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July 26, 2009

Power, sex, murder and a child of God

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

(The availability of this audio of this sermon will be delayed for approximately one week, we are sorry for any inconvenience) 

Columbia, SC-

Gov. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) admitted that he had conducted an extramarital affair with a woman in Argentina who he had gone to visit over the last five days – during which time a massive media story developed over where he was and why.


"I have been unfaithful to my wife . . . I developed a relationship with what started as a dear, dear, friend," said Sanford.


Why did he do it?

Because he could.


August 8, 2008

North Carolina- John Edwards admitted to ABC News that he repeatedly lied about an extramarital affair with a 42-year old campaign employee, but strenuously denied being involved in paying the woman hush money or fathering her newborn child.


Why did he do it?

Because he could.


August 17, 1998 –

Washington- Bill Clinton testifies before a grand jury about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. In the evening, he delivers a nationally televised address in which he describes the relationship as "not appropriate" but also "nobody's business".


Why did he do it?

Because he could.


985 BCE

Jerusalem- Highly successful and immensely popular King David, in an attempt to cover up his sexual attack on a soldier’s wife, reportedly had the soldier murdered on the front lines. Citing executive privilege, the King offered no apologies and demonstrated no remorse.


Why did he do it?

Because he could.



People have been caught in sex scandals from the beginning of time, World leaders, elected officials, celebrities, and ordinary church members. Apparently no one is exempt. As a result countless persons have been hurt.


These days we try our best to soften the impact, rationalize all sorts of excuses as if that will make it all less wrong. We have become good at placing the blame on other persons, our spouse's lack of attention, our parents who did something to us while we were growing up,

our overly demanding children, our flirtatious co-workers, our seductive neighbors.


We call it a political liability, a mistake, an error in judgment. For some reason we hesitate to call it what it is- a sin. A sin is anything that hurts God or hurts others.


The story of David and Bathsheba is about lust and adultery, but it’s also about self-image and the abuse of power, and sin. And every human being has to deal with those issues.


Our story opens in the spring of the year when most kings are off fighting wars. The story tells us that David didn’t go out with the guys to battle. Maybe he was getting older and couldn’t handle the rigors of war, so he stayed home. He was probably bored since his general was out fighting he was stuck at home with the women and children.


David got up one day from his afternoon nap, after lunch, and decided to stroll on the rooftop of the palace. Perhaps in looking out over the city, he felt a sense of pride. He was, after all,

responsible for uniting the northern and southern kingdoms, and establishing the new capital in Jerusalem, as well as the prosperity the people enjoyed. It was all thanks to him. He took a deep breath as he looked out over his kingdom. Then it happened. He saw a beautiful woman bathing on a nearby rooftop. David inquired about this woman and was told she was "Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite."


It was not love that compelled David to act. He didn’t even know her. It wasn’t even that he was deprived of sex. He had several wives and who knows how many concubines. When David sent for Bathsheba, she had no choice. He was the king.


Mighty King David, who was at the height of his popularity, who thought he could do no wrong,

committed adultery with Bathsheba. We do not know whether David thought about Bathsheba

in the subsequent days and weeks or if she was a forgotten conquest. What we do know is that sometime later, Bathsheba sent word to David that she was pregnant. It was obvious to David

that he was the father.


David launched a full-scale cover up. He devised a plan he thought would be foolproof. If Bathsheba's husband, Uriah, would come home for a visit and spend some time with his wife,

then no one would suspect anything out of the ordinary. What David did not count on was Uriah's deep sense of loyalty and duty. Uriah would not go home to visit his wife. Instead he spent the night among the king's servants at the entrance of the palace.


David had to devise another plan. He invited Uriah to have dinner with him that evening. David made sure Uriah had just a little too much to drink. Certainly in his intoxicated state he would forget about his duty and go home to rest with his wife. However, once again Uriah did not go home, but slept among the king's servants.


It was obvious that Uriah would not break his oath as a loyal soldier. David decided on a more drastic solution. In the letter to Joab, the commander on the front lines, David wrote, "Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, so that he may be struck down and die." Joab carried out David's order and Uriah was killed in battle.


David believed that would be the end of it. But life would never again be the same for him. There would be consequences from his action for many years to come.


While we might be intrigued by this story of David and Bathsheba, of sin and its consequences,

in the Bible days. We need to realize that we, you and I, are susceptible, on the right afternoon,

after a good lunch and a nap on the couch, to great sin.


When we begin to take pride in what we can accomplish,

When we take personal credit for all we have,

When we think only of ourselves,

We are tempted

To sin-

To do something that pushes us away from God and away from those we love.


Maybe it is adultery or murder or lying like David.

Maybe it is a subtle racism that treats people of color differently, with suspicion.

It might be greed that doesn’t question the methods but celebrates the promise of higher returns on investments.

Could be just a small cheat or a white lie to make a situation easier.

Whatever it is…it is sin. Sin, anything that separates us from God or from each other.


Why do we do it?

Because we can? Because we are bored? Because it serves our purpose at the moment.

Because everyone else does it and it is really pretty much accepted.

Because we think we are independent and responsible for only ourselves.

Because we think we accomplish what we do by our own ability and for our own use.

Because pride and power goes to our head.

Because really, who is going to know anyway?

Because we think it is all about us.

At the end of this chapter in 2 Samuel the scripture reminds us that it is not about David, or Bathsheba, or Uriah, or even the baby.


“But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord,”


It is really all about God.

Part two- next Sunday.



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