Tuesday, July 28, 2009
July 26 Sermon: The Turning Point
Psalm and 2 Samuel
Today’s scripture is perfect study in contrasts. David and Uriah.
David’s situation is artfully contrasted to Uriah’s behavior in this story. Uriah acts with honor and honesty. He is honest to his comrades on the battlefield even though they aren’t even there. David underhanded to the point of sending Uriah’s death-sentence in his own hand to the general.
Sin and how sin works:
Sin is addictive. You find yourself returning to schemes and machinations because they are easier than coming clean. Telling the truth.
What would have happened if David had told Uriah what he had done instead of trying to scheme.
Like any great tragedy, the saga of David has a turning point. It’s that point that you can identify in a story when a choice was made or something occurs that effects everything that happens after that point in the story. I was re-watching a movie with my sister this past week called There Will Be Blood in which there is a very clear and decisive turning point after which the story is tragic. During the first part of the movie, when things seem to be going on smoothly for the main characters, the director leans into the turning point with a tense and forboding musical score throughout.
Today’s story has the same effects. We want with David for his schemes to work. We know they will be an easy fix.
Sin Compounds: You find yourself committing larger and more serious sins to try cover up the previous ones. Sin is a downward spiral of destruction.
Sin isn’t alleviated until it is recognized and confessed. After Joab expresses lamentation for the swift execution of injustice, David reassures him, “These kinds of things happen all the time.” Soldiers fall on the field every day.
The Psalm this morning communicates this sense of ever-presence of sin and wickedness. It is a Psalm ascribed to David. And perhaps it is autobiographical when it says “The fool says in his heart, there is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none that does good.”
Isn’t it kind of comforting when you do something miserable to imagine that the whole world acts the same way. “Well, everyone does it,” we say. Well, David certainly did “eat up his people as he eats bread.” He very casually and coldly sent Uriah back to the battlefront with specific instructions on how to kill him. He ordered the line to fall back at the heaviest fighting so that Uriah would be surrounded by the enemy and die.
How must it have felt to be betrayed by these men who he had forsaken himself for when he had the chance to lie with his wife and unknowingly save his own life by doing so? He did it to honor them. For all he knew, it was them who were betraying him. How must it have felt? Was his last thought regret that he had been so upstanding? Did he call upon the Lord for refuge, as the Psalmist says?
Sin confounds and it compounds. It multiplies and it divides. We can’t think our way out of sin, since sin corrupts and corrodes our thinking. We can’t buy our way out of sin, we can’t scheme our way out of sin. When we come to that turning point, we can only turn to the one who has the power to destroy sin. We can only turn to the one who loves us despite our sin—the one who loves us enough to wash us clean of that sin and restore us. That kind of love demands that we confess and reconcile as a response. We may not be able to make it right, but we can make it better.