Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Today's Old Testament reading from the Treasury of Daily Prayer was a familiar one: David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:1-27). I am always amazed how an old familiar story can reveal a depth you didn't notice in prior readings, a nuance or simply an overlooked piece that the Spirit uses to enlighten.
This morning, as I read the story of King David's slippery slope of sin, he became for me a living (yes, David is a part of the Whole Company of Heaven) example of James 1:15: "Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death."
David hadn't planned on killing Uriah the Hittite. But when his fleshly, lustful, desire for Bathsheba was not curbed, his sinful nature began to spiral out of control. At first it was just a bit of spring fever: "In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem" (verse 1).
Men and women are attracted to one another--it's part of the way God made us. But David's attraction led him to covet another man's wife and break the 10th Commandment. But instead of confessing this covetousness and fleeing from the sin, David began to experiment. And all of a sudden, his sin began to spiral out of control.
He committed adultery--breaking the 6th Commandment. He mislead Uriah the Hittite because Bathsheba had become pregnant--breaking the 8th Commandment. He plotted out and executed a plan to kill Uriah--breaking the 5th Commandment. And in the end, he took Bathsheba home as his wife--breaking the 7th Commandment.
David's "little" sin of lust went unchecked, and the verse from James warns, ended up spiraling out of control and led to death--only in this case the death wasn't his own.
And why did David allow this all to happen? Because even as he was the anointed one of God, David's real struggle wasn't with the 5th Commandment, the 6th Commandment, or even the 7th, 8th, 9th, or 10th Commandment. David allowed his sin to spiral out of control because he struggled to keep the 1st Commandment.
Luther writes that "we should fear, love, and trust in God above all things." This is what the 1st Commandment means. So where is David's fear of God? He definitely isn't showing it here. And where is David's love of God? It seems to me that he is showing his love of the flesh. And David's trust of God? Well, why do you need to trust in God when you are trusting in your own position and power to make all your fleshly desires comes true. Because David couldn't keep the 1st Commandment, all the others came crashing down.
Indeed, David serves as a living example for us that sin can grow, and evolve, and ultimately kill. But what can sin not do? Separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord (Romans 8:39). In fact, sin is the reason Jesus came, and lived, and died, and rose. Sin is what Jesus took in His own body. Sin is what Jesus became, so that men like David, and sinners like you and me, might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).
Don't allow your "little" sins to live. Confess them, and as you receive Christ's Holy Absolution, they will be nailed to the cross with Him, and put to death, so that you can live. Amen.