Saturday, June 16, 2007

Second Sunday after Pentecost, 2.Sam.11.26-12.10.13-15, June 17, 2007

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When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she lamented over her husband. And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord. And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “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.’ 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.” Then Nathan went to his house. And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he became sick. (2 Samuel 11:26-12:10,13-15, ESV)
Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

David sat impatiently waiting. Ever since Nathan had contacted him he felt uneasy as if there was something to dread with this visit. But, truthfully, David was angry. “Why must he come and interrupt my important business? I am the King of Israel and Judah. What does he have to tell me that is so important that it can’t wait for my schedule? I don’t have time for a prophet, today.” It was going to be a difficult day. Governing had become increasingly difficult over last year. Decisions were harder to make… People seemed less cooperative… and David himself felt as if he was going nowhere. Everything in his life was more difficult since she came. He was sure Bathsheba brought these troubles with her. At first when she came, after the appropriate mourning period, it felt good to finally be together. It felt good to finally get all the trouble behind them and move on with life. After her husband, Uriah, died… rather was killed… bravely in battle. David had done the honorable thing taking care of her and her child, in honor of her husband’s ultimate sacrifice. And she was very beautiful after all. David pictured his wife in his mind. He remembered the first time he had seen her on the roof. Any man would have felt the same, any man would have sent for her… he had only done what any man would have done. Her image filled his mind… but instead of love, it only brought anger, and the anger welled up in him, “Where is that prophet!!” he scowled.

“Nathan the prophet is here, my Lord,” called his servant.

“What are you waiting for? Send him in! Can’t you see I’m waiting? I haven’t time for this… hurry; I must get back to my business!” And the servant scurried off.

The prophet entered slowly, as if he was carrying a great burden. He looked at David for a long time before speaking. “My Lord, I have a story for you.”

Impatiently David replied. “Yes, get on with it.”

“There were two men who lived in a certain town, one rich and one poor…” began the story. “The rich man had many sheep… the poor man only one.” The story immediately gained the king’s attention. He remembered how he too, was once a shepherd. How he had cared for little sheep, feeding them and protecting them. He grinned when Nathan described how for the poor man his one little sheep had become more than just an animal for food, but actually a household pet. How it was so loved that it was even fed at the poor man’s table, just like one of his own children. It was an interesting story. David had always loved sheep, especially the little ones. “A traveler came…” continued Nathan. “The lamb of the poor man was killed and eaten by the rich man and his guest, because the rich man couldn’t bear to waste one of his own sheep on a no name visitor.”

Instantly David was on his feet. His anger boiled over. His face flushed. “Any man who has done such a thing in my kingdom deserves to die. He must pay four times over for the sheep, because he had no pity on the poor man.”

“You are the man!” Nathan stated looking David directly in the eye.

“You are the man!” That was David’s rebuke. These words are some of the most severe law in the entire bible. They seem to have taken David completely by surprise. He was going alone; doing whatever it is that kings do, living in the sin of his marriage to Bathsheba. Living with the knowledge that he had killed Uriah as surely as if he had swung the sword himself. Thinking that God would just let it all go… hoping that God had already forgotten… after all, he was the anointed king… certainly his position allowed him some leeway.

Through Nathan God points an accusing finger. “After all I have done for you, after all I have given you, and you have killed a man to have his wife. You have killed a man to cover up your own selfishness and greed. You have killed a man to cover up your inability to control yourself.” The accusing word, the sword that cut David’s heart, is sharpened by his own words. “The man who has done this deserves to die!” Literally “he is a son of death.” David’s own condemnation is applied to himself. And there is nothing he can say in his own defense. “I have sinned against the Lord.” He says. We can imagine him lying on the floor with his face on the ground awaiting God’s deathblow.

Have you ever been there? lying face down before God knowing that he sees your sin; knowing that you deserve the condemnation and the punishment that David deserved; knowing that you too have been selfish, that you have lacked self-control. You may remember a time when you wanted what your neighbor had, and maybe you even plotted to get it. Or maybe you have been living with a sin that you hoped God would simply ignore. Maybe you’ve thought to yourself that you are entitled because… “I’m better than my neighbor… at least I don’t do the things that they do.” Well, God does not tolerate sin. He does not ignore it. He hates it in every form. Unjustified anger, greed, lack of self-control, lies, gossip… all are alike in his eyes. All are sin. All deserve the same accusation… all deserve the same punishment. Because of any one of them; Nathan’s words point to you and say; “You are the man!”

I also want you to notice something else in the text. I want you to notice how serious God is about sin. “Because you have done this… the son born to you will die.” David’s sin had serious consequences. His son would die. Sin brings death. The Apostle Paul said it like this, centuries after David; “The wages of sin is death.” And it isn’t just murder, but all sin, from the smallest lie to the grossest murder they all result in death. David’s son died because of David’s sin.
You are the man… I am the man… not because we’ve done the same things a David but because we are sinful people like David. “We confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean…” Our problem with God isn’t the sins we do it’s the rejection of all that he is that lives in our hearts. We sin be because we are sinners. Try as you might you can’t remove the sin in your life because it is buried too deep. That’s the real problem, that’s why you should be face down on the ground saying to God, “I have sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” And because someone must die for your sin. If you are ever tempted to think that God will pass over and ignore sin, remember the price that was paid for yours. Here in this text David’s son dies because of sin… Jesus Christ, Son of David also died because of sin. Paul again wrote in his letter to the Romans; “He who did not spare his own Son…” but he gave him up for the sin of us all. God is so serious about sin that he allowed his one and only perfect Son to die because of your sin.

But the death of Jesus isn’t only about how much God hates sin. It is, more importantly, about how much he loves you. God is not willing that any should be eternally lost, and that is why he allowed Jesus to die. He wants everyone to be with him forever, and when that possibility was threatened by sin, he did something about it. He placed the sin of the entire world on Jesus Christ and then abandoned him to the cross to suffer and die because of it. He gave to him the deathblow we, along with David, deserve. And when Jesus rose again the bonds of sin and death were released, and they hold no power over us any more.

Look again at the text. When the accusing finger points at David, he simply confesses his sin. No excuses, no doubts, no shifting blame. “I have sinned against the Lord.” He says simply and quietly. He confesses his sin. And notice; God doesn’t give David what he deserved. Instead of striking David dead, God speaks again through Nathan. “The Lord has forgiven your sin. You are not going to die.” David had faith that God would forgive his sin. He knew that God was gracious and merciful. He knew that God was planning to do something about the sin that ruled his life. He knew that one of his descendants would be the Savior that would take away the sin of the world. David confessed to God in that faith, and he was forgiven.
We now look back and know it was Jesus Christ, who died the death of the whole world’s sin on the cross. And just as he died for sins of David, his murder, his adultery, and his lies, we know that he died for us. When the accusing finger point to us saying, “You are the man!” “You are the woman!” “You are the sinner!” We turn to God and say, “I have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what I have done and by what I have left undone.” No excuses, no doubts, no shifting blame, just simply and quietly confessing our sins. And God replies, “My Child, I have already forgiven you, you will not eternally die.” “… as a called and ordained servant of the word, I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” God forgives you as surely as he forgave his servant David, and as surely as Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead and ascended into heaven to the right hand of God the Father.

There is sin in your life. I know there is because there is sin in my life too. We will struggle with sin until our dying day or until Jesus returns again. As Jesus says it comes out of our hearts. But, it doesn’t have to rule our lives; it doesn’t have to control us. God had made a way of dealing with it. “If we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and cleanse of from all unrighteousness.” That is what we are doing here today isn’t it; receiving the gift he brings, forgiveness of sins, being cleansed from all unrighteousness. In this wonderful building God comes to us in Word and water, Body and Blood and Bread and Wine for the forgiveness of our sins. It’s not God forgetting the things we do, but God restoring our relationship to him through the punishment and death of another; God declaring us “not guilty” of sin, even though we are sinful.

Sometimes we need the personal touch. David did. He needed to see God’s accusing finger pointing at him reminding him that he deserved to die. He needed God’s word of forgiveness spoken right into his ears. It was personal, just between God and David, so God sent David a pastor. He’s sent you a pastor too. It is my job to remind you of your sin, to actually point God’s finger of judgment at you until it hurts, until you say, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And then it is my privilege to speak God’s Word of forgiveness to you. It happens publicly a bunch of times every Sunday morning. But sometimes you need the personal touch. That’s what Private Confession is. Some will say that Private Confession is Roman Catholic and not Lutheran. That’s simply not true. Look it up in your Catechism or on p. 304 LW (or LSB 326) in the front of your hymnal. Check out the insert in the bulletin this morning. As your pastor God has sent me to you so that you can hear God’s Word of forgiveness spoken directly to the sin that troubles you. If you want to know what it looks like, you can find also in the front of your hymnal on p. 310 LW (or LSB 292)

David had sinned against the Lord. He deserved to die. He needed God’s forgiveness. You and I sin much every day. We deserve to die. We need God’s forgiveness. Thank God he has provided what we need. David’s Son, God’s own Son, Jesus Christ has died in our place. We are forgiven because God has taken his death as the punishment for our sin. Amen.

The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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