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Sunday Sermon 25th July - David: What do we do with our life?

The chosen hymns for this week, Take this moment, Longing for light and Love Divine can be found below along with a transcription of the sermon for those who prefer to read.

David: What do we do with our life?

2 Samuel 11: 1-21 Margaret



Welcome to our time of reflection for Sunday 25th July.

We have been working through the story of David, working through this complex character.

We have been through all his ups and downs.

Last week we had a really pivotal moment in David’s life.

David wants to build a temple to God. He is asking ‘Where can I find God?’

And Nathan the prophet basically says, ‘The place where you find God is in your heart, it is in the way you treat your family and others.’

In this time David is very comfortable being king with all the power that comes with it.

The question now becomes...what is he going to do with all that power? For he has the chance to use that power to show people the wonder and providence and grace and power of God.

But will he do that?

And this reflection is what today’s reading is about.

But it also forces us to ask ourselves what we are doing with the power we have in our life.

We will hear that from Margaret as she leads us in the readings and prayer...


‘ the time of year when kings usually go to war, David sent out Joab. ..But David himself stayed in Jerusalem.’

Right at the start of this passage we have a judgement on David.

David has finally reached his goal, he has achieved what he always wanted to achieve.

David has become king and he has done it with no blood of his predecessor on his hands. There were many times that David could have become king by killing Saul. But if he had done that he would have set up a precedence. All you need to do to become king is to kill the person who is on the throne.

David rejected that idea; David followed the beliefs of the prophet Samuel that the king was divinely appointed by God, so no one could take that throne away from them except God.

But it was one thing for David to believe that, he needed the people to believe that, he needed the people to believe that God had placed him on the throne so he and his descendants were off limits to any numpty that had aspirations to take the throne.

And to achieve that David had to show the example of how that treating Saul as off limits to assassination, of always deferring to Saul as God’s king.

And it had worked.

After a long journey David was finally king in a stable and prosperous land.

But what to do with that kingship?

Nathan the prophet has given him a path to follow.

God has put him on the throne. Now David can be God’s king.

As David experienced how God had used his power to enable David to be all he could be, so David could use his power to enable the people to be all they could be.

That was the possibility.

Unfortunately for David, and everyone else, David chose another path.

‘ the time of year when kings usually go to war, David sent out Joab. ..But David himself stayed in Jerusalem.’

David had sent out his soldiers to fight in a war.

But David didn’t go himself.

David wasn’t willing to support his men by his presence.

David was more than willing to put other people’s lives at risk, but not his own.

The only life that mattered to David now, was David’s.

So late one afternoon David is wandering around his palace.

Because he isn’t doing God’s work, because he isn’t doing what kings are supposed to do, he is bored; his life is meaningless, he is trying to entertain himself.

And as he looks out from the top of his palace he sees a woman bathing herself.

So he sends for her.

‘they brought her to him and he made love to her. Then she went back home.’

There is nothing about Bathsheba’s feelings here.

There is no indication that she had any choice in any of this.

David had power and he used it any way he wanted.

He sent for people, he dismissed people.

What is more there is no discretion here.

David didn’t sneak into Bathsheba’s apartments disguised.

David used the royal servants to get her and bring her.

David has so much power he can do anything he wants and do it publically.

Trust me, by the end of the day every servant in the palace would know what David had done, and by the end of the next day half of Jerusalem would have known.

But David is so powerful that as long as everyone keeps their mouth shut then he can get away with it.

A more recent example of that power would be someone like Jimmy Seville, who committed such heinous crimes. He got away with it for so long because people kept their mouths shut. They kept their mouths shut because Jimmy Seville had power and influence and if they spoke out then their careers would have been lost.

But then disaster, Bathsheba is pregnant. That growing life is something that sticks out like a sore thumb and cannot be pretended away.

And again David has a choice. He can accept accountability, he can accept responsibility.

Instead he uses his power to send for people again, hoping to con Uriah into sleeping with his wife and them pretending that the baby is his.

But the truth is that Uriah, as soon as he gets home, would have heard from his servants what had happened.

Uriah wouldn’t be allowed to challenge the king outright; that just wasn’t done in an era when a king could kill someone for walking into his presence without his permission.

Instead Uriah confronts David with a better example. He refuses to play the political games.

He refuses to be anything but true to himself.

He challenges David to be the king that God wants him to be. I will retell Uriah’s speech with the one phrase that Uriah dares not say, but which is implied and David is meant to hear...

‘The men of Israel and Judah are away at the war (as the king should be), and the Covenant Box is with them (as the king should be) my commander Joab and his officers are camping out in the open (as the king should be). How could I go home, eat and drink, and sleep with my wife (as the king has done)?’

And with that defiance Uriah’s fate is sealed.

And not only Uriah’s, to make it look like an accident other men have to die with Uriah.

This is quite a frightening passage.

The writer is very stark in his judgement.

We have a straight choice;

we can either do what God wants us to do, follow the path that God wants us to follow no matter how hard or difficult that can be,

or we can do our own thing and cause untold damage.

Right at the start of this series we talked about ripple effects.

And we underestimate them at our peril.

I am sure that David, as he made a choice not to follow God’s path when he was on that roof, thought that it was just a night of entertainment for him that relieved his boredom and that was it.

But that moment caused the death of so many innocent men.

That moment would ripple out to the death of so many of his own children as we will see in the next few weeks.

That moment showed that David may have been put in that place by God, but he did not reflect God or his wishes.

We are now in the place that God has put us.

But are we going to follow our path or follow God’s?

Are we going to use our life to mindlessly entertain ourselves and our cravings or empower others?

It is that stark.

And I think the beginning of that journey starts with the reflecting on the needs of others rather than ourselves.

And make no mistake, our thinking can be very skewed in that regard. I was reminded of that when sociologist Anne Karpf, a couple of weeks ago on the Sunday Morning talk show on Radio Scotland used the example of the heat bowl in northern America and the forest fires and people saying we need to do something about this global warming thing.

And then last week as Germany and central Europe was hit with floods and the damage was colossal and people were saying it was caused by global warming and something should be done about it.

And we should do. But let’s not forget that the poorest of the world have been suffering the effects of global warming and nobody has been doing anything about it.

For decades places like Bangladesh have been suffering from floods. Thousands of people dead, millions of people affected. But that was put down to nature and corrupt governments not doing anything to help their people.

We could have helped decades ago. And if we had then maybe we wouldn’t be facing the problems we are facing today in our own western society.

But today is a new day.

Today is a new opportunity.

We are phenomenally blessed in our society and our freedoms and our lifestyles.

But what will we do with all that God has given us?

Will we go out to where the ark of the covenant is?

Out there where there is a spiritual war going on for the hearts and souls and bodies of people?

Or will we stay at home and wonder how to entertain ourselves?

But be very careful about this.

The warning is there for us in David’s life.

If the only life that matters to us is our own, we will see it crumble.


Heavenly Father

Source of life and true sovereign of our lives, our maker and our only master,

we come humbly before you today and offer you this time of worship.

Once more we marvel at this universe you have created, and our tiny part in it.

Once more we are surprised at your invitation to us to be your co-creators

bringing your kingdom here and now into the lives of others.

Once more we are in awe at your grace which forgives again and again all our faults and failings and offers us a new path for us to follow.

Once more we are grateful for your acceptance of us as we are, flawed and imperfect and your hope in judging us not as we are, but as we move to be.

Once more we give thanks for Jesus who came to show us the depth of your love,

and to invite us into a deeper relationship of compassion and love.

Once more we are embarrassed at how easily we break our relationship with you and fail to value and nurture it.

But that is not the end of our story.

Because of your love, because of your dedication, because of your commitment and sacrifice...once more we recommit to being better people, focusing on Jesus and living the way he calls us to.

This we ask in Jesus name.


Lets close this service with the benediction.


As we finish this act of worship and begin our act of service in the world...

May we know God listens to us, that God knows our needs.

May we in turn listen to God and rediscover his ways.

So may we travel together, always carrying God in our heart, today and every day.


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