When A Soul Goes Awry

Good morning and welcome to Journey Church. Happy Father’s day to all of you. I hope it’s a great day. One day some of Jesus’ followers asked Jesus to teach them to pray – and Jesus said sure – here’s how God prefers to be addressed – he prefers to be called Father. He prefers Dad. He could have been called Almighty – all powerful, omniscient, eternal God of the universe – but Jesus says – just call him Dad. That’s what he likes – he likes to hear it from his kids. So its no small thing to be called Dad. And I truly hope it’s a special day for you.

Switching gears quickly – Some have been asking about the status of our building campaign. If this happens to be your first Sunday – about a month ago our people handed in cards to indicate how much they will be able to contribute to our fund over the next three years as we try to find a permanent home for Journey. And our church has very graciously pledged 1.2 million dollars over the next three years.

And really cool – you all have given slightly more than $290k of that amount so far. And that’s wonderful. Over the past month we have met with bank representatives – we’ve met with commercial real estate people to get them in on the hunt. So as of now we don’t have anything to report other than we are progressing, we are investigating every lead – and we are praying and asking God to help us find the site of our future home. So please be praying along with us, okay?

This morning we are in our sixth week talking about the life of David – who was one of the most important individuals in the entire Bible. And we have tracked with David, as he progressed from a lonely shepherd, to a giant slayer. Then we watched his popularity soar, we watched as Saul responded with anger and jealousy. We watched as David ran and hid in caves and – running around trying to stay alive for more than four years as Saul hunted David.

Last week Ryan talked about the moment when Saul died, and we got a chance to read David’s prayer in Psalm 18, and we got a glimpse of David’s heart – which was described in Acts as a man after God’s own heart.

But today we come to the episode in David’s life that is easily his darkest episode. And it is one of the most famous stories in the bible, and so chances are you are familiar with parts of it. It is the story of David and Bathsheba. And I know that it seems messed up that on Fathers day we are going to talk about David’s greatest failings as a father and as a man. But this is the way the cookie crumbled when we broke down the series. And to be fair – this is NOT a message just for dad’s – it’s a message for all of us in here.

Because listen – if you want to think that you are better than David – that somehow you are better than the one God called a Man after my own heart, then go right ahead. The rest of us though are going to realize that we aren’t better than David, and so if David can fall, then so can we. If David can fail than so can we. And we are going to read this story with eyes wide open, and we are going to ask ourselves what lessons can we learn to keep ourselves from the trap that David set for himself.

We are going to work our way through this story and treat it as a warning.

So here is the setup. By the time Saul dies – David is 30 years old. And there is a rush from the people – from many of the people – to anoint David King. However- not everyone was excited about following David – and what followed was a seven and a half year civil war in Israel between David and Saul’s son Ish-bosheth, as well as the commander of Saul’s armies, Abner. Who has been running around the desert trying to kill David for at least four years – and so he isn’t too excited about David being King.

So David takes control of the southern part of Israel, called Judea – and he makes Jerusalem his capital city. Ish-Bosheth takes control of the northern part of the country – often called Ephraim, or Israel, and he makes Samaria his capitol city.

When David is 37 years old, the civil war is over – and David is the one ruler over a reunited Isreal.   And from there things begin to go great for David and for Israel. It is the beginning of a golden age for Israel.

David leads the united country of Israel to victory after victory against his enemies, expands their borders, and in the united country of Israel enters into a season of great prosperity.

By the time we come to the story of David and Bathsheba – David is now 47 years old. He has been King for 17 years. He has really settled into the role of King – he has built himself a sweet palace overlooking his city of Jerusalem. Everything is awesome… what could go wrong…

2 Samuel 11

In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem.

2 Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. 3 He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”

Maa! Maa! Warning Will Rogers! Danger! Danger! Now up to this point in the life of David we have never seen anything but integrity and upright living from David – and so whats about to happen is truly shocking…

4 Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. 5 Later, when Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant, she sent David a message, saying, “I’m pregnant.”

6 Then David sent word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent him to David. 7 When Uriah arrived, David asked him how Joab and the army were getting along and how the war was progressing. 8 Then he told Uriah, “Go on home and relax.” David even sent a gift to Uriah after he had left the palace. 9 But Uriah didn’t go home. He slept that night at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard.

So David’s plan to cover up his affair backfires. He wants Uriah to go home and be with his wife to make him think the child is his – but he is too noble – my men don’t have the chance to be at home, I will not go either.

14 So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver. 15 The letter instructed Joab, “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.” 16 So Joab assigned Uriah to a spot close to the city wall where he knew the enemy’s strongest men were fighting. 17 And when the enemy soldiers came out of the city to fight, Uriah the Hittite was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers.

26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the Lord was displeased with what David had done.

Okay – so – there are some lessons in this story – it is included in the Bible for a reason. And so what lessons can we learn? And there are many but let me just stick with one big idea for today – and it’s something I read in John Ortberg’s book about caring for your soul – and it was one line that stuck with me… and so it’s the bog idea for today – and it’s this:

A soul that is neglected does not go away it goes awry.

How is it that David, who wrote half the psalms, could get himself into such trouble? I mean he wrote Psalm 23 – the Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. And he meant it. See, he wasn’t a hypocrite. He wasn’t a fake. He meant everything he wrote, and he still ended up here. How?

Somewhere along the way – he stopped tending to the health of his soul. Because a healthy soul doesn’t race after this.

There was a time in David’s life when he would have walked onto that roof and observed a beautiful woman and his heart would have told his mind – “Don’t go there.” There was a time when his soul was tuned into loving God with all of his heart that he would have responded maturely – Whoa – danger – I’m getting out of this situation.

If you’ve ever read the book of Genesis you will be familiar with another biblical hero in the Bible called Joseph – (Not Jesus’ father -he was another Joseph) – this Joseph is in Genesis – and he is working for a gentleman named Potiphar – managing his household when he is faced with a very awkward situation of having his bosses wife actively trying to seduce him. Do you know how Joseph responded when approached by potiphar’s wife? He said – “How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”

It’s far from Josephs mind – even though it would have been far easier for him to fail – he had the opportunity and a willing accomplice and no one would have known – no one except God – and that was enough for Joseph. I would never do such a thing to my heavenly father…

But here’s David – and there was a time when David would have been just like Joseph – but today is not that day. He’s on the roof and he sees Bathsheba and there’s something inside of David’s soul that says – “I need that.” this is somehow going to bring life to me.

I think that a sure sign of a disintegrating soul is that is reaches for something that will bring death – thinking it will so how bring life.

David says – I want her. I need this. I’m the king I can have that.

David’s soul is unhealthy. A healthy soul is mature enough to recognize that what I want, and what is good – are often not the same. What I want and what is good – or what is right – not the same.

A neglected soul will not go away it will go awry. So what’s going on with David? How did he get here?

I spent some time this week looking for clues to what might be going on that would get David into this kind of trouble.   And here’s some clues – some evidence – that David had begun to neglect his soul.

First – when I read some of the psalms that David wrote, it’s hard not to notice what I would say is clear evidence of the seeds of pride… It’s hard to say that about David, and someone might accuse me of reading into the story – but let me give you an example – I’d say I’m not reading into anything, I’m just reading what he wrote.

Let’s look at Psalm 18 – this is the Psalm that Ryan touched on last week. But let me just read a portion toward the end.

32 God arms me with strength,
and he makes my way perfect.
33 He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
enabling me to stand on mountain heights.
34 He trains my hands for battle;
he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow.

Check out these arms, y’all, I can draw a bow made of bronze.

43 You gave me victory over my accusers.
You appointed me ruler over nations;
people I don’t even know now serve me.
44 As soon as they hear of me, they submit;
foreign nations cringe before me.
45 They all lose their courage
and come trembling from their strongholds.

Now I believe they call this a humble brag. I just want to thank God for making me pretty awesome… Is it too much for me to propose that there are seeds of pride going on here in David’s heart.

See – I think it’s important that we see that what happened to David on that rooftop was not just a onetime moment of weakness – wow – came out of the blue.

There was a seed planted in his heart that was growing and it finally produced fruit on that rooftop.

There is a seed of sin in his heart. And a seed is just a seed. We used to own a house in North Central Omaha and it had a huge Maple tree in the front yard and every spring – hundreds of thousands of those little whirlly copter seeds would parachute out of the tree and land in the lawn – and they were tenacsious little suckers – Ill tell you. Because there was no way to get those tiny seeds out of the yard without a metal rake and many hours of hard work. And even then, a few weeks later we would be pulling these tiny little spouts out of the mulch and out of the yard and out of the gutters – because these seeds they want to grow.

That’s what a seed wants to do – it’ll grow. If it finds the right environment.   There was something inside of David’s heart where pride found a healthy environment in which it could grow. David had some seeds growing in his heart – and he didn’t want to put the painful, tedious, hard work in required to eradicate them…

Listen – some of you have seeds in your soul that if left unattended are going to start growing. And the longer you ignore than the deeper the roots – and then it’s real work to pull ‘em out.

Some of you have seeds of resentment, or anger, you have seeds of jealousy, envy. Some are entertaining thoughts we know better than to entertain. There’s that someone at work we allow ourselves to maybe kind of just a little bit flirt with… Nothing serious… but the seed is growing – it’s either getting pulled out and dying, or it’s growing.

And if we aren’t careful the day will come when we will be in a position where – had our heart been healthy it would scream, “Don’t go there!” Nothing good is coming from where my thoughts want to take me – I’m out of here.

Listen gang, do we really think we are better than David? Talk about pride. Do you think I could never do what David did? Oh, no, you wouldn’t say that, right you’d say, “I Thank my God that he has given me an iron will! I would never do that!” Oh yeah, can you bend bows of bronze with your awesome muscles that God gave you too?

A neglected soul will not go away – it’ll go awry.

When I look at David – one thing I think is interesting… we talked about the roller coaster that is life a few weeks ago – and we talked about how David, when he was struggling and hiding in caves- how he turned his face to God. He looked up – and found solace and strength from God’s presence – remember – he is close to the broken hearted and he saves those who are crushed in spirit.

But here’s the deal – God is close to those whose hearts are filled and happy, and he is close the those whose spirits are not crushed or bruised -he is close to people when things are good too – but – when things are going great – we tend to forget about God.

I often think about this warning that Moses gave to his people in Deut 6:10 “The Lord your God will soon bring you into the land he swore to give you when he made a vow to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is a land with large, prosperous cities that you did not build. 11 The houses will be richly stocked with goods you did not produce. You will draw water from cisterns you did not dig, and you will eat from vineyards and olive trees you did not plant. When you have eaten your fill in this land,12 be careful not to forget the Lord, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt.

Be careful not to forget God when times are good.

And yet this seems to be part of David’s problem. David is now about 47 years old in this story. He has been king for 17 years. By this time the civil war is ten years past, and most of his enemies are defeated. He has enlarged Israel’s territory, made a huge palace for himself to settle into… Israel is more prosperous than at any time before this in it’s history.

When you have eaten the fill of this land – be careful not to forget the Lord.

David – he has had his fill of the land by now and he acts as if he forgot God ever existed. I mean David goes on an ungodly tear, right? IN this story there is coveting, and adultery, and lying and murder. He’s just breaking the ten commandments in record time here. Why? Because a neglected soul – it doesn’t go away – it goes awry.

Here’s an interesting bit of evidence of David’s neglect of his soul…

David was this amazing musician – wrote about half of the 150 Psalms we read – and he wrote Psalms for all of these great events in his life. But leading up to this episode in his life, David has not written a Psalm in at least five years. And the last one he wrote was Psalm 60, and if you read Psalm 60, it is not really David’s best work.   It honestly sounds pouty. It sounds like David is crossing his arms and hurumphing.

It was written to commemorate the time God led Israel to a great victory against their enemies where they defeated an army of 12,000 men. They won the battle! Great victory – here is David’s Psalm.

1You have rejected us, O God, and broken our defenses.
You have been angry with us; now restore us to your favor.
You have shaken our land and split it open.
Seal the cracks, for the land trembles.
You have been very hard on us,
making us drink wine that sent us reeling.

You know what David, it’s not the land that is split open, it’s your heart – it’s your inner man. It’s your character – the seeds of sin are in there. I mean for years you were being chased and hunted down – your life was in jeopardy and you couldn’t stop writing psalms – give me another feather and some ink, man, I’ve got some more thoughts to write down! I’ve got to get these praises out onto paper – hand me my harp – I’ve got to sing.

And now he’s the ruler over a united and prosperous kingdom and no psalms in five years? No more songs David? You have nothing to praise God for?  “You’ve been really hard on us God…”  What happened to you David?! Get with it, man!

Instead – it seems he is bored and it seems he has not tended to his soul and so – and a neglected soul – doesn’t go away – it goes awry. And David is now operating based not out of love but out of desire. And David gives in to impulsive desires – I what I want and I want it now.

That’s how a child operates. Children have immature souls – they are developing, but a child says, I want what I want, and I want it now. Gimme what I want. And we are supposed to mature – though some adults never do. Some adults never grow up. And they continue to operate on the ‘gimme’ operating system.

The mature person – can rationally see the big picture – and ask – NOT – “What do I want?” But “What is good?” The person who never grows up is the person who doesn’t realize that there is a difference between the two.

A neglected soul -an unnourished soul – will not go away it will go awry. And listen, this is also important – it doesn’t always happen out of the blue – very often there is a trail of decisions that lead us astray.

The Bible has this verse in Isaiah 53:6 – all of us like sheep have gone astray… each of us have left God’s path and gone on our own.

Let me ask you this… how does a sheep go astray? A sheep goes astray one nibble at a time.   How does a sheep lose his way? One nibble at a time. Head down. Eating – now this tastes good, now this and pretty soon, he has no idea how he got where he is… And he has no idea where to go from there.

Look at David –

And so he’s out on the roof – and well, looky here. Nibble…

I just want to look nibble.

I just want to know – what’s her name…

I just want to meet her…

I just want to touch her…

I just want this to go away so I will cover it up…

I just want this to go away so I will have to – I’m forced to do this… let’s put him in harms way and see what happens…

I just want people to think I am this awesome leader so I will appear to have taken her into my home as one of my wives in honor of my friend…

How did David end up so far from God’s path that leads to righteousness? One nibble at a time.

And so maybe today God has something for you in this… you know maybe you are just on the front end of this deal where you are nibbling – you haven’t strayed far away – but if you keep it up you will be in a place and you will one day look up and say, How in the world did I get here? How did I end up like this? I don’t even know how to get back on track.

Now next week we are going to look more closely at how David responds when his hidden sin is exposed – and we are going to see how compassionate and kind and sneaky – is the grace of God. And we are going to read one of the most beautiful psalms ever written – Psalm 51. And so I’d love to see you here next week because next week is, in a sense, part 2 of this sermon.

But as we come to a close this morning, I simply want to ask you a few questions.

Is there a hidden dimension to your life that you hope never goes public? Many times people do – and many times we are told that everyone has that – but it doesn’t have to be true. Your soul can be repaired and restored to the point where you can live your life with integrity.

Your soul can be restored to the point where it doesn’t need to be medicated with whatever it is it feels it must have to be happy. It’s not an unreachable dream to imagine living the actual life you are hoping to convince others you are already living.

Are there seeds growing inside of you that need to be uprooted and killed? Is the Holy Spirit pointing out to you seeds inside of you that need to be pulled out before they grow up to choke you to death?

Is there any sin in you life that needs to be killed. Kill sin before sin kills you.

What is the state of your soul right now? And what can you do this week to make it a little bit healthier?

How long has it been since you have intentionally invested in your spiritual life outside of Sunday morning? When have you last spent time in solitude or silence and just spent some time listening to the Lord?

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