“Open Doors” Series #7
“THE DOOR OF FAITHFULNESS!”
TEXT: 2 Samuel 11:1-27
INTRO: Faithfulness is not so much a product as it is a process! Being faithful to God this week doesn't guarantee that you will not have to discipline yourself to be faithful to Him next week! Faithfulness requires an act of will ... all the time! We must continuously choose to be faithful to the Lord, even those who have lived many years faithfully but have let their guard down for a moment know the price of unfaithfulness!
Faithfulness is not a product of feelings; it is an act of the will! If we live by our feelings we will probably live a life of vacillating faithfulness! Those who let their emotions rule their lives find ways to excuse their lack of faithfulness rather than deal with it!
ILLUS: A GOLFER NAMED JONES WAS JOINING HIS BUDDIES ON THE GOLF COURSE ONE SUNDAY MORNING RATHER THAN GO TO CHURCH WITH HIS WIFE AND KIDS. ARRIVING A LITTLE LATE HE EXPLAINED TO HIS FRIENDS WHY HE HAD COME LATE. "MY WIFE ASKED NE TO GO TO CHURCH, AND I TOLD HER THAT I WOULD FLIP A COIN TO SEE WHETHER I WAS TO GO TO CHURCH OR PLAY GOLF, I WOULD LET GOD DECIDE. HEADS I DECIDED WOULD MEAN I PLAYED GOLF, TAILS AND I WOULD GO TO CHURCH ... AND YOU KNOW FELLOWS, I HAD TO TOSS THAT COIN 43 TIMES BEFORE IT CAME UP HEADS!" – SOURCE UNKNOWN
Faithfulness is at the very core of Christianity ... and not a lukewarm commitment either! We focus too much sometimes on God's faithfulness and not enough on our own ... we like messages about God's faithfulness to us, but since this is never in doubt, we might need more preaching about our faithfulness!
ILLUS: A YOUNG PASTOR NAMED TIM DEARBORN HAD TO SHARE A CAB WITH 4 OTHER PEOPLE IN BANGKOK, THAILAND. ONE OF THE 4 PEOPLE WHO RODE WITH HIM WAS A MARXIST REVOLUTIONARY ON HIS WAY TO INDIA. THE MARXIST QUIZZED TIM AT LENGTH ABOUT HIS FAITH IN CHRIST AND FINALLY SAID TO HIM, "HOW CAN YOU BE A CHRISTIAN? DON'T YOU REALIZE THERE'S NO WAY YOUR CAUSE CAN WIN?" TIM ASKED, "WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE IS NO WAY MY CAUSE CAN WIN?" THE MARXIST CONTINUED, "I AM ON MY WAY TO INDIA TO ORGANIZE FISHERMEN TO OVERTHROW THEIR OPPRESSORS. AND I AM QUITE WILLING TO LAY DOWN MY LIFE FOR THE REVOLUTION. YOUR AMERICAN CHRISTIANITY IS PREOCCUPIED WITH WHAT YOUR GOD CAN DO FOR YOU, AND DYING FOR SELF-INTEREST IS A CONTRADICTION IN TERMS!" -- (WORLD VISION, OCT/NOV 1989, PG.23)
We have built a billion dollar industry in America to get in touch with our feelings and emotions, and understanding WHY we do things instead of learning to serve faithfully and make correct decisions!
The door of faithfulness begins in our will once we have accepted Christ as our Lord! Our heart will catch up with our will when we apply ourselves to being faithful at all times!
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that we are to guard our lives against unfaithfulness, that we are to be busy in doing our Lord's work and His will, not our own!
I. PRECURSORS OF FAITHLESSNESS! 2 Sam. 11:1-5
A. Detached! 2 Sam. 11:1
1. In antiquity, wars and fighting were reserved for the good weather months, often everyone took off from fighting during winter ... but come Spring, it was time for the Kings to go out and fight the enemy again!
a. It was such a time here ... it was the time for the Kings to ready their men and go off to beat the enemy!
b. We are told in this passage that David does not go with his troops ... a very unusual situation for a King in Israel!
2. We can only speculate as to the reasons ... many pagan kings stayed in their luxurious palaces while their men went off to war, but Israel's Kings were not to be like the pagan kings, they were to be "servant-leaders" and lead their men in the fight!
a. Saul had fought alongside his men when he was king!
b. David had also gone into battle ... he was known as a great warrior!
3. David detaching himself from his brethren to not go and fight the enemy was not a good sign!
4. David was getting older, maybe he thought he could take it easy and enjoy his previous victories … a situation that always leaves us open to temptation!
a. He may have thought it was time for the younger ones to do more!
b. He may have thought that he should be allowed to enjoy the fruits of earlier sacrifices!
c. He may have justified the need that some leader stays in Jerusalem so that the city has leadership!
d. Tragically, most people who fell in the Bible did so later in their lives, not in their youth!
5. No matter how good the reasons might have been ... when the enemy is attacking, he should have been in the battle! There was no excuse to be idle!
· Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there!!!
6. Isolation has always been a favorite tool of Satan to get us to stumble!!!
a. Detached from his fighting men, he takes an afternoon siesta and wakes toward evening with nothing to do!
b. Alone, we can fall much more easily! Such was Satan’s ploy with Eve!
ILLUS: THE SEQUOIA TREE (REDWOOD TREES) OF CALIFORNIA TOWER AS MUCH AS 300 FEET ABOVE THE GROUND. STRANGELY ENOUGH, THESE TREES HAVE UNUSUALLY SHALLOW ROOT SYSTEMS THAT REACH OUT IN ALL DIRECTIONS NEAR THE SURFACE TO CAPTURE AS MUCH MOISTURE AS POSSIBLE ... THIS LEAVES THEM WITH THE ABILITY TO BE EASILY TOPPLED! FOR THIS REASON, YOU WILL ALMOST NEVER SEE A REDWOOD STANDING ALONE! ... FOR IF IT IS ALONE, IT WILL BE EASILY TOPPLE BY A MILD WIND! THIS IS WHY THEY GROW IN CLUSTERS; THEY INTERTWINE THEIR ROOTS WITH EACH OTHER NOT ONLY TO SHARE NUTRIENTS, BUT TO BIND THEMSELVES TOGETHER SO THEY ARE STRONG AND CAN NOT BE TOPPLED EASILY! ONLY TOGETHER CAN THEY STAND AGAINST THE STORMS, THEY DON'T LIVE LONG ALONE! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
B. Distracted! 2 Sam. 11:2-5
1. It states, "one evening David got up from his bed." 2 Sam. 11:2a
a. Alone and nothing to do had led to boredom!
b. He gets up and goes up on his palace roof and "walks around." (The Hebrew verb here indicates a "pacing back and forth while getting nowhere.")
c. The old adage, "an idle mind is the Devil's workshop" is about to become reality for David!
2. His men were on the war front putting their lives on the line, while he is walking back and forth with nothing to do!
a. As he gazes down below, he notices a very beautiful woman bathing by the name of Bathsheba.
b. In his boredom, lust is conceived!
· What begins with a GLANCE ends with a GAZE ... and lust is born!
3. The man David who wrote so often how he delighted in the Laws of God allows himself to become distracted away from those same laws!
a. While he might not have been able to help the quick glance, he didn't have to continue to gaze upon her!
b. Physical passion was now in place, he already had several wives he could have turned to ... but he wants what he doesn't have!
c. This is the passion of sin ... to take what is not rightfully ours!
4. The King who should have been "FIGHTING" the enemy is now "FLIRTING" with the real enemy! Flirting will usually lead to Failure!
a. He calls for his servants to find out who is this beautiful woman!
b. They inform David who she is ... a married woman, married to one of his finest soldiers!
c. She was married to a non-Jew; a Hittite named Uriah ... perhaps David might have justified his interests in her since her husband wasn't even one of God's covenant people!
5. The man who had a "heart after God's own heart" allows these distractions to pull his heart away from God and God's Word!
6. Had he been faithfully serving with his brethren, this would not have happened!
a. It is clear here in Scripture that Bathsheba becomes pregnant with David's child ... this is made sure by the insertion in verse 4 that "she had just purified herself from her uncleanness." This was a reference to having just finished her monthly cycle and had made herself clean by the law ... thus she could not have been pregnant at the moment they slept together!
b. She sleeps with David and the result of this adulterous affair is a pregnancy!
7. David should have put her out of his heart the moment he saw her ... by focusing on her, he becomes so distracted from what he knows to be right, thus he sins!
8. We must learn to clear out the distractions in our lives lest they lead us into sin!
ILLUS: SOME ITALIANS HAVE AN INTERESTING CUSTOM. AS MIDNIGHT ON NEW YEAR'S EVE APPROACHES, THE STREETS ARE ALL CLEARED, THERE IS NO TRAFFIC, THERE ARE NO PEDESTRIANS; EVEN THE POLICE TAKE COVER! THEN AT MIDNIGHT, RIGHT ON THE DOT, THE WINDOWS OF ALL THE HOMES FLY OPEN AND TO THE SOUND OF GREAT LAUGHTER AND MUSIC ... SOMETIMES WITH FIREWORKS, EACH MEMBER OF THE FAMILY PITCHES OUT THE WINDOW ANYTHING IN THEIR HOMES THAT MIGHT REMIND THEM OF SOMETHING IN THE PAST YEAR THAT THEY WANT TO FORGET! THEY WILL TOSS EVERYTHING FROM FURNITURE TO ORNAMENTS, GLASSWARE, PICTURES ... ANYTHING THAT WOULD DISTRACT THEM IN THE COMING YEAR TO MAKE THEM REFLECT ON A PREVIOUS MISTAKE OR PAINFUL SITUATION! ONCE GONE OUT THE WINDOW, IT WILL BE GONE FROM THEIR LIVES, NO LONGER TO DISTRACT THEM FROM A GOOD NEW YEAR! WHAT IS DISTRACTING YOU THAT YOU NEED TO TOSS AWAY!? – SOURCE UNKNOWN
9. A man who is not serving God on the front lines is a good candidate to become distracted ... and to fail!
II. PROPERTIES OF FAITHFULNESS! 2 Sam. 11:6-17
A. Duties! 2 Sam. 11:6-11
1. David asks his commander on the front lines to send Uriah back to him ... he plans to cover up his sin rather than confess it!
a. This was a terrible mistake ... the only way to deal with sin is to repent of it!
b. The extent of work that David must go through to cover up his sin is far greater than the effort it would have been to simply confess his sin!
2. It was bad enough that he had sinned by committing adultery, but now he is going to conspire to commit murder!!
a. One sin has a way of leading to other greater sins if left unconfessed!
b. We cannot strip sin of its power over us by our own wits and strength!
3. Uriah the Hittite arrives and David indulges in “small talk…”
a. "How's Joab doing..." 2 Sam. 11:7a
b. "How's the soldiers doing" 2 Sam. 11:7b
c. "How's the war going?" 2 Sam. 11:7c
4. The fact that no responses are recorded by Uriah might indicate that whatever he said David wasn't listening anyway!!!
a. David was bent on justifying himself and protecting himself ... he has no concern for what his men were going through or Uriah!
b. Though not a Jew, Uriah is a man of character and faithfulness!
5. David asks Uriah to go home to his wife and even sends along some gifts to make the night a wonderfully romantic evening for the two of them!!! 2 Sam. 11:8
a. Not the generous offer of a King however, he was hoping to get Uriah romantically involved with his wife in the hopes that her current pregnancy by David will be covered up!
b. David was “using” Uriah by being overly generous to him!
6. Uriah doesn't go home however!!!! 2 Sam. 11:9
a. It must have blown David out of the water to find Uriah at his own door the next morning ... sleeping on a mat with the other servants!
b. David now asks him why he didn't go home to his wife ... and Uriah's answer reveals a man of deep faithfulness:
7. The marks of a faithful man or woman:
a. “The Ark” (2 Sam. 11:11a) Uriah's first reason why he wouldn't take pleasure for himself had to do with the “Ark of the Covenant” being in the field where God's people were fighting ... Uriah cannot think of pleasure when God’s presence is being contested by enemies, he puts the Lord first as his reason for self-sacrifice and denial of personal pleasures ... and this is a non-covenant born man! A faithful man puts God first ... always!
b. The second reason he gives: "Israel and Judah are staying in tents." (2 Sam. 11:11b) He will not take liberties his brothers cannot have ... he chooses to live as they do!
c. The third reason: "and my Lord's men..." He recognizes David's leadership and respects the task assigned him by the king ... which was not yet finished! Work first, play later!
8. Uriah is emphatic about the cost of faithfulness ... he will not take his own freedoms when there is job to do ... no matter his own part, he will serve God first and then others!
a. For Uriah, faithfulness was not based on how glamorous the job, nor how difficult it was ... but on how faithful he was to do what had been given to him!
b. There is no hint that he sought for prestigious positions, he didn't make excuses for lack of service ... he could have claimed his right not to serve, after all, he wasn't even Jewish, he was a Hittite!
c. Faithfulness was an absolute for Uriah ... how about us?
ILLUS: MUCH PRAISE HAS GONE TO A GREAT REVIVALIST NAMED JONATHAN EDWARDS. HE MORE THAN OTHERS HELPED SPARK ONE OF AMERICA'S GREATEST REVIVALS IN THE 1800'S. HE WAS A POWERFUL PREACHER WHO WITNESSED THE POWER OF GOD MOVE MIGHTILY AT THE NORTHAMPTON, MASSACHUSETTS CHURCH HE PASTORED. HIS SERMON, "SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD" BROUGHT SUCH CONVICTION ON PEOPLE THAT THEY LITERALLY HELD ONTO THE BEAMS IN THE SANCTUARY AND CRIED OUT LOUD TO GOD FOR MERCY! YET IN ALL THIS, NOT LONG AFTER SUCH HEADY SUCCESS HE WAS FIRED AS THE PASTOR OF THAT CHURCH BECAUSE OF AN ARGUMENT WITH THE CHURCH COUNCIL OVER STANDARDS OF A MEMBERSHIP POLICY! FROM THIS RENOWNED CHURCH HE WENT TO A SMALL CHURCH IN STOCKBRIDGE WHERE HIS MAJOR DUTY WAS TO CONVERT INDIANS. HE WENT WITHOUT COMPLAINT, AND WITH THE SAME FERVOR MINISTERED IN THIS SMALL CHURCH ... HE WAS FAITHFUL NO MATTER THE CIRCUMSTANCES! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
B. Determination! 2 Sam. 11:12-17
1. David tries one more time ... this time he invites him to dinner that night at the palace and David gets Uriah drunk! 2 Sam. 11:12-13
a. David figures the man has too much character to sin ... so he attempts to drug him up and lower that quality in his life!
b. David is determined to take care of his own sin by covering it up!
c. And Uriah is determined to be faithful to God no matter what!
d. Who do you think will win?
2. To David's utter shock the next morning he again finds Uriah sleeping at his door step with the other servants ... he is too devoted to serving God, God's people, and the King to be unfaithful!
3. Uriah is a man of unwavering faithfulness ... he made up his mind and that was that, even in a stupor he will not yield to distraction!
a. This sure puts the Jewish King David's example to shame!
b. Uriah had set his course ... and he would not be sidetracked! Can we say the same about our walk with God in this world today?
ILLUS: AN OLD SEAMAN SHARED HOW TO SURVIVE THE WORST STORMS AT SEA. HE SAID, "THE ONLY WAY TO SURVIVE THE RAVAGES OF THE SEA IS TO SET THE SHIP IN A CERTAIN POSITION AND KEEP HER THERE NO MATTER WHAT!" – SOURCE UNKNOWN
4. God's people need to learn to say "no" to sin and mean it ... rather than try and analyze our feelings of why we are drawn to sin, we could learn from other’s failures and "just say no!"
a. Uriah could have easily justified his going home and having some fun...
(1. He had been fighting hard already!
(2. He had been asked to go home by the King!
(3. He wasn't a Jew anyways!
b. Uriah however was too focused on being faithful; he would allow no distraction from duty.
5. He knew his duty ... and he was determined to do it ... no matter what! This demonstrates the properties of faithfulness!
III. PERSPECTIVES FAULTY! 2 Sam. 11:18-27
A. Demeaning! 2 Sam. 11:18-21
1. David sends a message back to have Uriah put in the front lines where the battle is the hottest to ensure Uriah will be killed!
a. He not only plans Uriah's murder ... he has Uriah carry the message back to Joab that would end in his own death!
b. Uriah was so trustworthy and faithful that David could trust him to not read the message that would send Uriah to his own death!
2. Not only does Uriah get killed, but to get him to the front lines, Joab had sent others with him so it didn't look too obvious, and so others lost their lives too … something that Joab tries to pin on David with the message he sends back! 2 Sam. 11:18-21
3. David receives the message that several had died ... and instead of getting angry like Joab thought he might ... that other innocent lives were lost, David is not even moved over the losses, just relieved that Uriah is dead!
a. Joab assumed David would question letting the men get so close to the wall where they were easy targets...
b. But David's value of life had diminished as he covered his sin ... sin in our land is a reproach to the values of life!
4. The truth could have set David free ... but instead he is still in bondage!
ILLUS: YEARS AGO THE KING OF PRUSSIA WAS VISITING A PRISON AND HE DECIDED TO TALK TO EACH INMATE. AS HE DID, EACH INMATE PLEADED FOR RELEASE AND DECLARED THEIR ABSOLUTE INNOCENCE! EACH ONE CLAIMED AN ERROR HAD BEEN MADE; THEY WERE INNOCENT OF THE CHARGES. FINALLY HE CAME TO ONE MAN'S CELL AND ASKED, "I SUPPOSE YOU ARE AN INNOCENT VICTIM TOO?" BUT TO HIS SURPRISE THE MAN ANSWERED, "NO, SIRE, I'M NOT INNOCENT. I'M GUILTY AND I DESERVE MY PUNISHMENT!" SO AWESTRUCK WAS THE KING THAT HE IMMEDIATELY TURNED TO HIS GUARDS AND SAID, "HERE, RELEASE THIS GUILTY RASCAL BEFORE HE CORRUPTS ALL THESE FINE INNOCENT PEOPLE IN HERE!" AND THE MAN WAS SET FREE ... ALL BECAUSE HE CONFESSED HIS SIN RATHER THAN TRY AND COVER IT UP LIKE THE OTHERS! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
5. David had demeaned human life and the dignity of being the King of Israel and God's laws all because he covered up his sin!
a. This so screwed his perspectives that he takes no pity on the losses of his own men fighting for him and Israel!
b. He takes only delight in getting rid of Uriah!
B. Disaffection! 2 Sam. 11:18-27
1. David is not even moved over the death of many of his men along with Uriah ... he had lost his compassion!
2. Covering his sin was hardening his heart ... it was searing his conscience!
a. David could see other's faults, but not his own!
b. This is really evident in the next chapter when Nathan tells him the parable of the man who took one sheep from a poor man ... David is outraged over this, but not over his own sins of adultery and murder!
3. The loss of feelings comes when we harden our heart against God!
4. Sin makes us emotional cripples ... the truly best way to mental health is confession of sin to God and the forgiveness that results from it!
5. The King who was suppose to lead his men, to fight for them, to take care of others, could only see his own needs ... he was cold to others!
ILLUS: C. RAY DOBBINS, EDITOR OF CUMBERLAND PRESBYTERIAN, WAS ON A PLANE WHEN HIS SEATMATE SHARED THIS STORY WITH HIM: ON A PLANE FROM MIAMI HE WAS RIDING ON, THERE WERE 65 PSYCHIATRISTS TRAVELING HOME FROM A CONVENTION. DURING THE FLIGHT A WOMAN BECAME ILL AND MENTALLY UPSET, YET NONE OF THE DOCTORS OFFERED TO HELP! THE PLANE HAD TO MAKE AN EMERGENCY LANDING DOWN IN NASHVILLE SO THEY COULD GET THE WOMAN HELP! NOT ONE OF THE 65 DOCTORS ON BOARD FELT THE COMPASSION TO HELP HER! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
6. The door to faithfulness is our will...
a. Will we serve God wholeheartedly?
b. Will we confess our sins when we commit them, or just cover them!
c. Will we live by God's laws no matter what this world tells us!?
d. Will we remain faithful, no matter how we feel at any moment?
· No one drowns from just falling into the water; they drown by staying in the water!
CONCLUSION: Faithfulness does not come by default ... it comes by design! The door is our will! David's poor choices led him into unfaithfulness, yet a non-Jew by the name of Uriah made wise choices that honored God, God's people, and God's leaders! Which example are you following?