“Parables That Pack a Punch” Sermon Series
Sermon #1 “The Slaughter of the Lamb” 2 Samuel 11:25-12:14 Feb. 16, 2014
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
Introduction to the sermon series: “Parables that Pack a Punch.” God uses many different styles to communicate his truth to us: the poetry of the Psalms, the tight theological reasoning of Romans, the narrative sections of the Gospels and Acts, and so forth. But the genre that often has the strongest sticking power is that of the parable, the allegory, and the dramatic story. Why? Because they grip our heart by using something we already feel strongly about and then showing us the same truths about God. You see the Lord wants us to FEEL the truths of His Word, not just to know them in our heads, so He sometimes uses parables that pack a punch. We need these for our own hearts, and the world needs them to penetrate their dark hearts.
Let’s begin this series with a prophet who confronts his king with the sin he’s been covering up:
1. The Shepherd-King Sins and Covers Up (2 Sam. 11)
The Background: The Lord had richly blessed David, giving him military victories over all his enemies and expanding his kingdom (chapters 8 and 10), and David has even shown mercy to a possible rival for the throne in the person of Mephibosheth (chapter 9). But in chapter 11, David lets down his guard and allows his lust to get the best of him; he commits adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of one of his most faithful soldiers, and then when David finds out that Bathsheba is pregnant with his baby, he repents of his sin and comes clean before God and man….. Does he? NO!… David does what we often do when we commit a shameful sin: he tries to cover it up. First he tries by getting Uriah, the husband, off of the battlefield, to sleep with his wife, so that he will think the child to be born is his; but that plan fails, because Uriah won’t think of doing that, while his men are facing danger on the battlefield.
So David resorts to a more drastic cover-up: he gives instructions to his general to place Uriah in the thickest part of the battle, and then pull back from Uriah, leaving him vulnerable and exposed. This plan works, and Uriah, the faithful and loyal soldier, is killed by the conniving of his commander-in-chief, King David, who has sinned against him by committing adultery with his wife. (How awful sin is, and how terrible are the consequences of unrepentant sin.)
After a suitable time of mourning for Uriah, Bathsheba is brought to David’s royal house, and there she becomes his wife, and gives birth to their son.
David had committed a terrible sin. There was probably a lot of whispering and gossip about the scandal buzzing around the palace, but no one dared to say a word to David.
The shepherd-king David has sinned against the Lord, and he was covering it up…. but (v. 26)
“The thing David had done displeased the Lord.”
2. The Prophet’s Sheep Story Uncovers the Shepherd-King’s Sins (12:1-4)
The LORD sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, 3 but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.
4 “Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”
The Lord sends Nathan the prophet to David the king in order to confront him. How many of you would have been willing to do that job? Notice Nathan’s skill here: First, he presents this story as a real case to be judged by King David (not as a parable,) which has the effect of drawing David in as a judge. That is, David believes that this is a real event in his kingdom, and that he is being asked by Nathan the prophet to rule on this domestic problem. So David is listening to the story, getting ready to rule in wisdom on this affair.
Second, notice that Nathan’s story is a “sheep story,” one that a former shepherd like David can easily grasp and with which he can readily identify. Nathan has chosen a genre, and area of life, that is dear to David’s heart, so that the dagger will find its mark
So David is drawn to the poor man in this case, who loves his one little ewe lamb. “It was like a daughter to him.” David has felt that. When he was a shepherd, he too probably named his lambs, when he was out tending the sheep. He knew what it was like to hold some of those little lambs in his arms and have them so close to him.
Third, we see that Nathan’s story has a bad guy who is easy to hate. This rich man had a guest drop in for a visit, and he decided upon lamb for dinner, and yet he was not willing to sacrifice one lamb from all those he owned. Instead, he forcefully took his poor neighbor’s pet lamb, slaughtered it, and served it to his guest, so as not to cost him anything. Therefore he not only demanded that the poor man pick up the tab for the meal, but he also deprived this man of his only lamb, one that was like a member of the family.
This well-thought out sheep story or “case to be judged” is just the tool needed to uncover the shepherd-king’s sins!
3. The King’s Enraged Response (12:5-6)
5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”
David identifies two evils that have been committed by this rich man.
First, the man has stolen a lamb, for which the law prescribed a four-fold restitution (Ex. 22:1). Second, David is enraged by the rich man’s total lack of compassion. David is furious because a rich man stole and slaughtered a poor man’s pet. [And at this point, he is blind to the connection to his own lack of compassion, for stealing a poor man’s beloved companion, that is, Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba].
David is angry with a hot righteousness for this terrible overstepping of power on the part of the rich man. He passes the death sentence on the rich man, even though he has not murdered anyone; that is, his crime is not deserving of capital punishment. Why does he so over-react? Perhaps because David is attempting to purge himself of his own guilty conscience, over his adultery and murder, by passing judgment on someone else, while at the same time, he is subconsciously passing judgment on himself. David is projecting his own guilt on the rich man, and Nathan is providing a “projector screen” for David to do just that.
We do that as well, don’t we? Think about the times when you project your anger with your own sin, on your children or your co-workers or people driving around you!
How easy it is to point out sin in other people’s lives and not see it in your own, especially when you are not close to the Lord. Isn’t it true that we who are guilty of a particular sin are often intolerant of the same sin in the life of others?
Rev. Allan Redpath wrote, “Have you observed that when you excuse sin in your own life, you become very critical of it in other people. The person who hides an uneasy conscience and a sense of guilt may lash out in anger against the sin of another. Is that why some of us are so merciless with the Christian who has tripped up? Is that why we have no gospel for the believer who falls? It may be not because we are very holy, but because we are unholy that we condemn the thing in another as we refuse to deal with it in our own lives. Let us not forget the words of our Master, ‘He that is without sin among you, let him first cast the stone.’”
In what area are you highly judgmental of others? Is it because you have unconfessed sin in that area yourself?
4. The Prophet’s Piercing Pronouncements (12:7-12)
7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. 9 Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’
Nathan’s words are like a bolt of lightning striking David! David has just sprung the trap on himself, and Nathan shuts it tight: “You are the man!” In stunned silence, David now listens to the charges against him.
God speaks to David as though he has forgotten all the good things the Lord had done for him, or rather as though he has come to take credit for them himself. Everything David possesses has been given to him by God. Has it been so long since David was a lowly shepherd boy that he has forgotten? David is a “rich” man because God has made him rich. And if he does not think he is rich enough, God will give more to him. David has begun to cling to his “riches,” rather than to cling to the God who made him rich.
Nathan’s parable brings out the cruelty and callousness of David’s actions with respect to Uriah. Yet normally we don’t think of David that way, do we? But David, like each of us, is capable of falling to unsuspected depths of evil, at a whim.
I think the key to Nathan’s charge is that David has despised the Lord and His Word.
Look at vv. 9-10: “Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes….? 10…. because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’
That word “despised” can mean to scorn, to ridicule, or to hold in contempt, and that’s what David was doing to the Lord and to His Word! That was his sin….and I think that is at the core of my sin… and your sin… against God and His Word. That is, when we do our own thing and disregard all the Lord has done for us and all that he has said to us in His Word, then we are despising Him; we are ridiculing the Lord and holding the Bible in contempt!
That thought should humble us and drive us to repentance and crying out for mercy.
Yet there is grace, even here, in the depths of our sin. For while David despised the word of the Lord and despised the Lord, David’s greater Son, Jesus, became the despised one, for our sake, on the cross.
Ps. 22:6 “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people.”
Isa. 53:3 “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Praise God that His Son, our King, became despised for us, so that we would be accepted!
For the sake of time, I am not going to dwell on the pronouncement of the consequences of David’s sins, as detailed in vv. 11-12, other than to say two things:
One is that God always uncovers our cover ups. What we whisper in secret will be shouted from the housetops (Luke 12:2-3)
The other is that while our sins are decisively forgiven by God when we repent and believe, we may still have to suffer the effect of our evil deeds. Remember: Choices have consequences.
5. The King’s Humble Repentance (12:13a)
13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”
It had to be hard for a king to make such a confession, in front of one of his subjects, especially one who has just exposed his sin and rebuked him! (Imagine doing this with President Obama, or with John Piper or Billy Graham!) David’s humility reveals his complete brokenness before God. More significant than his sin against Bathsheba, his sin against Uriah, and his breaking of his trust as the leader of the people of Israel, David knows that he has sinned grievously against the Lord.
We can see why David later wrote in Psalm 51:4: “Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned.”
But this is a turning point in David’s life, even as it would be for the Apostle Peter, after denying Jesus three times, or for Saul of Tarsus, after he realized that he had been persecuting Christ. God used these sins and David’s feeble cover-up to show him what a wretch he was, and how far he had strayed from the Lord.
So David could later write in Ps. 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
Has God broken you? Have you come to the end of yourself? Do you feel the weight of your sin?
6. The Prophet’s Proclamation of God’s Pardon (12:13b-14)
Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.” The Lord has used Nathan to wield a knife; now He uses him to bring healing and mercy. He proclaims God’s forgiveness to David, instead of the condemnation he deserves.
God would use David’s depth of conviction of his sin and his certainty of forgiveness, cleansing, and renewal to shape David into the Psalm writer who would minister to the saints for 3,000 years, especially penitential psalms such as Ps. 32 and Ps. 51. Yes, there were consequences for his actions, but David can endure those, if only he is certain of God’s pardon of his sins. His guilty conscience is cleansed.
“He who has been forgiven much, loves much.”
Let us, like Nathan, be diligent to proclaim God’s pardon to those who repent!
7. Epilogue: The Story of the Slaughter of the Lamb Reveals our Depravity and God’s Love.
It was the story of the slaughter of a lamb which exposed the depth of David’s sin…. And it is the story of the slaughter of The Lamb of God which exposes the depth of our depravity.
Isn’t it amazing that David was so blinded by his own sin that he could not see it? It was by means of this story of the slaughter of a poor man’s pet lamb that David was gripped with the immensity of his own sin. David could see his own sin when he heard the story of what appeared to be the sin of another.
That is precisely what the true story of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ does for us. We were dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-3). We were blinded to the depth and depravity of our sins (2 Corinthians 4:4). And in the Gospels, we read a story that is even more dramatic, more amazing, more disturbing than the story Nathan told David. When we see the way unbelieving men treated our Lord, we should be shocked, horrified, and angered. We should cry out, “They deserve to die!” And they do…. And so do we.
But the Gospel is written not only to show us our sins — it is also written so that our hearts can cry out, “I am the man! That’s me!” For when we see the way men despised Jesus, we are seeing the way we have despised Him. And that reveals the depth and depravity of our sin, and our great need for repentance and forgiveness. Amen? Conclusion: 2 Sam. 12 is the story of the slaughter of the lamb, which reveals David’s depravity and our depravity, but also magnifies God’s Love, in the sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God for you and for me! Hallelujah!