The Incredible Value of Taking Responsibility
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” (Genesis 3:6-9)
Why did God ask where they were if 1) He is all-knowing and 2) He is in all places at one time?
(He wanted them to consider their own hiding.)
“So he said, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?’ Then the man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.’ And the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’” (Genesis 3:10-13)
Once man sinned and the Holy Spirit of God left him the first two signs of that were:
1) hiding and
Today we will focus on that second one, blaming.
The title of this teaching is The Incredible Value of Taking Responsibility.
In 1 Samuel 13:14 David is referred to as being “a man who is after God’s own heart”.
God felt that way about David before he ever became king and we must always remember that God knows ALL THINGS and that includes things we have done, are doing and will do in the future.
So, God considered David to be a man after His own heart knowing fully well how David would behave in the future. We should remember that for those times when we feel unworthy because of things we have done or have been tempted to do.
In the true story that I will share here we will see some things that David did that we would be tempted to think should have disqualified him to be king. Let’s see what happens:
“It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.” (2 Samuel 11:1)
Starting in 2 Samuel 11:1 we see that David was busy acting like something other than what he is: the king. That’s the beginning of his problem. He wasn’t being what God made him to be.
“Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king's house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, ‘Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’” (2 Samuel 11:2-3)
David, a man after God’s own heart, knew this woman was someone’s wife.
“Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house.” (2 Samuel 11:4)
He slept with a married woman anyway.
“And the woman conceived; so she sent and told David, and said, 'I am with child.'" (2 Samuel 11:2-3)
Now David has a problem….a problem that we often experience: he was afraid of what other people would think if they found out about his sin. She was pregnant. He couldn’t hide this.
So, he came up with a plan. One sin led to another. Now it’s time for David to practice the first sign of the flesh: hide. His plan is to bring Bathsheba’s husband home from battle so he will be intimate with her. Then the pregnancy will be blamed on her husband Uriah. Blaming is the second sign of the flesh.
David sends for Uriah and when he comes to David, the man that has dishonored him by sleeping with his wife, David appears to show no guilt. In verse 7 he casually asks, “How’s Joab doing? How about the people? Is the war going well?"
Then he tells Uriah to go home and wash his feet because that’s what they did back then before doing inside. King David even sent food to Uriah and Bathsheba’s house. David’s hope was that the married couple would eat together and then go to bed and be intimate.
He didn’t count on one thing: Uriah was an honorable man. He wouldn’t spend the night there. We see in verse 9 that he stayed at the king’s house and slept there with the servants.
In verses 10-11 we see that David could not believe his plan didn’t work. He asks Uriah why he didn’t sleep at his own house and Uriah says this: “The ark and Israel and Judah are dwelling in tents, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are encamped in the open fields. Shall I then go to my house to eat and drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.”
David has a backup plan: more sneakiness and deception. (verses 12-13) David invited Uriah to eat with him and got him drunk. Imagine David’s gall, eating and drinking with a man who he had dishonored in one of the worst ways imaginable.
David hoped the man would automatically go home and sleep with his wife, Bathsheba. But, it didn’t work. He spent the night again with the king’s servants.
Believe it or not, David’s scheming gets even more ugly. David writes a letter to Joab and seals it up…and then has Uriah carry it to Joab himself
“And he wrote in the letter, saying, ‘Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die.’” (2 Samuel 11:15)
Joab does as the king tells him to do and some warriors are killed and among them is Uriah. Joab sends to the king to tell him and Uriah’s wife Bathsheba is grieved. There is nothing in this story that shows that she didn’t love her husband. It can be argued that when David called her into his chambers she had to do whatever he wanted. We DO know that after Uriah’s death she mourned.
“When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband.” (2 Samuel 11:26)
The word “mourned” here means that she “wailed”.
Real people; real pain.
I said that David’s scheming got ever uglier. Here is how:
“And when her mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son.” (2 Samuel 11:27a)
David successfully hid his sin…..and, here is the payoff to all David’s scheming:
“But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.” (2 Samuel 11:27b)
The term “displeased the Lord” would be better translated as “was evil in the sight of the Lord.” In other words, God noticed what David had done and saw it for what it was: evil.
“Then the LORD sent Nathan to David.” (2 Samuel 12:1a)
When we read this, it sounds like it happened immediately, but the sources I’ve read say that a year passed before Nathan came to David. Nathan was a prophet but was also like a brother to David. David trusted him.
During that year, the nation of Israel gossiped about what David had done but David apparently acted like nothing had happened. He thought he had gotten away with his sin against God, himself, Bathsheba, Uriah and Israel.
Don’t we do that at times? Don’t we just sin and keep moving as if nothing happened?
There are hundreds of ways that Nathan could have dealt with this. In 2 Samuel 12:1b-5 the Lord has Nathan tell King David a story about a man who had one lamb and another who had many herds and flocks. The story is symbolic and is really about Uriah and his one wife and David and his many wives and concubines. When Nathan tells David that the rich man took the poor man’s one lamb, David becomes infuriated with the rich man in the story.
“So David's anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, ‘As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.’” (2 Samuel 12:5-6)
It’s easy for us to see someone else’s sin and become indignant about it. It’s different when it becomes evident that we have sinned.
“Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7a)
After Nathan tells David that his sin is evident be begins by reviewing all the blessings that God has given to David but it is really the Lord speaking through Nathan in 2 Samuel 12:7b-8. After saying, “I did all this for you” the Lord ends that sentence with this: “And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more!”
Think about that. When we are busy thinking, “Hmmm, what else do I need beyond what God has given me...” God is poised to give us more…but we sin by getting it ourselves!
Next, in verses 9-11 God asks David why he did what he did and then He tells David what consequences have come into his life because of what he did. This is important for us to see.
When we set out to sin to get something for ourselves we usually only think about the positive payoff. Satan will give us the idea to sin and then will cloud our vision so that we won’t see all the other negative things that will be brought into our lives along with that positive thing we sought.
Nathan then speaks another truth to David that applies to us as well:
“‘For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.’” (2 Samuel 12:12)
We do things and hide them but, in the end, everything will be seen. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we stopped sinning habitually and didn’t have to experience all that pain?
When all this happens to David he has two basic options (we always have these too):
Deny it all and have Nathan removed (or killed)
Admit and confess his sin and cry out to God for forgiveness
The reason the title of this teaching is The Incredible Value of Taking Responsibility is that there are so many benefits to getting right with God but we never will experience any of them if we do not take responsibility for what we have done.
David takes responsibility:
“So David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’” (2 Samuel 12:13a)
The Bible teaches us that confession of our sin is how we can be cleansed of that real sensation of dirtiness.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
So, the Lord, through Nathan tells David that his sin has been “put away” (or covered).
“And Nathan said to David, ‘The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.’” (2 Samuel 12:13b)
The penalty in Israel for a murder was death – a life for a life. In verse 13 Nathan tells him that he won’t have to pay the consequence of being executed but he also tells him in verse 14 that other consequences will still happen and then in the verses that follow we see them come to pass.
It’s important for us to remember that when we choose to sin we also choose to risk experiencing all the other things that come with the package of that sin. That’s true even if we aren’t aware that there IS a package.
Early on we saw that God always considered David to be a man after His own heart even though God knew what he would do with Bathsheba and to Uriah. We’ve seen David admit his guilt. We saw God have mercy on him.
God forgave David of his sin and didn’t strip the kingdom away from him the way He had to do with King Saul before him. I believe it was because David took responsibility for his sin….he owned his transgression….and then he gave it to God.
In Psalm 51, one of the most famous of all Psalms, David publically proclaims his guilt and gives us an example of what it looks like to cry out to God. We’ll look at verses 1-15.
First, David appeals to God’s lovingkindness:
“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” (Psalm 51:1-2)
Then, look at what David does: he takes responsibility for his sin.
“For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.” (Psalm 51:3)
Next, David says something startling:
“Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight — that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge.” (Psalm 51:4)
He says that his real sin was against God. Why? God takes it personally when we sin against other people.
“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:40)
In verse 5 David acknowledges that we were all born into the flesh. He doesn’t say this as an excuse because in verse 6 he will proclaim that God wants truthfulness and wisdom in our souls.
“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.” (Psalm 51:5-6)
Now, David does something we can all do after we have admitted our guilt and confessed our sin: he cries out for God to fix everything he damaged in his own soul through his sins. He also shows what he knows to be true: he will have physical manifestations of God’s purification and restoration:
“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7)
Hyssop is an herb with purple/blue flowers and a minty scent that was used as a detergent. People often used it to purify sacred places. It was mentioned in Exodus 12:22 to be used as a paint brush to paint the doorframes of Jewish homes in Egypt so the angel of death would pass over. It was also mentioned in Leviticus 14:1-8 as part of a cleansing ceremony for lepers. David is using symbolic language as he asks to be cleansed.
“Make me hear joy and gladness, that the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise.” (Psalm 51:8-15)