end of the show his character is as scared of leaving the house as he is what he will do to himself if he stays inside his house.
Most human beings have made more mistakes that they have had successes.
Most of us have done something or said something that has deeply hurt someone we love.
Most of us have got one or two incidents that we deeply regret doing and would hate anyone knowing about them, the kind of things that shame us.
Here’s the good news.
If we feel ashamed then there is still hope for us.
Hope because that means there is still a decent human being in there.
Hope because God still cares.
If God could care for David, then God still cares for us.
But one more point I want to make.
Sure we can get hope from seeing ‘if God can care for David then God can care for us’.
But maybe there is hope for others because might God seek us to be a Nathan.
There are so many ways Nathan could have handled this.
Nathan could have decided to do nothing.
But with that attitude no one would have benefited.
David would have gotten worse and worse.
The country would have been ruled by a very dark and dangerous David.
Nathan could have gone in there with total righteous anger; started screaming and shouting at David about how corrupt he was and that God was taking the throne away from him the way he had taken the throne from Saul.
But I suspect David would have gone into a shell of denial and self justification and not been willing to change.
Instead Nathan told a story that brought out the best in David.
Maybe it worked because deep down Nathan really cared.
Maybe it worked because Nathan knew David enough that he knew the best way to confront David.
In the past the church has been really poor at confronting people. We have been hard and unyielding and unforgiving.
Maybe we have had such poor results because to those we have been confronting it seems to them that we care more about the sin or the wrong or the mistake that they have done, rather than care about the person that has committed that sin or wrong or mistake.
We have not got to know people, not got to love people, not got to care for people.
We have not seen the situation or the environment that they have had to live in.
We have done nothing to help them in the past.
It is as if we have just waited there for them to make a mistake so that we can attack their actions and make ourselves feel self righteous.
David took what Nathan said, because David knew that Nathan cared.
David knew Nathan didn’t care about David as a king, or a as a person of power.
David knew that Nathan cared for David as a human being.
Sometimes we have the hard duty of confronting people whose actions are wrong.
We can only do that if we care about them.
We see politicians on the news all the time attacking other politicians. Not because they care, but because they hope that by undermining their opposition it makes them look stronger, better.
But the truth is we suspect all politicians of only thinking about themselves and their powerbase.
We need to be better than that.
And it starts not by asking ourselves how we can best confront someone.
It starts by asking ourselves how we can best care for someone.
So yes, this is a horrible passage with David doing horrible things.
But behind it is a message of hope and a message of guidance.
The message of hope is that just as God still cared for David, no matter how flawed his actions were, so God still cares for us, no matter how flawed we think our actions are.
And our message of guidance is that we are all wounded healers.
We heal from a place where we understand the pain others have felt and caused because we have felt that pain, we have caused that pain.
And because we care we don’t want others to go down that path.
Instead we want them, to face what they have done, learn from what they have done, be different so that they don’t keep on making the same mistakes.
But they will only listen to us if they truly believe that we do it because we care.
Let us pray
in praise and dedication
we try to offer our lives to you;
to spread your message
to build your kingdom,
to love ourselves and love each other.
May we know the truth as we leave this place of worship, that our time of service has begun...
To see how you care for us in the world, and seek us to care for others.
To see how you bless us in this world, and for us to be a blessing for others
To see you as the light of the world, and for us to shine that light so that others find the hope they need.