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Weekly Prompts for Thinking Through Scripture Covering 2 Samuel 11:1 – 2 Samuel 13:22

Refresher: David is king of Israel, possessor of Jerusalem, inheritor of great promises, and victor over his enemies. His situation can be captured by a single phrase: “the LORD gave victory to David wherever he went.”

Day One

Read 2 Samuel 11: 1-13

· V. 1 – Is the narrator implying that something is amiss since David is not “out to battle”? I think so, because the last sentence of the verse again draws attention to the fact. If David isn’t where he ought to be, we have our first application: Sometimes the temptation battle is won or lost, not by what you decide in the moment, but by whether you’re where you should be in the moment. Are you at your post?

· V. 2 – “Arose from his couch.” One final intimation that David’s problem arose out of something like loafing. Laziness is bad not only because of what we we leave undone, but also because of what it sets us up to do.

· VV. 6 -13 – David is engineering the situation so that it will appear that Bathsheba’s pregnancy is by her husband Uriah. But Uriah is just too durn honorable for David’s plan to work. (v. 13) Even while drunk Uriah maintains the sense that he shouldn’t get too comfortable as long as his fellow warriors are out in the field, at risk.

· V. 11 – Uriah’s high sense of honor accentuates both the dishonor of David’s act and the lassitude behind it.

Day Two

Read 2 Samuel 11: 14-27

· V. 14 – “Sent it by the hand of Uriah.” Lust, dishonesty, and now cruelty. It’s not the first and last time these uglies have followed after another.

· V. 17 – “some of the servants of David among the people fell.” The first in a great pile of collateral damage from David’s sin. Sin is a destroyer; be afraid.

· V. 25 – “…for the sword devours one and now another.” Things have sunk to the point where the great king and man of war spouts vague and empty platitudes as his men are cut down in battle. Contrast this with how he grieved over Saul! Sin is a diminisher; be afraid.

· V. 27 – We wonder if Bathsheba figured out the wickedness behind her husband’s death.? Having lived with a woman for 24+ years, I’ll never bet against female intuition.

· V. 27 – Put your ear down next to that last sentence, and you’ll hear boom, boom - trouble’s approaching drumbeat.

Day Three

Read 2 Samuel 12: 1-15a

· VV. 1-6 – A story conveys meaning at least as well as a lecture. Parents, are stories in your parenting toolbox? Look at Proverbs 7:6ff and notice the form.

· V. 7ff – The outrage of David’s sin is even more apparent against the backdrop of God’s provision to him. Part of what makes sin, sinful, is not simply a specific action but also the backdrop in which it occurs. “Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him…”(Romans 1:21). Today is another good day to take a few minutes to consider and appreciate what God has done for you. And then from that recall, resolve to “walk worthy.”

· V. 9 – “with the sword of the Ammonites” – you’ve really stooped low, David, is the sense behind this. He’s in league with the bad guys! A modern parallel: part of what makes pornography abhorrent is that, in pursuing one’s aims, the imbiber sides with some really bad guys.

· V. 10 – “You have despised Me…” – What phrase in Psalm 51 (David’s confession) does this put in your mind? Hint: we mentioned it last Sunday.

· V. 13 – “The LORD also has put away your sin…” – This can be true even while one suffers searing consequences for his sin. Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily eliminate repercussions.

· This passage moves our minds toward other passages, such as this: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” (1 Timothy 1:15). Hallelujah. Thank you, our Christ.

Day Four

Read 2 Samuel 12: 15b- 31

· V. 16 – David had heard from the prophet that his child, gestating in Bathsheba, would die. And yet he prays earnestly, with fasting, for his recovery. What do you think, was he being faithful or defiant?

· VV. 17-20 – We’re dealing with a complex man here. But here’s the truth: Faith in God produces uncommon responses – uncommon passion and uncommon placidness. I’ve observed this several times.

· VV. 22, 23 – “Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious…” – Some of our prayers arise from a convinced knowledge that what we are asking for is God’s will. Other prayers work with probabilities and best conjectures that the request is agreeable to God. Here, as David asks, he is hoping against hope. In my opinion: still better to be desperate before God, and then be denied, than never to have asked. Do you agree?

· V. 23 – “I shall go to him…” – this is probably simply a matter-of-fact truism: That ship has sailed: I’m going to where he’s going (that is, the grave), but he’s not returning to me.

· V. 28 – “lest I take the city…” Joab sounds impatient with David’s shenanigans that began with not showing up for battle and then continued by being sidelined with extended guilt/repentance/grief. With this threat he’s forcing David to get “back in the saddle.” Throughout Samuel, Joab is portrayed as someone who rarely acts and speaks from principle, usually from passion.

Day Five

Psalms 32 and 51

Since it’s probably Sunday for you, and you might not have as much time as other mornings, and we’re been reading about David’s downfall, take a few minutes to read two psalms of David’s repenting.

Day Six

Read 2 Samuel 13: 1-14

· VV. 1-6 – We’ve descended distressingly quickly into the tawdry. But sin *does* eventually end in squalor; Beelzebub likes things filthy! Panning out our focus, we recall that all this will turn out to be a fulfillment of the judgment spoken in 12:10. Remember 11: 27: “The thing that David had done displeased the LORD”? Consequences!

· V. 2 – Sexual lust, left unchecked, only gains in strength. And it’s real enough to steal physical health. What’s your plan to “control [your] own body in holiness and honor” (1 Thes 4:4)?

· V. 6 – My opinion: Obviously David knows something about lust. Still, David is of such a stuff that he cannot imagine, much less perceive, the sordid thing developing within his family. And so, he naively sends his daughter into the slime. Poor David – it appears that his Bathsheba moment has unleashed demons he could scarcely imagine. Something I think is true and that this passage suggests: when you resist temptation you are also aiding the next generation in their fight against sin. Sin advances or retreats from one generation to the next.

· V. 12, 13 – The narrator details the protests and arguments that Tamar puts up against her half-brother’s advances. Why does he take the time to relay all that she said? One idea that I keep returning to: the narrator is showing us the progression of sin. David succumbed to lust; his son violated reason AND succumbed to lust. And so it goes.. A good day to read James 1:14, 15. And a good time to remember to take sin seriously. You never mature beyond being tempted, and so never grow beyond the threat of sin’s destruction.

Day Seven

Read 2 Samuel 13: 15-22

· V. 15 – A lust of some duration extinguished in a matter of moments. If nothing else, let this stand as a warning not to be duped by the lovelorn sighs of someone who will use you then lose you.

· V. 16 – In this society, if Amnon now tosses Tamar aside after violating her, she’ll be “damaged goods” beyond repair in others’ eyes. In a culture that prizes purity, the stakes are always higher.

· V. 17 – Amnon wanted Tamar, but didn’t love her. Amnon wanted Tamar, but didn’t love her. Amnon wanted Tamar, but didn’t love her. Amnon wanted Tamar, but didn’t love her. Repeat 46 more times to digest a really important life lesson.

· V. 20 – “do not take this to heart.” Absalom urges his sister to adopt an impossible mindset: PLAY IT COOL. For what he intends, a certain atmosphere is required. “Revenge is a dish best served cold…”. Poor Tamar is exploited, then repressed, and finally left to spend her days as a recluse. David’s beautiful family is falling apart, and he’s “very angry” (v. 21), but now sound and fury is all he’s got to throw at this unfolding tragedy.

· When we see the wreckage from sin in this great man’s life, our minds return to David’s Son and David’s Lord. In His life, sin never got started, and thus never progressed. Rather, in Jesus, God “condemned sin in the flesh.” Mull that one over: there’s a Man who stopped sin in its tracks, and somehow His record and victory spills over to us. HALLELLUJAH

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