• Rev. Sarina Odden Meyer

Stewardship: Integrity (David)


2 Samuel 11:1-5, 26-27; 12:1-9

Matt 21:33-41

Psalm 51:1-10

Today we are in the second week of a 5-week sermon series on Stewardship. Last week Andrea from PWS&D started us off by talking about Stewardship as it relates to Justice. Today we will be talking about Stewardship as it relates to Integrity. In order to dig into this topic, we first need to have a working definition of stewardship.

A steward is someone who takes care of things for someone else. In the Christian tradition we believe that all we are and all that we have, has been given to us by God. Ourselves, our time, our talents, and our possessions (both our stuff and our money) have been given to us by God. Also, all of our relationships and our responsibilities in our families, our neighbourhoods, our work, our volunteering, our church, etc., have been given to us by God. When we think of stewardship in the Christian tradition we mean: are we taking good care of all that God has given to us? Stewardship is taking good care of all that God has given to us. Today we will be thinking about this specifically by asking, are we taking care of all that God has given to us with integrity. Do we bring integrity to ourselves, our time, our talents, and our possessions? Do we bring integrity to our relationships and our responsibilities? This is incredibly important for us to think about because Jesus acts in the world with integrity. As Jesus followers, we should also act in the world with integrity.

When we lose our integrity, we lose our trustworthiness. This is true for us as individuals and as a church. When we lose our integrity, it is a sign that we have strayed from following God. God will never lead us on a path that forces us to lose our integrity. When this happens, it is of our own making.

We see this clearly in our Scripture readings for today. I am going to talk about three things this morning as it relates to our three Scripture passages. First we will talk about sin, then we will talk about repentance, and then we will talk about mercy.

First, a look at sin. We have been following the narrative lectionary this fall. We spent the last two weeks in the prophets, but now we are going back in time a bit to learn about the kings. David was the first great king of Israel. There was a king before him, but David is the one who the Scriptures constantly refer back to. Even Jesus is considered a “Son of David.” In Matthew 1:1, it says, “An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Knowing who David was is important for us.

David is considered to have been a man after God’s own heart. It is hard to imagine why after reading our passage in 2 Samuel this morning. For some of us, I am sure, it felt like reading the news today. In our own society we are wrestling with issues of integrity around sexual misconduct and we have heard so many stories today about powerful people committing sexual misconduct by taking advantage of their position of authority. And in our passage this morning we see King David, the man after God’s own heart, doing the same thing! It is hard to imagine why David is a man after God’s own heart when he acts with no integrity towards Bathsheba and Uriah. Well, we are starting with sin, so what did David do?

First of all in 2 Samuel 11:1, David is not where he is supposed to be. He is supposed to be out on the battlefield, but he sends Joab to do that work and instead stays in Jerusalem with nothing to do. It is no surprise that he gets up to no good. In verse 2, one day he goes for a walk on the roof and finds someone where she IS supposed to be and spies on her. Bathsheba is bathing, and in verse 4 we learn that she was bathing after her period, which was a requirement of the law. This statement tells us that she was a righteous woman, following the law. Interpreter’s have often accused Bathsheba of enticing David, but the text doesn’t say that. In fact, the text does not say at any point that Bathsheba did anything wrong. Instead, just as we saw with Potiphar’s wife a few weeks ago, David had feelings for Bathsheba and decided to act on them. David was her sovereign. God had given David power over her and over her husband as their king. And David acts without integrity in his stewardship of this responsibility.

It starts out with the sin of coveting: David wanted what he didn’t have. It led to greater sins. In verse 4, David commits adultery (because he himself was already married), and rape. Just like we saw with Joseph a few weeks ago, Bathsheba was powerless in this situation, and there is no indication whatsoever that she had any choice. The result of David’s sin was that Bathsheba got pregnant. In the verses we didn’t read in 2 Samuel 11, we learn how David tried to cover-up this situation and his sin.

Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, was one of David’s mighty men. He was an important soldier in David’s army. David tried to get Uriah to come home and sleep with Bathsheba, but Uriah wouldn’t because it lacked integrity for him to do that when his men were on the battlefield. Uriah was being a good steward of his responsibilities as a leader in the army (remember that David was supposed to be there, too, but he ignored his responsibilities and gave them to Joab). So because Uriah was a man of integrity, David chose to send him to the front line with his men so that Uriah would be killed in battle. Uriah and other soldiers are killed all in an effort to cover-up David’s sin, so David’s sin of coveting also led to lying and murder. We have covered the sin, let’s talk about repentance.

When we start thinking about repentance in this story, it is important to recognize that David had no intention of repenting whatsoever. He was content to just take Bathsheba, after she mourned the death of her husband Uriah, marry her, and be done. After the death of the previous king, David had been very blessed by God. And he accidentally started to think that blessing meant entitlement. He started to think he could have whatever he wanted, regardless of the sins he committed in order to get it, and just get away with it. Sometimes this happens to us. We think that because we are blessed by God that we are entitled to have certain things or do certain things just because we want them, regardless of the sins we commit along the way. But blessing is not entitlement and God confronts David about his sin through the prophet Nathan.

In chapter 12, the prophet Nathan tells David the situation with a parable. David can easily see the sins when Nathan explains the situation this way. But when Nathan further explains that the one who committed these sins is David himself, how does David respond? David’s response to this confrontation is one of the reasons why he is known as a man after God’s own heart.

All this time, David has been trying to cover-up his sin, so we might expect him to argue the point or defend himself or deny it. But he doesn’t. Instead he admits the truth about what he has done. And he repents. He admits he was in the wrong and turns away from his past behaviour. At the beginning of 2 Samuel 12:13, David says, “I have sinned against the Lord.’” I would have liked to have seen David admit that he sinned against Bathsheba and Uriah as well, but I think the text takes that for granted. David clearly knew he wronged them because he constantly tried to lie about his behaviour and cover it up. But, he didn’t see his own sin until he realized that he had, at a fundamental level, sinned against God by sinning against Bathsheba and Uriah.

In response to Nathan’s confrontation, David repents. I’d like us to turn to Psalm 51. There should be Bibles in the pews. Psalm 51 is on page 452. I want to show you something about Psalm 51. At the beginning, before verse 1, it says, “To the leader. A Psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came to him, after he had gone into Bathsheba.” David wrote this Psalm as an expression of his repentance after sinning against Bathsheba and Uriah, and ultimately sinning against God. This is one of the most beautiful Psalms of repentance in the whole Bible. In this Psalm, he admits his sin and asks to be changed so that he won’t sin again. He says in verse 2, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” And then in verse 10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.”

He also realizes that he deserves punishment for his sin. In verse 4 it says, “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgement.” Our text from Matthew does this, too. When Jesus explains the sins of the tenants, the people hearing this parable say that they deserve to be punished. And David himself declared that the man who stole the sheep in Nathan’s parable deserved to be punished as well. God has given us an innate sense of justice. And this leads us to our last point which is mercy.

Mercy means not giving a just punishment. In other words, in order to get from sin to mercy you must go through justice. We can’t go from sinning to receiving mercy. There are necessary steps in between. When we sin, in order to act with integrity, we must first admit or confess what we have done and repent. Once the truth is told about our sin, then justice can be served. It is only at this point that mercy can be given because mercy is withholding a just punishment.

One of the problems our society is facing as we wrestle with sexual misconduct and the #MeToo movement is that some people who have committed sexual misconduct want to receive mercy without admitting wrongdoing or repenting. It doesn’t work that way. In order to receive mercy, we must first confess our sin and repent. Anna-Maria Tremonti played one such confession on her CBC show The Current on September 18th (7:07, https://www.cbc.ca/listen/shows/the-current/segment/15600101). Dan Harmon said this about his behaviour toward Megan Gantz: “I drank. I took pills. I crushed on her. I resented her for not reciprocating it. And the entire time I was the one in charge of her pay checks and in control of whether she stayed or went, and whether she felt good about herself or not. And said horrible things, just treated her cruelly, pointedly.” In response to this public confession, Megan Gantz publicly forgave him; he received mercy. (https://twitter.com/meganganz/status/951373406141743105). Without a genuine confession and repentance there cannot be mercy. It is a necessary step, not just in our relationship with God, but also in our relationships with people.

We can trust that God is ready to forgive our sins and grant us mercy and grace instead of a just punishment when we admit our sin and repent. This is also often true in our relationships with people. Admitting our wrongdoing and repenting helps the person we wounded to heal. As Megan Gantz put it on Twitter: “What I didn't expect [from Dan Harmon’s confession] was the relief I’d feel just hearing him say these things actually happened. I didn’t dream it. I’m not crazy. Ironic that the only person who could give me that comfort is the one person I’d never ask.” It can be difficult to confess our sin and repent. But God requires that from us. God loves mercy, but won’t give it cheaply. David was a man after God’s own heart because when he screwed up, he confessed his sin and repented. He asked to be changed. In Psalm 51:10 he wrote, “Create in my a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” And so God granted him mercy.

In conclusion, we probably find ourselves in David’s position after Nathan told him the parable of the man who stole the sheep. But, this text is not there to make us feel self-righteous. It is there to inspire us to think deeply about our own behaviour. When we think about ourselves, our time, our talents, and our possessions, where do we have unrepentant sin? When we think about our relationships and our responsibilities, what do we need to confess? What do we need to repent from? How can we become a people after God’s own heart? How can we be stewards of all that God has given us, with integrity? Amen.

(Material inspired by the Working Preacher podcast and commentary, which can be found here: https://www.workingpreacher.org/?lect_date=10/21/2018&lectionary=nl)

#Stewardship #2Samuel11 #2Samuel12 #Matthew21 #Psalm51 #MeToo #Integrity #SexualMisconduct

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