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Ash Wednesday (2 Samuel 11:1-4 / 9th & 10th Commandments)

February 22, 2012

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Ash Wednesday

22 February 2012


Ninth Commandment:  You Shall Not Covet Your Neighbor’s House

Tenth Commandment:  You Shall Not Covet Your Neighbor’s Wife …

Bible Narrative:  2 Samuel 11:1-4


Tonight, 2 Samuel 11 is used in conjunction with the Ninth and Ten Commandments.  This Bible story is written for your Lenten – repentant – learning.  For your warning AND for your repentance!  “Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall,” (1 Corinthians 10:11)!  The Law of God is good and wise.  The Ten Commandments describe what your life before God and before one another should look like. 


But you and I are sinners.  Children of Adam and Eve! Our sinful flesh does not do what the Law requires.  The commandments say:  “You shall not covet” and, because of our sinful nature, we are off to the races COVETING!  We profusely covet what doesn’t belong to us. 


And so the Commandments reveal our sin.  Point them out to us.  Like an X-ray or CAT scan machine!  It’s really ugly!  Brutal!  Shocking!  We really didn’t think we were that bad!  We could have never imagined this sin sickness to be so deep!  Corrupt to the core!  Lost and condemned persons we are due to our sinful condition!


In addition, the Commandments silence all our flimsy fig leaf excuses of self-justification before God and hold us accountable.  The Ninth and Tenth Commandments that say:  “You shall not covet,” expose us for who we really are:  SINNERS!  And this Word of God kills us!  And that’s very good.  Because that’s the only thing you can do with the old Adam / Eve!  You can’t rehab old Adam / Eve!  You can’t salvage old Adam / Eve!  The old Adam / Eve by daily contrition and repentance is to be drowned and die with all sin and evil desires!   


In addition, tonight’s Scripture is also written for our comfort.  There is forgiveness for sinners.  Every sinner!  For every sin.  No matter how heinous.  There is free and total pardon for you, me, King David, and the world through Jesus Christ our Lord and His holy week innocent suffering and Good Friday dying!  Consequently, there is a promise from Jesus Himself!  And it is this:  “I forgive you!”  This is very good too.  For all you’re left with here is faith – faith alone – in Jesus and His absolution.  And that faith is the new creation – the new creature – that lives before God now only by faith in Jesus! 


Now to the text.     


King David.  Doesn’t do his kingly vocation.  “In the spring when kings go off to war” David farms it all out to General Joab.  It’s up to General Joab to fight Israel’s enemies and defend Israel’s borders while King David loafs.  Joab ravages and besieges.  David dawdles.  Joab and all Israel are fighting in the field.  David loafs at home. 


And so one night when David can’t sleep he spots her.  He can’t believe his eyes!  She’s taking a bath!  Right out in the open!  What kind of woman would do that?  It is as if she wants to be seen on purpose!  Perhaps she has something on her mind!  Hmm?


He can’t take his eyes off her.  She’s gorgeous!  Stunning!  What a body!  Kim Kardashian or Jennifer Anniston have nothing on her!  She could be the cover girl for GQ or the centerfold for Playboy every month for the next ten years! 


Who is she?  This naked bathing beauty?  As if David didn’t know. 


Her name is Bathsheba.  Daughter of Eliam.  And she has a wedding ring on her finger!  She is wedded to Uriah the Hittite!  Eliam is the son of one of David’s counselors, Ahithophel.  And both Eliam and Uriah are both members of the king’s personal bodyguards (2 Samuels 23:34, 39).  Beautiful Bathsheba:  Eliam’s daughter – Uriah’s wife.  They all know each other!  Very well!       


And King David covets her.  Doesn’t give a rip that she’s married.  He wants her.  And he wants her now!  Badly.  No low “T” with this man!  He will satisfy his desires no matter what.  No matter who he hurts.  No matter whose lives he destroys.  Now matter who he has to kill.  HE WILL have what he covets!  He will have her!  He is the king!  And what the king does is right!                                                


So he barks out orders:  “Go fetch her for me!  Chop!  Chop!”  “And don’t forget to sneak her through the back door!  I’ll have the lights dimmed, the candles lit, and the romantic music playing softly!”  Off go David’s servants.  To her house.  Right across the street no doubt! 


“Good Evening Madam Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam and wife of Uriah.  My, don’t you look ravishing tonight.  The king requests your …. presence.  Please follow us.”    And they escort the ravishing bombshell directly to the king’s bedroom.  The one-night-stand is consummated!  Underneath the canopy and between the sheets of his majesty’s royal bed!  His coveting led directly to physically adulterating his marriage and Bathsheba’s.  And David could care less.  He got what he wanted!  He got what he coveted! 


What or who is it that you covet? 


What’s that?  You say you don’t covet?  Nonsense!  Of course you do!  You are no better than King David.  You are just as bad as King David.   


Your coveting knows no bounds!  It ranges from another person’s spouse all the way to your neighbor’s land, home, or investments!  You name it.  Whatever your neighbor has – you want it!  You’re never content with what God has given you!


Taking people to court is the usual way to extend and bring to fulfillment the coveting!  All under the cover of legality!  “See I have the title!  It was awarded to me!  The inheritance is mine!  The court said so!”  The tentacles of coveting extend into everyday business transactions.  In these tough economic times – your neighbor out of work – his 401k tanked – deep in debt – has property and possessions.  With all the cunning you can muster and with an eye for more profit you harass and hustle him into selling his stuff for only half of what it is worth.  And you justify the purchase by saying:  “I got a super deal!”  And like David you could care less.  Because it’s all about you Baby!  First come first serve!  Look out for numero uno!  Survival of the fittest!


You see how deep the sin is?  It’s really bad.  “You shall not covet!”  The last two commandments reveal our sin, indict, convict and condemn us.  God is not pleased!  These commandments show God’s wrath against our coveting!  Lost, dead, and condemned you and I are in our sin!


But here is the good news!  Really, really great news!  His name is Jesus.  God was in Christ Jesus reconciling the world to Himself – NOT COUNTING YOUR SINS AGAINST YOU!  Imagine that!  God forgives.  He forgives you!  Because of Jesus!  And only because of Jesus!    


How can this be?  Here’s how!  God made Jesus, the sinless and perfectly holy one, TO BE SIN!  “He who knew no sin was made to be sin.”  And to be cursed (Galatians 3:13)!  Yes, that’s right!  Jesus was determined to go all the way for your salvation.  He wouldn’t stop until He took all that is yours – including and especially all your sin!  “God has laid on him the iniquity of us all,” (Isaiah 53). 


Perfect and holy Jesus is made to be sin by bearing all your sin, all my sin, all the world’s sin in His body.  So much so that Jesus is MAXIMUM SINNER!  He willingly goes under the Law and endures His Father’s wrath against all sin and every sinner!  In your place.  Vicariously!  The greatest and only sacrifice that atones for sin:  Good Friday’s Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.


Now that the Law has accused Christ on the cross, it looks all around.  It looks at you.  But you are baptized into Christ’s death.   Jesus gives you His Good Friday Body and Blood to eat and drink sacramentally.  In Christ the Law is fulfilled for you.  All the Law’s accusations are used up in Christ and His promises.  And what does He promise:  Te absolvo!      You are forgiven.  All your sin — all your coveting is answered for!  And you have peace with God through Jesus Christ!


Have a happy Ash Wednesday and a wonderful Lent! 


In the Name of Jesus.                   

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