The online journal of Luke Dockery

Tag: David (Page 1 of 2)

Lessons from David: Sin Can Be Forgiven

In our quick look at some of the many lessons that could be learned from the life of King David, we have noted that God Can Use Unlikely People To Accomplish His Will, and somewhat somberly, that Sin Has Consequences. Today we conclude this series on an upbeat note by pointing out one of Scripture’s central truths: Sin Can Be Forgiven.

David’s guilt was plain in the matter of Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite: he lusted after Bathsheba, he committed fornication, he abused his power as king, and ultimately, he had Uriah killed to cover up what he had done.

But ultimately, God forgave David of his great sin:

“Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’ And Nathan said to David, ‘The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die.’”

(2 Samuel 12.13)

The Book of Psalms records David’s words of repentance:

“Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleans me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

Create in me a clean heart, O God. And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence. And do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit.”

(Psalm 51.1-3; 10-12)

God was willing to forgive David of his sins, and the good news for us is that He will do the same for us if we repent. Some of my favorite verses in all of the Bible speak to this truth:

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

(Psalm 103.12)

“…If we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

(1 John 1.7)

That forgiveness doesn’t mean that all of the physical consequences of sin will necessarily go away. David’s child still died, no matter how hard he prayed about it. The drunk driver who takes a life will still face prison time, and will still have to deal with the guilt of having killed someone for the rest of his life. The pregnant teenage girl will still have to face the trials and stigma of being a single parent. No matter how hard the woman tries, she may never be able to completely undo the damage of hateful words.

But, the eternal, spiritual consequences can disappear.

Jesus died on the cross to bridge the gap that sin had created between us and God, and when He did that, He received the punishment for sin so that we would not have to. The Bible’s best-known verse, John 3.16, says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

As mentioned in the last post, our wages—what we deserve in return for our sin—is death. But thanks to Jesus, we don’t have to get what we deserve; we can have eternal life with Him instead.

Lessons from David: Sin Has Consequences

Lessons from David

Last week, we discussed how the story of David illustrates the fact that God can use unlikely people to accomplish his will. That’s an important lesson, and one which I think is uplifting and encouraging to people. Today’s lesson is less encouraging, but it is of vital importance: Sin Has Consequences. 

Second Samuel 11 relates the story of David and Bathsheba. It tells how, “at the time when kings go out to battle,” King David stayed at home while Joab and his army had gone to fight (the implication is that if David was where he should have been, none of the problems of 2 Samuel 11 would have happened in the first place).

While at home, David is walking out on the roof of his house and looks out and sees Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite (who was away with the army), bathing. David lusts after her, and using his power as king, has her brought to him and sleeps with her. Later, David receives word that Bathsheba has become pregnant.

David calls Uriah the Hittite back from the battlefront, ostensibly to get a report of how things are going, but really because he is wanting to cover up what he has done. He assumes that Uriah will take advantage of his time at home to be with his wife, and no one will be the wiser when Bathsheba becomes visibly pregnant (remember, there were no DNA paternity tests or “Who’s the father?” daytime talk shows in those days).

But there is a problem: Uriah’s loyalty is so great that he refuses to enjoy the comforts of being at home:

Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.”

(2 Samuel 11.11)

When David’s plan to cover up the sin doesn’t work, he decides that the only way to hide what he has done is to get rid of Uriah, so he sends word to Joab, the commander of the army, to make sure that Uriah is put in harm’s way in battle. And that’s exactly what happens: Uriah is killed in battle, the message is relayed to David, and David is pleased, because he thinks he has gotten away with his sin.

After Bathsheba mourns for her husband Uriah, David makes her his wife and she bears a son for him.

And perhaps we would think that everything was okay (as David did) were it not for the fact that chapter 11 ends with these ominous words: “But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the LORD.”

God sends the prophet Nathan to confront David about what he has done. Nathan does this by telling David a story:

“There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”

Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”

Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’”

David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child who is born to you shall die.”

(2 Samuel 12.1-14)

And what the prophet Nathan said came to pass: David and Bathsheba’s child would die, despite David’s prayers and fasting. Later on, the nation of Israel would be torn by a bitter civil war, as David’s own son Absalom fought against him.

The lesson that David learned was that it doesn’t matter who you are; sin has consequences.

You might think that this was a lesson that David would have already learned from Saul. After all, Saul had been hand-picked by God to be the first king of Israel, but after he disobeyed God’s commands concerning the Amalekites, God rejected him. Saul became a bitter, jealous, and tormented shell of the hero he had been, and ultimately, lost his kingdom and his life because of his sin. But none of that seemed to make much of an impression on David: he had to learn this lesson himself.

For us, too, sin has consequences. Some of those consequences are physical. David’s sin led to the death of his child and civil war with Absalom. A man who decides to drive himself home after having too many drinks loses control of his car, crosses the center line and kills someone in the oncoming lane. In anger, a woman says a few careless words about a friend behind her back; the friend finds out, and the friendship is ruined. A teenage girl decides to have sex with her boyfriend, and then later discovers that she is pregnant.

Sin has spiritual consequences as well. Paul says in Romans 6.23 that “the wages of sin is death.” Your wages are what you earn for what you do; it is the amount of money you get as compensation for your work. What Paul is saying is that when we sin, what we earn, what we deserve, is death. This is because sin separates us from God. God is holy and pure, and He cannot tolerate sin. He is also the source of spiritual life, and when we sin, we separate ourselves from Him and the life He provides. The only thing that is left for us, the only thing we deserve, is death.

Sin has consequences. That’s the bad news. The good news…we’ll talk about next week.

Lessons from David: God Can Use Unlikely People

Lessons from David

As I mentioned last week, the life of King David provides some remarkable lessons for people of faith today. This will not be an exhaustive series (there’s much more that can be learned from David than what we are able to cover here), but I do want to highlight some of the most important ones.

Today I want to talk about a lesson that the Bible teaches over and over again: God uses unlikely candidates to accomplish His will.

After King Saul disobeyed God, God send His prophet Samuel to anoint a new king for Israel from the sons of Jesse the Bethlehemite. Samuel goes to Bethlehem and Jesse brings his sons out, one by one, for Samuel to see. When Eliab, Jesse’s oldest son, comes out, Samuel was impressed; apparently this man looked like a king:

“But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’” (1 Samuel 16.7)

Samuel sees Jesse’s seven oldest sons, but God rejects them all as king.

Apparently, the thought of David—the baby, the shepherd boy—being the one God was interested in hadn’t even entered Jesse’s mind, because he wasn’t even there; he was out with the sheep. So Jesses sends for him, and sure enough, David is the one God chooses, and the one Samuel anoints to be the next king of Israel.

David goes on to defeat Goliath, become a mighty warrior, and as King, leads Israel in many successful military campaigns, but if it had been left up to Samuel, David would’ve just stayed in the field with the sheep.

For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.

God spoke these words in reference to David, but they don’t just apply to him. The fact is that God can use anyone, no matter what they look like on the outside, to further His will. In fact, God has almost always used men and women from unimpressive circumstances on the outside to accomplish His goals:

  • Moses was a murderer and an exile, a man who was apparently afraid to even speak in public. And yet, with God’s help, Moses stood up to Pharaoh, likely the most powerful man in the world at that time, freed the children of Israel, and then led them in their trek through the wilderness.
  • Rahab was a lowly prostitute, but she hid the Israelite spies and was pivotal in the Israelites’ great victory over the walled city of Jericho, and thus, their occupation of the land of Canaan.
  • Esther certainly looked impressive on the outside: in fact, she became queen only because she had won a beauty contest. But she had no political aspirations and was afraid to even speak to the king, but God used her to save the Jewish people.
  • Peter was an uneducated (probably), coarse fisherman who, even despite spending a lot of time with Jesus, just seemed to mess up all the time. He was always sticking his foot in his mouth, and deserted Jesus when things got touch. But on the Day of Pentecost when the Church was established, Peter preached the first gospel sermon and 3,000 were added to the Church.
  • Paul was present at the stoning of Stephen. He persecuted Christians and threw them in jail, and would later refer to himself as the chief of sinners. But God used Paul to speak the gospel message to countless Gentiles, and Paul became the greatest missionary the world has ever known.

The examples go on and on, but the principle remains the same: God uses unlikely candidates to accomplish His will. This was true with David, it was true throughout the Bible, and it is true today.

You might see yourself as lacking talent or ability, but God sees you as someone who He can use to accomplish great things for His Kingdom:

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2.10)

That verse seems pretty clear to me. No matter what you think about yourself or what you think your shortcomings are, God designed you to be useful! There are things that you can do (and maybe that only you can do) for His cause!

God uses unlikely candidates to accomplish His will!

Lessons from David: An Introduction

Lessons from David

David stands as one of the most famous and most popular characters of the entire Bible: He is a hero in both the Jewish and Christian faiths, and is famous both for his feats in battle prior to his kingship, and for arguably being Israel’s greatest king.

He is clearly a key figure in Scripture: in fact, more of the Bible is devoted to telling the life and actions of David than anyone other than Jesus and Moses.

Even in a culture such as ours which has become largely ignorant of the contents of Scripture, most people are at least somewhat familiar with the character of David. The famous story of David and Goliath has even become a cultural metaphor; in a sporting event (especially like the NCAA Basketball Tournament) when you have two teams playing each other where one team is perceived to be much better than the other, it will often be referred to as a David and Goliath matchup.

David’s life comprised an important link in the history of Israel and also the history of God’s redemption, but it also provides a lot of lessons which are good for us to remember. It was a life characterized by remarkable peaks and painful valleys, and over the next couple of weeks I’d like to take care of some of the lessons we can learn from it.

“You Did Well That It Was In Your Heart”

After the death of King Saul, there is a struggle between David and Saul’s son, Ish-bosheth, for the throne of Israel. With God’s support, David eventually wins out, things settle down, and everything seems to be okay.

But David isn’t happy. He isn’t happy because he realizes that while he lives in a nice, comfortable house made of cedar, the Ark of God is kept in a tent!
This doesn’t seem right to David, so he determines that he wants to build a temple for the Ark to be housed in. That sounds like a good idea, but God rejects his offer in 1 Chronicles 22.8-10:

“But the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘You have shed much blood and have waged great wars; you shall not build a house to My name, because you have shed so much blood on the earth before Me. Behold a son will be born to you, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side; for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days. He shall build a house for My name, and he shall be My son and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.’”

Later, Solomon talks about his father’s desire to build a temple for God in 1 Kings 8.17-19:

“Now it was in the heart of my father David to build a house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. But the Lord said to my father David, ‘Because it was in your heart to build a house for My name, you did well that it was in your heart. Nevertheless you shall not build the house, but your son who will be born to you, he will build the house for My name.’”

Did you catch that? God tells David, “You did well that it was in your heart.”

Even though David wasn’t going to be able to accomplish his goal of building the temple, God still appreciated and honored David’s intentions. Because he had been a man of war, David was told that he would not be the one to build a temple for the Lord—but God still appreciated that David had the desire to do so.

“It’s the thought that counts” is a common saying that we tend to throw around when we receive a gift we don’t like. It’s somewhat of an ironic saying, since often the reason we receive bad gifts is specifically because very little thought was put into it, but I think it’s still a true statement, and it’s basically what God tells David in this story: “It’s the thought that counts.”
By extension, this passage means that God cares about our intentions as well. And to me, as a Christian and as a minister, that is incredibly encouraging—while our actions certainly matter, the thoughts behind our actions matter as well. We can’t always control how things turn out, but we can control our intentions.
When we try to do something big for God, as David did, and we fail and our plans don’t pan out, I’m thankful to know that we have a God who says, “You did well that it was in your heart!”
I don’t know what your exact situation is…
  • Maybe you try to help a friend with a problem like substance abuse or financial or marital difficulties, but your assistance is refused…God looks at your “failure” and says, “You did well that it was in your heart!”
  • Maybe you try to influence others for good and try to be salt and light in the world, but your influence is ignored and they continue to embrace darkness…You did well that it was in your heart!
  • Maybe you’re a youth minister and you’ve got that teen who you’ve poured yourself into— teaching, going to athletic events, modeling the Christian life, praying for them and lying awake at night worrying about them—but they choose to follow the world…You did well that it was in your heart!
  • Maybe you try to share your faith with someone, perhaps a family member or close friend, but it simply falls on deaf ears…You did well that it was in your heart!
Realize that you are going to fail in life. Your results won’t always match up with your intentions and your plans. But our God is someone who sees our hearts and appreciates our best efforts. With that in mind, let us attempt great things for Him!
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