Tales From The Darkside #3
I always thought that “As The Stomach Turns” on the Carol Burnett Show was a great send up of our love for Soap Operas. For whatever reason, we just love to watch others wallow in their misery. I think it makes us feel better about ourselves.
The longest running Soap Opera was The Guiding Light. It was broadcast on the radio for 15 years before hitting television in 1952. It’s final episode was aired September 18, 2009.
First broadcast five days after President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s second inauguration, the title The Guiding Light refers to a lamp in the study of Reverend Dr. John Ruthledge (a major character when the show debuted) that family and residents could see as a sign for them to find help when needed. It’s popularity can be seen in the fact that it aired and produced over 18,000 episodes.
My mother’s favorite Soap was, The Edge of Night? I hate to admit it but years ago, I used to come home and watch Days of Our Lives at lunch time. I even compared notes and caught up on episodes I missed with the mayor and head coach who were both fans and members of the church.
For some reason, we like all the machinations and bizarre plot twists. But to be honest, the Soap Operas have nothing on the Bible. The Bible is filled with plot lines and stories that would make some of the writers of day time soaps blush in embarrassment.
Today’s story of David and Bathsheba is one of those plots. The Bold and the Beautiful fits because we have bold David and beautiful Bathsheba. The Young and the Restless King really would be a good title for this Soap. Or maybe Jerusalem 90210. I’ve got a better idea, let’s revive my mother’s favorite and call it “The Edge of the Kingdom.”
Actually I prefer to think of this story as “The Miss, The Kiss, The Mess, The Rest.”
Let’s look at just a couple of verse of 2 Samuel 11:1-4 and then we’ll look at the story.
 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.
 It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking about on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful.
 David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported, “This is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”
 So David sent messengers to get her, and she came to him,
I. THE MISS:
A. The Bible is filled with stories about heroes, champions, leaders, judges and kings. And those stories tell us all about them. You would think that if it was about the greatest people in the history of our faith, it would only show the good stuff. We’d leave out all the negative stuff.
But the one thing about this book of truth, the book containing the Word of God, is that it is brutally honest about US. It leaves no foible unrevealed. It leaves no sin unidentified. And thus the story of this Miss.
This chapter almost starts out like a fairy tale or a tall tale. It begins like one of those epic tales of heroism and bravery. “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.”
See, it starts out like one of those great stories to tell around the camp fire. A saga of bravery and victory that will be sung about by the conquering troops of Israel for decades. Can’t you feel it? But then it takes this high speed turn, wrenching our stomachs and our sensibilities to a screeching slide into another kind of tale. One of sin and deceit. For the verse ends: “But David remained at Jerusalem.”
B. What is this? David, the King of Israel, the champion of the little guy; David who’s been extolled by the writer as being the one whom “The Lord gave victory to . . . wherever he went.” (8:6) The one who, “won a name for himself” because of all of his victories. (8:13) David, who “reigned over all Israel; and . . . administered justice and equity to all his people.” (2 Samuel 8:15)
David, the King, stayed behind? Why? Was he sick? Tired of war? Wounded? We really don’t know why David stayed behind but as it turned out, it wasn’t a good thing.
Because it just so happened that one afternoon David was walking on the roof. Now don’t think of our suburban homes. Think of Middle Eastern style structures with flat roofs. They used those roofs sort of like we use our backyard. So, there’s David, minding his own business when all of sudden, boioioing his eyes nearly pop out of his head like the character in a Max Fleischer cartoon. His jaw drops, his tongue hits the floor and he is suddenly overcome with a severe case of IDD, Intelligence Deficit Disorder.
Kind of like Paul Blart Mall Cop when he sees the beautiful Amy one morning while patrolling the mall on his Segway. WATCH
That’s exactly what happened to David the minute he saw Bathsheba. He crashed and burned. You see, at the very moment that Bathsheba caught his eye, he COULD have and SHOULD have turned away. But he didn’t. He let his curiosity and his lust get in the way of his good sense.
Now, there have been those who have tried to implicate Bathsheba as being a seductress, but there is no indication from Scripture that she was doing anything but innocently bathing on her roof. To suggest otherwise is either male chauvinism or an attempt to let David off the hook for his own stupid actions.
In any case, this is where we see David missed the mark and we meet The Miss.
II. THE KISS:
A. Meeting The Miss of course, leads directly to The Kiss. No plot twists to get there. He willingly runs smack into the minivan. It’s pretty straight forward. David is the one with the power. He finds out who this ravishing creature is and sends for her immediately. That was his second mistake.
I’m sure being the King was hard enough without all the complications that were about to happen. Don’t you wish sometimes, you could just reach back in history, grab David by the collar, smack him upside the head and say, “What are you thinking?”
It probably wouldn’t have helped. Because David wasn’t in love, he was caught in the throes of lust.
Let me tell you about lust. Lust isn’t about sex. Lust is about desire. It’s about possessing some ONE or some THING. It grabs a hold of you and won’t let go. It’s the worse grass burr there ever was. You can’t ignore it because it causes an itch that screams to be scratched. It’s worse than 10,000 mosquito bites or chigger bites. It’s worse than poison ivy. It’s worse than hives. And Calamine Lotion doesn’t work. And it seems that the more you try to ignore it or the more you scratch it, the worse it gets.
B. I wish David would have had the wisdom of the Billy Crystal character in City Slickers. Mitch Robbins and his friends Ed and Phil are all going through a mid-life crisis, so they decide to do something different and go on a two week cattle drive. They meet curmudgeonly old and dangerous Curly who helps them learn a few things about life. One afternoon on the drive, Ed starts asking Mitch about cheating on his wife. This is what Mitch says: WATCH
If that had been David’s attitude, if he’d had even half that integrity, the outcome might have been different. It was The Kiss that got David. He couldn’t control his lust and it cost him dearly. And lust for those things that aren’t ours or that we don’t need will cost us, too.
III. THE MESS:
A. The Miss and The Kiss caused The Mess. That mess nearly cost David everything. And while it didn’t cost him everything, it sure cost him dearly. You see, he didn’t just fall, David plummeted into the depths of sin dragging everyone with him. He was so embarrassed by his actions and so taken with Bathsheba, that when he found out she was carrying his child, that instead of fessing up, he started plotting ways to get out of the jam. There was a headline in a newspaper that read: “Robbers Hospitalized After Trying To Rob FBI Agent” (– AFP headline.) David had to have felt just as stupid as those guys.
But rather than admit that he was wrong, he thickened the plot. When the first ploy of giving Uriah special leave to be with his wife, didn’t work because Uriah was such an honorable leader; David had to come up with something else. And of course, just like in all soap operas, the first thing he thought of was murder.
David even got his most trusted General and friend involved. David ordered Joab to put Uriah in the front lines of the most dangerous offensive. Then he and Bathsheba mourned Uriah’s death.
B. Oh, how the plot thickens. And oh, how the plot sickens. Carol Burnett had it right. This story is worthy of her parody soap opera “As The Stomach Turns.”
What a mess. David loses the trust and respect of Joab who has stood by him all these years. He loses one of his greatest warriors. His love for Bathsheba is and always will be tainted by its illicit inception. He loses favor in God’s eyes. And together, he and Bathsheba lose their first born son as punishment from God. The Miss lead to The Kiss that caused The Mess. Is there any hope of redemption?
IV. THE REST:
A. And that brings us to The Rest. Or as Paul Harvey would say, “And now, for the rest of the story.”
God was definitely not pleased. Had you and I been in God’s shoes, we probably would have slapped David around a bit, maybe even treated him a lot like Job and watched with glee as lightening bolts charred him to a crisp golden brown that even Colonel Sanders would have been proud of. But there’s one thing I’ve discovered about God through reading the Old Testament. God is filled with more grace than I had ever imagined.
I had always read the Old Testament as a book of law and retribution. And if you get stuck in the laws and sacrifices I can see how that opinion is shaped. But if you study who God calls and how God treats those chosen for leadership, you find a God of Grace and forgiveness. You find a God who wants us to be the best we can be.
And in order to make us the best we can be, sometimes God lets us choose the worst things possible for ourselves. God lets us make bad choices and live with the consequences. Then in the midst of the mess caused by those decisions and bad choices, we find out that the best way to go was really God’s way and not ours. And then we really discover the best thing about our relationship with God. We discover that the best thing God offers, is God’s Grace and Forgiveness.
B. My Dad taught us that our actions have consequences. And that every time we did one thing, it caused something else to happen. It could be good or bad. It could be big or little. But that the two were in extricably tied together. Science even says that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
But in the Kingdom of God, that’s not always true. Sometimes our actions do cause others things. We know what’s right and wrong and we try to even things out. But most of the time, we find that God’s grace takes care of the wrong and the inequality. And that they aren’t really connected at all. We find out that one is not dependent upon the other.
Especially when repentance is involved. We know that The Miss and The Kiss caused The Mess. But Repentance was The Rest.
You see, David a had a change of heart. When Nathan confronted David with what he had done, David came under conviction and realized what an idiot he had been. He realized how much he had disappointed God and how far he had strayed from God’s will and purpose for his life. And in humble anguish for his actions and what his actions had caused, David fell to his knees in repentance.
And God forgave him. He and Bathsheba still had to live with the earthly consequences of their actions but God forgave David and was able to continue to use him. God grew David to become the greatest King Israel would ever see.
While Rev. Bob Russell’s church was under construction, he decided to go up and inspect the partially finished roof. On the roof, he saw something that took his breath away. The company that was insulating the church was the Grace Ice and Watershield Company. Every sheet of insulation had the company name printed on it in huge letters. So as Pastor Russell looked across the unfinished roof of his church building, he saw the word “GRACE” stretching out before him, covering everything he could see. GRACE, GRACE, GRACE, GRACE everywhere he looked. The church building was literally covered in GRACE. (2)
And that is the Good News both for today and every day. You see, it’s not only Rev. Russell’s church that is covered by grace. Every individual in the entire world is covered by grace. There is no one who is so bad, no one who is so perverted, no one who is so disillusioned or desperate that they cannot experience the Amazing Grace of God that we find in Jesus Christ.
Why? Because God is full of Grace. God is a God of second chances. God is a God of redemption who doesn’t want us separated.
And just when we think that God doesn’t have any more to give. Just when we think we’ve emptied ourselves and the well of God’s grace has dried up, God’s Grace is poured out again and again.
Yes, David did Miss the Mark and Kiss the Girl and Make a Mess of his life. But the Rest of the story is all about God and God’s Grace, God’s love, God’s redemption.
We’ve all Missed liked David, We’ve all Kissed the wrong thing and made a Mess of it. But remember, if God’s grace was sufficient for David, it will be sufficient for you, too. That’s the promise of our Risen Savior, Jesus. Trust Him.
This is the Word of the Lord for this day.
1. GET OUT THERE AND REAP!, (St. Louis, Mo.: Bethany Press, 1976), pp. 33-36.
2. “Preaching and Applying Truth,” by Bob Russell, Preaching, July-August 2000, p. 12.