in the Christian Library
2 Samuel 12:7; 1 Kings 21:20
1. A lesson in geography was begun by the teacher asking a question: “What is the shape of the earth?” A bright-eyed student eagerly raised his hand and excitedly waved it so he would be called upon to give the right answer. The teacher asked him for the answer. “My daddy says the earth is in the worst shape it has ever been in. He says, ‘It’s a real mess!’” (Walter Russell Bowie, See Yourself In The Bible, 40).
2. This earth is indeed in a real “mess.” What has happened to make the nightly news reports so terrible? We are inclined to assume it is no fault of our own. The real blame is in Washington, D.C. or large metropolitan regions or in the lenient laws or over-worked law enforcement or homes or schools. We find large, general categories into which we place the explanations for admitted evils. The cause is admitted to be anywhere except our responsibility!
“We are not so ready to admit that the great evils may have grown from our small ones, and that the world-wide ills may have their roots right where we are” (Bowie, 40-41).
This exposes an ever-present tendency of mankind – ignore the fact that responsibility may be personal! The shifting of blame; the shell-game of evasive responsibility has been perfected by many today. Many cannot admit that THEY are responsible for any problems.
Why is there such “delusion” in our minds when we have God’s Truth? Ask class for ideas.
In the lives of Kings David and Ahab we discover a good illustration of this point. To each a phrase was addressed that sought to bring them to reality that they were personally responsible for the problems. To each there was an accusing finger pointed that exposed their complacency in sin. A study combining these two kings is unusual but it teaches a sharp lesson.
3. The accounts reviewed. In unvarnished plainness the Old Testament record describes two incredible situations regarding these Kings of Israel.
a. The circumstances surrounding King David’s exposure are well known.
In this King there are admirable qualities: strength, magnanimity, and he is forever known as the man “after God’s own heart” (Ac 13:22). However there was within this good heart dangerous passions. Their presence did not cause sin. Sin was caused because David did not control those passions. Instead he surrendered to them and placed himself under their control.
The control by these passions came at a time least suspected. In the evening; while his armies were involved in Spring maneuvers; when he was most vulnerable (cf 2 Sa 11:1ff).
The King’s actions illustrate the Lord’s warning in Matthew 5:27-30. Instead of controlling the legitimate passions, David gave them license. He found out who the woman was. Fed the lust when he committed adultery and sent her away. All seemed okay (v. 4) until the next verse! The security offered by sin is momentary. The tragedy of sin is eternal! David was discovering this sobering Truth.
The King thought he could correct the problem. When his clever scheme failed (v. 8-10), the King’s passion blindly led him into greater folly. Uriah carried his own death sentence back to Joab. In the midst of battle Uriah was murdered by King David using an enemy archer as the executioner. It seemed that David had covered his sin.
Consider David’s sin. It was cruel and inexcusable, but David seemed ignorant of it. WHY? HOW could he do such things? He knew better! Some possible answers –
1) He surrendered to the “impulse of the jungle.” He allowed passion to become his guide.
2) He was King! He occupied a position of great authority. Arrogance could have deluded his thinking. As King, he had the privilege of deciding what was “right” or “wrong.” Morality thus was defined by his arrogance!
3) Maybe he thought it would be better for Bathsheba. She was a beautiful lady but married to an “ordinary” soldier and thus prevented from “enjoying” the finer things of life. True, this is an absurd suggestion but as sin seeks justification it appeals to any suggestion no matter how absurd it might be (“It just depends on what ‘is’ is.”).
4) A blinded conscience permitted this sin. David could not see, or estimate the consequences of his own iniquity.
The King was deluded, deceived, and damned! His sin had been “private” but it would become public. His conscience was not offended. He was able to rationalize everything – even the ruthless treatment of Uriah and others who were murdered on the King’s orders! BUT he had violated the moral authority of God. As powerful as he was, he never possessed the power to invade the realms of eternal morality and challenge God’s standards!
The prophet Nathan was sent to the King. He exposed David’s reckless passion. In the subsequent events David’s true “heart” is revealed. He saw the Truth. He expressed grief. The prophet pronounced a terrible judgment upon this King. The words left the powerful King crushed.
“They fell into the inmost citadel of David’s soul like high explosive. They dynamited his defenses, set all his conscience on fire, and left him wide open to the full shock of the truth of God which he could not resist” (Bowie, 44).
b. The circumstances surrounding King Ahab’s exposure are well known.
A century and one-half after King David we find King Ahab reigning over the Northern Kingdom. His character was completely opposite to David’s. Ahab was corrupt – spiritually, morally, politically, and socially! He wanted the vineyard of Naboth (1 Ki 21:1-25). Naboth refused because it was his family’s inheritance and by God’s Law the property could never be permanently sold (cf Lv 25:23). God had given the Israelites the land as an inheritance as a sign of His covenant with Abraham. Selling the property signified the covenant’s rejection. Ahab had no regard for God’s desires. Rebuffed by Naboth Ahab went to the palace sullen and started pouting. He wanted his way. Jezebel was there to help (v. 7-14).
The sin of Ahab was just as cruel as David’s. The motivation was just the same as well. It is incredible to think that Israel’s best King and Israel’s worst King were this similar!
God sent a prophet to rebuke Ahab – Elijah. The prophet was greeted with contempt (v. 20).
Ask class – WHY did King Ahab greet Elijah as he did?
4. There are some amazing lessons that arise whenever one contemplates the contrasts found in the circumstances of these two Kings.
a. Contrast between the prophets’ messages.
b. Contrast between the reception of the prophets.
David ACCEPTED God’s rebuke and saw himself as guilty and shameful
(v. 13). Ahab REJECTED Elijah’s rebuke and continued in sin (v. 25-26).
5. Even though there are dramatic contrasts between these two Kings, there is one point shared in common! One factor brought them together so they would participate in fellowship of the sordid kind. Each was moved by SELF-concern! Here is the Truth that must be recognized by Christians today!
a. King David’s sin was an unrestricted pursuit of passion.
b. King Ahab’s sin was a self-centered pursuit of possessions. He was following the philosophy that preaches – “I will do WHATEVER I can to get what I want!” Ahab “sold his soul” to get possessions! He too was so absorbed in SELF that he did not care how ruthless others had to be treated so he could get what he wanted! He did not care about the consequences!
c. These two sins (unguarded passion or possessions) are the main instruments through which SELF damns a soul. Because of self-centered desires, these two Kings were led to sin. Look at how the true face of sin is thus revealed – When one allows SELF to guide then s/he refuses to recognize Truth because sin distorts everything; looks upon the righteous with bitter contempt; becomes ruthless in order that SELF be served; acts cruelly without regard to the suffering of others; be deliberately blind to the inevitable consequences of challenging God’s authority.
6. What are specific lessons we learn from Kings David and Ahab?
? We can be deceived and refuse to admit our sins! We may think we can succeed in hiding sin from God.
? Sin causes us to follow our self-centeredness even though such leads to doom! We become so absorbed in ourselves (what we WANT or what makes us FEEL GOOD), that we cannot see the cruel consequences of our actions.
? God’s judgments are based upon the absolute Truth! We can deny Truth; ignore Truth; reject Truth; be deceived about Truth, but Truth will still judge all (cf Lv 24:22).
Courage is needed in God’s people so they will expose sin and
restore sinners! Nathan and Elijah demonstrated intrepid courage, fearless
wisdom, and, righteous anger because of self-centered choices.
Copyright 1999 by John
L. Kachelman, Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no
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