Fatherly Impressions

II Samuel 12:7-14

 

This is now my ninth Fathers’ Day as both a son and a father.  I’m excited because I get to spend this day, as I do most every day, with my two sons.

I’m excited because I get to spend this day with the woman who made me a father, my wife of now just over ten years.

I’m also excited because I get to see my dad tomorrow—which also happens to be his birthday.  I think I’ve shared that with you before.

This is a day that brings many different things to mind for many different people.

 

Some reminisce over a father who has since departed this earth.  Some long to see a father who lives far away.  Others have been thinking about those gifts.

You know what I mean—those typical Fathers’ Day gifts, be they golf-related, yard-related, barbecue-related, or what have you.

And still others of us might be tempted to recall some of those famous platitudes about dads—or about parents in general.

I remember phrases such as, “Father knows best.”  Or maybe you are more familiar with being known as “Daddy’s girl.”

Or, if you’re a fan of the Temptations, “Papa was a rolling stone.”  I reckon that one might not be church-appropriate, however.

 

Most of these phrases depict fathers as either wise, kindly, or perhaps even blissfully ignorant.  The phrases about moms seem to be more eye-catching.

“If momma ain’t happy….”  You know the rest, don’t you?  No one seems to care if daddy ain’t happy, though.

Now, based on some lessons I’ve learned—both from life experience and from studying the Bible—I’d like to offer another phrase.

“As dad goes, so goes the family.”  Is this phrase always true?  Absolutely not.  None of these are.  Dad doesn’t always know best.

Some moms keep their unhappiness all to themselves.  And, to be sure, there have been plenty of families who have thrived in spite of an absent dad.

There are even boys and girls who have bucked the trend of fathers who were scoundrels—be they thieves, alcoholics, abusers, or you name it.

 

But, generally speaking, the sins of the father do often have dramatic impact on the children.  Sometimes the children even pay the consequences.

Sometimes the children fall into the same traps and patterns that the father did.

I had a seminary professor who once said something in regard to this—something that made me turn my head and raise my eyebrows.

Here were his words:  “What parents do in private, their children will do in public.”

Once again, this is no absolute statement.  I know children whose parents were closet alcoholics, but those kids didn’t grow up to be public drunks.

But, it’s a statement that, more often than not, proves to be true on some level or another.  Dads, think about that for a second.

Think about your private lives—the way you live when no one is looking or listening.  How would you like it if your son or daughter behaved that way in public?

To be sure, it’s a sobering thought.  And, if you ask me, it brings certain parallels to a famous man from the Bible—a biblical hero, you might say.

I’m talking about King David.  He was a good king.  He was described as a man after God’s own heart.  And, yet, some serious issues arose.

David got off track.  David made private mistakes that became public tragedies.  And David paid for his mistakes.  What’s worse, his family paid for them.

 

What we are going to read today can be found in the twelfth chapter of II Samuel.  I’ll give you a moment to join me there.

Our passage comes in the aftermath of David’s terrible choices.  We will rehash those—don’t you worry.

But I want us to focus on the consequences to come as a result of David’s sin.  So let’s begin our reading with verse 7 of II Samuel, chapter 12.  (Read II Samuel 12:7-14.)

 

Do you know the background behind the prophet Nathan’s scathing and seething rant against the king?  Here’s a somewhat brief synopsis.

Israel was at war, yet King David was at home—far from the battlefront.  We aren’t sure as to why the great warrior was sitting out.

That’s for another discussion and another sermon, though there is much that is curious regarding that whole situation.

In any case, David decides to go up on the roof for a stroll.  Lo and behold, he notices a beautiful woman, name of Bathsheba.

From David’s vantage point, he has a good view of her—a good view while she is bathing.  Once again, we could get into a whole other discussion here.

Is it possible that David knew she would be there?  Is it possible that he had been watching her for some time, all the while growing in his lust for her?

As with the earlier discussion, these are questions for another time.  But, as you might guess and will soon find out, things aren’t moving in a good direction.

 

David decides that evening that he must have her.  Using all the authority of his position (or, I should say abusing that authority), he brings her in.

He sleeps with her and sends her back home.  Now this is a big uh-oh.  This is serious sin.  But the situation gets deeper and deeper.

Bathsheba sends word to David that she is pregnant.  David shifts into self-preservation mode, not worried about the fact that he has done something wrong.

He’s worried about the fact that he might get caught.  He calls in the woman’s husband, who has been serving on the battlefront.

We might wonder whether or not David should have been there to being with.

He wines and dines this man, Uriah, and then invites him to go enjoy an evening at home with his wife (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

Of course, the hope is that Uriah will sleep with Bathsheba, assume he’s the one who got her pregnant, and never ever wonder why the child looks so much like the king.

 

Uriah refuses.  He will not allow himself to enjoy the pleasures of home while his fellow soldiers endure the hardships of battle.

It would seem Uriah has more integrity and a better set of priorities than the king at this point.  So now, David is nervous and desperate.

As if adultery and deception weren’t enough, he now ups the ante to murder.  He orders the commander to put Uriah on the front lines.

He also orders the commander to pull the other troops back with the fighting becomes the most fierce.  The commander follows orders, and Uriah dies.

 

David has now destroyed an entire family.  Bathsheba, perhaps nothing more than a pawn in his game—thought some commentators hold that she knew what she was doing on that roof—is now without a husband.

That’s a tough place to be if you’re a woman in that time period.  Uriah has been lied to, mistreated, and eventually slaughtered.

And David seems all too unaware of the damage he has done—of the guilt upon his head.  So Nathan, a prophet sent by God, approaches him with a story.

The story is of a poor man who had but one lamb to his name—a lamb that was dearly loved and practically family.

The story is also of a rich man who had land upon land and flocks upon flocks.

One day, the rich man has a visitor.  He desires to be hospitable to his visitor, but in his selfishness and greed, he refuses to use an animal from his own flock.

Instead, he steals the poor man’s lamb and uses it to prepare a meal for his guest.

David, upon hearing this story, is furious at the heartlessness and selfishness of the rich man.  It’s at that point that we come to our passage today.

Nathan bluntly tells David, “You are that rich man.  You did the exact same thing.”

 

Nathan then delivers harsh—but completely deserved—words from God.  God reminds David of all that He has done for him.

God anointed him king over Israel.  He delivered David from Saul, the madman king.

He blessed him with possessions and wives.  All of Israel and Judah belonged to David because of God’s grace—and God would have given him even more.

Men of Friendship, allow me to say this.  We need to be aware of all that God has done for us.  If we have forgotten, we need reminders.

We find those reminders as we pray.  We find those reminders as we search God’s word.  Your families are looking to you to provide those reminders.

Your children need to hear you, dads, sharing with them about all the wonderful things God has done—throughout history and throughout your life.

 

What’s more, your family needs you to remember so that you don’t wind up like David.  Oh, maybe you won’t be going for a stroll on your roof.

I know I don’t find any sort of tempting views from up there.  It’s nothing but semis moving down 59 and fire ants building hills.

But remembering what God has done and where He’s brought you from and how He’s blessed you keeps you grounded.

It keeps you from becoming arrogant and spiritually apathetic.  It keeps you sharp in the face of uncertainty and temptation.

Yes, remembering what God has done brings you closer to Him.  Maintaining a right relationship with God is the best gift you can give to your family.

 

Nathan then confronts David with his sin.  Ultimately, what David did was despise the word of the Lord.  He treated God’s commands with contempt.

Dads, what sort of way are you treating God’s commands?  What sort of message are you sending to your children about God’s commands?

Do you talk about them every day?  Are they posted or read or recited on a regular basis?  Is there any sort of consistent obedience being modeled?

Or, instead, are you sending a different message?  Are you demonstrating to your family that there are some commands that are okay to skip over?

 

Jesus gave us two great commands.  We can basically boil them down to this:  Love God with all we are, and love others in the same way.

Are you showing your family that you love others—so long as they look, act, or think a certain way?  Are you regularly demonstrating something other than love?

And what about that love for God?  Too often we dads are showing our children that God is kind of nice and that we like Him alright.

We don’t love God with all that we are.  We only demonstrate a love that requires only a small part of us—and then only so long as it’s not an inconvenience.

Our families need fathers who embrace God’s word and love the One who wrote it, rather than men who treat God’s word with disdain or neglect or apathy.

Our families need men zealous for God, passionate about serving Him, and committed to His cause—regardless of whether circumstances remain favorable for doing so.

 

Next, Nathan lays out the consequences of David’s actions.  Because David acted violently, violence will become a regular part of his family.

Because David committed this unspeakable evil, evil will rise up against him from within his own family.

What David did in secret, God will inflict upon David in the public square.  And then, perhaps the worst consequence of all is brought forth.

This child, conceived by David and Bathsheba on account of his immorality, will die.

The prophecy has come forth.  All involved are powerless to stop it.

 

Dads, don’t you think for one second that your willful immorality will have no negative impact on your family.

Every time you get drunk, you cripple your children and harm your wife.  Every time you are hateful, you plant disastrous seeds and leave horrible scars.

But there are other, less obvious issues aside from these overt ones such as drunkenness, sexual immorality, violence and abuse.

You attitudes toward certain things—especially things of a spiritual nature—will likely be inherited by your children.

All of us fathers would do well to ask ourselves, “Are we okay with that?”

 

I once heard a TV father proclaim, “Children are great!  You can teach them to hate the things you hate!”  It sounds funny, but it’s also prophetic.

Are you apathetic toward church?  Your child probably will be also—not always, but there’s a good chance.  And you might say this.

“It’s my responsibility to raise my child, not the church’s.”  That’s all well and good.

But are you raising up your child in the ways of the Lord?  Here we have a community dedicated to discipling your children.

We also have a community dedicated to encouraging and discipling you as you raise your child.  Is your church’s commitment to your child’s spiritual well-being greater than your commitment to your child’s spiritual well-being?

 

Is prayer a priority in your life—both privately and publicly?  Or is it something that tends to surface only at dinner time or when someone is really sick or hurt?

Your attitude toward prayer may well be repeated in your children.  You know how it is.  Most parents want a better life for their children than the one they have.

But dads, if you want your child to have a better spiritual life, it’s probably a good idea to start working on your own.

Every hour of every day, you show your children what your priorities are.  And believe me, they are watching.

They’ll know if work is the most important thing to you.  They’ll know if money is the most important thing to you.

Worst of all, they’ll know if you are the most important thing to you.  What sorts of priorities are you demonstrating for your kids?

Don’t be shocked if they don’t adopt that same set of priorities—and perhaps get even farther off track than you already are.

 

How did all this play out for David?  Well, that son of Bathsheba’s did indeed die.

But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.  David’s son, Absalom, had a sister named Tamar.  Another of David’s sons, Amnon, was in love with her.

Amnon could not control his lust for Tamar, eventually raping her.  That sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it?

Absalom, seething with anger, took revenge for his sister by killing Amnon.

Furthermore, Absalom later rose up in rebellion against David.  He made a play to seize the kingdom for himself—and was pretty successful for a time.

Eventually, though, the rebellion was squashed and Absalom was killed in battle.

David, who had shed the innocent blood of Uriah, now saw the blood of two of his sons shed—one by revenge, the other in battle.

That’s on top of the lost newborn.  David, guilty of such awful treachery, murder, and immorality, saw all three of those things infiltrate his household.

 

And, let’s not forget that this is the same David who was called a man after God’s own heart.  God indeed forgave David his sin.

The kingdom was not ripped away from him.  In fact, under David’s son, Solomon, the kingdom reached heights never before seen.

But even Solomon eventually gave in to a weakness for women, allowing himself to be taken in by foreign women and their foreign no-gods.

Men, you spiritual life—your walk with the Lord—is of utmost importance.  It’s not merely important for your own sakes.

It’s important for the sake of your families.  And you may be thinking to yourself, “You’re right.  But where do I even begin?”

And that’s a fair question.  Maintaining an upright walk with the Lord is no easy challenge.  It takes time and commitment and a willingness to start over.

There is no simple 7-step formula.  You have to pursue it.  You have to seek out help, if you are out of answers.  Goodness knows, I’m available.

I’ll never turn down someone wanting to be the man, the father, and the husband God intends him to be.

 

But, for now, I want to challenge you with a simple step to start.  This is by no means a fix-all.  Rather, this is a beginning step that must be often repeated.

As we prepare to sing this morning, I’m challenging you dads.  I’m challenging you to pray.  And I’m challenging you to do it publicly.  Right now.  During our invitation.

I want you to come forward to pray for yourselves—to confess your sins to God and to seek His help.

I want you to come forward to pray for your wives.  I want you to come forward to pray for your children.  This is for dads, granddads, stepdads, you name it.

And if you are concerned over what others might think, look at it this way.  Do you really want to be the kind of man who worries what others might say about him?

 

The call is out there.  The time is now.  As we sing this old, familiar hymn, you dads come forward.  May this day be the start of a new journey for you and your families.