Blessed… The Gathering of the Chosen

“Now immediately after the suffering of that time the sun will become dark, and the moon won’t give its light. The stars will fall from the sky and the planets and other heavenly bodies will be shaken. Then the sign of the Human One will appear in the sky. At that time all the tribes of the earth will be full of sadness, and they will see the Human One coming in the heavenly clouds with power and great splendor. He will send his angels with the sound of a great trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from the four corners of the earth, from one end of the sky to the other (Matthew 24:29-31, Common English Bible).

When I was in the Navy I stood many night time watches up on the ship’s signal bridge. Because we were far from any other light sources, on a clear night you could see stars by the thousands. I never attempted to count their numbers. I remember being on the bridge during a meteor shower and talking about how different the sky would look if all the stars became like these “shooting stars” and they all fell from the sky. I wasn’t familiar with Matthew 24 in those days. I didn’t realize it was a sign of the end times. Neither did my Navy buddies. The discussion never turned theological.

I am far from the best around when it comes to knowing apocalyptic literature even today. I am far from a fan and most of us don’t generally deal with things we don’t enjoy unless something makes us. That something for me right now is this blog. Sure, it is self-imposed. I could probably skip this and few, if any, would say anything. The thing is, I said I would work my way through Matthew. I will honor what I said. So, here goes.

I am not sure if this is something Jesus intended for us to read literally. There are places Jesus does not intend us to read literally. Dr. Ted Campbell, a professor at Perkins School of Theology, SMU reminds us that Jesus came to set the prisoners free but few if any of us will be heading to a prison with the idea of tearing down the walls and literally setting the prisoners free. Jesus didn’t intend us to read this literally.

I do believe we will see Jesus in all his power and splendor. It may be that we see him hear on earth. It also may be that we see Jesus in the Kingdom that is to come.  And, I believe Jesus will gather the chosen, the ones who answer the call to follow. If we have those things, is anything more really necessary?

And, I believe Jesus will gather the chosen, the ones who answer the call to follow. We know the promise God has for us in Christ Jesus. What a great promise for we who believe.

If we and we believe that Jesus will return, and if we know the promise God has for we who believe, is anything more really necessary?

I really do believe we get too caught up in the end times.  Know what God has planned for you. Live for God’s promises. If we can do that, everything will come out just fine.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thanksgiving,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Blessed… Bad Stuff is Going to Happen

“When you see the disgusting and destructive thing that Daniel talked about standing in the holy place (the reader should understand this), then those in Judea must escape to the mountains. Those on the roof shouldn’t come down to grab things from their houses. Those in the field shouldn’t come back to grab their clothes. How terrible it will be at that time for women who are pregnant and for women who are nursing their children. Pray that it doesn’t happen in winter or on the Sabbath day. There will be great suffering such as the world has never before seen and will never again see. If that time weren’t shortened, nobody would be rescued. But for the sake of the ones whom God chose, that time will be cut short. “Then if somebody says to you, ‘Look, here’s the Christ,’ or ‘He’s over here,’ don’t believe it. False christs and false prophets will appear, and they will offer great signs and wonders in order to deceive, if possible, even those whom God has chosen. Look, I’ve told you ahead of time. So if they say to you, ‘Look, he’s in the desert,’ don’t go out. And if they say, ‘Look, he’s in the rooms deep inside the house,’ don’t believe it. Just as the lightning flashes from the east to the west, so it will be with the coming of the Human One. The vultures gather wherever there’s a dead body (Matthew 24:15-28, Common English Bible).

Are these things signs of the end? Matthew credits Jesus for having said it. I have no reason not to believe it. But, people have been believing these words in every age since the crucifixion. There have always been “disgusting and destructive things.” Why should things be different in our time? There has always been great suffering in the world. Do we really think that at a time in history when there are more people populating the planet than at any other time, things would be different for us? There have always been people who are and were “false christs (or messiahs) and false prophets.” That there are heretics leading people down wrong paths should be no surprise to any of us.

In every age, there have been people who pointed events in their time and place, then pointed at these verses and used them as a way to justify predictions of the end of time on earth. They obviously were wrong.

I have long felt like the end will come to this planet because of the destruction of creation given to the human creature by God. God gave us stewardship over these things and we are destroying them. They have led to bad things happening in the world and they will continue to happen. Destructive and disgusting things happen to our world. False prophets say nothing is wrong and it is only hype. Yes, bad things come.

But, for whatever the reason, God loves us anyway. The fact that we destroy that which God made and yet we have the promise and hope of eternity with God points to grace that can only come from the One who gives us light, life, love, and hope.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Blessed… Signs of the Times

Now while Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will these things happen? What will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?” Jesus replied, “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I’m the Christ.’ They will deceive many people. You will hear about wars and reports of wars. Don’t be alarmed. These things must happen, but this isn’t the end yet. Nations and kingdoms will fight against each other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in all sorts of places. But all these things are just the beginning of the sufferings associated with the end. They will arrest you, abuse you, and they will kill you. All nations will hate you on account of my name. At that time many will fall away. They will betray each other and hate each other. Many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because disobedience will expand, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be delivered. This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world as a testimony to all the nations. Then the end will come (Matthew 24:3-14, Common English Bible).

North Korea, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan to name only a few of the worlds hot spots. “You will hear about wars and rumors of wars.” When you look at the way people are treating each other all over the world and even sadder, how people are treating each other in our society and all too often within the walls of our churches. “They will betray each other and hate each other.” There are stories we hear regularly about the rights of Christians disappearing in our land. “They will arrest you, abuse you, and they will kill you. All nations will hate you on account of my name.” I could go on but I think you get the idea. 

These are some of the signs of our times. These signs seem not only to point to our times but also to what Jesus was saying in our lesson today. When we start reading all of Jesus’ words it can be enough to make us think the end must surely be upon us.

That is not my prophetic voice you are hearing. Are these signs of our times also signs that the end is upon us? Let me be clear, I DON’T KNOW!!! Further, neither do you or anyone else walking this planet. I do know we are closer to the end today than we were yesterday but that as much as I know.

“Well surely Keith, you have to admit that things look bad these days. And the signs… the signs point toward the coming of Jesus.” And I will say, you are correct. But, in every age people have looked at what is happening in the world around them and interpreted the signs of their time as the signs of the end time. Obviously, they were wrong. And, any in our time who have read the signs in order to arrive at the same conclusion was equally wrong.

The point of all this is Jesus telling his listeners in every age, “Pay attention!” We need to stay awake, alert, and to know the day will come. For some of us, it will come when this world comes to an end. For others, it will come when this life comes to an end. Either way, we need to pay attention to Jesus’ words and we need to pay attention to what happens around us.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

 

Blessed… The Prophetic Voice of Jesus

Now Jesus left the temple and was going away. His disciples came to point out to him the temple buildings. He responded, “Do you see all these things? I assure that no stone will be left on another. Everything will be demolished” (Matthew 24:1-2, Common English Bible).

I always have found it interesting when following worship on a Sunday morning someone comes up to me and says something to the effect of, “Your sermon went perfectly with our lesson in Sunday school this morning.” I always assure the person telling me this it wasn’t planned that way. Their Sunday school teacher and I did not sit down and talk about this and plan it out together. Even in the Sunday school class I teach it is interesting how often my lesson and my sermon have parallels. I don’t plan it that way but the discussion carries the lesson that way.

I attend a Bible study at the church where I am the pastor I do not teach. One of the lay women in the congregation and a fellow spiritual blogger teaches this class. We are currently studying Deuteronomy 19. As a part of our discussion Monday night we talked about Jesus as a prophet. Without question, Jesus has a prophetic voice but to give him only the title of prophet limits who Jesus is in our lives and in the world.

Now two days later we are seeing Jesus’ prophetic voice in our lesson today. Jesus says, “Do you see all these things? I assure that no stone will be left on another. Everything will be demolished” Jesus is speaking of the temple. Some 40 years later, circa 70 AD, it happened. Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed.

Four years earlier, in 66 AD a group of Jews rose in rebellion and pushed the Romans out of Jerusalem. In 70 AD the Emperor Titus lead Roman forces to lay siege to the city of Jerusalem. On August 30th the city fell and Jerusalem was sacked and the temple destroyed.

This seems the obvious answer for the prophecies Jesus laid out before the disciples as they left Jerusalem and the temple behind. I, however, can’t help but wonder if there is something more to this than visions of a destroyed building, no matter what building it might be.

Such things don’t seem that important to Jesus as he lives out his three-year ministry. Jesus is always far more interested in the spiritual realm than in the physical realm. Jesus is far less worried about the temporal world than what goes on inside each of us.

Without question, we see the prophecy fulfilled at least in part. I would argue, however, that the prophecy Jesus makes here is not completely fulfilled. Could it be that Jesus sees the destruction inside many of us? Truly I don’t have an answer for this. I am asking questions and seeking answers just as anyone might be apt to do.

I can’t help but think, perhaps the greatest part of this prophecy might be a call for us to look inside ourselves to investigate the condition of the temple inside of us. Perhaps we need to shore its walls before it is too late.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thanksgiving,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

 

Blessed… Under Her Wings

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You who kill the prophets and stone those who were sent to you. How often I wanted to gather your people together, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you didn’t want that.  Look, your house is left to you deserted.  I tell you, you won’t see me until you say, Blessings on the one who comes in the Lord’s name” (Matthew 23:37-39, Common English Bible).

When I read today’s lesson my mind went back to a story I heard several years ago. Many versions of the story have circulated over the years, some even claiming to be a true story. The original version of the story was published in 1945 as a parable. Others have rewritten the story to take place in a forest fire in Yellowstone.

I know the version I first heard is not the original version of the story. Still, I will share it with you as I first heard it. Perhaps this way it will be a new story to you.

When one of the hens hatched her eggs spring was only a few days away. She had great difficulty keeping those new hatchlings close. There were sixteen chicks in total and they were a curious lot, always trying to go off and explore and learn. Such was a dangerous proposition for any chick. If a chick wandered too far from mother hen, they could find themselves as a meal for the cat who lived in the barn.

One day the weather forecast called for a late winter blizzard. Forecasters expected the temperature to drop well below freezing and that it would stay there for two or three days. Most farmers, including the farmer with the little chicks, threw extra hay into the barn and then closed it up tight in an effort to keep all the animals warm.

As expected an early March blizzard blew through the area around the farm. Temperatures dropped along with a great deal of snow. When the farmer made his way back to the barn he expected to find dead chicks everywhere. After all, the poor hen was having great difficulty keeping all of them corraled under her. One small chick alone in a cold barn would never survive.

When the farmer went into the barn he was amazed. There were only two dead chicks. The other surprise was, he found the hen dead. She was exposed to too much cold.

The farmer was wondering where he might find the other chicks. He looked around the barn but didn’t find them. As he looked he picked up the two chicks who had died. Then he made his way to the dead hen. When he picked up her body, he was amazed to find fourteen chicks. She had given up herself so her chicks might survive.

The less tells of Jesus wanting to be like that mother hen. Truly, he is like that mother hen for all of us. Some, like the two chicks who wandered away, are determined to make it on our own. In the end, the mother hen couldn’t save all her chicks. Some of the chicks were determined to go in their own direction. Likewise, some of us are determined to go in a different direction than Jesus is trying to lead others. He cannot save those who refuse to be saved.

Jesus cried over Jerusalem because there, many didn’t want to gather under the safety of his wings. I can’t help but think Jesus weeps today because there are still many who reject the safety and seek to follow their own way.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thanksgiving,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Blessed… I Would Never Do That

“How terrible it will be for you legal experts and Pharisees! Hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 You say, ‘If we had lived in our ancestors’ days, we wouldn’t have joined them in killing the prophets.’ 31 You testify against yourselves that you are children of those who murdered the prophets.32 Go ahead, complete what your ancestors did. 33 You snakes! You children of snakes! How will you be able to escape the judgment of hell?34 Therefore, look, I’m sending you prophets, wise people, and legal experts. Some of them you will kill and crucify. And some you will beat in your synagogues and chase from city to city. 35 Therefore, upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been poured out on the earth, from the blood of that righteous man Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you killed between the temple and the altar. 36 I assure you that all these things will come upon this generation (Matthew 23:29-36, Common English Bible).

“I would never do that.” They are easy words to say. Completely following through??? That could be a completely different story. I am reminded of the old sitcom Family Matters. In just about every episode Steve Urkel would do something he probably never thought he would do. The words, “Did I do that?” quickly followed.

In today’s lesson, Jesus has been giving the Pharisees and legal experts “what for” for the last several verses (for us over the last several days). With this lesson, he seems to be winding to a conclusion.

First Jesus reminds them they say they wouldn’t kill a righteous person like one of the prophets. But, I think Jesus is also reminding them they wouldn’t listen to John the Baptist. And, while John the Baptist was not killed by the Pharisees, they also weren’t really willing to listen to him either.

Jesus tells the Pharisees and legal experts that he is sending them prophets, wise many of whom they will kill and others they will beat in the synagogues. This could be a bit perplexing. I can’t help but think Jesus is speaking of himself and of the disciples here. They weren’t willing to listen to Jesus and there were some pretty direct hands from their number involved in his crucifixion. We can follow that with the knowledge that some of the disciples were also crucified.

I think for us, all this means we need to be careful about how quickly we will say, “I would never do that.” Because of our sin, we do “that” pretty regularly. We can easily be like the people who would, after watching The Passion of the Christ,  “I just hate what they did to Jesus.” It was as much for our sins that Jesus went to the cross as it was for the sins of the Pharisees and legal experts.

“I would never do that.” Yeah, the truth is, I would do that. Sometimes I do exactly that. May God forgive my sin.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thanksgiving,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Average Joes… The Brave Prophet

BraveProphet

So the Lord sent Nathan to David. When Nathan arrived he said, “There were two men in the same city, one rich, one poor. The rich man had a lot of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing—just one small ewe lamb that he had bought. He raised that lamb, and it grew up with him and his children. It would eat from his food and drink from his cup—even sleep in his arms! It was like a daughter to him. “Now a traveler came to visit the rich man, but he wasn’t willing to take anything from his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had arrived. Instead, he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the visitor.” David got very angry at the man, and he said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the one who did this is demonic! He must restore the ewe lamb seven times over because he did this and because he had no compassion.” “You are that man!” Nathan told David. “This is what the Lord God of Israel says: I anointed you king over Israel and delivered you from Saul’s power. I gave your master’s house to you and gave his wives into your embrace. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. If that was too little, I would have given even more. Why have you despised the Lord’s word by doing what is evil in his eyes? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and taken his wife as your own. You used the Ammonites to kill him. Because of that, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite as your own, the sword will never leave your own house. “This is what the Lord says: I am making trouble come against you from inside your own family. Before your very eyes I will take your wives away and give them to your friend, and he will have sex with your wives in broad daylight. You did what you did secretly, but I will do what I am doing before all Israel in the light of day.” “I’ve sinned against the Lord!” David said to Nathan. “The Lord has removed your sin,” Nathan replied to David. “You won’t die. However, because you have utterly disrespected the Lord by doing this, the son born to you will definitely die.” Then Nathan went home (2 Samuel 12:1-15a, Common English Bible).

Sometimes, it would seem, some people just don’t use the good sense God gave them. Of all the people in Israel, how could he have ever thought he could get away with something like that? How could he even imagine that God would not know the extent of his sins? He of all people?

When the man was a young boy he had enough faith in God to know God was there. God was with him. He was so confident that God was present and that God would back him up that he stepped out on the battlefield, a boy inexperienced in the ways of combat, to fight a seasoned soldier of far superior skill and size. Really, who would do such a thing?

That day on the battlefield David defied all logic. I wasn’t there that day but I heard all about it. Everyone in Israel heard all about it. The giant Goliath was armed to the teeth and David steps out to fight him with no armor and armed with only a slingshot and a handful of rocks.

To do something like that you either have to be beyond what you might call certifiably insane. In my day we would have said he was possessed by a demon. Regardless of how you say it, he either had to be crazy or have a faith in God that would defy most of our understanding.

In my experiences with David, I had come to know that reality was in the second explanation. And really, who could argue otherwise. When David was anointed the first time he wasn’t even present when Samuel showed up and told David’s father Jesse that he had come to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be the next king of Israel. Jesse got all of his sons together so Samuel could select God’s choice from among the group. Jesse got all the sons together that is, except David. David was the youngest of all Jesse’s sons and at the time Samuel arrived David was out in the field tending to the sheep.

It was OK though, or at least that is what Jesse and even Samuel thought. Surely God would Eliab or Abinadab or one of the others, there were, after all, seven sons that were older than David. When Jesse presented his oldest son, Eliab, Samuel knew this good looking young man was who God would pick. But, as it would turn out, Samuel was wrong. He saw only the outside while God looked on the heart.

In turn, Jesse presented each of his seven oldest sons to Samuel. God rejected each of the seven. None were who God wanted to be king. So, Samuel asked Jesse if these were all of the sons. Jesse told him no and that David was in the field. Samuel immediately had someone go to bring David back. With the presentation of David, God had found a king and Samuel anointed him.

It would be quite some time before David would actually become king. There was already someone else sitting on the throne. David waited patiently for God’s time. During the wait, there was incident after incident where David’s life was in jeopardy and each time God was with him and each time God brought him through.

That was then. We suddenly reached a point where it would seem that David’s faith faltered in the whole Bathsheba and Uriah business. He forgot about the presence of God. He forgot that God could and would see all the things he was doing. And, while he was forgetting that God does see all, he also seemed to have forgotten at least two of the commandments of God.

It is a painful awareness for me that the King’s first mistake was allowing himself to get distracted by not being where he was supposed to be, doing the thing he was supposed to be doing. It can easily happen to all of us. In David’s place, it was springtime, the time of year that kings go to battle. The King’s army was in the field, but David had stayed home for some reason. It was a critical lack of judgment on the part of the King.

David practiced a tradition among us Israelites. It was common for our homes to be built with an outdoor space on the roof. We often would go on to the roof to enjoy the cool evening breeze. Such is what David was doing when he spotted the beautiful young woman Bathsheba. This is when temptation set in. There is nothing wrong with David wandering on the roof of his home. Like I said, we all did that. But, when David spotted Bathsheba and inquired about her and learned she was another man’s wife, the wife of one of his soldiers, he owed it to himself, to the soldier Uriah, to Bathsheba and to God to just walk away. David did not walk away.

Temptation can come to any of us. The truly strong among us find a way to move forward and leave the temptation behind. At least at that moment, despite his reputation to the contrary, David was anything but strong.

He had Bathsheba brought to him. It isn’t really clear who had the idea for the affair. It is clear that at any time David could have taken control of the situation and brought it to an end. He did not.

Bathsheba became pregnant. That presented our King with a problem. Regardless of who had the idea, he had impregnated one of his soldier’s wives. That would not do. Though he and Bathsheba would both know David was the child’s father, David thought he could never admit as much. He believed there was a need to cover up his misdeeds.

David sent a message to his general, Joab, to send Uriah home. When Uriah arrived, David tried twice to get Uriah to go home and spend the night with his wife. Uriah lived as an honorable man and knew it would be wrong to spend the night with Bathsheba while the army was at war. He never went to his home.

Clearly, David had not accounted for Uriah’s honor. Equally clear, David’s original plan had failed. He needed a new plan and it did not take long for David’s new plan to take shape.

Now he would have Uriah return to the battlefield. He would carry a message back to Joab to put Uriah in the thick of the battle. Joab was to place him where fighting was the heaviest. Then Joab was to pull back the other soldiers so Uriah would be killed.

Joab was a good soldier. He followed his king’s orders. Uriah the Hittite, one of David’s soldiers, Bathsheba’s husband was killed.

Bathsheba followed the law and went into a period of mourning for her dead husband. When that time was over, David brought Bathsheba back to his home and he made her his wife.

And it is here that David began to believe, he had gotten away with his scheming and treachery. There was just one thing he forgot, the ever-present, watchful eye of the Lord.

What David did not know was, God had spoken to me, Nathan, with very specific instructions that I was to confront David over his sin, both his adultery with Bathsheba and his actions in trying to cover up his adultery and his involvement in the death of Uriah the Hittite.

Friends, that is a tall order. I am to confront the King and tell him that God is none too pleased by his actions. I don’t mind telling you, I was scared. People throughout history have died for doing such things. I was about ready to do the same thing a prophet who came after I did, run to Tarshish and avoid my Nineveh which was much closer to home. To put it bluntly, I was not very interested in telling the King he had done wrong in the eyes of God.

The night before do or die time I had a sleepless night. I was up, pacing the floor, probably keeping everyone else in the house awake too. I was trying to decide what exactly I should do. Assuming I went and didn’t try to run away from God, something I fully understood I could never do, you can’t outrun God, I had to have a course of action that the King either couldn’t or wouldn’t argue.

Think about it this way. The only people who knew for sure about the adultery were David, Bathsheba and me, and I only knew because God told me. I had no first-hand knowledge with which to confront a king. If David lied and said, “No I didn’t,” and Bathsheba went along with her husband, it looks like I am just trying to cause problems for the King and his wife. There was no one else to accuse or corroborate the story.

Then, as far as Uriah, he could say, “Yes, I sent Uriah to the front with instructions to place him where fighting was the heaviest. Yes, I knew that it might cause Uriah’s death. I sent him there because he was one of my best soldiers and I knew he would win the battle or die in the effort. Unfortunately, the latter was true. Uriah died but that happens. In war, good men die.”

It would be difficult, if not impossible to prove otherwise. I had to find a way to get the King to admit the truth. It was something he obviously didn’t want to do. He had gone to great lengths to keep the truth from coming to the surface.

Before the night ended, a sleepless night, a night of much prayer and pacing, I had an answer. I would do a bit of misdirection. It wasn’t a magic trick or anything. I know you sometimes hear the term related to magic but this was not to be magic. You also hear the term related to some kind of sports play. This was also not a game. God was not pleased with David and that displeasure put me in the cross-hairs. The King had gone to great lengths once to cover his sin. There was no reason to believe this would be any different.

I arrived at a story to tell the King. I am not so foolish as to believe this was a story of my own creation. During my hours of praying and pacing, I know without question that God gave me the story I was to share with David. Now it was my prayer that David would hear and repent.

I arrived at the palace the next morning and was shown into one of the sitting rooms for the King. I didn’t have to wait long before David came in. After exchanging pleasantries I began my story.

“There were two men in the same city, one rich, one poor. The rich man had a lot of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing—just one small ewe lamb that he had bought. He raised that lamb, and it grew up with him and his children. It would eat from his food and drink from his cup—even sleep in his arms! It was like a daughter to him. Now a traveler came to visit the rich man, but he wasn’t willing to take anything from his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had arrived. Instead, he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the visitor.”

As I told the story there were many expressions that came across the King’s face, the last one being anger. David thought the man in the parable I told was a man, an actual one of David’s subjects. David began shouting, he wanted to know who the man was. He declared the man as the worst sort of evil, even as Satan incarnate. The King declared that the man would be forced to pay the poor man seven times the value of his little ewe lamb. All I had to do was to divulge the man’s identity.

I took a deep breath and said, “You are the man.” I continued. “This is what the Lord God of Israel says: I anointed you king over Israel and delivered you from Saul’s power. I gave your master’s house to you and gave his wives into your embrace. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. If that was too little, I would have given even more. Why have you despised the Lord’s word by doing what is evil in his eyes? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and taken his wife as your own. You used the Ammonites to kill him. Because of that, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite as your own, the sword will never leave your own house.”

Now I was on a roll and couldn’t stop. “I am making trouble come against you from inside your own family. Before your very eyes I will take your wives away and give them to your friend, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. You did what you did secretly, but I will do what I am doing before all Israel in the light of day.”

Now I was finished. I stood there looking at David and waited for the worst. I don’t think I have ever been more afraid than I was at that moment. As I looked at him I could tell nothing by the look on his face. It was not that he had a blank look on his face, quite the contrary. As I looked into him I could see anger, fear, embarrassment and more. The question in my mind was, what emotion would be at the first of his response to me.

Much to my surprise, it was an even toned, calm, matter-of-fact statement. David said, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

Wow! Was that going to be it? I stood there, probably giving the King a look that said I was flabbergasted. I am fully aware that things could have been much worse. I praise God that it was not.

Then I felt God leading me to speak again. God forgave David his sins but because David had totally disrespected God, God would take the child Bathsheba would give to him. When I finished that statement, I left and went home.

Word did reach me about how David responded. When the baby was born it became very sick. David fasted and prayed for the boy. He begged God to spare the boy’s life. David slept on the ground and completely denied himself anything of comfort. His servants feared for him and at least initially, they refused to tell him when the baby died. In the end, they did.

For his part, when the baby died, David allowed things to return to normal around him. David knew his actions now wouldn’t bring the child back.

Eventually, David and Bathsheba did have another baby, another son who was given the name Solomon. He would be David’s child who would succeed him on the throne. The story would continue after David through Solomon. And, in reality, the story now continues through you.

Bow Head

            The story of Nathan, David, and Bathsheba is a story of sin. There should never be a doubt about that. It is not really a story of adultery and murder, yes those are the sins David committed, but it is a story of sin all the same. You and I may not commit David’s sins. We don’t have to do so. We commit plenty on our own.

            But, this story is more than a story of sin. The lesson tells us the Lord removed David’s sin. The lesson further reminds us that God did bless David and Bathsheba with another son, Solomon.

            There is a word for all that. The word is grace. David committed terrible sin. But, if the Bible as a whole doesn’t say so, this story is very specific in its telling, that there is more grace in God than there is sin in us.

            I am convinced David’s sin was removed because he confessed that sin before Nathan and more importantly God. If we want to know the grace of God, we must be willing to confess our sins before the Lord. We are about to sing our closing him. This time is a good time to come before the altar, to come before God, to confess our sins and to find the grace of God for ourselves.