Summary: In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war (2 Sam 11:1 NIV)

Talk on Temptation


When Robert asked me to talk about temptation – I wondered if he had asked me because he thought that I might be some sort of expert in the field!!!!

Have you ever thought what is meant in the Lord’s Prayer when Jesus said:

“Lead us not into temptation….” (Mt 6:13)

Have you ever asked any of these questions?

i. Does God tempt us?

ii. Is temptation a sin?

And indeed what do you make of Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness in Luke 4.

I won’t touch that because I know that Bishop David will address that next week.

iii) And have you ever thought about whom or what is the Devil?

Bishop David tells me he’ll be talk a bit about that – so I’ll defer to rank!

This evening I don’t plan to deal with these esoteric questions

What I’d like to focus on is how can we resist temptation?

Oscar Wilde in his inimitable way usually had something to say about everything – and temptation was no exception: He said

1. "I can resist anything except temptation!"

2. "The best way to deal with temptation is to yield to it!"

Was he right?

If he wasn’t, how do we deal with temptation.

1. “When kings go off to war”

This evening, I’d like to focus on one verse from our OT lesson today. That seemingly strange phrase in 2 Samuel 11: 1:

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war,…..(2 Sam 11:1)

When I first read it – I was perplexed – not just about the meaning of the verse, but because I had to preach on that passage at the Anglican Church in Basle later on that week.

So what is it all about?

“In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war”

1. The Context

The verse introduces one of the most notorious acts of treachery in the Old Testament.

King David’s adultery with Uriah the Hittite’s wife, Bathsheba - followed by the shameful murder of her husband.

2. Who was Uriah?

What makes this event so despicable is that Uriah

wasn’t just any old soldier.

He was one of David’s special SAS force - known as the Thirty Chiefs - who had been with David from the days of Adullum’s Cave (2 Sam 23: 39).

In other words Uriah was a trusty companion of David’s. A friend even. And David had him killed!

2. David’s sin

I haven’t come across anyone who could break so many of the 10 commandments at one sitting!

As far as I can make out David managed to break at least 4 of the 10 commandments

You shall not murder (No. 6)

You shall not commit adultery (No. 7)

You shall not steal (No. 8)

You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife (No. 10)

(Ex 20:1-17)

Almost sounds like Saddam Hussein doesn’t he?

But just before you think that David was a special

sinner, I’d like to park a verse with you that St. Paul said about King David:

(God) testified concerning (David): ’I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ (Acts 13:22)

A murderer, an adulterer, a thief - a man after God’s own heart?

So how do we marry up all these paradoxes?

I am not going to answer the question now - I may well answer that later!

But back to my Bible reading:

In the spring when kings go out to war…David remained in Jerusalem.

God had called David to be king and so HE SHOULD have been at the head of his troops.

In those days, the king had the responsibility of leading his troops into battle. But David stayed behind in Jerusalem.

I would like to suggest to you that there are three reasons why David fell for the temptation.

Reason No. 1.

David fell into temptation because he was in the wrong place

We will often fall for temptation when we are not where we should be - in the Will of God.

Story: In 1980, Mt St. Helens in Washington State erupted - spewing lava out for miles around.

83 year-old Harry Truman (not to be confused with the former US President) was the owner of Mt. St. Helens Lodge. He had been a resident there for nearly 50 years and became nationally famous for his refusal to leave his lodge - despite the orders for all residents and visitors to clear the danger area before the eruption. But the blast when it came - covered his lodge with 180 feet of debris and 90 feet of water.

Truman had expected lava flows but thought that he could be evacuated by helicopter, when the time came.

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