The thing with messes: Every mess that we encounter comes with its own set of bad options.
These options present themselves as quick fixes, but in the end they almost always make things worse.
2 Samuel 11:1 NLT - In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem.
So many of our messes begin because we were in the wrong place at the wrong time--often on purpose.
2 Samuel 11:2–5 NLT - Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. 3 He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. She had just completed the purification rites after having her menstrual period. Then she returned home. 5 Later, when Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant, she sent David a message, saying, “I’m pregnant.”
The Mess Begins...
Are these the kinds of stories we want told about our life?
2 Samuel 11:6 NLT - Then David sent word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent him to David.
David has a chance to come clean. To tell Uriah what he has done. To beg for his forgiveness.
2 Samuel 11:7–11 NLT - When Uriah arrived, David asked him how Joab and the army were getting along and how the war was progressing. 8 Then he told Uriah, “Go on home and relax.” David even sent a gift to Uriah after he had left the palace. 9 But Uriah didn’t go home. He slept that night at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard. 10 When David heard that Uriah had not gone home, he summoned him and asked, “What’s the matter? Why didn’t you go home last night after being away for so long?” 11 Uriah replied, “The Ark and the armies of Israel and Judah are living in tents, and Joab and my master’s men are camping in the open fields. How could I go home to wine and dine and sleep with my wife? I swear that I would never do such a thing.”
The Virtue Factor: Ignore virtue and you will eventually make a mess.
2 Samuel 11:13–18 NLT - 13 Then David invited him to dinner and got him drunk. But even then he couldn’t get Uriah to go home to his wife. Again he slept at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard. 14 So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver. 15 The letter instructed Joab, “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.” 16 So Joab assigned Uriah to a spot close to the city wall where he knew the enemy’s strongest men were fighting. 17 And when the enemy soldiers came out of the city to fight, Uriah the Hittite was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers. 18 Then Joab sent a battle report to David.
Every mess comes prepackaged with some bad options.
Your response to the mess is the real story.
What story do you want to tell?
2 Samuel 11:22–25 NLT - So the messenger went to Jerusalem and gave a complete report to David. 23 “The enemy came out against us in the open fields,” he said. “And as we chased them back to the city gate, 24 the archers on the wall shot arrows at us. Some of the king’s men were killed, including Uriah the Hittite.” 25 “Well, tell Joab not to be discouraged,” David said. “The sword devours this one today and that one tomorrow! Fight harder next time, and conquer the city!”
2 Sam 11:25 - “And David saith unto the messenger, ‘Thus dost thou say unto Joab, Let not this thing be evil in thine eyes...” [Young’s Literal Translation]
“In his fear and anxiety, David has set himself against the whole moral tradition of his people. In this message back to Joab, David is either morally numbed, so that he cannot “discern between good and evil”, or he is incredibly cynical, because he no longer cares to notice what he can discern.” -Walter Brueggemann
2 Samuel 11:26–27 NLT - When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the LORD was displeased with what David had done.
Notice the final sentence in this chapter: “But the Lord was displeased with what David had done.”
The word used here is the same word David used when sending the messenger back to Joab.
Better translation: “However, the Lord considered what David had done to be evil.” -CSB
By juxtaposing verse 25 and verse 27, the writer of 2 Samuel has shown us that David’s perception of reality are not congruent with God’s perception.
David may not see clearly, blinded by fear, lust, and power, but that does not change the moral reality to which he is accountable.
This is the root of so many of the messes we face in the world today. We have tried to define evil.
2 Samuel 12:1–9 NLT - So the LORD sent Nathan the prophet to tell David this story: “There were two men in a certain town. One was rich, and one was poor. 2 The rich man owned a great many sheep and cattle. 3 The poor man owned nothing but one little lamb he had bought. He raised that little lamb, and it grew up with his children. It ate from the man’s own plate and drank from his cup. He cuddled it in his arms like a baby daughter. 4 One day a guest arrived at the home of the rich man. But instead of killing an animal from his own flock or herd, he took the poor man’s lamb and killed it and prepared it for his guest.” 5 David was furious. “As surely as the LORD lives,” he vowed, “any man who would do such a thing deserves to die! 6 He must repay four lambs to the poor man for the one he stole and for having no pity.” 7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are that man! The LORD, the God of Israel, says: I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul. 8 I gave you your master’s house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more. 9 Why, then, have you despised the word of the LORD and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Ammonites and stolen his wife.
2 Samuel 12:13 NLT - Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan replied, “Yes, but the LORD has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin.
Psalm 51:1–4 NLT - Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. 2 Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. 3 For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. 4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.
Psalm 51:7–10 NLT - Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice. 9 Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Psalm 51:12 NLT - Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.
Psalm 51:16–17 NLT - You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
Taking the Long View
Our messes leave consequences that God’s forgiveness and grace often don’t erase.
You too will be tempted to make your mess messier, because it seems easier. It seems like a quick fix.
The real story isn’t your mess. It’s how you respond.
Jesus invites you to follow.
Doing the right thing is more difficult. Doing the right thing doesn’t offer quick, simple fixes. But it results in a story worth telling, a story that glorifies God. That’s because doing the right thing begins with following Jesus.
That’s the way to address a mess.