Well, here is something too important not to preach about: David's fall. Here is the king of Israel—a man after God's own heart—and he is committing sin after sin. Not just little stumble after little stumble but heinous evil after heinous evil. He takes another man's wife, gets her pregnant, tries to cover it up by attempting to manipulate her husband, then he finally resorts to murdering the husband. After today's Old Testament reading we also read that many good men were sacrificed in order to have the husband killed. David is guilty of mass murder. AND he is so blinded to his own sin that the Lord has to send Nathan to him to reveal in a parable the horrible soul that David has become. This is truly the fall of a great man.
So, here's a quiz: where is the hinge? Where is the place where David lost it, where the downward spiral began? Where is the place where if David had not succumbed to that one sin, the others would not have followed? We know it wasn't the mass murder: that was the final blow to David's soul. He committed the mass murder, because he wasn't able to manipulate Uriah in order to cover up his sin with Bathsheba. If only he hadn't committed adultery with Bathsheba! Certainly that was the causing sin, right?
Wait, then there's the coveting. As we have seen time and time again, the coveting comes first, and then the sin follows. That is why “Thou Shalt Not Covet” is one of the Ten Commandments. It is the catch-all. If we can say—and we can't—that we have not broken the first nine commandments, then the tenth commandment—about coveting—will get us every time, because first comes the insatiable desire, and then comes the sin as a result. So, David seeing Bathsheba from his rooftop, bathing, caused him to covet, and with the coveting came all the other horrible sins David committed and hence his downfall. So the coveting is the causing sin.
Am I right? Is this the causing sin? Is this the first cause of David's downfall? Let's go back to the first verse. “In the spring of the year, the time when KINGS go out to battle, David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel with him; they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah. But David REMAINED at Jerusalem.” (2 Samuel 11:1)
This is the time of the year when KINGS go into battle. David is Israel's KING. Did David go into battle? No. He sent Joab to lead the army. Which army? ALL OF ISRAEL. He didn't just send a small group of men out to the spring war games. This was a big battle with all of Israel partaking—everyone except David. EVERY able-bodied male warrior in Israel, except David. He decided he didn't WANNA. He wanted to just hang out on his chaise lounge. He was hanging out on the Internet, on Facebook or Twitter, or watching Jersey Shore on MTV, while all of Israel, all of the able warriors of his nation, were put into HARM'S WAY. He got up from his couch, probably wearing a velvet robe and drinking a martini and puffing on a pipe, and took a turn on the patio, probably the highest point in the kingdom, and that's where he saw Bathsheba down below.
None of David's fall should have happened, not because he shouldn't have coveted, but because he shouldn't have been on his roof. He shouldn't have been in Jerusalem. He should have been in the most honorable place: leading his troops in battle, as every other King in the land was doing. Before David coveted, he had first lost his honor, and we today, we can argue about whether the Ten Commandments are a good form of government, or whether coveting should be considered a sin—after all, its our private thoughts—but what is very obvious when we look around at Western Culture is that we have lost our honor, and there lies the entrance of the downward spiral into the depths of darkness.
Honor is a word that we really don't know the meaning of today. We always say honor as if it were a noun, such as, 'he is without honor.' Or we say it like an adjective, like, 'he is an honorable man.' These uses don't get us any closer to the meaning, because we cannot discern the definition of honor from the context. He is an honorable man? Well, prove it. What did he do to be called honorable? He is an honorable man, BECAUSE... Why is David without honor? What did he do? We read it. He didn't lead his men into battle. He took another man's wife. He tried to deceive the other man. He then had the other man killed, and he sacrificed other good men to do it.
The best way to think of the word honor is to use it as a verb. THEN we have context and then we can more fully understand what honor means. We HONOR others. One of the Ten Commandments tells us to HONOR our father and mother. We are told to honor the Lord in many places. Men are told to honor their wives. First Peter 2:17 gives us the best context for honor: “Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Fear God. Honor the King.” Honor is loving your neighbor. Honor is loving God. Honor is the word that sums up the first and second great commandments: loving God and loving our neighbor.
This is why we can say that David's dishonor caused David's covetousness. Not coveting is the tenth commandment, but honoring is the first and second great commandments, which we break first, causing our fall. David dishonored Israel by not fighting with them. David dishonored his neighbor Uriah by taking his wife for himself, deceiving him, and then killing him. Honor is loving our neighbor. When we dishonor our neighbors, we stop loving them, and then it is easy to sin against them.
When we dishonor our neighbors we are also dishonoring God, because he created the natural order of things. Romans 1:21 reads “although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him.” From there, Paul gives us a description of the downward spiral into darkness that passes through dishonoring our neighbors, coveting, and then committing heinous sin against God and our neighbor.
There is a reason that Jesus held these two general commandments above all the others. He knew that living the Christian life is all about honor. It is all about honoring God and your neighbor by obeying the commandments in love. As Christians we can lose our honor when we go with the tide of secular culture. As I said last week, we have a leisure culture unprecedented anywhere else in history. See how David plummeted, when he partook of his own leisure.
What do we do? Well, thankfully the Lord does it for us. As it says at the beginning of chapter 12 in second Samuel, The Lord was displeased with David and he SENT Nathan. God sends his word into our lives to compel us back into grace. As I taught a few weeks ago, when we fall out of grace, we fall into karma, where curses happen. See what happened to David after his leisure swept him out of God's grace: the baby—the product of the adultery—died. We will fall into karma, too, and so often we do but thankkfully God sends his prophets, his Nathans, into our lives to preach the word. God opens our ears to hear the word. He compels us back into his grace.
The greatest word to hear is the gospel. The truth of Jesus Christ dying for the salvation of his elect and bringing us back into the grace of God is the word that we need to hear often. It is the word that will bring us back. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ that restores our honor.