The U.S. Coast Guard is the federal agency that protects 100,000 miles of our country’s coastline and inland waterways. 56,000 people make up the U.S. Coast Guard including one of our members, Jonathan Bauer in Ketchikan, AK. On average each day the Coast Guard does 45 search and rescue missions, saves 10 lives, and preserves $1.2 million in property. They always have to be prepared.
(Slide – Coast Guard Logo) A look at their logo emphasizes this – Semper Paratus – Latin for “Always Prepared.”
God’s word we consider today reminds us of the same thing. It takes us back to about 1000 B.C. and the days of the reign of King David of Israel. Through this sad account from the life of David God reminds us to be Semper Paratus – Always Prepared.
2 Samuel 11:1-5
In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. 2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”
What happened? David was the guy God chose to be king already when David was in his youth. The Apostle Paul called him “the king after God’s heart.” (Acts 13) God gave David the promise that the Savior would come from his line and his kingdom would be eternal. The Holy Spirit inspired David to write dozens of Palms. Repeatedly God had spared David’s life. God had blessed him with victories over his enemies. So what went wrong? Already David had more wives than he should have – 7 – so he shouldn’t have been lacking in marital companionship.
Many will point to the fact that after the spring harvest when the Israelites would go to war with their enemies, that year David stayed at home. But let’s cut David some slack. He had been doing the war thing for years and this year’s campaign was mop-up from his victory the previous year over the Arameans and Ammonites. The problem wasn’t that he didn’t go to battle; the problem was that he wasn’t ready to do battle with his sinful nature.
The Sinful Nature
Godly people like David or like you and me, still have an ungodly side to our souls – the sinful nature. It’s left over from before our conversion. The sinful nature is not god-loving; it is self-loving. It does not like God’s will; it loves its own. It is not self-controlled; it tends to get out of control. If a Christian is not Semper Paratus, it can take control and get us into trouble.
Right now if God flashed on the screen vignettes of what goes on with our sinful nature in our hearts, minds, and private lives we would see people peeking at pornography, lusting, committing adultery, using profanity, flaunting their sexuality. We would see people living together in sexual intimacy outside marriage. We would see people drunk or addicted to drugs or gambling. We would hear gossip. We would hear complaints and discontent with God and others. We would see love for things and at times little love for God. We would see people who on one hand confess faith in God and on the other are as sinful as can be and worthy of God’s damnation. We’d see that because of the spiritual and eternal danger the sinful nature poses, we need to be Semper Paratus.
David’s sinful nature got the best of him. Evidently he had an attraction to beautiful women. Seeing Bathsheba bathing was an accident. But continuing to gaze at her was sinful and dangerous. Interest turned to attraction, attraction to lust, and lust to adultery. David should have remembered the Lord’s love for and goodness to him. He should have thought of his family. Thinking of these things David should have been singing Dixie – “Look away, look away, look away, David. Now!” When he found out that Bathsheba was married he should have remembered the 6th and the 10th commandments – “You shall not covet” … “You shall not commit adultery.”
When Bathsheba got the message, “The King has the hots for you,” she should have replied back, “So does my husband. As much as I want to serve my king, I want to serve my God more and can’t do this. Tell him to sleep with a wife.”
The Devil – “Sex Sells”
Through the ages the devil has used sex to appeal to people sinful natures and derail them in their journey of faith. In advertising there’s the old adage, “Sex sells.” The devil knows that. Fox News this week reported that 30% of all data transported on-line is pornography viewed at some time or another by 70% of men and 30% of women. Over 60% of high school seniors have had sex and the vast majority of people who get married have already been living together. While many marriages flourish, there are those destroyed by infidelity. Sex is powerful and the devil is using it to entrap people in sin and endanger their souls the way he did King David.
Therefore, Semper Paratus! Remember that sin, if not dealt with through repentance, kills faith and lack of faith damns. Remember that sin creates guilt and guilt destroys inner peace. Read Psalms 32 and 38 to see what guilt did to David. But then remember God’s love for you. In love he chose you to be his. In love he saved you from sin’s curse by living for you and paying for your sins in the person of Jesus – God and man in one. Think of how he has brought you to faith giving you Jesus’ holiness, forgiveness, a place in his family, purpose in life, and the promise of eternal glory. Consider how he has blessed you in so many ways.
Then remember that God gave sex as a gift for husbands and wives to enjoy in marriage by which they can express their love and the uniqueness of their relationship and at the same time enjoy the gift of children. Husbands and wives, cherish one another. Care for one another. Communicate with one another. Encourage one another. Enjoy one another.
All of us need to review and remember the 6th and 10th Commandments – “You shall not covet your neighbor’s spouse…” … “You shall not commit adultery.” When someone to whom you are not married sexually catches your attention, remembering God’s love and God’s law, “Look away.” Don’t entertain lustful thoughts. Think about something else. Avoid those materials or internet places that suck you into things and thoughts you shouldn’t be involved in. When someone with whom you’re getting serious wants to live with you, get to know them well and if you’re good for each other, get married first. If you’re already living together, then get married or get apart.
Be proactive. Use God’s word daily for strength and guidance. Pray daily for God’s help. Don’t let the devil entice your sinful nature into sexual sins. Learn from David and Bathsheba.
2 Samuel 11:6-17, 26&27
6 So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. 7 When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. 8 Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. 9 But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house. 10 David was told, “Uriah did not go home.” So he asked Uriah, “Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?” 11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!” 12 Then David said to him, “Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next.13 At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home.14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah.15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”16 So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.
What godly thing should David and Bathsheba have done once they sinned? Shouldn’t they have confessed it to God and acknowledge it to others – for example to spouses. It would have been difficult. It would have been embarrassing. It could have been costly – marriages, possessions, maybe the throne, possibly even life itself (Deut. 22 & Lev. 20).
But we see what happens when rather than dealing with sin in a godly way, we try to hide it in an ungodly way. Sin leads to sin. Even though David doesn’t shoot the arrow that killed Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, he conspired with Joab to put him in circumstances where Uriah is killed. So David becomes a murderer and causes his commander to become the same. David and Bathsheba ended up living in guilt, fear, turmoil, and at times probably in unbelief, and in danger of damnation.
It wasn’t until God sent Nathan the prophet to confront David with his sin that he finally confessed it, dealt with it, and enjoyed God’s forgiveness.
Semper Paratus. The best thing, as Jesus told his disciples, is to watch and pray so that we don’t fall into temptation. But when in weakness and ignorance we do, the best thing is to come to grips with the fact that we have sinned. As this whole account of David and Bathsheba shows, you can’t hide sin from God. Therefore, the best thing is to confess it to God and take comfort in his forgiveness.
In Psalm 51 David wrote, “A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” In Psalm 32 David wrote, “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ – and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” It was David who wrote in Psalm 103, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
God forgives our sins not because we are sorry or confess, God forgives our sins because of Jesus. With his suffering and death on the cross, Jesus satisfied the justice of God and stilled his wrath on sinners. Jesus gave his Father reason to remove our transgressions from us and forgive us our sin. He does.
But as the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure” - Semper Paratus.
Let the word of God dwell in you richly. Let the love of God move you to look away or run away when in danger of temptation. Pray when you’re tempted. Keep in mind the word of God through Paul in Philippians 4: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 …. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4)