Consider a few examples. Noah was a good man. If it weren't for him, mankind wouldn't be here today. However, we have a record of him getting drunk! Abraham was a good man. He was the father of the Hebrew people and the one to whom God promised many great things. However, we have a record of him lying! Moses was a good man. He led God's people out of Egyptian bondage and to the Promised Land. However, we have a record of him arrogantly disobeying God!
If the Bible were a work of fiction, these narratives regarding the sins of good people would probably have not been included since fictional works generally try to make the heroes look as good as possible.
In this feature lesson, as well as next week's, we're going to be studying one Bible hero in particular. King David was a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22). He was a good man; in fact, he was one of the greatest men recorded in the Old Testament. However, he was also a man who sinned terribly. The Bible depicts him as a hero, but it also shows his sinfulness.
At this time, let us read II Samuel 11.
"It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king's house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, 'Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?' Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house. And the woman conceived; so she sent and told David, and said, 'I am with child.' Then David sent to Joab, saying, 'Send me Uriah the Hittite.' And Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah had come to him, David asked him how Joab was doing, and how the people were doing, and how the war prospered. And David said to Uriah, 'Go down to your house and wash your feet.' So Uriah departed from the king's house, and a gift of food from the king followed him. But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. So when they told David, saying, 'Uriah did not go down to his house,' David said to Uriah, 'Did you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?' And Uriah said to David, 'The ark and Israel and Judah are dwelling in tents, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are encamped in the open fields. Shall I then go to my house to eat and drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.' Then David said to Uriah, 'Wait here today also, and tomorrow I will let you depart.' So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. Now when David called him, he ate and drank before him; and he made him drunk. And at evening he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house. In the morning it happened that David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. And he wrote in the letter, saying, 'Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die.' So it was, while Joab besieged the city, that he assigned Uriah to a place where he knew there would be valiant men. Then the men of the city came out and fought with Joab. And some of the people of the servants of David fell; and Uriah the Hittite died also. Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war, and charged the messenger, saying, 'When you have finished telling the matters of the war to the king, if it happens that the king's wrath rises, and he says to you: "Why did you approach so near to the city when you fought? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? Who struck Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Was it not a woman who cast a piece of a millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you go near the wall?"--then you shall say, "Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also."' So the messenger went, and came and told David all that Joab had sent by him. And the messenger said to David, 'Surely the men prevailed against us and came out to us in the field; then we drove them back as far as the entrance of the gate. The archers shot from the wall at your servants; and some of the king's servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.' Then David said to the messenger, 'Thus you shall say to Joab: "Do not let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another. Strengthen your attack against the city, and overthrow it." So encourage him.' When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. And when her mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD."
II Samuel 11 is the blackest chapter in the life of King David. The shocking details are similar to what may be found in soap operas or on the front page of trashy tabloids. David was guilty of lust, adultery, deceit, and murder. In his hypocrisy, he tried to cover it all up. He did terrible things--things deserving of the death penalty. Yet, when we view his life overall, he was a good man (even though he sinned grievously here). This chapter reminds me of the warning of I Corinthians 10:12 - "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."
My purpose in this lesson is not to make comments verse by verse. It is my hope to highlight certain verses as we try to answer the question: What happens when a "good" man sins? I've put the word "good" in quotation marks in the lesson title as it refers to man, because in an absolute sense no man is good (cf. Matt. 19:17). Of course, some are better than others, and although it doesn't seem like it in this context, David was a good man.
1. WHEN A "GOOD" MAN SINS, IT IS BECAUSE HE HAS ALLOWED HIS SENSE OF RIGHT AND WRONG TO BE OVERCOME BY LUST.
"...And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold...Then David sent messengers, and took her...and he lay with her..." (excerpts from II Sam. 11:2,4).
Many excuses are made for sin. People often claim that their sin is justified by extenuating circumstances. "The devil made me do it!" Have you ever heard that one? People try to defend fornication and adultery by saying: "We fell in love!" Sometimes the excuse is: "I just didn't think!" Some even go so far as to blame God for allowing the opportunity or for creating the desire. The fact of the matter is, however, that sin starts with lust!
James 1:13-15 teaches - "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death."
Sin is always with our consent. No one, not even Satan can make us sin; we always have the option of refusing to give in to temptation. If I sin it is because I gave in, not because I couldn't help it. Not only that, but Christians have the assurance that they will not be tempted beyond that which they are able to bear (cf. I Cor. 10:13).
In David's situation, there can be no doubt that David knew better. This was another man's wife! This was specifically prohibited in the Ten Commandments - "You shall not commit adultery." David knew that what he did was wrong. Adultery and fornication are two works of the flesh and "those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal. 5:19-21).
How could a man like David, a man after God's own heart, let himself sink so deeply into such depravity? It wasn't because he was thinking about God and His will, that's for sure! On a different occasion, the Psalmist (probably David) wrote that he had put God's word in his heart so that he wouldn't sin against the Lord (Psa. 119:11). But, David wasn't meditating on the word of God the evening he saw Bathsheba! Perhaps if he had been this sorry chapter in his life would not have been written!
The Bible says - "Flee sexual immorality" (I Cor. 6:18) and "flee also youthful lusts" (II Tim. 2:22). Do you remember when Joseph was enticed by Potiphar's wife? What did he do? He ran away! It might have seemed that he, as a slave, had little to lose by sleeping with his master's wife, but his resistance was strong! He said - "How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" (Gen. 39:9). He ran out of that house! David, on the other hand, sent for another man's wife and brought her into his house. His opportunity for sin was no greater than that which was put in front of Joseph, but Joseph fled from lusts while David surrendered his mind, body, and soul to them! Joseph did not allow his lust to overcome his sense of right and wrong, but David did.
2. WHEN A "GOOD" MAN SINS, HIS SIN IS COMPOUNDED WHEN HE TRIES TO HIDE IT.
"And the woman conceived; so she sent and told David, and said, 'I am with child'...And David said to Uriah, 'Go down to your house...' David...made him drunk...but he did not go down to his house...And [David] wrote in the letter, saying, 'Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die'" (excerpts from II Sam. 11:5,8,13,15).
When David was done with sin, his sin was not done with him; there were complications! There are always complications to sin! Her husband was away from home, and her pregnancy would soon become known. The father would soon be revealed! David devised a solution. Bring Uriah home from the war and let him visit his wife. It was a simple solution, and he hoped it would solve his problem, but it didn't work! Uriah was a more noble man than his king. He would not enjoy his home and wife while his fellow soldiers were yet in the field. David tried again and even resorted to getting Uriah drunk, but Uriah still did not go home to his wife.
More drastic action was needed. Orders were sent to Joab to put Uriah in a place where he would certainly be killed. This was conspiracy to commit murder! David's other cover-up attempts had failed. Time was running out! Something had to be done. David was not thinking of the enormity of this additional crime he was committing against Uriah. He had already committed adultery with the man's wife. Now he ordered him killed! King David was a good man, but thoughts of righteousness and goodness were not on his mind! His urgency was to hide his sin--no matter what it cost! Proverbs 28:1 declares - 'The wicked flee when no one pursues..." David was fleeing; fleeing from his sin that had almost caught up with him. And, in the process, he committed even more sin. This is often the way sin works.
Those who never profess to please God can be bold about their sin. Some will even brag about their adulteries. Such people are not the least bit embarrassed by sin. As the prophet Jeremiah once said - "Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed; nor did they know how to blush..." (6:15). But, when a good man enters into willful sin, it makes him a hypocrite when he tries to hide it. David's efforts to cover his sin became more and more complicated and eventually led to murder. Of course, hypocrisy does not always result in murder. There are many different ways to conceal sin. However, regardless of how one goes about it, hiding sin only compounds it. Probably the most typical complication is lying; with lies to cover the lies, and more lies to cover those lies. Sin usually only grows larger once we try to hide it. It would be so much better if we would just repent after the initial sin and take our punishment rather than commit more sin to hide the first one and then bring more guilt upon our heads. This is a principle we all should learn and practice!
3. WHEN A "GOOD" MAN SINS, AND DOESN'T REPENT, HE WILL FIND IT EASY TO RATIONALIZE HIS ACTIONS.
"Then David said to the messenger, 'Thus you shall say to Joab: "Do not let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another..."'" (II Sam. 11:25).
David brought Joab into his scheme. Although he was a willing accomplice, Joab knew that David had ordered a man's murder! David rationalized Uriah's death to the messenger stating it was just Uriah's misfortune to have been at the wrong place at the wrong time. David wanted to shift the blame from his own wicked order to it being just a matter of Uriah's bad luck. Of course, this was only an excuse, but there is never a legitimate excuse for sin. Sin cannot be adequately rationalized!
Nevertheless, this doesn't stop people from trying to rationalize sin--even today. The adulterer says: "We fell in love" or "My husband doesn't understand me." The homosexual says: "This is the way God made me." The crooked merchant says: "It's just business." The shoplifter says: "The stores overcharge." The gossip says: "That's the way it was told to me." The person who forsakes the Lord's church says: "Someone offended me." Friends, let's wake up to the truth! When the devil leads a person into sin, he will also suggest an excuse for it!
The very last statement of II Samuel 11 gives God's perspective on David's rationalization of what had happened - "But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord." God knew what David had done. It was sin and couldn't be explained away; it couldn't be hidden. God saw the lust. He saw the adultery. He saw the cover-ups. He saw the murder. He was not pleased! Our lives are completely exposed before God! Do you realize that? He knows our thoughts, actions, and intents. Covering up sin or trying to justify it is futile when the only true and living God is watching.
Dear listeners, when you do fall into sin (and we all do) remember that it is always better to confess it to the Lord and repent of it rather than attempting to rationalize it or cover it up, which will only lead to even more sin!
To sum up, we've considered three points today--three things that happen when a "good" man sins: (1) His sense of right and wrong is overcome by his lust, (2) His sin is compounded when he tries to hide it, and (3) When he doesn't repent, he will find it easy to rationalize his sin to himself.
We will conclude this study of what happens when a "good" man sins in our next feature lesson by contemplating II Samuel 12. Thank you for listening, and may the Lord bless you as you strive to do His will.