Summary: Disregarding God’s moral and ethical principles as David did can have disastrous consequences.
I recently saw a photo of three expensive cars encased in ice in the garage of a million-dollar house when the pipes froze while the owner was away. One of the rules for living in a cold climate is to take special precautions so your water pipes don’t freeze. Disregarding that rule can exact a heavy price as it did for this man in Michigan.
II Samuel 12 reminds us of the high cost of disregarding God’s expectations. God has provided moral and ethical principles for us to live by. When we violate those principles, we can be sure that our actions will have a detrimental effect on us and, very often, on other people. It was true for King David. It is true for us.
Just last week I heard of a very young woman who had surgery for cervical cancer. Health professionals say that this particular kind of cancer is often the result of sexual promiscuity. Unfortunately, many people in our society have chosen to disregard God’s laws. In a poll of cultural trends related to religion and morality released in November, George Barna found that 42% of those polled said it is ok to commit adultery; 45% said it is ok to have an abortion, 60% percent said that cohabitation is ok, and 61% approved of gambling. (AFA Journal November 2003) God’s laws are not to be trifled with. As the hymn says, “This is my Father’s World.” God is running a decent and orderly universe.
The Bible describes God as holy. That means he is distinct from his creation and that He has majesty and power over it. We get some idea of his majesty from II Samuel Chapter 22. These words make clear that God is not in nature; He is above it. He uses nature to accomplish his purposes. Even his anger can be expressed in nature.
God’s holiness also means he is separate from all that is evil. His holy character is the standard for moral perfection. And because we are created in his image, he expects us to live holy lives. We are to cultivate the character of God in our lives. That is why Paul says in Eph 5:1 Be imitators of God. Our lives are to reflect the goodness of God. If you had to mark yourself on a holiness scale of 1 – 10, what mark would you give yourself?
In the Old Testament, people understood that they lived in the presence of God. The Ark of the Covenant symbolized their recognition that God was right there with them. God was their leader. He was their king. And they knew that as long as they obeyed him God would guide and protect them. Even when God allowed them to have an earthly king, they understood that their king did not have absolute power over the people like kings in other nations had. The king of Israel served only as God’s executive officer on earth. Their king was not above the law. Their king was subject to the Word of the Lord just like everyone else was. He could not make the law except as it reflected God’s law. His job was to administer the law and to do it fairly and justly. And any one, king, priest, or judge, who disregarded God’s Word was doomed to fail. And that is what happened to David.
In the 15 verses we read, four times we see expressions like these:
• v. 1 the thing that David had done displeased the Lord
• v. 9 why have you despised the word of the Lord?
• v. 10 you have despised me.
• v. 14 you have utterly scorned the Lord
These words describe David’s blatant disregard for God’s expectations. And David’s transgression sets off a downward spiral in the history of God’s people. From here on in II Samuel, everything seems to go downhill. At first we may wonder why one act of sin should have such consequences. But as we think about it, we realize that David broke nearly all of the 10 commandments. Not only did he commit adultery, he coveted, he lied, he stole, he killed and worst of all, he usurped God’s power for himself.
One of the amazing things about the Bible is that it does not varnish over David’s disobedience. There is no attempt to cover up his misdeeds as happens so often in our own political and economic atmosphere. There is no attempt to present David as this hero who has no faults. Everything is there for all to see. The Bible shows us the good with the bad. God wants us to use it to grow in life. If we learn these lessons well we will save ourselves a lot of heartaches.
What then does David’s experience of moral failure teach us? From this story we can learn seven rules to live by. I believe that following them will keep us from the trap of despising the Word of the Lord.