Pastor James Hopkins preached this sermon on the second Wednesday in Lent 3/3/2021. The service was broadcast live on Facebook at 7pm, and is now available on the FLC youtube channel. To follow along from home, the bulletin is available as a PDF: Lent2 Vespers Bulletin
The text for the sermon was the account of David’s sin with Bathsheba, in 2 Samuel chapters 11 and 12.
King David’s reign was one of the most anticipated and celebrated events in the Old Testament. It was supposed to be the answer to Hannah’s prayer at the beginning of 1 Samuel. It was supposed to be the answer to Saul’s failures, sins, and weaknesses. It was supposed to be the Kingdom that everyone had always hoped for.
But it wasn’t. David has shown himself to be more like Saul than anyone would like. Samuel had warned the people about how kings behave; how they accumulate wives, send your children into battle, and make you pay for it.
David was supposed to be different, superior, the ruler par excellence. The early years of David’s reign allowed people to hold on to that idea; but before long, the honeymoon was over.
David has fulfilled Samuel’s warnings in his own reign. He has accumulated wives for himself; first through his own will, then through political marriages, and now, infamously, through his pursuit of Bathsheba.
He has also sent the sons of Israel into war. Most rulers have to do this at one time or another, but David has done so ruinously. The soldiers who die in the plot to murder Uriah are merely grist for the mill. David’s sin has so corrupted his judgment that he is happy to see many die for one; specifically, they must die for him – to conceal his sin and keep it secret.
And it got worse. David was, in a way, adopted into the household of Saul, who became a de facto father. And Saul’s sins passed to David, who passed his sins to Absalom and Solomon. And by the fourth generation, sin was full-grown. So much for the glory of David’s Kingdom.
What is most strange, however, is not David’s behavior, which we were warned about; but, the people’s reaction. Ask anyone on Palm Sunday: there has never been a greater King in the history of Israel than David. They know what happened, but they are fickle, easily satisfied, and forgetful. If Jesus comes as the Son of David in only a worldly sense, then the jury is out on whether or not King Jesus ought to be welcomed.
We’re still happy to laud and glorify the names of adulterers and murderers, and appoint them as kings over us; to name them as great leaders and guardians of justice.
This seems to be one way we suffer as we await the return of our true King. Though we ought to recognize we are His subjects now, today, and not just one day.
I’m sure that it would probably be nice to have a leader like David in a worldly way; or his son, Solomon, known far and wide for true wisdom. But, even if we had that, it would not be the answer. Because the reign of David, or Solomon, or anyone other than Christ, is not the answer. It was never supposed to be.
Not then, and not now. Jesus teaches us that everything in the Law and the Prophets is written about Him, and the Davidic Kingdom is no exception – not because it is a glorious picture of perfect and peaceful governance, but because we see throughout it people and events that point us to Christ.
Nathan tells David that his son, the child born to Bathsheba, must die; not for his own sin, but for David’s. David replied to Nathan’s parable that the man who has done this ought to die, and so he should. But David’s son dies instead, as a substitution, in his place. There is no atonement here. David is not forgiven on account of the death of his son. What we have is a pointer, an indicator, from lesser to Greater, from one son of David to The Son of David, whose atoning death, for David and all his sons and daughters, for you, would be the cause for the LORD to put away his sin and yours.
We get a hint that this is what is going on in David’s response to the death of his child. Throughout 1 & 2 Samuel, David mourns the death of those close to him, even those who maybe ought not to be mourned so greatly. But at the death of his son, he doesn’t.
In the death of his son, which is met by David’s repentance, he does not begin to mourn, but ends his mourning.
At the death of his son, David is, after a manner, resurrected.
Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. 2 Samuel 20
David is not comforted by the death of this son, who cannot return to him. Instead, David is comforted by the death of the greater Son of David. Jesus’ death and resurrection are the reason that David can “go to him,” i.e. his son. Jesus’ death and resurrection are the reason that David can mourn as one who has hope.
David’s reign was not the ultimate hope for God’s people. And no matter how good or bad it gets, this world is not the ultimate hope for you.
Caroline and I have lost our son. Lucia, Christoph, and Ambrose, have lost a brother. He will not return to us in this life. But we shall go to him.
For the sake of David’s greater Son, for the sake of Christ, we shall go to him.