The year was expired.I. THE END OF THE YEAR PRESENTS A FIT OPPORTUNITY TO ENQUIRE HOW WE REGARD THE DIVINE GOVERNMENT. God governs the world according to natural and moral laws, through the medium of the Gospel, and by the arrangements of His providence. Let us try ourselves in relation to each.
1. Natural law, as seen in the works of His hands. That is not religion, but fanaticism, which pours contempt on these works. Every man should seek them out, and find pleasure in them. His eternal power and Godhead are declared thereby. The whole year, by night and by day, has been teaching you; "day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge." If you have been an attentive student of these great works, you have bowed with lowlier reverence at His footstool, confessing, "In wisdom hast Thou made them all." If you have not, then go and learn with the little child.
2. Moral law. There was a law given from Sinai which has since been repealed; but that which substantially is understood by the moral law never has been, and never can be, abrogated. It is the law of this and all other worlds — the law for angels and men — the law of love. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and soul, and strength; and thy neighbour as thyself."
3. The Gospel. First, the Gospel is free. You need nothing to qualify you to receive its blessings; you may receive them freely, as you are. "All things are ready." The second thing is, the Gospel is full. You need nothing else. "My God shall supply all your need out of His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
4. God governs the world by the arrangements of His providence. These try and determine the temper of our mind very decidedly.
5. But there are other arrangements of God's providence which surround us as individuals, and which try us more accurately.
II. THE END OF THE YEAR SUGGESTS, THE IMPORTANCE OF TRYING OUR MORAL CONDITION.
1. If we are going to heaven, we are nearer there than ever; and this night reminds us how very soon we shall pass the portals of glory. Are we better prepared than at the commencement of the sear for the employment of heaven?
2. Has the experience of the year taught us our weakness and worthlessness, and. humbled us to repentance? "Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent." "Unprofitable servants!"
3. Are we distinctly conscious of pardon for the past?
4. Are we sure there is within us a disposition opposed to all sin? Can we say with the holy Mr. Corbett, "Upon the best judgment that I can make of the nature of sin, and the frame of my own heart, and course of life, I know no sin lying upon me which doth not consist with habitual repentance, and with the hatred of sin, and with an unfeigned consent that God should be my Saviour and Sanctifier, and with the loving of God above all."
5. Has the year left us earnestly and sinerely desiring the accomplishment of all good in us and by us?
III. THE END OF THE YEAR SUGGESTS THE PROPRIETY OF EXAMINING AND REVISING OUR PLANS FOR THE EMPLOYMENT OF OUR TIME.
1. As to our devotional habits.
2. As to our walking with God.
3. As to our work. Are all our talents employed for God? "Occupy till I come." "The time is short." Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do — do it."
4. As to our amusements. "Use no recreation or delight of sense, but thou canst at that very time desire of God, that it may be sanctified to spiritual ends."
IV. AND LASTLY, THE END OF THE YEAR REMINDS US OF THE "END OF ALL THINGS," AND BIDS US PREPARE FOR IT.
1. Look forward to death.
2. Anticipate the coming of the Lord and the future judgment.
(T. E. Thoresby.)
The time when kings go forth to battle.
I. THE TIME FOR THE KINGS TO GO FORTH TO BATTLE IS COME. The special time for Christian activities is just now. In some senses nay, in the highest sense, believers ought to be always active. There should never be an idle day, or a wasted hour, or even a barren moment to a servant of God.
1. The time for kings to go forth to battle will be always when the king's troops are fit for battle; I mean, the time for spiritual work is when the worker is especially fit for it.
2. Another season of especial work should be, when discerning Christian men feel the motions of the Spirit of God calling them to unusual service. "When thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, then thou shalt bestir thyself," said God to David, and then David did bestir himself, and the Philistines were smitten. Do you not, some of you, hear the sound of the going in the tops of the mulberry trees?
3. One other mark of the time for kings to go forth to battle is surely when the Lord Himself works. The presence of good men with us is encouraging, but oh, the presence of the God of good men should much more stimulate us. Mahomet in one of his first famous battles, stimulated his soldiers to the fight by declaring that he could hear the neighing of the horses of the angels as they rode to the conflict to win the victory for the faithful. We speak not so, but surely the horses of fire and the chariots of fire are round about the faithful servant of God, and faith's discerning eye can see the God of providence moving heaven and earth to help his church, if his church will but arise from the dust and put on her beautiful garments, and resolve to conquer in her Master's name.
II. Since the time for battle has come, IT BEHOVES EVERY SOLDIER NOW TO GO TO THE WARS.
1. All believers belong to Christ. You are His bond servants, you bear in your bodies His brand, the marks of the Lord Christ, for "ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price,"
2. I will add, all of you believers love Christ. Your belonging to Him has wrought in you a true affection for Him.
3. Moreover, let me remind you that there is strength promised for each of you. "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." Shall I say that there is work for all of us to do which lies very close to hand? The preacher will never be without his. God will take care to furnish all His servants with sufficiency of work. I remember to have read in Cotton Mather's book upon plans of usefulness, that he remarks that sometimes at the expense of a shilling, under God's blessing, a soul has been converted. Such books as Alleyne's "Alarm," Baxter's "Call to the Unconverted," and Doddridge's "Rise and Progress," have wrought wonders in years gone by; and at this hour you may have for a penny or less, truths so set forth as to ensure the reader's attention. Mr. Cecil says he had to be very grateful to God for his mother, not so much because she pressed him to read good books, as that she took care to put good books where he was likely to take them up.
III. THERE ARE GREAT MOTIVES TO EXCITE US TO FIGHT EARNESTLY FOR CHRIST. The motives gather round five points.
1. The first is our King.
2. Remember next the banner under which we fight — the banner of the truth, of the atoning blood.
3. Remember, next, another word — the captives whom it is your hope by the Holy Spirit's power to redeem from the slavery of sin. How our soldiers of the Indian mutiny advanced like lions against the mutineers when they remembered Cawnpore and all the cruelties to which their brethren had been exposed! How unweariedly they marched, how sternly they fought when they were within sight of the foe! After this sort should we fight with those who have enslaved and injured our brethren.
4. Remember, again, and this word ought to stimulate us to fight well, the enemy, the black and cruel enemy.
5. Yet one more encouragement, and that is our reward. "They that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever and ever."
IV. THE HIGHEST ENCOURAGEMENTS READILY PRESENT THEMSELVES TO INDUCE YOU TO JOIN THE WARRING ARMIES.
1. It is quite certain that God has an elect people still upon the earth; then see ye not that it is hopeful work to find out these elect ones by the preaching of the word?
2. Remember, also, that God has never failed a true worker yet.
3. Remember, too, that if you did not see any souls converted, yet God would he glorified by your exaltation of Christ, and your talking of Christ, and your earnest prayers and tears for the good of others.
IV. THE SOLEMN DANGER OF INACTION.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
And it came to pass in an eventide.I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF DAVID PREVIOUS TO HIS FALL. For several years he had been in a state of great trouble: But it was not in this state of trial and affliction that he offended. During this period we see him exercising, in a remarkable degree, the faith, the resignation, the humility, the patience, the meekness of the servant of God. But now God had brought his troubles to a close. For some years he had been the most powerful monarch in that quarter of the world. These were his circumstances when he fell.
II. CONSIDER THE PECULIAR TEMPTATION WHICH IS SUFFERED TO PRESENT ITSELF TO DAVID, AND THE WAY IN WHICH HE ENCOUNTERED IT. The temptation arose, a temptation sudden and great. He gives way to the seduction. He calmly descends from his palace with a determination to bring the evil of his heart into act, and to perpetrate the crime which the tempter had suggested to him. This we may conceive to have been the turning point in David's career. Oh! had David paused but for one moment; had he retired a while to deliberate upon his Conduct; had he put up one prayer for Divine help; had he passed on even to the duties of his kingly office so as to divert his thoughts into a different channel; the snare might have been broken, and he have escaped. But, alas! David is left a melancholy monument of what the best man may become when he forsakes his God, and when his God, in consequence, abandons him.
III. THE STATE OF DAVID AFTER HIS FIRST SIN, AND HIS PROGRESS TO NEW OFFENCES. What must David have felt after the perpetration of the first crime? Immediately the sense of the Divine presence, the inspiring hope of Divine favour and eternal glory, would withdraw from him. The consequences of his crime were becoming visible, and the once noble and generous David now resorts to low artifices to conceal his guilt. He sends for the injured husband. He treats him with a subtlety unworthy both of himself and of his loyal subject, endeavouring to impose upon him a spurious offspring. When deceit, however, would not prevail on Uriah, a fresh crime must compel him. Crime leads on to crime. David, therefore, urged by a dread of detection, determines to add murder to adultery.
IV. THE CRIMINAL SCHEMES OF DAVID HAD NOW TAKEN EFFECT, and Uriah could no more disturb the bed of his seducer and murderer. But when there remained no obstacle to enjoyment, the Divine Hand suddenly arrested him in his guilty career. God sent Nathan the Prophet to convince him in his guilt.
V. THE DREADFUL CONSEQUENCE OF THIS TRANSGRESSION. Where God forgives, He does not always wholly spare. He may so pardon the sin as not to inflict upon the sinner eternal condemnation, and yet punish him severely. And such was the case of David. Besides the wound his soul had sustained, and which, perhaps, might never afterwards be entirely healed, we find the remainder of David's life harassed by perpetual sorrows.
1. It may teach us to guard against declension in grace, and watch against temptation. If temptation is urgent flee from it and think of the fall of David.
2. Charity and tenderness in judging of those who fall. Call them not, as the world are too apt to call them, hypocrites. David was no hypocrite — but David fell.
3. Finally, let us beware of employing the fall of David as a plea for sin, and of presuming that such a restoration as his to favour and holiness will be granted to ourselves. Before we can build upon the hope of a restoration such as his our circumstances must be those of David.
(J. Venn, M. A.)
Luther, for example, was a giant in intellect — a giant in animal force and power — a giant in gracious affections; and when in such men the native inclinations burst the restraints of the new nature, it is no common wickedness that may be looked for. It was so with David. But it is one thing to account for David's sin — it is another to excuse it. These remarks are designed for the one purpose, not the other. The whole transaction bears the character of a beacon, and the beacon is one of the darkest even in the faithful records of Scripture history.(1) First of all, it shows the frightful danger of interrupting, however briefly, the exercise of watching and praying — of discontinuing communion with the great Source of spiritual strength, especially when the evils that first made us pray earnestly are removed. An hour's sleep may leave Samson at the mercy of Delilah, and when he awakes his strength is gone.(2) Further, it affords a sad proof of the danger of dallying with sin even in thought. Admit sin within the precincts of the imagination, and there is the utmost danger of its ultimately mastering the soul. The outposts of the spiritual garrison should be so placed as to protect even the thoughts, and the moment the enemy is discovered there the alarm should be given and the fight begun.(3) Still further, his fail exemplifies the frightful risk of tolerating anywhere in our hearts a single sin. One sin leads on to another and another; especially if the first be a sin which it is desirable to conceal.
(W. G. Blaikie, M. A.)
I. THE ORIGIN OF DAVID'S TRANSGRESSIONS. Seldom, if ever, is it the case that crime, to any enormous extent, is perpetrated by men even of the common Stamp, upon sudden and momentary impulse. There is almost invariably to be observed a regular gradation in sin, until it towers in all the fierce and frightful ascendancy of open guilt. Thus was it here. Despise not the fear of extreme iniquity, as if you were incapable of such a thing. If David fell, who once stood so high and 'holy in Christian character, to what a depth may we yet fall, we who have never yet attained to any thing like his early piety:, his primitive godliness.
II. THE PROGRESS OF SIN NOW OPENS BEFORE US. Indolence and sensuality worked out their regular and invariable effect upon the erring monarch. He rises from his bed in the evening time — the bed of luxury, every passion pampered, every avenue to sin wide open, nothing further necessary to bring about his ruin than some external object to move the overt act of evil. The wife of Uriah, one of his principal and most faithful generals, becomes the object of temptation. The temptation triumphs, and the first work of iniquity is accomplished. Sin now becomes compulsory; the fear of detection and infamy, perhaps of personal danger from the just wrath of Uriah, drives the royal culprit to every mean and despicable expedient in order to conceal his transgression. Sin now drives on the soul to violence; and with cold and unfeeling treachery Uriah is made the innocent messenger of his own destruction. What a series of close-linked iniquities — indolence, luxury, lust adultery, hypocrisy, falsehood, treachery, murder! And this is not all; we have here but the single series of crimes; there is a complication likewise which we must not overlook if we would read off the history in all its forcible and solemn instructiveness. Bathsheba is made an accomplice in sin, a moral victim to the guilty passion of the king, while her husband is sacrifced to his fears. Here are souls and bodies of men, precious lives, sported away under the hellish dominion of triumphant guilt! What complicated crime! What an awful history!
III. THE CONSUMMATION OF EVIL. All that we have hitherto looked at belongs only to substantial guilt; guilt branded, it is true, with atrocity, but the consummation of evil still remains for our reflections. Many months had elapsed since the commencement of this wretched business, and a long period of time, too, had intervened between the death of Uriah and the visit of Nathan, to awaken the royal transgressor to repentance. Throughout this whole interval, there was no movement of remorse towards heaven in the heart of the king; he feared the reproof of man, and the wrath of man, as we have seen, and laboured by murderous efforts to avoid them; but there was yet no remorse towards God, no recognition of his turpitude, as viewed by the Most High, no fear of Divine censure, of Divine indignation, no effort to arrest or even deprecate the wrath of Jehovah. Thus, then, David had fallen into practical infidelity; every active consideration of God's existence, omniscience, and justice had vanished away. What a mystery is sin; it possesses us to self-destruction, while it diminishes nothing of our sagacity or skill in arraying and condemning the guilt of others. It is enough for satanic malice and purpose, if the soul be filled with every holy sentiment, and wisdom, and quality for external occupation, provided it remain dead to its own interests, unmoved by its own guilt! This prostration of judgment, this death of conscience, consummated the spiritual misery of the fallen monarch. How long should such a state have lasted, if God had not specially recalled the sinner to repentance? For ever! There was no human power, no natural remedy left for his restoration. To reclaim him, fear had failed, and conscience had failed, and memory of past obedience had failed. Reason was stupified, and stupified for ever, if God had not, in his faithfulness and mercy, sent a special waffling to his soul, calling forth repentance. Let us pause here one short moment, while we collect together the admonition, which may be adduced from what we have now perused.
1. And first, as we saw the steady, onward progress of sin, from the almost imperceptible germ of indolence and luxury, to the actual crime of murder, and the utter infatuation of all spiritual sense and judgment, let us hence, I say, beware of the least compliance with iniquity. We often trifle with sins of small account, set limitations to our compliance with the follies or luxuries, or harmless indulgences of the world, as they are termed.
2. Reflect with horror on the complication of sin. For our self-gratification alone it is that we are led on to crime at first; that gratification must have victims; aye, if the besetting evil within us be but pride or covetousness, it must have victims. Some must suffer for our indulgence, many will become hardened by our example in guilt; for often the man who is called, in the false language of the world, his own enemy alone, will have to answer, perhaps, for the eternal death of others.
3. Trust nothing to your own shrewdness of discernment between good and evil. your own spiritual-mindedness and holiness, about the external objects and other men. Our profession is worth nothing, our spiritual attainments no proof of personal approbation with God, of personal holiness, while they range beyond self. We must deal with self. prove self, pass judgment on self, and live in communion, secret union with Christ, or our religion is but sounding brass and tinkling cymbal.
IV. THE RETURN TO VIRTUE. Mark the proof; here is a king, with all the powers of life and death over his subjects, in his own will, in his own hands. He is confronted by a man of humble state, of lowly lot, a man devoid of ally earthly influence. By this man he is accused of a grievous murder, and that, too in broad noon day, before his courtiers and counsellors, on his very throne of judgment; and so far from yielding to resentment at so daring an intrusion, or expressing the least displeasure at the abrupt and public accusation with which he is so assailed, he sinks at once into contrition, and confesses his iniquity — "I have sinned against the Lord." This is what we need, a thorough conviction of our sins now; we shall have it certainly in the world to come, if it be not here attained. But conviction there is too late for anything but eternal torment; we must have it here, that under a thorough sense of our lost condition, we may apply to the rich mercies of the Redeemer for pardon.
V. PARDON I And may pardon be had for such iniquities as adultery and murder — for such extremes of crime? Yes, for all transgressions; the vilest may hope; this history is for our encouragement, to seek that grace which never was denied to suppliant man — "Christ is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him."
VI. NO ENCOURAGEMENT TO CARELESS SIN, and fruitless admission of criminality, with the secret or avowed purpose of continuance in crime. That from which nature shrinks with more alarm than all the threatenings of eternal misery can inspire is present suffering; that was inflicted, in all its severity, upon David.
(C. M. Fleury, A. M.)
I. DAVID AT THIS TIME ENJOYED GREAT PROSPERITY. The promises made in adversity have not been forgotten. His devotion to God is fervid and growing. There were no rebellions at home. The land was quiet. The great wish of his heart had been formed into an avenue through which the service could be rendered to God.
1. Prosperity enervated him. Prosperity is a danger to men of David's mould. Contrast the readiness with which he went forth in the old days when Saul hunted him as a bird! He was standing in high places! He needed clinging grace.
2. Prosperity induced sloth. Our inner life is very responsive to our outward condition.
II. WHEN OPPORTUNITY AND TEMPTATION MEET THERE IS STRUGGLE. Without reserve the Bible tells the shameful story — shows how one sin drags after it another until it compels you to write against the name of the man (not free from the weakness of human imperfections, yet sincere and upright) — to write against that man the horrible list of crimes, deception, adultery, injustice, treachery, and murder.
III. THE INFLUENCES WHICH SAPPED THE WALL OF HIS WILL. You feel instinctively such a fall could not have been instantaneous — fifty years old, a devoted, upright man of God to so fall. The tempest has not strength in it to snap such an oak if the heart of the tree is sound. The sacred narrative shows the weakness, reveals the secret decay.
1. Close the doors of imagination against carnal imagery; make a covenant with your eves and keep it. There was a "prepared plate" in the camera of David's mind, or the beauty of Bathsheba had been as nought to him. Take heed where you go for your recreations. Idle strolling may in some moods lead to pitfalls. He concealed when he should have confessed. Better to have crept to the mercy-seat covered with his filth than, as he did, wait in the palace with his sin.
(H. E. Stone.)
1. Are there any who are ready to justify their enormities from the example of David? Who are saying to themselves, "If David, notwithstanding these enormous crimes, was a saint of God, and obtained pardon, I am safe?" Let such consider his habitual conduct, his splendid virtues, and his deep repentance. In examining his habitual conduct, we behold a heart devoted to God. He fell into acts of the greatest wickedness; but these were not permanent, but diametrically opposite to his general walk and conversation. Justice requires also that we should contrast his murder and adultery with the splendid actions of his life. "David," says the sacred historian (1 Kings 15:5) "did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite." Think of his confidence in God; of his trust in the everlasting covenant; of the magnanimity and clemency that he so often displayed; of his zeal for the glory of God; of his humility; of his acquiescence in the severest dispensations of providence; of the pious emotions which glow in his psalms, and were felt in his heart; and after taking this general review of his life, say if there are many who from the bed of death can look back to more numerous or more splendid monuments of piety and virtue. Consider, too, the depth of his repentance. Behold him prostrate in the dust, dissolved in tears, pleading for the life of his soul; looking back with unutterable anguish to his conduce; bearing the agonised remembrance of it to the grave; never palliating his crimes; fleeing for pardon to unmerited grace.
2. This subject teaches us that one sin gradually leads us to another; that he who enters upon a criminal course knows not where he shall stop in his course; that he who indulges impetuous passions and inordinate appetites will shortly be deprived of the power of saying to them, "Hitherto shall ye come and no farther;" and that, therefore, our only safety is to be found in resisting the first approaches to crime, and "abstaining from all appearance of evil." Oppose, then, the beginnings of evil; beware of cherishing one sinful thought; you know not to what lengths of guilt and shame it may carry you; you cannot tell where its destructive consequences will end.
3. This subject addresses those who, like David, have departed from the ways of the Lord; have violated their engagements; have wounded their consciences; have grieved the Spirit of God and His saints. There is a sacrifice which has sufficient virtue to expiate all your accumulated guilt. By the application of the blood of Jesus, and the communication of his Spirit, you shall obtain the restoration of peace with God, and strength to serve Him in time to come; like David and like Peter recovered from your falls, you shall again participate of his favour and love.
4. In reviewing this history, we are naturally led to ask, Why did Providence permit this shameful fall in David? or, to extend the question, Why does God allow sin to remain, and sometimes to break out forcibly in his regenerate children? This question cannot easily be answered. It is not for want of power to prevent it; for He could perfectly sanctify them. It is not for want of hatred to their sin; it appears as odious, more odious in them than in others. It is not for want of love to them; he regards them as his friends and his children. Why, then, does he not render them immaculately holy? The following are, perhaps, some of the reasons of this dispensation. These do not at all justify the offender, though they vindicate the providence of God, and show its omnipotence in educing good from evil itself.(1) By them, the grace of God, in justification, is illustriously, and will be eternally magnified.(2) They are thus taught the depth of that iniquity which is in them, and rendered humble and dependent.(3) Thus they are taught to value more dearly the advocacy and intercession of the Lord Jesus.(4) The remembrance of the anguish of soul which they endured before God restored unto them the joy of His salvation; the recollection of "the wormwood and the gall" inspires them with additional fear of sin, and makes them more studious to mortify it. They tremble at the disease they have already felt, and walk in holy fear.(5) They are thus, by the wonderful providence of God, fitted for service. "When thou art converted," says Christ to Peter, after predicting his fall, "strengthen thy brethren." By the bitter experience of the power of sin they can admonish others against it.(6) The sins of believers make them tong for heaven. They are made ready to drop this body of flesh if with it they may drop the body of sin and death. "They groan, being burdened," and sigh for that land of perfect holiness, where they shall no longer offend their God.
(H. Kollock, D. D.)
2. One sin leads to another, or requires another to cover it.
3. See the hardening effect of sin! The tender-hearted David becomes a monster of cruelty! (Read, after verse 26, 12:26 to end.)
4. The degradation of sin! Joab taken into counsel.
5. The Lord's unseen contemplation of man's actions. (Verse 27. Hebrews 4:13; Proverbs 15:11.) I, THE GREAT ONUS OF THE CRIME. For Christians the terrible ingredient of wilful sin is this: They crucify Christ afresh. They cause His name to be blasphemed. (Romans 2:24.) This makes our responsibility; hence 1 Peter 2:12; 2 Corinthians 6:3.
II. DAVID'S REPENTANCE. Notice immediate confession on conviction of his sin. His confession brief, heartfelt, going to the root of the matter.
(R. E. Faulkner.)
2. A year had passed away since David's fall. He had returned to Jerusalem in triumph. The dead Uriah was probably forgotten. The child of guilt was burn, and loved by David with a passionate tenderness. .The dreadful story, however, was not, we maybe quite certain, all forgotten by the king himself. However much the commission of the crimes of adultery and murder had injured or blinded his conscience — as wilful sin always does — still, "the man after God's own heart," the man who had shown through many temptations "an honest and good heart," the man who had loved and trusted God so faithfully, could not have rested quite at his ease under the terrible memory that he had allowed base passion to conquer his better self.
3. God was looking in mercy upon His servant, and Nathan was sent to him to bring him to the fulness of a sincere repentance, and to restore trim to peace with God. Nathan did his duty fearlessly and completely. Whatever sorrows there are and must be to penitents who have deeply fallen, still "God is the God of comfort," and He comforted David. Bathsheba was now his wife. Another child was born to them and David — with the sense of restored peace with God — called him Solomon, "the peaceful."
(W. J. Knox Little, M. A.)
I. REMARKS UPON THE CONCOMITANT CIRCUMSTANCES ARE: —
1. The time of David's adultery. This has a three-fold description, as(1) The time of the year, at springtime;(2) The time of war, when David had renewed his war against the Ammonites; and(3) The time of the day, in an eventide (ver. 1, 2.) To which may be added(4) The time of David's age and reign. Common computation makes it David's seventh year, the forty-ninth of his age, and the nineteenth of his reign. But learned Dr. Lightfoot computes it to be the twenty-sixth of his reign and so the fifty-sixth of his age, seeing he was thirty years old when he began his reign in Hebron, being in the tenth year of Samuel.
2. The place of David's sin: it was his own palace where he was indulging himself to ease and pleasure, when he should have been fighting the Lord's battles in the field with his army against the Ammonites. While he kept abroad in the wars in his own person he was safe enough. It was at evening tide when David should have been at his devotion, as had been his custom (Psalm 55:17), seeing he would not be in the field to fight.
3. Upon the third circumstance, the person, the sight whereof was the occasion of David's soul fall. She is described here divers ways:(1) A woman washing herself, to wit, from her legal uncleanness (Leviticus 15:19; Leviticus 18:19.) Possibly some window was carelessly left open for air in her chamber, that was near the palace royal, where she could espie no beholder; but lust, being quick sighted, lustful David espied her through the casement that then was casually or carelessly left open.(2) "Very beautiful to behold." This was a strong bait to David, who had been indulging himself with some excess of eating and drinking.(3) She is described by her name, as well as by her beauty (ver. 3.) David enquired after her, who she was, when he should rather have reproved himself for looking and lusting after a forbidden object; more especially when he found she was a daughter to one and a wife to another of his famous worthies (2 Samuel 23:34, 39.)(4) "David sent messengers to fetch her." Unbridled lust, like the wild vine, will ramble over the hedge.(5) She came from her own house into his palace, not by force but by persuasion, pretending only to speak with her; but she came not so well fortified for resisting a temptation as she should.
II. Let us turn aside with Moses to take a LITTLE PROSPECT OF THIS, A GREAT WONDER,
1. As to David, "A man after God's own heart," yet his unbridled lust had metamorphosed him into a beast, He might now well say in the words of Asaph, "So foolish was I and ignorant, and even as a beast before Thee." (Psalm 73:23.) This teacheth us, that the best of men are but men at the best; and who art thou, O man, that thinkst thou art safe and secure enough from acts Of sin? "Surely thou knowest not the plague of thine own heart" (1 Kings 8:38.)
2. As to Bathsheba, some do say she was not free from faultiness upon several accounts.(1) That she bathed herself in her garden, so nigh to the King's court, for Uriah, being one of David's worthies, had his house assigned him near to the royal palace.(2) That she so willingly came with the first messenger without any jealousy of a snare to her, after such too open a washing herself in the view of the court.(3) That she so easily yielded unto David's tempting her without any reluctancy, forgetting her fidelity to her honourable husband, choosing rather to be a base harlot to a king than an honest wife to a good subject.
III. DAVID'S ADDING MURDER TO HIS ADULTERY, INSTEAD OF REPENTING FOR HIS SIN.
1. First, David's contrivement to congeal his sin from the eyes of men, in the meantime not regarding the all-seeing eye of God, etc.(1) He sends for Uriah, that he, returning home and lying with his wife, might believe this now begotten child, to be of his own begetting.(2) The discourse betwixt David and Uriah upon his return at royal summons (v. 7.)(3) David deals still with Uriah while sober, and dissemblingly gives him an amicable dismission (v. 8) bidding him go home and refresh thyself after thy travail, "and rejoice with the wife of thy youth" (Proverbs 5:18.) Not doubting but he would converse with his wife, and so cover both their sin and their shame.(4) David's expostulation with Uriah, occasioned by his not embracing the King's leave to go to his house, but sleeping all night, among the king's guard (v. 9.)(5) Uriah still holds his resolution (v. 11) neither the dignity of the king (saith Peter Martyr) nor the beauty and importunity of his wife could reclaim him from his refractory humour. Thus the providence of God did counter-work all the policies and projects of David, who designed all along to have his sin concealed, when the most wise God will have it revealed; and lest the king should think it was too saucy a sullenness in a subject to be thus peremptory he renders a most pregnant reason for so persisting in his resolve.(6) Still David, instead of repenting, proceeds from bad to worse (vers. 12, 13), when he found himself crossed in his former contrivances with Uriah while sober, he will try one trick more in making Uriah drunk, that when intoxicated he might forget his oath and lie with his wife, putting off all his former austerity.
2. The last, but worst link of that doleful chain of David's lust: So far was David still from repenting of his sin that, seeing his craft (for concealing his adultery he failed him in all the other fair means he contrived, now) resolveth upon cruelty in the use of foul methods to get this good Uriah cut off insensibly, and so to cover his adultery with murder, that so he might not live to accuse the adulteress.(1) In order hereunto he wrote a letter to Joab (v. 14), not with black but rather with blood, and Uriah must carry this sword to Joab for the cutting of his own throat.(2) Uriah must be set in the hottest battle, and then lurched (v 15). Joab must believe this most excellent person had some way deserved death, and he must be the executioner; yet could he not be ignorant of the law, that no criminals should die without two or three witnesses against them; therefore, he was too obsequious in obeying so tyrannical a command (v. 16, 17), but Joab haply hoped thereby to ingratiate himself with David for the murder of Abner, which he had not yet answered, for now David was like to be no less guilty than himself. Right or wrong, he'll please the king.(3) Tidings hereof are dictated by Joab in what order the messenger must tell David (v. 18, 19), and if the king object any rashness in the enterprise, he must answer "Uriah is slain also," and that answers all objections.(4) David was pleased, saying "Let not Joab be displeased," etc. (v. 25), where he smootheth up his general, slights the slaughter of so many gallant men, and deeply dissembleth with the messenger, that so neither his bloody command nor Joab's fawning obedience might be discovered to him. David had, been still striving against the stream in the use of fair means, and none would do to his content; but, having found success in this foul policy, oh how he hugs himself under hardness of heart.(5) Bathsheba mourned for the death of her husband (v. 26), and no doubt it was a feigned and a merry mourning. She was inwardly pleased, both as freed from fear of his rage and punishment of an adulteress, and: as hoping now to be made a queen. Had she been sensible of her sin (afterwards doubtless she was) she would have mourned like a dove, as Queen Huzzah did (Nahum 2:7.) But after seven days of mourning (saith Josephus) the ordinary time (Genesis 50:10, 1 Samuel 31:13) the adulterer married the adulteress; and probably more haste might be made here. that she might be thought to be with child by David after they were married (v. 27.) "But the thing that David had (lone displeased the Lord," which was not simply his marrying of her, for that is nowhere forbidden in Scripture, but for his alluring her to adultery, and for murdering her husband after it.
Homiletic Review.Professor George Lincoln Goodale, speaking of the cultivation of plants, said: "It is impossible for us to ignore the fact that there appear to be occasions in the life of a species when it seems to be peculiarly susceptible to the influences of its surroundings. A species, like a carefully laden ship, represents a balancing of forces within and without. Disturbances may come through variation from within, as from a shifting cargo, or in some cases from without. We may suppose both forces to be active in producing variation, a change in the internal condition rendering the plant more susceptible to any change in its surroundings. "Under the influence of any marked disturbance a state of unstable equilibrium may be brought about, at which times the species as such is easily acted upon by very slight agencies." Analogous to the learned scientist's observation of growing plants is the experience of every growing human life. We cannot pass over its ever-repeated evidence that there are occasions when character, to use Dr. Goodale's phrase, "seems to be peculiarly susceptible to, the influence of its surroundings;" and disturbances, whether from within or without, produce such a state of "unstable equilibrium," that the character is "easily acted upon by any very slight agencies." Then is it that, by the merest little only, life's important steps are taken, and lead to either success or failure.
(H. W. Beecher.)
(E. P. Thwing.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(A. Maclaren, D.D.)
And when David had called him . he made him drunk.Habakkuk 2:15-16.) God will put a cup of trembling into the hands of those who put into the hands of others the cup of drunkenness. Robbing a man of Ins reason is worse than robbing him of his money, and drawing him into sin worse than drawing him into any trouble whatsoever.
( M. Henry..)
But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.
1. The first, and by no means the least important of these, is the proof which hence arises that none of us can lay claim to any constraining grace, which, in despite of ourselves, shall compel us to holiness and to salvation. That David enjoyed the grace of God in a very especial degree, is what no Christian can deny: and few, it is to be expected, Will suppose themselves to be more highly favoured than he was in this particular. Yet here we have a melancholy, but still a most positive and salutary proof that no portion of the grace of God, however considerable, will protect man from the most fearful enormities, unless he will employ it when given him. Our faith is not to be confidence that we shall be saved, but confidence that, if we obey. God to the best of our power, we shall be saved: and our hope must be that we may render that obedience which may be accepted through Christ; while our lives must be such as are worthy of such an hope; we must prove that we have this hope in us, by purifying ourselves, even as He is pure.
2. The next consideration which forces itself on our attention is the difference of David's circumstances at the time of his fall from those in which he is placed, when he had the best of all testimonies, that "the Lord was with him." We now see that, however prosperity and leisure are in themselves desirable, they have dangers, which to resist, requires all the strength which God has put at our disposal. David was not a novice to their blandishments. For ten years he had been in undisputed possession of the splendour and luxuries of the kingdom of all Israel. All this period had been as remarkable as the darkest days of his adversity for the most religious fulfilment of the two great comprehensive duties, the love of God and the love of his neighbour. Offensive, therefore, as the thought may be to him who feels himself secure in his own righteousness, or who imagines himself to be so firmly in the hand of the Lord that nothing can pluck him thence, it is, nevertheless, the inevitable conclusion from the melancholy truth now under consideration that no man, whatever his real holiness, or whatever his opinion concerning the decision of his future fate, is secure from the stains of even the most deadly sins. David, it appears, had hitherto been as holy in prosperity as in distress; and, it might be supposed, was now so intimate with grandeur and power as to have nothing to fear from their influence, especially when it. is considered that it was by habitual religion that he had supported himself inviolate amidst the trials of persecution and the temptations of luxury. But at. this crisis there was one remarkable circumstance. He had already done all that was required of him in active life, and there Seemed nothing now remaining but to turn his thoughts towards the interests and good government of his kingdom. When his pillow was the rock and his curtain the cave; when his sword, under Providence, procured him his daily bread from the foes of his country, and the means of existence formed the object and pursuit of life — he was pious and immovable; he must have been active, or he must have resigned his life. But now the case was widely different; he had not only all the necessities, but all the luxuries which the most refined voluptuousness could devise, attending in profusion round him: he had certainly the duty of his charge, to impress its importance on his mind; but then he had the opportunity of neglecting it; and even David, it appears, was not proof against the solicitations of this opportunity! To all of us is this example fraught with materials for the most serious personal application. The flesh itself works along with us so long as we toil for its support; but when we have once accomplished this it ungratefully turns upon us and endeavours to enslave us to its dominion. Where the necessities of life do not compel him to labour there is great danger, even to the confirmed Christian, lest the value of time and the necessity of improving it, should not be always present to his mind; while the temptations arising from the very nature of his situation are such as at all times require the very closest and most diligent circumspection. And when the unguarded moment and the temptation coincide, as they are wont to do, the example before us is a terrible demonstration of the ruin which must follow. The crime of Bathsheba cannot be long concealed: the punishment was death; either, therefore, Bathsheba must be sacrificed to the law, or her husband removed in time to allow her to become the wife of David before suspicion could arise. David no longer hesitates: the fatal order is deliberately sealed, and put into the hands of the generous, unsuspecting victim, who immediately is placed by his commander in the post most congenial to his feelings, the forefront of the hottest battle, and betrayed by his cowardly companions into the hands of an unsparing enemy. Such is the natural uniform progress of sin, wherever it takes root, though the soil be the heart of David.
(H. Thompson, M. A.)
1. This chapter reveals the character of David in its most distressing aspects. From end to end it is a production worthy only of the very genius of perdition, His very greatness becomes the measure of his sin. All his senses are set on fire of hell. The spirit of generosity is dead within him. The spirit of justice is exiled from his nature. How is the star of the morning dashed from heaven l How is the fine gold become dimmed! How are the mighty fallen! It is almost impossible to believe that this is human nature at all. Let us not seek to excuse David. We injure the Bible, and the whole purpose of the inspired volume, if we speak so much as one word in defence of a series of actions which might have been conceived by Satan and executed within the darkness of perdition.
2. The all-important sentence is the last: "But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord." Without that sentence the chapter would have been intolerable. From this time forth David must bear the judgment of the Lord. Do not let it be supposed that even king David could perform such a series of wrongs and cruelties, and play as skilfully on his harp as ever, and sing as jubilantly before Heaven as he ever did. David's harp acquired a new tone after this infamy. Psalms were written by David after this great transgression which could not have been written before its commission. Years were added to the life of the king; he was bent down under an invisible load; his face was wrinkled with grief, and his eyes were dimmed by contrite tears.
3. We see now something of what human nature is when it is left to show itself. We are bound to go to history as the one revelation of human nature. It is in vain to invent and discuss theories of psychology; it is in vain to look upon one aspect of human nature, and to judge the whole by the part; it is in vain, too, to fix upon any given date in human history and to judge men by that standard of civilisation. The one inquiry is what men have done in their very worst moods. An answer to that inquiry will settle the whole question respecting human depravity. We are bound to look at such a chapter as the first in the epistle to the Romans, if we would see what human nature is in its innermost and largest possibilities. Nor must we shrink from dwelling upon the hideous spectacle, To speak of revolted sensibilities, highly excited prejudices, and to declare that such instances are beyond the range of careful study, is simply to deprive ourselves of some of the most solid lessons of human history. We must know what sin is before we can have any adequate idea of the Divine relation to it. Sin explains the cross, sin explains the atonement, sin explains Christ.
4. The Bible is to be judged by what God would have done, not by what man would have done. Find a single sentence which approves of David's guilt. Happily, there is no such sentence in the whole record. The spirit of the Bible, therefore, is not seen in what David did, but in the judgments which followed him and darkened his day with tremendous thunder-clouds. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Thomas Goodwin points out in his great treatise on the "Aggravation of Sin,." it was the "matter of Uriah," even more than the matter of Bathsheba, that awakened the anger of the Lord against David. That is to say, it was David's sin of deliberation and determination, rather than his sin of sudden and intoxicating passion. It was both matters; it was both sins; but it cannot be overlooked that it was after a twelvemonth of self-deceit, internal hypocrisy, and self-forgiving silence on David's part that Nathan was sent to David in such Divine indignation. How a man like David could have lived all that time soaked to the eyes in adultery and murder and not go mad is simply inconceivable: That is to say, it would be inconceivable if we had not ourselves out of which to parallel and illustrate David, and make David both possible and natural to us.
(Alex. Whyte, D. D.).