10(2Sam 13-18) Choosing to Be Better, Not Bitter
§ Because we live in a world that is full of sin, we will experience trials, afflictions and suffering.
§ Following Jesus Christ is no guarantee that we’ll somehow be spared from pain and suffering,
in spite of what we might hear from some pulpits and some books by so-called Christian authors.
§ I would feel better if I could promise that being a Christian gave us a distinct advantage over the competition.
§ Some of the most prominent and well-paid religious leaders in North America are following that line these days – giving people tips on how to be successful in marriage and business, assuring congregations that if they’ll sign up and give a little more money they’ll experience prosperity.
§ They design books and lectures and sermons to sell lottery tickets on a jackpot of the supernatural.
§ Certainly the life of David, the man after God’s own heart, is no advertisement for a trouble-free life.
§ As we’ve made this journey together through portions of David’s life, we’ve discovered that it often consisted of one trial after another.
§ He spent years in the wilderness, running for his life even though God had already anointed him as king.
§ His family was the epitome of a dysfunctional family.
§ David committed adultery and murder and he suffered the consequences of his sin.
Like David, we can’t control much of the difficulty and suffering that comes into our lives, but we certainly can control how we respond to those afflictions. And depending on how we respond, we can either become bitter or better.
The events in the life of David that we’ll look at this morning cover quite a long period of time.
In chapter 13, we read that David’s son Amnon was infatuated with the sister of his half-brother Absalom. So Amnon staged an elaborate plan that provided him with the opportunity to rape Tamar. Absalom was outraged and in turn he devised a plot to murder Amnon. Though he was David’s favorite son, Absalom knew that David would not be happy with him and he went across the Jordan River into exile.
Three years later, David invited Absalom to return home, but David, in his bitterness, did not allow Absalom to see him or even have any contact with him. Eventually Absalom gave up any hope of intimacy with his father and he began plotting to overthrow David’s kingdom and take the throne himself.
After four years of sowing seeds of dissention, Absalom executed his plan and took over Jerusalem and the royal palace and David once again had to flee for his life. Yet again, David found himself back in the wilderness, the place where much of his character had been developed before. And in the wilderness, David returns to those roots and he is transformed from his bitterness.
We’re going to look at three passages this morning that demonstrate how David recovered those characteristics that helped to make him a man after God’s own heart and how by doing so he was able to become better rather than bitter.
I. Recover my humility 2 Samuel 15:30; 16:5-14
§ David had a tendency to get wrapped up in himself and in his position as the king of Israel.
§ In an interview with Dan Rather, President Clinton was asked why he had the affair with Monica Lewsinsky. He replied: “I think I did something for the worst possible reason - just because I could.”
§ In a sense, David sinned with Bathsheba because he could. He had the power and authority that enabled him to commit adultery and murder and even get away with it – for a while.
A. But now in the wilderness, as Shimei yells curses at David, David recovers his sense of humility.
§ Instead of killing the messenger like his officials wanted to do, David chooses to listen to the words of Shimei and through Shimei he hears the word of God.
§ David is brought face to face with his own sinfulness and he is humbled.
§ David realized that he wasn’t any better than anyone else.
§ Because he recovered his humility, David allowed his suffering to bring him into the presence of God where he could find mercy and grace.
B. Whenever I go through a difficult time in my life, I have a choice.
§ I can sit there and stew in my anger toward another person who I feel has wronged me.
§ I can let my anger against God control my life. I can sit there and wallow in self-pity.
§ Or I can, like David, choose to humble myself and enter into God’s grace and mercy.
§ I can reflect on the fact that I am a sinner, saved only by the grace of God.
C. Another man after God’s own heart, Apostle Paul, was able to apply the same lessons in the midst of his suffering.
§ We know that Paul was tormented by his thorn in the flesh, whatever that was.
§ We also know that he was arrested, beaten and persecuted for his faith.
§ But Paul faced all these trials with a deep sense of humility:
· For I am the least of the apostles…1 Corinthians 15:9
· …I am the least deserving Christian there is…Ephesians 3:8
· Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst. 1 Timothy 1:15
D. The truth is that I deserve every bit of suffering that comes into my life.
§ No matter how good I am, I am a sinner.
§ Time after time I have fallen short of God’s glory.
§ Humility allows me to get in touch with who I really am.
§ And when I do that, it puts me on the road to getting better rather than bitter.
II. Recover my life of prayer (2 Samuel 5:31; 16:23)
A. The advice Ahithophel gave was like that of one who inquires of God.
§ That was how both David and Absalom regarded all of Ahithophel’s advice.
§ Apparently David had come to rely upon Ahithophel whenever he needed advice and counsel.
§ Ahithophel was not just David’s trusted advisor; he also became a good friend.
§ But Ahithophel saw the handwriting on the wall. He went over and became Absalom’s advisor.
§ We know from previous looks at the life of David that when he got into trouble, he prayed.
§ But there is some evidence in the text that perhaps David had come to rely upon Ahihtophel and his other advisors a little too much, perhaps even more that he had relied upon God.
§ But when Ahithophel betrayed David, David returned to his roots and prayed:
B. When difficulties come in our life, it will either drive us away from God or draw us closer to Him.
§ And perhaps our response is best demonstrated by what happens in our prayer life.
§ When we’re struggling, we can either look for relief everywhere else, or turn to God in prayer.
§ Humility lets me get in touch with who I am and that begins the road to recovery.
§ Prayer lets me get in touch with who God is.
§ And that is a crucial second step to becoming better and not bitter in the midst of my suffering.
III. Recover my compassion (18:5; 32-33)
§ Through humility and prayer, David seems to finally recognize that Absalom’s rebellion, at least in part, is due to David’s rejection of Absalom over a decade earlier.
§ Jude 22 – “and on some have compassion, making a distinction (those who doubt).”
§ David’s rejection is now transformed into compassion and love for his son.
§ The king commanded Joab, Abishai and Ittai, "Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake." And all the troops heard the king giving orders concerning Absalom to each of the commanders. 2 Samuel 18:5
§ Absalom is killed by Joab and ten of his armor bearers.
§ The word of Absalom’s death gets to David and once again David demonstrates his compassion.
The king was shaken. 2 Samuel 18:33
A. When we face suffering in our lives, there is a tendency to focus only on ourselves.
§ But by beginning with humility and progressing onto prayer, we find that our focus shifts from us to God and to other people.
§ It enables us to look at those who have hurt us with compassion and love, rather than bitterness.
§ If I want to become better and not bitter in the midst of my trials, I must begin by taking an honest look at my own life so that I am humbled by recognizing that I am nothing more than a sinner saved by God’s grace.
§ Then I have to get my focus off of myself and on to God by spending time with Him in prayer.
§ And those two steps will then allow me to treat others with compassion and love.