Monday, December 23, 2013

Life of David - Lesson 34

A Short Reign with a Tragic End - 2 Samuel 18:1-19:8a

Prayer:  Thank You Lord for watching over our lives, for being the one who protects and defends us.  As we make mistakes you come along side and help us through, and as we face heartbreak you're there to pick up the pieces.  Please keep us from letting our human emotions rule our lives and cause us grief, help us instead to seek your wisdom and guidance.

Quickly Form Groups:
1. In what circumstances have you known people to be blinded by emotion?  What are the potential dangers?

In today's study we're going to see that David was not immune from being blinded by emotion.  David is up against his adversary Absalom, but this adversary is also his son, and he loves his son... this sets David & his men up for all kinds of potential problems.

2 Samuel 18:1-3 - David gets the troops in order, organizing them under 3 trusted men.  Two of the men are his nephews & have served loyally with him for an extended period -  Joab & Abishai (brothers), the third is Ittai - the leader of the Gittite forces who was in exile from his homeland & only a recent immigrant to Israel (2 Samuel 15:18-22), but had proven his loyalty to David as well.  David expresses his intent to join the battle, but his leaders convinced him it was too big a risk, and that he was needed to support their efforts from the city (Mahanaim).  David was a brave & valiant warrior, but was getting older - he may not have physically been able to handle the battle anymore, but he was certainly still a master strategist.

2 Samuel 18:4-5 - David makes a point of publicly commanding his three leaders to be "gentle with" Absalom, he's asking them to protect his son - but in doing so is also asking them to protect their enemy.  David loved his son, but his love for his son was looking like it might be his undoing.  I don't know if you noticed, but there's no indication that David sought out God's advice regarding dealing with Absalom.

2 Samuel 18:6-8 - This is a strange description of a battle, it started in a field but ended up all over the countryside & in a forest.  David's troops were victorious, they defeated the army of Israel which was not as well organized, trained, or prepared force - but certainly a much larger force.  There were great casualties, and this civil war has cost the lives of 20,000 men of Israel - David's own people.  Apparently the forest was a dangerous place to be in battle, and a place where it was easy to get lost & perhaps ambushed.

2 Samuel 18:9 - Absalom had been going through the forest, but was left dangling in a tree by his mule in the thick of the forest.  How ironic that his head, known for its beautiful abundant hair, is caught in the branches.  Absalom was literally left hanging, and couldn't get himself down.

2 Samuel 18:10-11 - One of the men reports to Joab that Absalom is caught in a tree.  Joab must have put a price on Absalom's head, this certainly wasn't part of David's agreement with his men, but apparently whoever killed Absalom had been promised ten shekels of silver ( valued <$80 today) and a warrior's belt.  I'm guessing that this price had been set before David's instructions to his leaders, instructions spoken in the hearing of the troops.  Joab is Absalom's cousin & David's nephew, Joab had been fighting alongside David & serving David for a long time - he was a loyal and trusted general of David's army - so what gives?  Perhaps Joab realized that David was acting foolishly & would endanger the kingdom if he allowed Absalom to live - we don't know his motivation, but we do know Joab was loyal to David's throne.

2 Samuel 18:12-13 - The soldier makes an interesting statement, he says he wouldn't kill Absalom if he were given a thousand sheckles of silver (worth about $7,280 in todays market - and of higher relative value then).  He'd heard what David had said, he wasn't going to raise a hand against the king's son - doing so would be considered treasonous & he didn't believe Joab would defend him if he were identified as Absalom's killer.

2 Samuel 18:14-15 - Joab takes matters into his own hands, he impales Absalom with 3 javelins through the chest, and 10 of his trusted soldiers join him in making sure Absalom was good & dead.  I don't know about you, but I sense anger & frustration on the part of Joab & his men because this seems to be overkill, they despise this prince who had been the cause of a great deal of trouble for David & his people.

2 Samuel 18:16-18 - Joab sounds the trumpet stopping the battle, indicating to all within hearing distance the the battle has been won, causing all of Absalom's forces to flee home.  The treatment of Absalom's body shows their disdain for the man, they threw him in a pit in the forest & covered him with rocks - this is not the burial normally given a prince, and it may have been a way of making certain his grave wasn't marked. 

Verse 18 mentions a monument that Absalom had set up in the King's valley.  Absalom's burial is ironic in that it seems to mock the monument he'd erected for himself, he'd set up a pillar of stone for his name's sake & now he's buried under a pile of rocks.  Absalom's reason for creating the monument was to be remembered, because he had no son to carry on his name.  Absalom is remembered, but as a painful footnote rather than as an honored king.  It is interesting that he had no sons, this would have been considered at the time to indicate that God's hand was against him since many sons were considered a blessing.

2 Samuel 18:19-23 - Ahimaaz wants to take the good news to David that the battle has been won, but Joab doesn't want him bringing the news to David - instead he chooses a foreigner, a Cushite, to do the job.  Joab knew that though news that the battle had been won was good, news of Absalom's death would upset king David.  David's reaction to the bearer of the bad news might be harmful, and I think Joab knew that Ahimaaz had been a faithful friend of David's & didn't want to risk his life.  Also there seems to be an indication (further along in verse 27) that a friend wouldn't be sent with bad news.  The Cushite takes off with the news, but Ahimaaz is insistent that he wants to go as well, so Joab allows him to run as well - and Ahimaaz knows his way & gets to David first - outrunning the Cushite. 

2 Samuel 18:24-29 - King David is sitting at the gates, still in Mahanaim, when the watchman sees the runners coming.  Because the runners are coming alone rather than together, and because the first runner is Ahimaaz, David assumes he's getting good news.  Ahimaaz delivers the news, at least the good part of the news, that God has been on David's side & that they have been delivered from their enemies.  That news is not enough for David, he's anxious for news about his son, and when asked directly about Absalom Ahimaaz avoids giving David a direct answer.

2 Samuel 18:30-33 - The Cushite also delivers the good news, but when asked directly about Absalom gives an answer that David dreads - telling him that his son, his enemy but still his son, is dead.  David is shaken, he retreats & mourns, wishing that he could take his son's place.  David is a father, yes this was his enemy, yes this was the enemy of his people, yes this was the man that was self-centered and would have been a terrible king, but this is his son...

2 Samuel 19:1-4 - Joab & the troops hear about David's reaction to the news & instead of enjoying their victory they begin to mourn for the sake of their king.  The troops don't enter the city victoriously, instead they come in quietly, like men ashamed, because David is loudly grieving his son.  This has to be disheartening for David's men, here they went to battle & risked their lives, and their king is not happy at their victory... this is a recipe for disaster.

2 Samuel 19:5-8a - Joab has had enough, he loves David & is loyal to David but he realizes that David is undermining himself - he is harming his own position as king by causing his troops to be humiliated.  Joab obviously was someone who could hold David to account, because he goes boldly up to him & confronts him.  David has a right to grieve, but not at the expense of the men who have risked their own lives for the sake of the lives of David & his family & his throne.  Joab is able to get David's attention, and David gets himself back into his seat at the gate where he should be as their king. I don't think David knew that it was Joab & his men who had killed Absalom, at least not at this point in the narrative, but there is an indication in the next section that he may have eventually found out.  Joab was faithful to David, and Joab was making certain that David remained firmly established as the king of Israel - even if it meant going against David's orders & even if it meant getting in David's face.

Closing Prayer:  Lord I thank you for the Joab's in my life, the ones that are loyal to me but don't coddle me, the ones that call me to account, the ones that help me see the truth in my circumstances.  Amen!

Quickly Form Groups Again:
2.  Joab was in a tough spot when he went against the order of his king.  When is it right to go against authorities?

3.  Pray for each other.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Life of David - Lesson 33

Faithful Friends - 2 Samuel 16:15-17:29

Prayer:  Lord I thank you for faithful friends, especially for those who support behind the scenes and may not get acknowledged.  Bless them in a special way this day.  Amen!

Quickly Form Groups:
1.  Think of one faithful friend who does things behind the scenes that show love & support for you, and does so without asking or expecting to be recognized.  Share a bit about that friend.  What can you do to express your love and gratitude for their friendship?

I hope you were able to think of at least one faithful friend.  I am in the unenviable position of living in a region in which I didn't grow up, and in which I did not attend school.  I moved here in my mid-30s, leaving all of my friends & family (except my son) behind.  As a result I can honestly say I don't have a person at this point in my life that I can call my best friend - I have in the past, but I don't now.  This sometimes leaves me sad & feeling all alone, but then I stop and ponder & realize I have some wonderful faithful friends - I'm not their best friend & likely never will be, but I am loved & supported by these friends.  I'm going to tell you about my faithful friend Phyllis, and she'd probably be embarrassed knowing I'm telling about her, but she really stands out lately.  When the Tuesday morning ladies class this fall needed a new administrator I asked Phyllis (she has the right skills) & she said yes - helping all the teachers (not just me).  When I needed hostesses for an event at my home last week & asked Phyllis she again said yes.  And if she's in town & I need to be away for more than a few days guess who always comes through as a cat sitter for me... that's right, Phyllis.  Phyllis retired this last Summer, and having gone through that myself I've made a point of trying to be supportive of Phyllis as she finds her way in this new era of her life, my prayer is that I would be a faithful friend for her as well.

In todays lesson we're going to see how David's faithful friends show him love and support in this time of great need, many go unnamed but not forgotten - God knows who they are & how they blessed David.

2 Samuel 16:15-19 - Absalom is able to come in and take over Jerusalem without a fight, bringing Ahithophel with him.  Ahithophel had been one of David's trusted advisors, now he is betraying David by siding with Absalom.  But fear not, one of David's faithful friends, Hushai, is here to greet Absalom as he takes over as king - Hushai is also one of David's trusted advisors & is part of an espionage team David has set in place while he's in exile.  Absalom is a little suspicious of Hushai, but Hushai manages to convince him that he's there to serve Absalom now.

2 Samuel 16:20-23 - Absalom is trying to establish his position as king, and Ahithophel advises him to do so by sleeping with the concubines King David left behind to care for the palace.  Though this was sound strategic & political advice, this is not something God would approve of.  Sometimes we too may get advice that is sound for the purposes of finance, position, business or the like - no matter how sound the advice, we need to always ensure that taking that advice doesn't go against God's ways.  No profit in this world is worth a loss in eternity.  Apparently Absalom thought this was good advice & did as Ahithophel advised - Ahithophel had a reputation of providing sound advice.  In doing this one of Nathan's prophecies against David was fulfilled (2 Samuel 12:11b) that "...I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight".

2 Samuel 17:1-17:4 - Ahithophel continues to give Absalom sound strategic advice, this time about how to best defeat David & return the people who had gone with him.  Ahithophel basically says take a sizable group, 12 thousand men, but don't bother trying to defeat all of David's army, simply target David himself - if you strike David down the people will flee & you won't need to engage David's army.  This is shrewd advice, it's not a contest to see who's army is stronger - this is their own people! 

2 Samuel 17:5-6 - Absalom decides to take advantage of Hushai's service & get a second opinion.  Can you see God at work yet?  Absalom is unwittingly exposing Ahithophel's strategy & allowing himself to be re-directed by someone who has David's best interests at heart.

2 Samuel 17:7-14 - As a reminder from last week, though both Hushai & Ahithophel had been David's advisors, Hushai had been David's most trusted advisor - Absalom knows this.  Hushai undermines Ahithophel's advice, he reminds Absalom that daddy David & his men are experienced successful fighting men, and raises doubts about the ability of this force of 12 thousand in going and killing David.  But Hushai doesn't stop there, after undermining Ahithophel's advice he gives a completely new strategy for Absalom to consider, one that involves a much larger force - he is advising Absalom to go "all in", to use all force at his disposal, and in this way to guarantee success by sheer numbers.

What I find interesting about Hushai's advice is that it sounds humanly sound, and so Absalom & his men take it and consider it better than Ahithophel's.  What Absalom & his men fail to realize is that God is also in the equation, and that no amount of sheer number of human forces is going to win against God.  Absalom is risking much more by taking Hushai's advice, more of his men could be harmed & thus his reputation & strength could be more greatly undermined.  God used David's faithful friend to undermine David's betrayer & to defeat Absalom.

2 Samuel 17:15-16 - Faithful Friends #2 & 3 - Zadok & Abiathar the priests were also left behind by David as part of his espionage network, and Hushai goes to them to get a message sent to David.  Basically he's giving David a heads-up that Absalom is on his way, and advises him to get his entire entourage across the Jordan.  The Jordan river could be crossed, but only with time & effort - if David and his entourage didn't cross the Jordan they'd be trapped up against it as Absalom and his troops arrived.

2 Samuel 17:17-20 - Faithful Friends #4 & 5 - Jonathan & Ahimaaz the sons of the priests, as well as an unnamed faithful servant girl (Faithful Friend #6), are set up to get and pass the message along to David.  At some point in the process this little part of the espionage team gets exposed and a second betrayer, this time an unnamed young man, tells Absalom that something is amiss with Jonathan & Ahimaaz (J&A).  Realizing they are in danger, J&A exit quickly and take refuge at the home of Faithful Friends #7 & 8 - an unnamed man of Bahurim & his unnamed wife.

The couple in Bahurim had a well, and had wisely built their home around the well, forming a courtyard that provided it protection.  I'm guessing that it wasn't common knowledge beyond their circle of family & friends that they had a well, but J&A knew about it and were able to hide there.  The wife pulled the cover over the well, they frequently had covers for wells since they were typically a hole in the ground (no little wall around it like you see in picture books) & you wouldn't want a person or animal to fall in accidentally.  To hide the well the woman simply spread out some grain, making it look as if she were getting ready to work the grain in her courtyard & providing ideal camouflage for the well.

An interesting side note: Shimei, the one who was cursing David & his entourage in Chapter 16, was from Bahurim.  I wonder if this was God's purpose in Shimei's actions - if Shimei were home, rather than following & cursing David, would he have told Absalom's men about the well?

Absalom's men inquire of the woman where J&A have gone, and she tells them they went off toward the brook - she sends them in the wrong direction, this results in Absalom's men going back to Jerusalem empty-handed.

2 Samuel 17:21-23 - J&A make it to David, they pass along the message, and David gets his entire entourage safely across the Jordan.  Meanwhile, Ahithophel sees that Absalom isn't taking his advice & assumes Absalom will be defeated.  Instead of waiting around to be condemned as a traitor Ahithophel heads home, puts his affairs in order, and hangs himself.

2 Samuel 17:24-26 - David moves his entourage on to Mahanaim, they will wait there for Absalom's forces to cross the Jordan & come after them.  Absalom appoints Amasa as his general, Amasa is cousin to both Absalom & Joab (David's general); he is also David's nephew from his older half-sister Abigail (same mother, who probably had been widowed & then remarried to Jesse, David's father). 

2 Samuel 17:27-29 - Faithful Friends #9, 10 & 11 - If you're like me sometimes these names can just seem confusing, but these are significant people and they come alongside David at this point to provide him and his entourage with much needed supplies.  Here's a bit more about these three:

Shobi - an Ammonite, the brother of Hanun whom David had defeated.  Apparently David's treatment of the Ammonite people had been good or we wouldn't be seeing the support of the brother of a defeated warrior.  David was a kindly king to the peoples he conquered.

Makir - this was the wealthy benefactor who had taken in Mephibosheth when he was in exile, before David had called the crippled son of Jonathan to join him in Jerusalem.  So yet another of those who had cared for Mephibosheth was siding with David (also Ziba in Chapter 16).

Barzillai - an elderly but very wealthy man, with family ties to the priesthood, and who supported David all through this period of exile.

David had a way with people, despite being a warrior.  Perhaps it was the poet side of him, the sensitive side, that allowed him to garner such faithful friends.

Closing Prayer:  Lord, we thank you for the gift of friends and for the love & support they give.  Lord help us to be a people who come alongside our friends, to love & support them, even if we're not acknowledged & even if our loyalty is not reciprocated.  Amen!

Quickly Form Groups Again:
2.  When was the last time you were a "friend in need" to someone?  What was your motivation?  How did helping this person make you feel?

3.  Pray for each other.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Life of David - Lesson 32

Disobedient Sons & Loyal Friends - 2 Samuel 15:1-16:14

Prayer: Lord as we study your word today we thank you that you promise wisdom to those who seek it, help us to be a people who seek your wisdom.  Amen!

Quickly Form Groups:
1. What kinds of problems are caused by lies - yes, even "little white lies"?

Absalom is back in David's good graces, but I'm guessing its been made known that he is no longer heir to David's throne, so he's going to take matters into his own hands.  2 Samuel Chapter 14 told us that Absalom was handsome, with an amazing head of hair, and appealed to the people of Israel - he was the A-List celebrity of his day.  So lets see what Absalom does with his popularity...

2 Samuel 15:1 - Two interesting things are happening here: First Absalom has provided himself with an entourage of bodyguards, making a display of royal pomp - this is not something normally done in Israel so perhaps he learned this while in exile with his Grandfather, the king of Geshur.  Second Absalom chooses to utilize horses, it is believed that he was the first Israelite leader to utilize a chariot & horses - there are a couple reasons for this: (Deuteronomy 17:16) God had decreed that the king of Israel was not to acquire a great number of horses, a king riding a horse was considered a king of war where a king riding on a donkey (Jesus) was considered a king of peace.

2 Samuel 15:2-6 - Absalom is handsome, he's got horses & an entourage, he's going out of his way to convince the people that he would be available when they needed him, he's campaigning to be a judge for the people.  He's a hybrid of a con-man and a politician, he's even doing the middle-eastern equivalent of shaking hands & kissing babies.  He "stole" the hearts of the people.  He is a liar & a thief, just like his father the devil.  If you think I'm over-exaggerating just wait and see what he does next.

2 Samuel 15:7-12 - Four Years!!  Absalom has been up to his shenanigans at the gate of the city, telling people what they wanted to hear & drawing them over to himself.  How in the world did David not have a clue?  Was David living in blissful ignorance thinking all was well with the kingdom because people weren't bringing as many problems to him?  How is it David's government hadn't gotten wind of what Absalom was up to?

So now he goes up to daddy the king and lies to his face, he tells David that he wants to fulfill a vow to the Lord when in truth he is hatching a plot against David.  He even claims he's going to worship the Lord, which is far from true.  I'm guessing that Abaslom is fulfilling a vow, but a vow of vengeance, perhaps made when he was under grand-daddy the king of Geshur - a vow to take the throne of Israel by force if necessary (but that is just my guess).

David sends Absalom away in peace, but Absalom isn't interested in peace, he's got everything planned out, and he gathers people in to his conspiracy against the king.  One person he draws to himself is Ahithophel, a wise man & counselor to David - this is a betrayal by a trusted advisor.  Ahithophel was Bathsheba's grandfather, perhaps he didn't like what David had done to Uriah, or perhaps he didn't like Bathsheba being one of many women in David's household, we really don't know.

2 Samuel 15:13-18 - When David gets wind of the conspiracy he chooses to flee, I'm guessing the servant gave him an extensive account of Absalom's actions & forces & that Ahithophel had gone over to him.  By fleeing David spares the city of Jerusalem from attack, and spares his family as well - all but 10 concubines.  These concubines would end up being the cause of the fulfillment of one of Nathan's prophecies (2 Samuel 12:11), when Absalom took over the position of king the concubines became his to take as he pleased - we'll see more about this in next week's passage.  The king still had many who were loyal to him, including some groups of foreigners who had taken David as their king, and they left Jerusalem with him.

2 Samuel 15:19-22 - David addresses the Philistine contingent, he is not expecting them to be loyal to him & releases them from any obligation.  But Ittai & his men have allied themselves with David, they want him as their leader, they must have seen something in him that they'd not seen in other kings (or at least not in Absalom), so Ittai & the Philistine contingent remain with David.

2 Samuel 15:23-29 - Later, as they passed through the countryside there are still many people in Israel loyal to David, and they wept aloud as he passed by on his way to the desert.  But then the narrative backs up a bit to tell us about some things that happened along the way.  Just outside the city, the priests had brought out the Ark of the Covenant & offered sacrifices while the people were leaving Jerusalem.  David asks the priests to remain in Jerusalem, stating that if it is God's will he will be back - the Ark is God's not David's, in the mean time he asks that the priests & their sons provide him with intelligence concerning Absalom & his forces. 

2 Samuel 15:30-37 - Still near Jerusalem, at the Mount of Olives, David leads a group in a humble procession up the mount to pray.  David's prayer is simple: "turn Ahithophel's counsel into foolishness".  (1 Chronicles 27:33) Hushai was there, another trusted member of David's court, his title from Chronicles of "king's friend" is the official title for the king's most trusted advisor - I'm not sure why he would be a burden, perhaps he was quite old or infirmed (or both).  In any case David asks him to stay behind, to undermine Ahithophel & to provide intelligence to the priests to pass along to him.  David has effectively set up his espionage team, the gathering would be done by Hushai, and the transmitting would be done by the sons of the priests.

2 Samuel 16:1-4 - Just a bit further along his way to the desert, just after leaving the summit of the Mount of Olives, another loyal man comes along.  We met Ziba previously in 2 Samuel 9, he was the steward of Saul's family holdings & had kept things in order while the family was in exile.  Ziba had been instrumental in brining Jonathan's crippled (grown) son Mephibosheth into David's court, and providing for him - doing so in service to both Saul's family & the king.  Ziba brings provisions for the king, Ziba would have been old & still needed in his service in Jerusalem.  When Mephibosheth was returned Ziba & his household had to step down from enjoying Saul's holdings as if they were their own, and become Mephibosheth's servants.  Now because Mephibosheth is siding with Absalom David grants all of Saul's holdings to Ziba, this will only work if David gets back his position as king, but it is a beautiful gesture on David's part to someone who has sacrificed for David's sake.  David had not turned his back on Jonathan's son, but Jonathan's son has turned his back on David.  Perhaps he was hoping that his family will be restored as the royal family - something his father Jonathan gave up willingly to David (1 Samuel 18:1-4).

2 Samuel 16:5-14 - One more person along the way, but this is not a loyal friend.  Shimei thought that God was punishing David, and Abisahi (David's nephew & one of his commanders) want's to take off his head.  David will have none of this, David realizes that what is happening may be the fulfillment of Nathan's prophecy, and that this may be part of God's plan.  David even says "the Lord has told him to", David sees God's purpose being played out in the man's cursing (Romans 8:28).  They continue on their journey & finally arrive, and thanks at least in part to Ziba's gifts they are refreshed.

Closing Prayer:  Lord, sometimes our families let us down, sometimes our friends, but Lord we know that you are a friend that remains closer than a brother.  Your Word tells us you will never leave or forsake us, for that we are thankful.  Amen!

Quickly Form Groups Again:
2.  What makes a faithful friend?  Tell of a time when a friend stood by you.
3.  Pray for each other.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Life of David - Lesson 31

Brother against Brother - 2 Samuel 13:23-39

Prayer: Lord as we study your word today we thank you that your scripture teaches us practical lessons for our lives.  We pray that we would learn from both the good and the bad examples given in scripture, and that we would seek your help and wisdom for living in this fallen world among fallen people.  Amen!

Quickly Form Groups:
1.  With which family member do you tend to have the most strife & why?  How might God want you to change in order to glorify Him in this relationship?

There is strife in David's family, David's oldest son (Amnon) has raped one of David's daughters (Tamar, his half-sister), and another of David's sons (Absalom, Tamar's full-brother) is hopping mad about the whole thing... but daddy David, though furious, apparently doesn't do anything about it.  This is a recipe for disaster... 

2 Samuel 13:23-25 - It's two years later & the time for sheep-shearing has come!!  Ok, maybe that's not exciting to you, but to an Israelite of that day it was a festive occasion - perhaps we could compare it to something like our Thanksgiving holiday that's coming up soon.  Either Absalom was in charge of the King's sheep, or had sizable flocks of his own, and the time had come to shear the sheep and celebrate.  Absalom invites all the men in the family to join him, all the king's sons as well as the King and the King's officials.  To invite family to join was not unusual, but to invite this huge family to all come is a very large gathering, so King David declines since it would be a burdensome for all the men to join.  Was David thinking that he & his officials were too old for all this?  Perhaps... This is hard labor followed by partying, something more appealing to a younger group of men.  Despite Absalom's urging David didn't change his mind, but did give his blessing.

Let's look a moment at the possibility of the the flocks being the King's sheep, since that makes the most sense with all the men in the family being invited. 2 Samuel 8:2 - the Moabites are subdued & bring tribute, but what is the tribute they must bring?  2 Kings 3:4 - The annual tribute Moab was to make as a vassal state was 100,000 lambs & the wool of 100,000 rams.

2 Samuel 13:26-27 - Absalom hasn't given up yet, in fact I think things are working according to plan.  What he really wants is to get Amnon to go with him, and the fact that he has to bring all the kings sons along is no problem.  The request may seem suspicious to us, but remember it's two years after Tamar was raped.  Amnon was the oldest of the sons & perhaps the strongest & most experienced of the bunch, he's also the "crown prince", the heir apparent, and as such he could join the celebration as the king's representative - this again makes a lot of sense if this is the King's flocks being sheared.  More hands would make the work go more quickly, and the more the merrier at the after-party.  David agrees & off his sons go to work & to celebrate.

2 Samuel 13:28 - But wait, there's a plot afoot!!  Absalom hasn't forgiven Amnon, and he's certainly not forgotten what Amnon did to his sister.  Absalom tells his men that he will watch for when Amnon is drunk from wine (at the celebration), and then give them the order to strike Amnon down.  He encourages his men to be brave & reassures them that he will take the blame since it is on his order that they are acting.  I'm guessing Amnon was a seasoned fighting man since they would wait for him to be somewhat incapacitated before he was killed.

2 Samuel 13:29 - Absalom gives the order & Amnon is killed.  The rest of David's sons may have thought that Absalom was trying to secure his succession to the throne by killing Amnon.  In any case they got on their mules, the normal mount for royalty in David's kingdom, and fled toward home.

2 Samuel 13:30-31 - In ancient Israel bad news spread faster than Princes fleeing on mules, because an errant report comes to David that all his sons are dead. Apparently others that had been at the sheep-shearing celebration also fled, perhaps they exited before David's sons left, and perhaps by horse (they were available in the area).  David & all his servants tear their robes & openly grieve, David is face down on the ground, utterly devastated!

2 Samuel 13:32-33 - Jonadab, David's nephew, the one who had helped Amnon trap Tamar, he is the one who clears up the matter.  Apparently Jonadab wasn't too happy about how Amnon had acted toward Tamar, since he seems to be in-the-know regarding Absalom's feelings.  He tells David that Absalom has been expressing his intention to kill Amnon ever since Tamar was raped.  Jonadab reassures David that his other sons still live, that only Amnon is dead.

David hadn't dealt with Amnon, and he hadn't dealt with Absalom's anger toward Amnon, the rift hadn't been healed, and so the price of inaction must be paid.  The "crown prince" is now dead.

2 Samuel 13:34-36 - Absalom flees, he knows the penalty for murder & that he is now family enemy #1.  The watchman sees men coming from a distance, Jonadab points out to David that this is his sons returning.  Indeed it is the kings sons, they come in wailing loudly, and they and King David & the servants bitterly grieve.  The sword would not depart from David's house (prophesied in 2 Samuel 2:10), and it is cutting David's family deep in the heart.

2 Samuel 13:37 - Absalom fled to Talmai son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur.  As soon as I read this I was wondering "why kind of king is this?" & "why did Absalom flee to this particular king & country?"  2 Samuel 3:3 - Absalom flees for protection to his Maternal Grandfather.  Grandpa would have been likely to be sympathetic, this is his grandson who was avenging his granddaughter, and avenging her against someone (Amnon) that wasn't one of his own family.

2 Samuel 13:38-39 - Absalom stays in Geshur for three years.  David longs for his son Absalom, perhaps he realizes that Absalom had worked out the justice for Tamar that he himself had failed to do.  David was consoled regarding Amnon, his grief had dissipated.  Sometimes we judge David because of his inaction, after all he's the king & should be upholding justice not only in the land but in his family.  But David is also a Dad, and you never stop loving your kids even if they make big mistakes or are scoundrels.  David seems to have come to terms with Amnon's death and forgiven Absalom.

Closing Prayer:  Lord God, help us to forgive those who hurt us, help us to forgive those who hurt the ones we love.  Lord please keep us from letting anger eat us up within until it lashes out with dire consequences.  Amen!

Read through 2 Samuel 14 as a preparation for the next lesson.

Quickly Form Groups Again:
2.  Anger is not sinful in itself, but can lead to sinful actions.  When is anger not sinful?  What is God's purpose in the emotion we call anger?  Discuss the dangers of "stuffing" your anger.  Discuss the dangers of readily lashing out in anger.
3.  Pray for each other.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Life of David - Lesson 30

Trouble with David's Children - 2 Samuel 13:1-22

Prayer: Lord sometimes your Word contains things that are difficult for us to process, painful things, but it reminds us that this life is painful & that your Word is truth.  Help us to work through this painful passage, and help us to be compassionate to those who have suffered deep hurt at the hands of others.  We may not be able to understand the pain another has faced, but we must be ready with listening ears & loving ways.  Amen!

Quickly Form Groups:
1.  I want you to think of a time when you or someone close to you was deeply hurt at the hands of another (don't share, just think back). When dealing with deep hurts what helps & what doesn't help?

In our last lesson David was given 3 levels of prophetic consequences for his sin with Bathsheba, one of which occurred almost immediately.  In this lesson we begin to see the other consequences begin to play out.  Many commentators maintain that the reason these things happen are due to David's many wives & concubines, something that puts him in a position of compromise to God's pure ways.  Add to this his own failings concerning Bathsheba, and the result is that David has undermined his own authority within his family to hold his children accountable for their sins.

A bit about David's family at this point, at this point he has at least 8 wives & an unknown number of concubines.  David eventually has at least 17 sons, though there are probably many more than that, and an unknown number of daughters.  Presumably the children were each raised by their own mothers, and dear old dad David probably had little time to interact with all his children.

David's children in this passage are the following:
  • Amnon, a son of Ahinoam (wife #2) & David's oldest son
  • Tamar, a daughter of Maacah (wife #4) - 1/2 sister to Amnon
  • Absalom, a son of Maacah - Tamar's full brother

2 Samuel 13:1 - When we read just this one verse we run into a couple possible misunderstandings:
  • First, there would have been no problem with a romance & marriage between these two in those days - they were not full siblings, probably raised in two different households by two different mothers & this sort of thing was not uncommon.  Some commentators say that this was "wrong" because it was incestuous, but the scripture does not support that view, so we need to make sure not to rush to judgement.  After all Abraham "the friend of God" & first of the patriarchs was married to Sarah, his half-sister.
  • Second, we need to be careful with the word "love".  This particular Hebrew word for "love" has a few possible meanings, and we shouldn't assume this was any sort of pure innocent care or devotion, as we read the following verses I think this will become clear.

2 Samuel 13:2 - Amnon's feelings for Tamar seem to be a combination of desire & obsession, and apparently all his efforts to seduce her had gone unfulfilled.  The passage tells us Tamar is a virgin, and this is important for a variety of reasons we'll discuss as we continue.  We were told in verse 1 that she was beautiful, and knowing she's a virgin we can assume she is young - perhaps a teenager. From the tone of the passage I'm certain Amnon is not a virgin, in fact he may be as old as in his 30s & is probably a seasoned warrior since he was born in Hebron (2 Samuel 3:2), born when David was ruling over Judah & before he was ruling over all Israel.  At this point Amnon may already have had concubines or wives, but we don't know - at the very least we'll see later that he has his own house & servants & doesn't live in the palace.

2 Samuel 13:3-5 - Amnon is close with his cousin Jonadab, and Jonadab is described as "shrewd".  I'm guessing that these two have gotten into lots of mischief together - not surprising for cousins who are close friends.  Jonadab finds out what is causing Amnon to look "haggard" in the mornings, and comes up with a plan to help Amnon seduce Tamar.

2 Samuel 13:6-7 - Amnon sets the plan in motion, he pretends to be ill & asks his dad (King David) to send his half-sister Tamar to come make him some bread & feed him.  Ok, David isn't dumb, I'm sure he knew that Amnon was attracted to Tamar, and I think he probably was happy to encourage this budding romance - after all, a marriage between the two was not out of the question & Tamar was eligible to be married.  David sends word for Tamar (still living in the palace) to go to Amnon's house & make him some food.  Keep in mind that this is not a strange request, the wives & daughters of the king had special privileges but they were women living in a day when women answered to the men in their lives.  I think it's interesting also that women in these positions at this time in Israel weren't catered to hand & foot, they were expected to contribute their domestic skills for the good of the family.

2 Samuel 13:8-10 - Tamar has obediently gone to Amnon's house, and made some bread while he watched.  She's not stupid, she knows Amnon is interested because verse 2 indicates he's made advances previously.  I'm wondering if she was feeling honored & excited, was Amnon going to ask for her hand?  Marriage to Amnon was probably what she hoped for, it would have kept her close to home, near her family & not married off for political gain; additionally, marriage to Amnon would mean that she might be in line to be Israel's queen (Amnon was David's oldest son).

Tamar takes the bread & serves it (perhaps on a table), but he won't eat, and instead sends everyone else away.  She's not afraid of him, when he asks she takes the bread to him at his bedside.   What is Tamar thinking at this point?  Perhaps she thinks he is not wanting his physical weakness to be seen by all (she believe's he is sick).  Is she hoping he's going to state his intentions & declare his love for her?

2 Samuel 13:11 - Can you imagine how startled Tamar must have been?  She probably had all these romantic imaginations, and Amnon just wants to fulfill his lust.  She's not safe here and she knows it, something in his actions or in his voice or his expression are telling her he's not interested in waiting, he wants her & he wants her right now!  This isn't love, this is lust.  Love thinks of the other person & doesn't put their own desires first, but Tamar is still hoping for love - I think that because of what she tries to get Amnon to do next.  This convinces me she must have been young, because she was still idealistic.

2 Samuel 13:12-13 - Tamar pleads with Amnon, she tries to reason with him - what he would do is wicked & shouldn't be done in Israel, perhaps this should read "shouldn't occur among God's people".  She's the daughter of the king, she wants to be married & not just a concubine.  She begs him to ask David for her hand, she knows her father would let them marry.

2 Samuel 13:14-15 - Amnon overpowers & rapes Tamar.  Tamar may have been in love with Amnon, but this is not an act of love on his part.  This is an act of selfishness & an act of hate.  At one time I thought Spousal Rape was something blown out of proportion, but now I personally know a woman who was raped by her husband.  In this woman's case the husband was drunk & abusing narcotic pain killers, but the act she describes was nothing short of selfish and hateful.  Despite counseling their marriage didn't last, mostly because he was hard-hearted toward her.  No means No, even if you're "in love", even if you're drunk, even if you're married... there are no excuses.  Amnon now hates Tamar, and he is blinded by his hatred & is vicious toward her.

2 Samuel 13:16-17 - Tamar is desperate, she's trying to make the best of a terrible situation, she's willing to stay on with him despite his hateful actions because she knows what this will do to her personally if he doesn't take her in.  No longer a virgin she cannot be offered by her father in marriage to anyone.  But Amnon is continuing his vicious behavior, he treats her as less than a concubine & he calls his personal servant to kick her out & lock the door.

2 Samuel 13:18-19 - Tamar is still wearing one of the special robes given to the virgin daughters of the king, these garments indicate that she is a special young lady, one that the king alone could give away in marriage.  She tears the robe, indicating that she has been violated & indicating her heartbreak.  She also places ashes on her head & put her hand on her head and wept aloud - these are actions marking one who is grieving.

2 Samuel 13:20-22 - Absalom attempted to care for his sister, he dealt gently with her & took her into his home to care for her.  Because Amnon rejected Tamar outright Tamar became "desolate", unable to marry & perhaps unable to be taken as a concubine as well (though that may have been out of the question for a daughter of the king).  David is furious, but that's all it says - it doesn't say he dealt with Amnon, it doesn't say he reached out to comfort Tamar.  It's possible that David just didn't know what to do, after all these are both his children, they are children of two different wives, what a mess!!Absalom hates Amnon & won't speak to him, this is a major family rift.
Next time we'll see what happens between these two half-brothers.

Closing Prayer:  Lord, sometimes when we hear about terrible things like this we want to ask "Why?", we want to make sense of it, we want justice, we want to know why you didn't step in and stop it.  Please help us when we ask "Why?", help us to see things through your eyes, and help us to see you at work even when exposed to the evil in the world.  Amen!

Quickly Form Groups Again:
2.  Share things that you find troubling that happen in this world.  Discuss how God might use them for his purposes.

3.  Pray for each other.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Life of David - Lesson 29

Truth, Consequences, Forgiveness, & Restoration - 2 Samuel 12

Prayer: Lord we are thankful for your hand in our lives.  We thank you that you don't let us go our own way but instead take action in our lives.  I pray that we will learn from David this week, last time we saw the importance of resisting temptation, this time we need to learn the importance of repentance - of coming clean & staying clean with you.  Lord, for whatever areas of our lives that we've failed & fallen we ask for your hand to be on us in order to restore us.  Amen!

Quickly Form Groups:
1. What is your favorite Bible parable?  What is the main lesson of that parable?

Last time we met we saw David fall deeper & deeper into the trap of sin.  He started out by being a little too self indulgent, fell into adultery, tried several times to cover up his sin & eventually ended up ordering a man's death in order to cover up what he had done.   If we didn't have the passage recorded in the Bible we might think he got away with it, but he didn't.  

God knew what David had done & God was not pleased, now God is sending Nathan to David to expose his sin.  Why would the sin need to be exposed?  So it could be repented of & David could be clean & forgiven once again.


2 Samuel 12:1-4 - Nathan is using a form we're familiar with from the New Testament, he is using a parable.  He tells of a rich man & the awful thing he has done to his poor neighbor.  The rich man who had many sheep & cattle of his own stole a young lamb, the only lamb & beloved family pet of his impoverished neighbor, and used it to throw a feast.  A modern-day equivalent might be: Governor Dayton came into your house, walked off with your cat or dog, and then used it to feed a visiting dignitary.  It is a viciously unkind & unnecessary action, there is no justification for this, this is nothing short of cruel hard-heartedness

2 Samuel 12:5-6 - David's response shows us that he's not aware that what Nathan has told him is a parable.  David is indignant, he wants the man brought to justice at once, he wants not only the debt to be repaid - 4 times was the prescribed amount - he wants the man put to death.

2 Samuel 12:7-9 - About a year had passed, and apparently David had been contentedly living a lie, apparently he hadn't told anyone & apparently he hadn't confessed his sin before God. Perhaps he had justified himself in his own eyes, after all he is the king & has rule over all the people, in any case it's been a year and he's gotten away with his sin... or so he thinks.  So can you imagine how David's heart must have been crushed when Nathan proclaims "You are the man!".  Nathan interprets the parable, God has given David much & would have gladly given him more, but David instead has taken what belonged to someone else.  David is accused of despising the word of the Lord, of doing evil in God's sight.  Nathan doesn't cushion the blow, he proclaims David's guilt in Uriah's death, it may have been an Ammonite sword that struck the blow but David is guilty of murder.

Consequences prophesied:

2 Samuel 12:10-12 - David's sentence involves 3 prophesied consequences:
  • A prophecy about the sword not departing from his "house" - from Biblical history we know that 3 of David's sons died violent deaths, and this seems to be a long-term prophecy that would go down through the generations of his family tree.
  • A prophecy about a specific calamity that would come upon David & his wives - we will see this play out in chapter 15 when Absalom (David's son) seizes the throne from his father & takes his father's wives.  This is a mid-term prophecy, one that would play out within David's lifetime.
  • A short-term prophecy that has immediate consequences, but we'll get to that one in a moment, because suddenly David has a realization!


2 Samuel 12:13 - David confesses his sin, notice what he says "I sinned against the Lord".  This isn't between David & Uriah, or between David & any other person, this sin is against God.  David's actions have separated him from God, and David appears to be saying "may God do with me as He pleases, I have sinned against him".  Nathan declared that David is forgiven, he has received God's mercy, he will not be given the death sentence normally required for either adultery or murder (according to God's laws).  Mercy - not getting the punishment you deserve (as opposed to Grace which is getting a gift you can't earn & don't deserve).  Mercy comes when we confess our sins before God, and that mercy is God's forgiveness.

Consequences Begin:

2 Samuel 12:14-15 - Despite forgiveness there are still consequences for sin, the sentence already given remains, and the third consequence is prophesied:
  • The child conceived in sin will die.  This is the short-term prophecy, one with immediate consequences.

God didn't take it easy on David, God dealt a hard blow in 3 tough consequences, any one of which would have been a severe punishment.  There is a long-term prophecy against his family line, a mid-term prophecy against himself & his wives, and a short-term prophecy which will take his baby boy.  God was hard on David because God loved David, sometimes God deals tenderly with His people when they fall & sometimes God is tough.  From my recent studies in the life of Elijah I've seen that God deals tenderly with those who fall when they are broken, and here we see that God is tough with those who fall when they are in defiance.

The child is struck ill.  There is a part of me that wants to say "but this baby didn't do anything wrong!"  I need to remember that this is God at work, and God is always loving & always just.  For anyone else that is struggling with this I'd ask that you hold off on thinking God is being cruel, because there is a verse later in today's passage that gives us deeper insight.

2 Samuel 12:16-17 - David pleads with God for his baby boy to be spared.  David fasted, he spent his nights on the ground (fasting from comfort as well as from food).  The elders were quite concerned, they couldn't get him to get up off the ground or to eat with them.

2 Samuel 12:18-19 - God says no.  Ouch!!  David has been God's man up to this point & will be again, but this time God said no, and the child died.  David's servants aren't sure what to do, David has been beside himself up until now & they fear for how he will react once he knows his child has died.  If you've ever known anyone who has lost a child you know how devastating that can be, there is something in our guts that tells us it's unnatural for a child to die, and it is a crushing blow.


2 Samuel 12:20-23 - David's reaction to the news of the death of his son puzzles his servants, they expect him to grieve even more.  David's reaction may seem strange, but after 7 days of fasting & prayer David has God's perspective on the situation.  

I lost my Dad to cancer, watching my Dad die & knowing he was dying was extremely painful - it was a period of extended grief for my family prior to his death.  This wonderful sweet man of God was put through a living hell on this earth, it seemed so unfair.  When my Dad finally died the family experienced an unexpected surge of joy, my Dad was no longer suffering & we knew with confidence that he was walking with the Lord - and in fact most of us experienced a jealousy of sorts, that he was able to go before us & we'd been left behind.  People didn't understand what my family experienced, even believers didn't & usually don't understand still, but God gave us a glimpse of things from a heavenly perspective.

David gets up, washes up, puts on some lotion, and puts on some clean clothes.  This marks the end of his period of fasting & prayer.  The very next thing he does is goes to the house of the Lord (the tabernacle) and worships God.  After he has worshipped God he goes home & eats a meal.  David has been Spiritually & Physically restored.

The servants don't understand, they are like the people I said didn't understand my family, so they ask & David attempts to answer, but I'm guessing they still might not have understood.

God is not cruel, verse 23 makes it clear that David knows that his baby is now being nurtured in the hands of his loving God - the child will not be returned to David, but David will some day be reunited with his child in heaven.  Was it cruel for God to take the child?  Absolutely not!  That child was in a much better place than he would have been living out a mortal life on earth, he was in the loving arms of God.

2 Samuel 12:24-25 - David is doing much better but poor Bathsheba has probably been trying to nurse the baby back to health & likely feels like a failure.  David goes & comforts Bathsheba, the love of a husband can do wonders for a hurting wife, and David is a loving husband to Bathsheba.  In time another son comes along for David & Bathsheba, that son we know would eventually become King Solomon, a man loved by God, and God assigns him a name that means "loved by the Lord".  David is emotionally restored, and his family with Bathsheba has been restored.

2 Samuel 12:26-31 - During this period Joab has been out leading a portion of the army, still swatting at those annoying Ammonites, and he's laid siege to the royal citadel (fortress).  Joab sends word that he's cut off the water supply & it's time to bring the rest of the army & take care of the Ammonites for good.  Joab says something odd, he basically says "get out here & help me finish this or this kingdom I've defeated is going to be mine", that's some pretty strong words from the General to his King, but they are words that get David back to doing the job he should have been doing to start with (instead of lazing around the palace seducing the neighbor girl).  This in effect brings about David's positional restoration, that of being the active king.

Rabbah is captured, and the crown is taken - symbol of the authority of their king - and it is symbolically place on David's head to signify him as the new authority over the Ammonite people.  From the passage we read that the crown contained a talent of gold (about 75 pounds) and was set with precious stones.  Apparently the Ammonites had a great deal of wealth in valuable items in Rabbah, and David took the wealth of the city as plunder.  David also took the people and put them to work as laborers to the benefit of Israel (common practice of the day).  From there they went out and conquered all the rest of the Ammonite towns, bringing the entire peoples of the Ammonites under David's rule.  Finally these pesky Ammonites have been taken care of, and the army returns to Jerusalem.

Closing Prayer:  God we thank you that you show us that there are consequences for our sins, but we thank you even more that these consequences are designed for our sanctification & restoration.  Help us to have soft hearts so that you can deal with us tenderly, keep us from being hard hearted & having to face such dire consequences, but in either case Lord keep us close to you.  Amen!

Quickly Form Groups Again:

2.  Read Psalm 51, this was the Psalm written after David was confronted by Nathan.  What in this Psalm could you point to as evidence of true repentance on David's part?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Life of David - Lesson 28

A Major Blunder, an Attempted Cover-up, and a Murder Plot - 2 Samuel 11

Prayer: God we thank you that when your Word speaks of your people, of your chosen, that it is brutally honest.  We thank you that an imperfect fallen person was "just the right man" & "a man after God's own heart".  We're far from perfect, we need the encouragement that comes from knowing you use flawed people to do your will.  We're saddened by the failings of believers, and pray for the sanctification of your church.  Amen!

Quickly Form Groups:
1.  Talk about the types of sins that trap people - especially people in your generation, after some discussion pray for strength when facing temptation.

You may have already guessed which passage we're at in David's life.  Despite all the amazing Godly things David he is best known for this terrible episode in his life.  It's like we see on the evening news, it's the bad news that gets the most attention.  This passage saddens me, but at the same time encourages me - you see, despite David's failure (and this is a biggie) he's still the "man after God's own heart".

The Major Blunder:

2 Samuel 11:1 - It is Springtime in Israel, and the army has gone out to deal with the Ammonites once again (the same pesky group that started all the trouble in last week's passage).  Apparently David didn't feel like going, even though he could have, so we get the sense that he's decided to take it easy, to indulge himself & enjoy the many benefits of being king.  1 Corinthians 10:12  This should be a warning to us, it's usually when we start getting a little too "comfortable" in our salvation that we get tripped up - we're just not paying enough attention or getting lazy in our faith.

2 Samuel 11:2 - Red Alert! Red Alert! Warning! Danger!!  David is restless, has too much time on his hands & perhaps is a bit bored.  He decides to go for a walk out on the roof in the evening.  Sounds innocent enough, right?  Roofs in that area were flat & frequently were used as outdoor rooms.  Eastern palaces of that era typically had a king's bedchamber on the 2nd floor (for privacy), with a door that opened up onto a stretch of flat roof which had been furnished as a private area to relax, this is where we find David taking a late night stroll.  Perhaps he heard the splash of water & looked out over the edge of his roof to see who else was up & about that night, whatever the case he looked out & saw a woman bathing - a very beautiful woman.  

A couple things should get our attention here, this woman was not behaving in a modest way - as was the way of most Hebrew women.  A modest woman would not have bathed in a place where she could be observed, and this woman is in plain sight of the  king.  The other thing we should notice is that the scriptures call her very beautiful, not just beautiful, and the scriptures rarely include the word "very" so this is no exaggeration, she was a knock-out.  Was she hoping to be seen by the king?  It seems that this was the case.  It reminds me of the time Marilyn Monroe sang Happy Birthday to JFK, which raised eyebrows in that day - google it if you don't get the reference. 

2 Samuel 11:3-5 - Who is at fault here?  Both are at fault, she tempted & he gave into temptation - using his position as king as a means of manipulating the situation.   I want you to know that these few sentences probably took some time, there was time to make an inquiry & time to be introduced & time for the seduction to reach it's dreadful conclusion.  The note about purification is how we know that she was not already pregnant by Uriah, and that the child that resulted from their actions is indeed David's.

Uriah was one of David's mighty men, he was off at war, and while he was off at war his wife was at home tempting the king.  Uriah was a Hittite, a foreigner, who had become a Jew by choice - even taking on a Hebrew name, the fact that his home was in close proximity to the palace indicates that he may have been a man of high rank.  Bathsheba was also a foreigner by birth, a Gilonite, the daughter of another of David's mighty men.  I'm guessing Bathsheba may have been attracted to David for a while, she & her family may have been part of the band of misfits that had been traveling with David when still in the wilderness. (Both Uriah & Bathsheba's father Eliam are listed in 2 Samuel 24 as part of David's Mighty Men)

The Attempted Cover-up:

2 Samuel 11:6-9 - David has Uriah called back from the war under a pretense that he wanted to know how the war was going.  The fact that David's actions didn't arouse suspicion is another indication of Uriah's high standing among David's men.  David "plays nice" and tells Uriah to go home & relax for a while, and even sends a gift on to Uriah's home showing his favor.  David thinks his plan is going well but Uriah doesn't go home, instead he chooses to sleep at the entrance to the palace along with David's servants.

2 Samuel 11:10-11 - David discovers Uriah didn't go home and questions him, he wants to know why he didn't take the opportunity to rest well at home since he'd come from quite a distance.  Uriah's response tells us a lot about him, he's a man of honor.  Uriah wasn't going to go enjoy all the comforts of home while the rest of the army was off fighting.  Compare that to David's recent behavior, David chose to stay home and take it easy & even played around with another man's wife.  Uriah is demonstrating his camaraderie & solidarity with his fellow soldiers & refusing to enjoy his own home, bed, and wife.  A foreigner's devotion & honor has outshone that of the Hebrew king.

2 Samuel 11:12-13 - David hasn't given up trying to cover-up his actions, so he tries once more.  This time David gets Uriah drunk... but despite having too much to drink Uriah keeps his honor & once again sleeps with David's servants.  This cover-up attempt has failed, when the child Bathsheba is carrying is born Uriah will know it is not his.  This is a serious problem for both David & Bathsheba, Leviticus 20:10 & Deuteronomy 22:22, God's law prescribed serious consequences (the death penalty) for both of them.

The Murder Plot:

2 Samuel 11:14-17 - David is now taking desperate measures, he sends Uriah back to war with his own execution orders carried in his hand.  Did Joab know what was going on?  Did he suspect?  It is not known, but he knew his king had asked him to arrange for Uriah to die, and so he did as he was asked.

Uriah died a hero's death, and David - the man after God's own heart - is the villain.  Sometimes we think that because we're believers we aren't as evil as those in the world around us, that just isn't true!  We are all born with a sin nature, we all are fallen, none of us is any better or any more deserving; however, a heart that is passionate for God draws us to God, and it is by His goodness we are saved.  David still has a heart that is passionate for God, but he's lost his way.

2 Samuel 11:18-25 - The news comes by messenger that Uriah is dead, Joab is shrewd in how he has the message delivered so that David will know that the deed has been done but the messenger won't understand.  David sends a message back to the front indicating his understanding & instructing Joab to carry on.

2 Samuel 11:26-27 - Bathsheba observed the standard mourning period, this would have been about 7 days, then she is taken to the palace to become one of David's wives.  I wonder if there was any real love for her husband, she may have cared about him but it may have been an arranged marriage that wasn't satisfying, we just don't know.  In time the baby is born, a son.  This final attempt at a cover-up appears to have succeeded, but if it had we wouldn't have this passage recorded for historical posterity.  Even if David hadn't been found out by men his actions would have been known by God, he simply wasn't going to get away with murder.  God is displeased, and God is not going to let David keep his sins hidden, God is going to cleanse David once again.

When we sin we don't simply sin against other people, in fact it's not our actions against other people that carry the greatest consequences.  David reflecting back later on this episode wrote Psalm 51 (Psalm 51:4).

Closing Prayer:  Lord help us to diligently keep watch over our what we look at, what we listen to, what we read, what we think, what we say.  We ask that the power of the Holy Spirit would guard our hearts & minds.  Amen!

Quickly Form Groups Again:
2.  We know that any sin causes separation from God, but what is it about sexual sin that makes it so especially heinous?  Try to come up with verses to support your thoughts.
3.  What warnings would you give to a friend you discovered was being tempted in an area of sin?  How might you come along side to help?