Saturday, May 31, 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Opposite Side of the Gossip Coin

I like to say that Sam Crabtree's book Practicing Affirmation is the opposite side of the coin from Resisting Gossip. I read it at just the right time when I was doing my research, and I was very helped to think deeply about what we should be saying when we aren't sharing sinful gossip.

Do you need some ideas for practicing affirmation?

FamilyLife has posted an article by Sam Crabtree on 20 Ideas for Encouraging Others (an excerpt from the book), and every one of them is very good.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

"Resisting Gossip" in Korean 저항 잡담

Rejoice with me!

I got word this weekend that CLC Korea will be doing a translation of Resisting Gossip into the Korean language.

I don't know how accurate it is, or if I'm typing it in correctly, but Google Translate tells me the title would be: 저항 잡담 !

How exciting to get to share this message with God's people in South Korea.

If you know Korean, check out the CLC Korea Facebook page and look for updates about Resisting Gossip.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

[Matt's Messages] "Why Is This Sordid Story in the Bible?"

“Why Is This Sordid Story in the Bible?”
The LORD Is My Rock: The Message of 2 Samuel
May 25, 2014 :: 2 Samuel 13:1-39

Last week, we read about David’s Scandal and saw both the deadly seriousness of sin and the magnificent amazingness of grace.

If we had put King David up on a pedestal, he took a dive off of it last Sunday. David  lusted. He enticed. He committed adultery. He lied to Bathesheba’s husband Uriah, and then he had Uriah killed. And he tried to cover up the whole scandal.

But it didn’t stay covered. Thankfully, when he was confronted, David confessed and repented and was forgiven–the magnificent amazingness of grace.

But God said in 2 Samuel 12, verse 10, “[T]he sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.”

And that sword struck, just as God said it would. The sword struck down David and Bathsheba’s first son.

And it will continue to strike.

I almost titled this sermon, “The Sword Strikes Again.”

Because that’s what we’re going to be reading about for the next several weeks. We’re going to see how the sword divides David’s family and brings misery upon his head.

I’m afraid that we’re going to be further disappointed with David after today.

This chapter is not one of the highlights of David’s life and reign.

In fact, it’s one of the worst moments in his whole story.

It’s not so much about his own sin but about the sins of his children, which are no small thing.

This is a story that I’d rather not read to you and that I’d rather not preach to you.

It’s a sordid story. It’s a profoundly sad story about yucky, repugnant, disgusting sin that I find no pleasure in reading or preaching about.

And yet, this is God’s Word. And all of “Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that [we] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16).

Including this chapter.

And this chapter is the next chapter, so we’re not going to skip it today.

Here’s the title that I ended up picking, “Why Is This Sordid Story in the Bible?”

That’s a really good question anytime when you’re trying to figure what the Bible passage you’re studying means and how to apply it.

Ask yourself, “Why is THIS story in my Bible?” And often when you get that answer, you know what it’s about and how it could apply to your life.

Cody is going to preach again for me on June 29th, and that’s the key question that he should ask of the passage he’s going to preach for us. Why is this particular passage in the Bible?

But it’s really a question that you really feel when the story is seamy and ugly and yucky like this one is.  Why is this sordid story in my Bible?

Why do I have to read it? Why did God include this stuff? I don’t want to read about this!

This isn’t the only story that feels like that–we experienced it back in the book of Judges, too. And there are many more.

So it’s a good question to ask as we read 2 Samuel chapter 13. Also known as the rape of Tamar.

Here’s how we’re going to approach it. We’re going to pray first, and then I’ll read the chapter too you pointing out features in the story as we go, and then I’ve got, at the end, four big reasons why this sordid story is in your Bibles. I’m sure there are more, but these are four that I see and want to press home on our hearts.

2 Samuel 13, verse 1.

“In the course of time, Amnon son of David fell in love with Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom son of David.” Stop there for just a second.

You can see from the first verse that there’s going to be trouble. And it’s trouble with the next generation.

David has been, a we’ve said, unwise and married multiple wives and had multiple children. In one sense, that’s a blessing. Fruitfulness!  Growth!

But wherever you have polygamy in the Bible, you have trouble. And David has this sword of consequences that won’t depart from his house, as well.

So, you’ve got a next generation that is going to be a problem.

All three of the people mentioned in the first verse are children of David. Amnon who is apparently the firstborn and the current heir to the throne.  Tamar, his half-sister, a daughter of David who is the full sister to Absalom, a dashing young man who is also the son of David.

The next several chapters are going to be about this son named Absalom. We will get tired of hearing his name in the next month.

But the story starts by focusing the camera on his half-brother, the crown prince, Amnon.

And Amnon has a problem. He’s in love (or so he thinks) but the object of his love is unattainable. It’s his half-sister. V.2

“Amnon became frustrated to the point of illness on account of his sister Tamar, for she was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her.”

You can already tell that there is something messed up in this story. Tamar is a virgin, protectively kept separate from the others and out of his reach.

And it’s driving Amnon crazy, sick-crazy that he can’t do anything to her.  That’s actually a good translation. Amnon is sick. He’s a probably a spoiled brat, and his glands are bigger than his brain. V.3

“Now Amnon had a friend [a companion] named Jonadab son of Shimeah, David's brother. [A cousin, then.] Jonadab was a very shrewd man. [Watch out for shrewd men.] He asked Amnon, ‘Why do you, the king's son, look so haggard morning after morning? Won't you tell me?’ Amnon said to him, ‘I'm in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom's sister.’

[And Jonadab should have right then gone to get a psychologist! But instead, he says, V.5]

‘Go to bed and pretend to be ill,’ Jonadab said. ‘When your father comes to see you, say to him, 'I would like my sister Tamar to come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I may watch her and then eat it from her hand.'’

So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. When the king came to see him, Amnon said to him, ‘I would like my sister Tamar to come and make some special bread in my sight, so I may eat from her hand.’

David sent word to Tamar at the palace: ‘Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some food for him.’ So Tamar went to the house of her brother Amnon, who was lying down. She took some dough, kneaded it, made the bread in his sight and baked it. Then she took the pan and served him the bread, but he refused to eat. ‘Send everyone out of here,’ Amnon said. So everyone left him.”

Now, you and I can see where this is heading, but I don’t think Tamar could. And I doubt that David could have forseen this one. He just thought that Amnon was sick. He was duped by all the “sister” talk and didn’t see how lustful Amnon was.

He’s got her in his home. He’s dismissed the servants. V.10

“Then Amnon said to Tamar, ‘Bring the food here into my bedroom so I may eat from your hand.’ And Tamar took the bread she had prepared and brought it to her brother Amnon in his bedroom. But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, ‘Come to bed with me, my sister.’”

“‘Don't, my brother!’ she said to him. ‘Don't force me. Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don't do this wicked thing. What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.’”

She puts up a good fight and offers good arguments.

“No, please! This would be incest. The pagans may do it, but the LORD’s people should not! It’s wicked! It’s wrong.  And it would bring disgrace on me. And it would make you disgraceful, Amnon. You would be a Nabal, a wicked fool in Israel.  Talk to Dad. He’ll let us get married if you want me so badly.”

By the way, I don’t know if that’s true or not.  David apparently was a bit of push-over in this phase in his life. So he might have given in to that request, but it’s doubtful. I think she’s just grabbing at any straw to stop him from doing what he’s planning to do. But nothing works. V.14

“But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.

Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, ‘Get up and get out!’

‘No!’ she said to him. ‘Sending me away would be a greater wrong than what you have already done to me.’ But he refused to listen to her. He called his personal servant and said, ‘Get this woman out of here and bolt the door after her.’

So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. She was wearing a richly ornamented robe, for this was the kind of garment the virgin daughters of the king wore.

Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornamented robe she was wearing. She put her hand on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went.”

I don’t have to tell you that this is bad.

It’s bad.

Tamar owned a coat of many colors. Same words as what Joseph was given.

And on this day, she ripped it to shreds herself and put ashes on her head and ran screaming and crying from her “brother” Amnon to her brother Absalom. V.20

“Her brother Absalom said to her, ‘Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet now, my sister; he is your brother. Don't take this thing to heart.’ And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom's house, a desolate woman.”

Her life had been wrecked ... by someone who should have been protective over her.

And what kind of counsel was that from her brother Absalom?  “He’s your brother. Don’t take it to heart?”  He’s clueless as to what to say to her.  And so, apparently, is her father. V.21

“When King David heard all this, he was furious.” ...

And? ...

No actions.  David is furious and passive.

Perhaps he’s unable to bring justice to his son because he’s ashamed of his own example in the sexual arena. “Who am I to judge?”

Well, you’re the king. You’re their Dad. You’ve got to! But he doesn’t. And so Absalom’s rage grows. V.22

“Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his sister Tamar.”

And nothing happens!  No justice comes!  No action is taken.  Absalom just stews about it for 2 years and never speaks to Amnon. And then he gets an idea. V.23

“Two years later, when Absalom's sheepshearers were at Baal Hazor near the border of Ephraim, he invited all the king's sons to come there. Absalom went to the king and said, ‘Your servant has had shearers come. Will the king and his officials please join me?’

[He’s hoping David will say, “No,” thinking that he’s just being polite. And David bites. V.25]

‘No, my son,’ the king replied. ‘All of us should not go; we would only be a burden to you.’ Although Absalom urged him, he still refused to go, but gave him his blessing.

Then Absalom said, ‘If not, please let my brother Amnon come with us.’ The king [suspicious?] asked him, ‘Why should he go with you?’

But Absalom urged him, so he sent with him Amnon and the rest of the king's sons.

Absalom [who knows how to get things done] ordered his men, ‘Listen! When Amnon is in high spirits from drinking wine and I say to you, 'Strike Amnon down,' then kill him. Don't be afraid. Have not I given you this order? Be strong and brave.’ [A wicked thing to say.]

So Absalom's men did to Amnon what Absalom had ordered. [Murdered at a family gathering!] Then all the king's sons got up, mounted their mules and fled.

While they were on their way, the report came to David: ‘Absalom has struck down all the king's sons; not one of them is left.’ The king stood up, tore his clothes and lay down on the ground; and all his servants stood by with their clothes torn.

But Jonadab [there he is again] son of Shimeah, David's brother, said, ‘My lord should not think that they killed all the princes; only Amnon is dead. This has been Absalom's expressed intention ever since the day Amnon raped his sister Tamar. My lord the king should not be concerned about the report that all the king's sons are dead. Only Amnon is dead.’

Meanwhile, Absalom had fled. Now the man standing watch looked up and saw many people on the road west of him, coming down the side of the hill. The watchman went and told the king, ‘I see men in the direction of Horonaim, on the side of the hill.’

Jonadab said to the king, ‘See, the king's sons are here; it has happened just as your servant said.’ As he finished speaking, the king's sons came in, wailing loudly. The king, too, and all his servants wept very bitterly.

Absalom fled and went to Talmai son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur. But King David mourned for his son every day. After Absalom fled and went to Geshur, he stayed there three years. And the spirit of the king longed to go to Absalom, for he was consoled concerning Amnon's death.”

Now, what we just read there is key to understanding what’s going to happen next in the story. Absalom was special to David.  Amnon was, too, I’m sure. But he was dead. And David was consoled about him–he had been a rapist, after all. So, it’s not  wrong for him to die.
But David really misses Absalom.

Even though Absalom has lied to him and manipulated him and killed, murdered, his firstborn son!

David misses him. “The spirit of the king longed to go to Absalom.”

So, that’s the story.

You’re probably sorry right now that you came to church this Sunday!

Rape and murder.

Raped sister, murdered brother.

What a great family.

Why is this sordid story in our Bibles?

If you read through the Bible each year, why do you have to read 2 Samuel 13? Why can’t we skip this? Why can’t we do without it?

It’s disturbing. It’s troubling. It’s no fun. It’s not positive and encouraging.

And God isn’t even mentioned once in the whole chapter!

Why is this sordid story in the Bible?

Let me give you four reasons.


And this stuff was real and is real.

This did happen. It is history. And it’s the kind of thing that does happen in our world today.

Our world is profoundly broken, and the Bible understands that.

Things like rape and murder happen in real life, and the Bible doesn’t sugarcoat that and pretend that it doesn’t.

Some people think that the Bible is a bunch of nice little fairy tales.

You know who believes that? People who haven’t read it.

The Bible is full of sin, and shame, and brokenness and things being all messed up.

And it doesn’t sugercoat its heroes either!

David does not have a halo.

I’m so thankful that Bible is about reality, the way things really are.

It describes the world is really like, what people are really like. And that’s not always happy or fun. Sometimes, it’s profoundly sad. But that’s life!

I don’t want a book that says that it explains life that doesn’t understand how terrible life in our fallen world with fallen people can really be.

We need that. We need a big dose of reality.

Because we’ll only understand the good news if we get the whole story, the bad news first.

Now, I want us to look squarely into the face of the reality of this sin of this chapter.

There are four men in this chapter, and they all fall very far short of what they ought to be and to do.

Amnon.  The reality of his sin is that he is driven by lust. His “love” for Tamar is little more than glandular passion.  And he’s driven by a twisted desire to control. And he uses violence to get what he wants.

That’s evil.

Let’s just say that. What Amnon did was wicked.

Jonadab.  He might be worse than Amnon. He didn’t follow his glands, he schemed a way for Amnon to do it.

He doesn’t seem to have any conscience.  One author I read said that Jonadab had “wisdom but no conscience.” He was smart. He was shrewed.  But he was wicked.

He could show you the way to get what you want. But he never said whether or not you ought to want that thing.

Do you know anyone like that? A schemer?  A plotter? A guy who knows how to get things done, even things that should never be done?

The Bible knows that Jonadabs exist. They’re real.

Or look at Absalom. Here is was a man who allowed himself to be filled with hate. Hate to the degree that he murdered his own brother.

That wasn’t justice. That was revenge.

Smart guy. He gets away with it, for the time being...

But a hate filled guy. Do you know anyone like that? The Bible knows that they exists and tells us that they are there in reality. The Bible is about reality.

And then there’s David.  David is furious but passive.  He feels the right thing. It is right to be furious about sexual assault!

But he doesn’t allow his righteous anger to move him into action.

And that’s wrong, too.

David becomes like Eli here in this story.

Remember Eli?  An okay priest but a terrible dad.  He didn’t do anything to discipline his children, and so he had to share in the consequences.

That’s wrong.

The Bible calls it like it is. Sin is sin, and it’s bad.

And it has consequences. That’s point #2.

This sordid story is in our Bibles....


Remember what we read on Mother’s Day?

Galatians 6? “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”

Remember, this is happening to David’s family because of what David did to and with Bathsheba and to her husband Uriah.

“The sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.”

These are consequences for those sins.

Sins are not little isolated things that don’t affect anything else.

They are significant, and they bring consequences.

Even for those that are forgiven!  Like David.

I was telling this illustration at prayer meeting on Wednesday.

When I was younger, I used to drive my Dad's copper-toned 1982 Chevy Citation with a sun-roof.

Woo!  Was that sweet ride?!  That little Citation had pick-up.  I should have had more traffic citations in that Citation than I did.

Well, it had 99,999 miles on it and then it flipped over to...what?

It's a 1982.  What did it flip over to?

Zero!  The odometer only went up to 99,999.

So, the odometer said that the car been forgiven.  Nothing on the odometer!

A clean slate. Forgiven!  Perfect.  Miles free.

But, were there still the marks of 100,000 miles on that little car?

There sure were.  And no-matter what the odometer said, there were still natural consequences that we had to accept.

It's the same in our lives.  We can be forgiven our sins where it's most important–by the death of Jesus Christ on our behalf.

But we still often have to accept some of the consequences of those sins in our lives.

Are you living with consequences?

Are you facing a temptation and need to be reminded that if you give in there will be consequences?

This sordid story is here to remind us that sin is no small thing, no insignificant thing.

More than that. Number three.

This sordid story is in our Bibles:


We might not like to hear or see what a victim of sexual assault goes through, but God made sure that there was at least one story told in His Word so that victims will know that they are not alone.

And that God knows about it and cares.

And that God says that sexual abuse is wicked and wrong.

The statistics say that one in four women and one in six men have been or will be the victim of sexual assault in their lifetimes (Rid of My Disgrace, pg. 37).

So that means that several of us in this room have been sinned against in a similar way to Tamar.

Aren’t you glad, if you have to go through that in your life, that the Bible knows that it exists and names it and calls it what it is: a heinous sin?

And more than one third of all sexual attacks come from family members, too.

This chapter gives a voice to the victimized.

Tamar is the only person in this story who does what she should.

And at least part of the reason why her story is here is to say to you ladies, “It’s not your fault.”

Don’t believe the lies that your abuser told you.
Don’t believe that you are the problem if you’ve been raped.
Don’t believe that you are damaged goods, no longer good for anything but more abuse.

Seek help. Speak up. Report the abuse. Get assistance.

The Bible gives you a voice.

Here’s some more homework for you this week. This afternoon, read Psalm 10 through the eyes of a victim.
It’s about how perpetrators think and act...and what they have coming for them if they do not repent.

I’m not glad that Tamar had to go through what she went through. But I am glad it’s in our Bibles so that if precious people like you have to go through it, too, she’s there to tell you that you are not alone, and that it’s not your fault.

And that there is grace to cover your disgrace.

Because our Lord Jesus Christ knows all about disgrace.

He knows all about shame.

Nobody was ever shamed like Jesus was.

Nobody ever had shame placed upon Him like Jesus did.

And He went through that for us to lift off and wash clean the shame that others have put on us.

He doesn’t just forgive us of our sins at the Cross. He bore our shame and lifts it off of us. He gives us a new ornamented robe that is not torn. A new identity to live out of.

He accepts us. He receives us. He loves us. We are not damaged goods to Him.

We are the apple of His eye.

You are, if you are in Christ, the apple of His eye.

One more and then we’re done.

Why is this sordid story in our Bibles?


Now, why do I say that?

Do you remember when we started that I said that the LORD is never named in chapter 13?

Thirty-nine verses and none of them contain the name of God.

So, is God absent in this chapter?  Has he gone on a vacation?

Is he taking a moment to collect Himself?

I’m sure that’s how it felt to Tamar.

But you and I know better. We know that this the sword striking this family.

We know it’s the sword of the Lord.

We know that it is consequences for David’s sin.

God is sovereign over this. It fits, somehow, into His plan.

He doesn’t like the part of the plan. He hates Amnon’s lustful violence. He hates Jonadab’s cold-blooded scheming. He hates Absalom’s murderous rage.  He hates David’s cowardly passivity.

But none of that is outside of His sovereignty.

Somehow, I don’t pretend to know how, God uses even our sinful choices to effect His sovereign purposes in the world!

It’s mysterious, but true. And I find it incredibly comforting.

Like Joseph telling his brothers, “What you intended for evil, God intended for good.”

This sordid story is in the Bible to remind me that God is sovereign over all of the sordid stories and is working them together for our good and for His glory.

How do I know that’s true?

Because of the most sordid story ever.

The most perfect person who ever lived was crucified.

He was innocent. He was holy. He was good. All good.

And they killed him. They shamed Him publically and they put Him to death.

And that most sordid story ever was part of God’s plan.

The early church said in Acts 4, “Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.”

Our Lord is sovereign over everything! Even over the worst sins ever committed.

So, if you are being sinned against, take heart. God hates that sin, but it’s not out of His grasp.

If you belong to Jesus, you are in His grasp, no matter what happens to you.

And He will love you forever and ever and ever and ever and ever.

All of this will be made right and worked together for your eternal good and joy.

Trust Jesus and believe in His Lordship over the story of your life.

Because chapter 13 is not the end of the story. Revelation 22 is the end of the story!

And I’ve read the end of the story–God wins! And so do we!


Messages in This Series
00. "How the Mighty Have Fallen!"
01. King David
02. David's Kingdom
03. The Right Way to Worship
04. "I Will Build a House for You."
05. The Rule of King David
06. David's Scandal

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Friday, May 23, 2014

My WBCL Interview with Lynne Ford about Resisting Gossip

I enjoyed talking with Lynne Ford on WBCL's "Mid-Morning" program today.

And while I was a bit nervous about talking with callers about Resisting Gossip, I was happy with how it went. Lynne is gifted at talking to people and made both the callers and myself feel at home, and I hope we were able to be of some help to folks--that's what it's all about!

Listen to the whole thing in the WBCL archives.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

On the Radio Tomorrow with Lynne Ford of WBCL

Tomorrow, I'm going to be talking about Resisting Gossip on Mid-Morning from 10-11am with Lynne Ford of WBCL Radio in Fort Wayne.

This show will be a first for me because it's a live call-in show. I've done a number of radio interviews, including live ones, but never before interacted directly with callers and their questions. Should be fun!

Monday, May 19, 2014

First Look at the Official Cover of "Resistiendo el Chisme"

Exciting news! The Spanish translation of Resisting Gossip, entitled Resistiendo el Chisme is due out in just a few weeks! And here's a first look at the cover:

And here is the back cover and spine, as well, with the author photo courtesy of the talented Schenley Pilgram! [Click on the image for a closer look.]

How exciting to see it all come together for the first translation, courtesy of CLC Colombia (catch them on Facebook here)!

I'll let you know when we have information about how to purchase them.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

[Matt's Messages] "David's Scandal"

“David’s Scandal”
The LORD Is My Rock: The Message of 2 Samuel
May 18, 2014 :: 2 Samuel 11:1-12:31

I have some bad news for you today.

Up until now, David has been, if not perfect, he’s been quite ideal. The ideal king.

We’ve had several weeks here on the rule of king David, what his kingdom was like. How he finally got to the top after years of being chased and harassed.  And how good a king he was.

Last time we were in 2 Samuel together, we saw that David’s rule was marked by kindness. By hesed, right?

Well, I have bad news for you. Most of you knew that this day was coming. I’ve tried to hint at it from time to time.

David was, actually, far from perfect.

Today’s message is entitled, “David’s Scandal.”

Because at the height of his kingly power, David abused his kingly power. And then he tried to cover it up. And he did even worse than that.

Our “great hero,” King David was the perpetrator of a great scandal.

And there is no getting around it. There is no excuse for it. There is no defense for it. There is nothing good about it.

Except ... what God does with it and what we can learn about God from it.

David’s Scandal.

Now, this is a classic story full of awesome storytelling.

My job is mainly to show you what is there and get out of the way.

Because the story says it all.

So, we’re only going to have two points this morning.

Two things we’re going to see about David’s Scandal.  And the first is:


2 Samuel chapter 11, verse 1.

“In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king's men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.” Stop there for a second.

Remember the Ammonites? They’re the ones that David had tried to show hesed to last chapter but instead had shamed the Israelites?

Well, it’s now spring time, probably a year since that happened, it’s the end of their rainy season so the roads are dry enough for the armies to move, and David sends General Joab and “the whole Israelite army” to destroy the Ammonites and sack their capital city of Rabbah.

Sounds good. Only one problem.

David stayed home.

We aren’t told why, but it’s clearly a mistake.

Perhaps he was being lazy. Perhaps his men had persuaded him to stay away from battle.

Anyway about it, he wasn’t where he should be.

And that’s something to keep in mind when fighting temptation. Don’t go where you aren’t supposed to be. Don’t stay where you aren’t supposed to be.

Folks, that includes places online, not just palaces in Jerusalem. V.2

“One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, ‘Isn't this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’”

And it should have stopped there. But it didn’t. V.4

“Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (She had purified herself from her uncleanness.) Then she went back home.”

This is the start of David’s scandal.

As far as we know, this was the only time David had committed adultery.

But once is way too much.

David saw this woman bathing. We’d like to know more about Bathsheba’s part in this. Was she somewhere she shouldn’t be? Was she undressed?

Was she showing off her beautiful body on the ancient equivalent of Facebook?

Or was she doing nothing wrong, but David had a vantage point that he used in a way that he shouldn’t? We don’t know.

The storyteller isn’t telling us Bathsheba’s story.  He’s telling us David’s story. David’s sin.

David did what he shouldn’t have. And he misused his kingly power.

And he knew what he was doing. He was stealing the wife of one of his mighty warriors.
But nobody had to know!

Bathsheba, however, was ovulating at the time. V.5

“The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, ‘I am pregnant.’”

And so the cover-up begins. David gets worried. V.6

“So David sent this word to Joab: ‘Send me Uriah the Hittite.’ And Joab sent him to David. [Notice this word “sent.” It’s the key word in these two chapters. It’s a power-word. David keeps sending and using his power to send in the wrong way. ‘Send me Uriah the Hittite.’]  When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. [How wicked this is. He’s talking to the guy right there in his house.]

Then David said to Uriah, ‘Go down to your house and wash your feet.’ [Get comfortable!] So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him.

But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master's servants and did not go down to his house.

[It’s not working. Uriah has to go home so that he sleeps with his wife. So the baby will not be a scandal. V.10]

When David was told, ‘Uriah did not go home,’ he asked him, ‘Haven't you just come from a distance? Why didn't you go home?’ Uriah said to David, ‘The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my master Joab and my lord's men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!’”

Does he know?  Does he suspect?

The story doesn’t give us any reason to think so.

He’s just a fine upstanding man who has become an Israelite warrior. He was born a Hittite, but now he’s married into Israel and lives in Israel and fights for Israel.

And Israel’s king has sinned against him.

And Israel’s king is getting desperate. V.12

“Then David said to him, ‘Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.’ So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. At David's invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master's servants; he did not go home.”

In this story, even when he is drunk, Uriah is more honorable than David is when he is sober.

And it gets worse. Much worse. V.14

“In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. In it he wrote, ‘Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.’ [What do you think Joab thought when he got that letter?]

So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David's army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.

Joab sent David a full account of the battle. He instructed the messenger: ‘When you have finished giving the king this account of the battle, the king's anger may flare up, and he may ask you, 'Why did you get so close to the city to fight? Didn't you know they would shoot arrows from the wall? Who killed Abimelech son of Jerub-Besheth? Didn't a woman throw an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you get so close to the wall?' If he asks you this, then say to him, 'Also, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.'’

[It looks like Joab improved on the David’s plan and had even more men killed so that it didn’t look like Uriah had been singled out. V.22]

“The messenger set out, and when he arrived he told David everything Joab had sent him to say. The messenger said to David, ‘The men overpowered us and came out against us in the open, but we drove them back to the entrance to the city gate. Then the archers shot arrows at your servants from the wall, and some of the king's men died. Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.’

David told the messenger, ‘Say this to Joab: 'Don't let this upset you; the sword devours one as well as another. [No big deal.] Press the attack against the city and destroy it.' Say this to encourage Joab.’

When Uriah's wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the LORD.”

Literally, “It was evil in the LORD’s sight.”

It looked like David had gotten away with it.

But God saw.

How many of the ten commandments has David now broken in this scandal?

Bearing false witness.
Coveting his neighbor’s wife.
At least.

And David just bottles it up and pretends that it didn’t happen.

We don’t know how many people knew.  Joab knew.

David’s servants had to know.

Maybe everybody was whispering about it.

It was less than 9 months after Uriah died that Bathsheba had David’s little boy.

It was a scandal.

It was a shame.

It was sin.

“But the thing David had done was evil in the sight of the LORD.”

Now, who is going to stand up to David?

David has abused his kingly power. He has acted like he can do whatever he wants.

Chapter 12, verse 1.

“The LORD sent Nathan to David.”

Ah. Somebody else is doing the “sending” now.

Remember Nathan from chapter 7?  Nathan was the prophet who told David that everything he was doing was good. Nathan was the prophet who told David that God was promising to build a house for him. Nathan was the prophet who told David that God was going to bless David’s name and make him great and give him a dynasty that would be forever.

Now, he bears a different message.

And brings it to a story.

This is a masterful way of confronting sin. One that all of us, especially parents, should sit up and notice. V.1 again.

“The LORD sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, ‘There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. [Aww.] He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.

‘Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.’

David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.’

Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man!”

You see what Nathan did there?

He showed David his sin by telling him about someone else’s.

And David’s sense of justice then was acute.

He could see the sin of others, but he needed to be shown his own sin.

“You are the man!”

And then Nathan unleashes God’s condemnation on David. He takes him to the heart of the deadly seriousness of sin. V.7

“This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master's house to you, and your master's wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.

Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.

Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.'

‘This is what the LORD says: 'Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes 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. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.'’” Stop there.

Do you see how serious sin is?

The strongest, most bitter words in this whole story are in verse 10.  “You despised me.”

That’s what this scandal revealed.  David had not just sinned against Uriah or against Bathsheba or against Joab or against his army or against his nation.

He had sinned against them. He had offended and hurt them with his actions.

But even more importantly, he had sinned against God.

Sin is an offense against God.

Sin is treachery.

Sin is treason.

Sin is irrational. It’s crazy!

That’s what God is saying through Nathan. “I gave you everything you have and it was all good. And if you wanted more, all you had to do was ask.

And what do you do instead? You take what is not yours!”

Sin is an irrational devaluing of God and His good gifts.

It’s dissatisfaction with God!

It’s stupid.

Sin is stupid.

And it’s deadly.

The wages of sin is death.

David’s sin led to Uriah’s death and those other soldiers’.

And it earned death for him.  He deserved it.

Now, before we get too far up on our own high horses, and jump into condemnation of David, we need to remind ourselves that this sin is in our hearts, as well.

We, here, are all sinners, too.

We may not have killed anyone or stolen a spouse, but we may have.

And the Lord Jesus says that if we have hated someone or called them “you fool,” we have killed them in our hearts.

And the Lord Jesus says that if we have lusted after someone, we have committed adultery with them in our hearts.

David’s scandal is in our hearts.

It’s our scandal, too.

And there’s no excuse for it.

And it isn’t excused.

There are terrible consequences that come from it.

Our sins do not just affect us but also the people around us.

A sword would cut into David’s household.  That great household that God had promised would receive the slice of God’s own sword of judgment.


“Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’”

David admits his sin. He recognizes it. He owns it.

David shows here that he is a man after God’s own heart.

His confession is simple, but it’s real.

He’s so not like Saul.  Remember how Saul would make excuses and try to get out of it. And agree that it was bad but try, but then say, “But we can fix it, right?” (Arnold, 534).

But King David is cut to the heart and is truly repentant and doesn’t expect anything from it. He just agrees with Nathan.

“I have sinned against the LORD.”

This afternoon, read Psalm 32 and Psalm 51 to find out more about what David felt and learned from this time in his life.  He understood the deadly seriousness of his sin.

And that’s why Nathan’s next words are so amazing. V.13

“Nathan replied, ‘The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.’”

The second thing we’re going to learn from David’s scandal is:


The magnificent amazingness of God’s grace.

Nathan said, “The LORD has taken away your sin.” You are not going to get the death that you deserve.

Don’t think that excuses David’s sin. It doesn’t.

David isn’t getting away with it.

God isn’t saying, “It’s no big deal.”

God has said, “It is a big deal,” but He’s taking that big deal away.

How can He do that?

We know the answer to that now in ways that David couldn’t fathom.

We know that it comes through the Cross of Jesus.

The Savior nailed to the tree.

That’s what it took for our sins to be taken away.

Someone to die in our place.

What the sacrifices of the Old Testament prefigured, foreshadowed, and pointed to.

“You are not going to die.” Because someone is going to die for you.

That’s grace.

And it’s amazing.

Would I do it like this?

No. But I’m not God. (And everybody said, “Amen!”)

David is forgiven for his scandal.

There are consequences, however. It will change everybody’s life and make it so much harder. V.14

“But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.’ After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife had borne to David, and he became ill. David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the ground. The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them. On the seventh day the child died. David's servants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, ‘While the child was still living, we spoke to David but he would not listen to us. How can we tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.’ David noticed that his servants were whispering among themselves and he realized the child was dead. ‘Is the child dead?’ he asked. ‘Yes,’ they replied, ‘he is dead.’

Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.

His servants asked him, ‘Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!’ [Aren’t you going to grieve?]

He answered, ‘While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, 'Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.' [I know that the LORD is gracious! He’s that kind of God! But this time, He said, “No.”] But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.’

Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and lay with her. She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The LORD loved him; and because the LORD loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah.”

Don’t think that David got off easy.

I’m sure he’d rather that he died than his son.

And this is just the beginning of David’s troubles. This book is going to be depressing again and again for the next 9 chapters.

Even when we are forgiven, our sins will most often still lead to consequences.

But don’t miss the amazing grace.

David and Bathsheba have another son.

In fact, Chronicles tells us they have four more sons.

But this one is special. He is named Solomon, and the LORD loves him.

And one day he’s going to take David’s place.

The son of David and Bathsheba!

And remember the Ammonites? David deserves to lose to them. V.26

“Meanwhile Joab fought against Rabbah of the Ammonites and captured the royal citadel. Joab then sent messengers to David, saying, ‘I have fought against Rabbah and taken its water supply. Now muster the rest of the troops and besiege the city and capture it. Otherwise I will take the city, and it will be named after me.’ [In other words, “Get yourself over here where you belong. You get a second chance to do what you were supposed to be doing. Do your job. V.29]

So David mustered the entire army and went to Rabbah, and attacked and captured it. He took the crown from the head of their king–its weight was a talent of gold, and it was set with precious stones–and it was placed on David's head. He took a great quantity of plunder from the city and brought out the people who were there, consigning them to labor with saws and with iron picks and axes, and he made them work at brickmaking. He did this to all the Ammonite towns. Then David and his entire army returned to Jerusalem.”

When he should have been dead.

We need to see how deadly serious is our sin so that we can clearly see how amazing is God’s grace!

Sin is an offense against God.
Sin is treachery.
Sin is treason.
It’s crazy! It’s stupid.
It’s an irrational devaluing of God and His good gifts.

And yet God can forgive it because of Jesus.

God’s grace is so amazing.


Messages in This Series
00. "How the Mighty Have Fallen!"
01. King David
02. David's Kingdom
03. The Right Way to Worship
04. "I Will Build a House for You."
05. The Rule of King David
06. David's Scandal

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Can you identify this plant?

Answer:  It's moss!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Steve Cornell on Being a "Social Cannibal"

Readers of Resisting Gossip will appreciate this insightful word picture for a gossip: "Social Cannibal."

...gossip and slander are behaviors that feed on weaknesses in others to nourish a sense of superiority. Like hungry cannibals savoring the flesh of another, social cannibals take pleasure in the problems, difficulties and failures of others. It’s dangerous to be in their company because you just might end up in their pot.
Cornell warns against interacting with social cannibals but also calls us to search our own hearts for these pernicious tendencies. And on top of that, he uses and explains that cool German word for the twisted pleasure in the pain of others: "schadenfreude."

Read the whole thing.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tessalynn Reyes' Review of "Resisting Gossip"

Tessalynn Reyes is an avid reader from the Philippines and regularly reviews books at WonderfullyCatapulted.  She recently read Resisting Gossip and posted a longish and positive review.

Tessalynn read Resisting Gossip for 3 main reasons:
First, I am a big talker. I delight in sharing things that I know, relevant or otherwise. Sin is never sophisticated, and I admit not being classy when I engage in mindless chatter. Gossip is extremely deceiving. I often mistake it for a cherished right to express myself. Now that gossiping has an explicit definition, I should begin owning up to the mess I have made.
Second, I was a victim of gossip. Hearing stuff that is untrue can be very mind-bending, but this book spared me from the throes of fleshly retaliation. Praying for my enemies and overlooking their faults do not completely relieve the pain caused by it, but I learned to rest in my Father’s leadership. I am certain that He is perfectly able to do something about it.
Lastly, I love breakthroughs. If we can be strategically genuine about fighting against gossip, consider the suggestions in this book as a head-start. I cannot aspire for meaningful fellowships with others if I do not keep my motives right with the Lord when I speak.
She summarizes and evaluates the content and ends with this encouraging statement:
Our mouth has been created for God’s pleasure. If you are not certain about using it for the purpose for which it is made, but would like to relish in the unfolding of His amazing promises, this book is for you. 
Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Writing Day for the Resisting Gossip Study Guide

Can I ask you to pray for me today?

We're creating a study guide as a companion to Resisting Gossip.  it will be keyed to the 10 videos that we filmed in late March and will include Bible study questions and insights that aren't in the book. It will also have other features, including tips for group leaders.  The goal is to have it come out this Fall.

But only if I write it first!

Today is the first full day of writing, and I would appreciate your prayers for clarity, insight, wisdom, and productivity.

Thanks, in advance, for your prayers. I'll update you on how it goes.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

[Matt's Messages] "Hold On for the Harvest"

“Hold On For The Harvest”
Mother’s Day :: May 11, 2014
Galatians 6:7-10

Galatians 6:7-10 is not a passage that is normally read on Mother’s Day. But I think that as we unpack these four verses, we will see how it applies to being a Christian Mother.

Many years ago, I asked my wife what Christian Mothers really need to hear on Mother’s Day.

Is it “Thank you!”  Is it, “You’re doing a great job! Keep the good work?”  What do Christian Moms really need to hear on Mother’s Day.

And I remember we were out for a walk, and I asked her that.  And I’ll never forget. She said that those things are good to hear, but she said that what moms really need to hear is simply this, “We need to hear that it’s worth it.”

We need to hear something that will motivate us to go through often sleepless nights and  to get up in the morning and spend your day in sacrifice for little sinners.  We need to hear that it’s worth it.

And I can understand that.  As a father of 4 and watching her do what she does day after day this last 14 years, I can see how it would be overwhelming.

I see that in our MOPS group. They need to be told that it’s worth it and to hold on.

But it’s not just parents of little ones that need to hear it.  Maybe yours are older. Maybe they are out of the house, with children of their own. But you are still their mother. You still have responsibilities to your children, even if you are no longer responsible for them.  I believe that you, too, need to hear that it’s worth it.

And it’s not good enough to just hear it from a friend.  It’s helpful when a friend comes along and says, “I loved mothering.  It’s worth every sacrifice.”  It’s helpful, but it’s not enough.  You need to hear it from God.  You need to hear that it’s worth it with the authority of the word of the living God standing behind it.

To see what God is saying here, it will be helpful to divide the passage up into 3 parts: a warning, a calling, and a promise.

The warning can be sobering.
The calling can be tiring.
But the promise makes it all worthwhile.

First, the warning.


“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.  The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

Paul warns us: God will not be mocked.

Now, by that, he means that no one gets away with mocking God.  Of course, you can sit right there in your pew and thumb your nose at God.  You can make faces at God. You can make fun of His holy Word.  You can try to sneak around behind God’s back.  But you will not get away with it!

“Do not fool yourself,” Paul says, “God will not be mocked.”

God will not be made a fool of.
God will not allow anyone to “get away” with anything.

There will be consequences.

That’s the point of v.7.

Our earthly actions will have eternal consequences.  Let me say that again.  Our earthly actions will have eternal consequences.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.”

Here we have an agricultural metaphor.  You sow a seed into the ground.  Then you wait.  Rain, Sun, Rain, Sun, Rain, Sun --> harvest, reaping time!

This is sowing season, right now, right? We put our gardens in now. Anybody got their garden already?

What you have sown, you will reap.

If you sow barley, you will get barley.
If you sow corn, you will get corn.
If you sow thorns, you will get thorns.
If you sow tomatoes, bring some over to my place!  I love tomatoes!

God has set up the moral universe in the same way.  There are consequences for our actions and attitudes.

Our earthly actions will have eternal consequences.  Guaranteed.

It may not seem like it.  It may seem like someone is getting away with something... bu, remember, there is always a time period between planting and harvest.

And God says that the harvest will come, no matter what.  Our earthly actions will have eternal consequences.  Guaranteed.

V.8 describes our two choices:

“The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

Only two choices.

Actions born of flesh will reap corruption.  Actions born of faith will reap life.

That’s pretty simple, isn’t it?

Actions born of flesh will reap corruption.  Actions born of faith will reap life.

Why do I say flesh?  That’s the word behind “sinful nature” in v.8. Greek word, “Sarx.” It refers to our old, fallen self that loves to justify itself with good works and indulge itself with forbidden pleasures.

Actions that are born of the flesh or as v.8 says, “sown to please the sinful nature” will reap the harvest of corruption or destruction.  Guaranteed.  Count on it.  Don’t deceive yourself by thinking that you can get away with it.

However, actions born of faith [why do I say faith? V.8 says “sown to please the Spirit,” what pleases the Spirit?  FAITH DOES.].  Actions born of faith (pleasing to the Spirit) will reap eternal life from the Spirit.

Now, actually the words “to please” are not in the original Greek. They are added in to help us understand he’s saying in English.

The King James has it very literal here.  It says, “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

The flesh and the Spirit are the fields that are sown into.

To the one who puts his grain (his faith, his pleasures, his work) into the field of the flesh, he will get corruption, destruction, and death.

To the one who puts his grain (his faith, his pleasures, his work) into the field of the Spirit, he will of the Spirit reap eternal life and blessedness.

Genuine believers sow “to the Spirit.”  They have faith in Christ alone [which is what the book of Galatians is all about!] and so they exercise that faith by sowing to please the Spirit.  And they reap eternal life.

Unbelievers (and fake believers) sow “to the flesh.”  They have faith in themselves and so they exercise that faith by sowing to please the sinful nature.  And they reap eternal death.

Those are our two choices.  A life of flesh or a life of faith.

And there are eternal consequences for our earthly choices.  Guaranteed.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking anything else.  God will not be mocked.

That’s the warning.

Now, what in the world does that have to do with being a Christian Mother?

Simple: If you are a Mother, you are accountable to God.

Being a Mother is not just something that you chose. It is something that God chose for you.  It is a calling.  A sacred calling.  And you will have to give an account to God for how you handled your calling.

Is that a sobering thought for you this morning?  It probably should be.

Many, many mothers in America have thrown away their sacred calling to sow seeds of pleasure for their flesh.

And God will not be mocked.  There will be a reckoning.

If you are a mother, you are accountable to God for the discharging of your sacred duties.

God is watching.  He is not too busy in the Ukraine or Syria to attend to your parenting.

God is evaluating your mothering of your children.  Are you sowing grain to please the Spirit in the life of your children?  That’s what Christian Mothers do.

But those who throw away their grain into the desires of their flesh will reap destruction.

God will not be mocked.

Do you see your job as a mother as being one of the most important jobs in the universe?

It is.  Mothering (especially the at-home variety) is often perceived as a second-class job in our culture.  But the instilling of Christian concepts, values, and principles from the earliest age while providing a protective, nurturing, disciplining, training environment is one of the greatest callings that God has ever bestowed on human beings.  That’s what Christian mothering is.  It is a great calling.

With every great calling comes great accountability.

In the movies and the comic-books, Spider-Man learned that with great power comes great responsibility. And that’s true in real life, too.

With every great calling comes great accountability.

If you are a Mother, you are accountable to God.

Don’t try to deceive yourself.  Don’t say that what you choose to do doesn’t matter.  It matters very much to God.  He gave you that child.  He gave you those children.  It matters very much what you do with them.

You are accountable to God because you have a great calling.  That’s the second division of our passage.


“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

The call of God on all of us is to do good.  That’s what we just read.  V.10.  “Let us do good to all people, especially to [the church.]”

The call of God on all of us is to do good.  In the context, v.1 is a call to do good to those who are caught in a sin, v.2 is call to carry each other’s burdens, v.6 is a call to do good to those who teach the word of God by sharing all good thing.

The call of God on all of us (not just moms) is to do good.

And Christian Mothers are called by God to do good to a specific set of people called sons and daughters.  V.10 says, “As we have opportunity to do good.”

Well, when you live with a little one that you gave birth to, you will have lots of opportunity to do good to them.

Cook, clean, feed, train, wipe, teach, forgive, dress, undress, spank, coach, coax, lift, push, pull, and carry. And then REPEAT!

Many prayers, conferences with teachers, little league games, soccer tournaments, doctors appointments, bills, bills, bills.

God calls moms to do good to their children.

Of course, that sounds obvious when we say it, but it is very tempting to not live like that. It is very tempting to live our lives for ourselves and not give ourselves away in service to our children.

Did you hear the promises that Todd and Heather made to God for Landen today?

One of those promises we make is to serve their children and not to use them.

I remember when I first heard that promise, and I said, “Oh yeah, that’s Christian parenting.”

It’s easy to use our children for prestige, or to live our unmet dreams through them, or to ship them off into someone else’s hands so that we can chase after our desires.

But God calls us to serve them.  To love them.  To do what is best for them, no matter what the personal sacrifice. To do good to them.

And to not give up doing good to them.  V.9 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good” Do not give up.

Hold on. Keep doing good. Don’t give in or give up.  Keep your shoulder to the wheel.  Keep on doing good.

I think that here is where many mothers fail.  They start out excited about being a mother.  But when the going gets tough, they buckle and bail.

But God is saying, “Mothers, don’t jump ship.  Keep your hands to the rudder.  Keep the sail up.  Keep doing good to your children.  Keep doing good to your children.  Keep doing good to your children. Don’t run.  Don’t hide.  Do good and hold on.”

A number of years ago, I grew weary of doing good as a pastor. [This verse is about all doing good (especially in the church).] I just got tired of doing what was right in a few relationships that were difficult.

And at that time, God engraved this verse on my soul, and it became my biggest prayer request.  “Do not grow weary of doing good.” King James, “Let us not be weary in well doing.”

I had to make a list of people to whom I needed to apologize.  It was several people long.  People that I had failed as their pastor in some way.  Some of you were on that list.  I had just given up with them, and God said, “Matt, do not grow weary in well-doing.”

It took me several months, almost a year, to apologize to everyone on that list.  But by God’s grace, I did.  And I felt an incredible freedom.

God is calling all of us (not just mothers) to do good and to keep on doing good.  Even if it hurts.  Especially, if it hurts.

Especially, if you are the mother of a prodigal.  Some of you may have children who are not living like you taught them to.

Don’t give up now on being their Mother.  Pray for them.  Love them.  Advise them. Do good to them. Keep on keeping on.

God is calling us to do good and to not give up doing good.

To hold on...for the harvest.

That’s the promise of this passage. And it makes it all worthwhile.  V.9 again.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”


It is worth it.  It is worth it.  It is worth it.

Heather Joy, it is worth it.

Heather Dobo, it is worth it.

Mothers, it is worth it.

Dads, it is worth it.

Grandparents, it is worth it.

Singles, it is worth it.

Aunts and Uncles and Sunday School Teachers, it’s worth it.

It is worth it!

Doing good to please the Spirit in whatever sphere of life God places you in is worth it.

It may not feel like it now, but that’s because it’s not harvest time yet.

There is always a delay between planting and harvest.

But God says in v.9 that “at the proper time we will reap a harvest.”

“At the proper time.”

Not too early, not too late, but right on time, we will reap a harvest.

King James Version, “In due season.”

When harvesting season comes, we will reap the benefits of our doing good.

Is that legalism?  Only if we think that we are earning those blessings by doing that good.  And we can’t.  We must do all of this in the power of the Holy Spirit and by faith in His grace.  But we must do it. And if we do, if we hold on, we will see the harvest.

Isn’t that a glorious promise?

Do you get a mental picture of barns bursting with blessing because of God’s harvest having come in?  God guarantees the harvest, and He asks us to sow for it and to hold on until it comes.

Does this mean that mothering becomes easy?  Not easy, but probably easier, if we can see the end in our minds as we contemplate the harvest.

Does this mean that all prodigals will come home?  No. God allows some prodigals to never return.  But it does mean that Mothers of prodigals will see why they had to go through all of that pain. And they will hear the Father of all Prodigals welcome them to heaven with a “well done, good and faithful servant enter into the joy of your Master.”

God promises a great harvest to those who hold on to doing good.

Some of that harvest will come in this life.  In many cases, we will see our children grow up.  We will see the results of our labors:

-We will see the self-discipline that we were trying to build with our efforts at discipline.

-We will see the faith that we were trying to instill with all of those family devotions at bed time.

-We will see the fruit our secret prayers for our children.  Daily asking for their salvation, their sanctification, their joy in Christ.

-In many cases, we will meet the spouse that we have been praying for them since before they were even born.

In many cases, we will get to see portions of the harvest in this life.

But the greatest portion is in the next life, when we enjoy the rewards of our faithfulness here.  When we get crowns for trusting in the promises of God and being obedient. When we gain the ability to know God without the distorting damage of our sin.  When we see Christ face to face and hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of your Master.”

“At the proper time WE WILL REAP A HARVEST if we do not give up.”

Yesterday, we honored Beatrice Johnson at her memorial service for how she hung on in faith.

Today is her 92nd birthday. How many decades?  How many decades did she hold on to faith? Did she, a single person, sow to the Spirit?

And now she’s reaping eternal life.

It is worth it.

Hold on.

Fathers, grandparents, singles, children, youth, and (especially today) Mothers, let’s hold on and do good to those God has put in our lives.  Let’s sow the grain of goodness pleasing to the Spirit into their lives and anticipate the great harvest that will come in due season.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Friday, May 09, 2014

A Free Book! "Loving Well" by Bill Smith

Good news!  New Growth Press is giving away downloads of Bill Smith's splendid book Loving Well (Even If You Haven't Been) this weekend!

You can read my review at the Biblical Counseling Coalition website, but don't forget to download your copy. Highly recommended.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Coming: A "Resisting Gossip" Course at Biblical Learning

This is exciting news:

Starting this coming Fall, (a ministry of InFaith) will be offering an online class on Resisting Gossip!

Biblical Learning offers classes for free and for credit (check their website for more information). This class is being designed by John Lewis, a field director with InFaith (and also Heather Joy's cousin), and by special arrangement with CLC Publications.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

[Matt's Messages] "The Rule of King David"

“The Rule of King David”
The LORD Is My Rock: The Message of 2 Samuel
May 4, 2014 :: 2 Samuel 8:1-10:19

The reason why I’m calling these 3 chapters, “The Rule of King David” is not because they say everything there is to know about David’s rule, but I do think they are placed here in the story to give us a big picture look at what the kingdom of David was like.

What was it like to live in the kingdom that was ruled by David?

Starting in chapter 11, we’re going to learn some unhappy parts of David’s story.  It’s kind of like the third act in the a play or a movie.  The first act was the ascendancy of David, David on the rise. And that was a long part of the story because it took him a long time to reach the top.

And chapters 2-10, I think tell the story of the top–David establishing his rule.

And the last 3 chapters of that section, what we’re going to look at today, give us a glimpse of what his rule was characterized by.

We saw before in chapter 5 a bit of what his kingdom was like, but here I think we get a glimpse of what kind of a ruler the king himself was.

...Before that regrettable error he made with Bathsheba.

“The Rule of King David.”

But, of course, there is something even more important in these chapters of Scripture than to see what kind of a ruler David was.

Because David is not the main character of 2 Samuel.

The LORD is the main character of 2 Samuel, and we’re going to highlight at 3 things that we can learn here about Him.  And those will apply to our lives today because the He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

The first thing we’re going to see about the rule of King David is that he is consistently victorious, and he is also righteous, wise, and just.

As a ruler, at this point in his rule, David is ideal. Ideal.

Chapter 8 is a great big summary of David’s victories, his successes in battle.

But the most important thing to realize about all of these victories is where they come from. V.6 and v.14 will make it abundantly clear that these victories are a gift from the LORD.

And that is because He is (point #1 of 3 today)...


Let’s read it, and I’ll show you what I mean. Chapter 8, verse 1.

“In the course of time, David defeated the Philistines and subdued them, and he took Metheg Ammah from the control of the Philistines.”

Now, that sentence seems pretty normal, but if we’ve been paying attention, then all kinds of bells and whistles should be going off.

What has happened?

David has defeated the Philistines!

When was growing up the Philistines were the big baddies. They controlled everything, including who could own a sword.

And it seemed like the new king, Saul, was going to do something about it.

But he didn’t.

And then there was a promise made by God that the next king, King David, would defeat the Philistines.

And here it is!

“In the course of time, David defeated the Philistines and subdued them, and he took Metheg Ammah from the control of the Philistines.”

God is a promise-keeping God, and David is a victorious king. V.2

“David also defeated the Moabites. He made them lie down on the ground and measured them off with a length of cord. Every two lengths of them were put to death, and the third length was allowed to live. So the Moabites became subject to David and brought tribute.”

Now, we’re not sure why Moab needed subdued. They had been friendly with David, and he shared some Moabite blood.

But apparently their peace didn’t last, and David had to defeat them, execute a good number of them and subdue them.

And all of this is a fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant.  Remember last week we read 2 Samuel 7 and saw the amazing promises that God was giving to David and His people?

One of the big ones was that David would have rest from his enemies. ... V.3

“Moreover, David fought Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah, when he went to restore his control along the Euphrates River. David captured a thousand of his chariots, seven thousand charioteers and twenty thousand foot soldiers. He hamstrung all but a hundred of the chariot horses.

When the Arameans of Damascus came to help Hadadezer king of Zobah, David struck down twenty-two thousand of them. He put garrisons in the Aramean kingdom of Damascus, and the Arameans became subject to him and brought tribute. The LORD gave David victory wherever he went.

[And David gave the LORD the glory.]

David took the gold shields that belonged to the officers of Hadadezer and brought them to Jerusalem. From Tebah and Berothai, towns that belonged to Hadadezer, King David took a great quantity of bronze. When Tou king of Hamath heard that David had defeated the entire army of Hadadezer, he sent his son Joram to King David to greet him and congratulate him on his victory in battle over Hadadezer, who had been at war with Tou. Joram brought with him articles of silver and gold and bronze.  King David dedicated these articles to the LORD, as he had done with the silver and gold from all the nations he had subdued: Edom and Moab, the Ammonites and the Philistines, and Amalek. He also dedicated the plunder taken from Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah.

And David became famous after he returned from striking down eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt. [We saw last week that his name would become great. It’s a promise!]

He put garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites became subject to David. The LORD gave David victory wherever he went.

Is that because David was so great?

Well, David was a man after God’s own heart.

But, in and of himself, he wasn’t that great. He was great because God made him great.

The LORD gave David this victory wherever he went because God was keeping His promises.

He is a promise-keeping God.

Now, I know that I just said that last week.

And I know that I say it a lot.  “God always keeps His promises.”

You know, we are so used to that, it seems normal and blase.

But it’s amazing when you think about it.

Who do you know that has always kept their promises?

All of them?

Every single one.

Nobody does that. Even for people try really hard and keep all the big ones.

We’re always making and breaking promises even to ourselves, aren’t we?

But God always, always, always keeps His promises.

Do you need to hear that today?

I know we just said it last week, but it’s one of the major lessons of the whole Old Testament, so we probably need to hear it every day.

The LORD is a promise-keeping God.

And David was a justice providing king.  V.15

“David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people. Joab son of Zeruiah was over the army; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder; Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelech son of Abiathar were priests; Seraiah was secretary; Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Kerethites and Pelethites; and David's sons were royal advisers.”

A little bit of a who’s-who there of David’s court.

We’ll keep running into a number of them, and need ot keep our eyes on a few of them including that rascal Joab.

But the key verses is v.15.

“David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people.”

That’s what the rule of King David was like–ideal.

Just.  Righteous.

Not perfect, I’m sure.

But ideal. David strove after justice for his people.

“David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people.”

Isn’t that what we all long for in our leaders?

Well, whenever David is at his best, we see a glimpse of the King of Kings.  Our Lord Jesus does what is just and right 100% of the time! Doesn’t He?!

That’s because He is a promise-keeping God.

Now, how committed is God to His promises?

How committed is David to his promises?

How committed are you and I to our promises?

What about the ones that maybe we’d rather not keep?

Maybe because they might turn around and hurt us?

Or because we made it when we felt like it, but we don’t feel like it any more?

Chapter 9.

Here’s what the rule of King David is like – LOYAL and KIND.  V.1

“David asked, ‘Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan's sake?’”

Wow. Just stop there for a second.

That’s a great King!

Just think again about all of the water under the bridge in the relationship between David and Saul.

That’s been our whole school year!  Saul and David. David and Saul.

Saul was David’s enemy.

However ... David was never Saul’s enemy.  Was he?

And when he was tempted cut corners and lift his hand against Saul, , he repented of it and changed his mind.

And even now that Saul is dead and gone, David still desires to seek the good of Saul’s house.

But not for Saul per se.

For Saul’s son, David’s close friend, for Jonathan.

“ ‘Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan's sake?’”

That’s loyalty. That’s love.

The word translated “kindness” in the NIV is that great Old Testament word “hesed.”

It’s hard to translate because it’s such a full word.

Kindness. Grace. Love. Covenant keeping.

Loyal love.

Remember, David had made promises to Jonathan.

Check out 1 Samuel 20 for a great example.

Jonathan said, “May the LORD be with you as he has been with my father. But show me unfailing kindness like that of the LORD as long as I live, so that I may not be killed, and do not ever cut off your kindness from my family–not even when the LORD has cut off every one of David's enemies from the face of the earth.’ So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David ... Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.”

But times have changed. This could be up to two decades from that moment in 1 Samuel 20.

And maybe David wouldn’t feel like keeping these promises now.

But a righteous man swears to his hurt.

A godly man keeps his promises even when it hurts.

And so King David rules with loyal love and kindness. V.2

“Now there was a servant of Saul's household named Ziba. They called him to appear before David, and the king said to him, ‘Are you Ziba?’ ‘Your servant,’ he replied. The king asked, ‘Is there no one still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show God's kindness?’

[Notice that! “God’s kindness! God’s hesed. God’s covenant keeping loyal love.]

 Ziba answered the king, ‘There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in both feet.’ [We met him back in chapter 4, verse 4 when we found out that he became crippled on the day  his daddy died.]

‘Where is he?’ the king asked. Ziba answered, ‘He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.’ [Doesn’t seem to have a house of his own any more. How the mighty family of Saul has fallen. ]

So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel.

When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor. David said, ‘Mephibosheth!’ ‘Your servant,’ he replied.”

And he was probably quaking in his boots!

Because what do normally you do to the house of your enemy?

What did they do in these days the children of the former king to solidify your own position as the new king?

You eliminate them.

So, young, lame Mephibosheth is probably trembling with fear. And then he hears David say (v.7):

“‘Don't be afraid,’ David said to him, ‘for I will surely show you kindness [hesed again!] for the sake of your father Jonathan [I loved him. I’m loyal to him. I’m keeping my promises, too]. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.’

Mephibosheth bowed down and said, ‘What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?’ [Sounds a bit like how David responded to the LORD last week, doesn’t it?  Grace has a way of going around and eliciting wonder!]

Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul's servant, and said to him, ‘I have given your master's grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master's grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.’ (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. [And keep one eye on him. He’s turns out to be a rascal.])

Then Ziba said to the king, ‘Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.’ So Mephibosheth ate at David's table like one of the king's sons.  Mephibosheth had a young son named Mica, and all the members of Ziba's household were servants of Mephibosheth. And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king's table, and he was crippled in both feet.”

Word has it that both the Crumrines and the Rowles are considering naming their next  sons “Mephibosheth.” Good idea!

That’s not true.

But it is true that Mephibosheth ate at the king’s table like one of the king’s sons.

Do you see how the author repeated that again and again?

David had once eaten at Saul’s table, but then Saul tried to kill him and drove him away.

Saul had become David’s enemy.

But look here, Mephibosheth now sits at David’s table.

That’s something we call grace.

It comes from hesed, from covenant love.

And it’s strong enough to serve the children of your enemy.

David is show Mephibosheth hesed because he promised Jonathan he would.

But he’s not just showing his own hesed. He’s showing (v.3), “God’s hesed.”

In 2 Samuel 9, we see a God who is


That’s grace.

That Mephibosheth would sit at David’s table.

And remember whenever David is at his best, we get a glimpse of King Jesus, the King of Kings.

And He shows His own love for us in this–while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.


In chapter 10, David takes hesed to another level.

He shows it not to the son of his friend who was the grandson of his enemy.

But to his neighbor king.  Chapter 10, verse 1.

“In the course of time, the king of the Ammonites died, and his son Hanun succeeded him as king. David thought, ‘I will show kindness [hesed] to Hanun son of Nahash, just as his father showed kindness [hesed] to me.’ So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father.” Stop there for a second.

Now, this is interesting.  Nahash had been defeated in his aggression Israel by King Saul back in 1 Samuel chapter 11.

That’s when Saul was doing well and protecting his people.

So, either Nahash then entered into a subordinate treaty with Israel and has kept the faith in that treaty ever since Saul.

Or Nahash entered into a treaty later with David early in his rule.

Either way, Nahash has been keeping up his end of the bargain until now when his son Hanun takes over.

And Hanun is a stinker.  V.2 again.

“When David's men came to the land of the Ammonites, the Ammonite nobles said to Hanun their lord, ‘Do you think David is honoring your father by sending men to you to express sympathy? [Yeah right!] Hasn't David sent them to you to explore the city and spy it out and overthrow it?’

So Hanun seized David's men, shaved off half of each man's beard, cut off their garments in the middle at the buttocks, and sent them away. [That’s shaming!]

When David was told about this [it was time to uphold the honor of his men and the glory of the LORD], he sent messengers to meet the men, for they were greatly humiliated. The king said, ‘Stay at Jericho till your beards have grown, and then come back.’

When the Ammonites realized that they had become a stench in David's nostrils [they went looking for help!], they hired twenty thousand Aramean foot soldiers from Beth Rehob and Zobah, as well as the king of Maacah with a thousand men, and also twelve thousand men from Tob.

On hearing this, David sent Joab out with the entire army of fighting men.

[Who do you think is going to win?  We’ve heard enough today about the rule of King David  to have a pretty good guess! V.8]

The Ammonites came out and drew up in battle formation at the entrance to their city gate, while the Arameans of Zobah and Rehob and the men of Tob and Maacah were by themselves in the open country.”

Uh oh.

Joab is a rascal and quite a general, but even he realizes that he’s trapped in pincer move.

Ammonites on one side and Arameans, and the men with Tob and Maacah on the other.

And here’s what Joab does and says.

Joab is a rascal a lot of the time, but this is Joab at his best. V.9

“Joab saw that there were battle lines in front of him and behind him; so he selected some of the best troops in Israel and deployed them against the Arameans. He put the rest of the men under the command of Abishai his brother and deployed them against the Ammonites.

Joab said, ‘If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you are to come to my rescue; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will come to rescue you.

Be strong and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The LORD will do what is good in his sight.’”

[Best speech that Joab ever gave!]

Then Joab and the troops with him advanced to fight the Arameans, and they fled before him.

When the Ammonites saw that the Arameans were fleeing, they fled before Abishai and went inside the city. So Joab returned from fighting the Ammonites and came to Jerusalem.

After the Arameans saw that they had been routed by Israel, they regrouped.

Hadadezer had Arameans brought from beyond the River; they went to Helam, with Shobach the commander of Hadadezer's army leading them.

When David was told of this, he gathered all Israel, crossed the Jordan and went to Helam. The Arameans formed their battle lines to meet David and fought against him.

But they fled before Israel, and David killed seven hundred of their charioteers and forty thousand of their foot soldiers. He also struck down Shobach the commander of their army, and he died there.

When all the kings who were vassals of Hadadezer saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they made peace with the Israelites and became subject to them. So the Arameans were afraid to help the Ammonites anymore.”

David wins!

God wins!

The rule of King David was marked by victory.

David was a good neighbor to Nahash, but he conquered Hanun, and when the people in the neighboring nations saw his power, they made their peace with the king of Israel.

Reminds me of Psalm 2, when the psalmist says:

“Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son [the king], lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”

Our God is a enemy-loving God for those who will turn and take refuge in Him.

But you don’t want Him to stay your enemy.

I want to go back to verse 12 and see the wisdom in what Joab says.

Remember, he’s between two armies and he divides his army into two to attack back.

It’s risky move, but it just might work.

And he says (v.12), “Be strong and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The LORD will do what is good in his sight.”

Here’s number three of what we see of God in this story.


He’s worth trusting.

Now, does Joab know that God will give them the victory?

No. He doesn’t. He knows that God is worth trusting to do what is right and best.

He knows that it’s worth a try to risk something big for God.

It’s like the time when Jonathan and his armor-bearer climbed up on the mountain, and he said, “Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few” (1 Samuel 14:6).

Joab doesn’t know what will happen. Perhaps it will be a disaster. Perhaps it will be a great victory.

EITHER WAY, Joab knows that God can be trusted to do what is best.

And that’s Joab at his best.

He knows that God is trustworthy.

That’s not the same thing as presuming he knows what God will do.

I think it’s a mistake for people to say that they believe God is going to give them a miracle when they don’t have a specific promise from God’s Word to back it up.

“I believe.”

What do you believe?

If you believe that God is trustworthy, no matter what, then I believe, as well.

But you just believe something that God has not promised, then you might just get your hopes dashed to pieces.

Because God has told us that in this world we will have troubles, but take heart Jesus has overcome the world.

The LORD is a trust-worthy God.

He is a covenant keeping God who makes good on all of His promises.
He is a hesed-acting God who is gracious to His former enemies.

He is a holy God who opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

I don’t know what God has planned, but I know that He can be trusted.

Do you have a situation right now where you need to be strong and fight bravely and trust that the LORD will do what is good in his sight?

I know I do. I have a long list of them.

He will do what is good in his sight.

Trust Him and be brave.

Messages in This Series
00. "How the Mighty Have Fallen!"
01. King David
02. David's Kingdom
03. The Right Way to Worship
05. The Rule of King David