A sermon based on II Samuel 12:1-13 for the Confessional Service, April 16, 2019.
The deer in the headlights look. The deer stands frozen staring right back into the oncoming headlights. The driver tries to guess the deer’s next movement to avoid an accident. The hearts of both the deer and driver pound rapidly wondering what the outcome is going to be. How many people here have hit a deer with their car or had a close encounter with a deer before? I had my own experience of the deer in the headlights look.
I was in college. Every year a group of four of us would come down to ref a basketball tournament at St. John in Montello, not to far up the road from here. I had gone the past few years. This year I drove. We reffed all day and then headed back to New Ulm around 6:00 PM. Probably about five miles on our way home all of a sudden three deer darted out in the road. I had no time to brake. I swerved between two of the deer. My friend in the passenger seat said, “Seth, I don’t know how you missed that deer, but I looked right in the eyes of it.” The passenger in the back seat woke up slightly from his nap only to doze off again. I don’t know who had a more scared look, me or the deer. We made it back to school without further incident.
In this instance both the deer and I were caught in a situation we did not want to be in. The deer, although it looked like it had a death wish, did not want to die, and I did not want my car ruined. God most certainly caught me and the passengers in his arms. We were safe. God often catches us many times in our life. It can both be a very comforting thing and a very scary thing.
- In our sins.
- In God’s grace.
David might have thought he got away with everything. He covered up what he thought was the perfect crime. It all started when he brought Bathsheba to his palace for a night of passion. She became pregnant. Now, David had to cover up the affair. He brought Uriah, her husband and one of his soldiers, home from the battle front trying to trick him into sleeping with his wife, so the sin would be forgotten. When this failed, David had Uriah killed in a sly way, so it could not be traced back to him. Once Uriah was killed, David brought Bathsheba to his palace as his wife. David looked like the hero in the situation.
In the end he thought he was off the hook. Life would go on, and no one would suspect a thing, and if they did, who dared to accuse the king. David thought he had gotten away with these sins. David might have been able to hide all of this from the people, but he could not hide from God. God would soon expose the misdeeds of David. God sent Nathan to David to confront him of the sin.
Nathan used a story to illustrate how much David had messed up. Two men lived in a town. One rich and the other poor. The rich man had many cattle and flocks. The poor man owned one little lamb. This was more than just an animal to him. This man cared for the little lamb as a pet. The lamb ate at the table, drank from his cup, even slept in the man’s arms.
A traveler came to the rich man. The rich man desired to provide a meal for the weary traveler. He could have taken from his many flocks or cattle, but he did not want to butcher one of his own animals. So he came up with an idea. The rich man stole the lamb from the poor man, the lamb that was like a daughter to the poor man, to feed to the traveler.
David became furious. The rich man deserved to die! He had to pay four times to the poor man for such a wicked thing. Why such a great punishment for this crime? Why would David react this way? Once David was a shepherd. He knew what that poor man would have felt to have such a devastating thing happen to him.
Then the truth came out. “You are the man” (II Samuel 12:7)! The fingers pointed squarely back to David. David was caught. God had given David everything. He plucked him out from the pastures in the tiny village of Bethlehem to be king over Israel. God delivered David from the hands of Goliath, Saul, and all his enemies. God blessed David with great riches. If all of this had been too little, God would have given more.
David grew selfish. David thought he could take whatever he wanted. It did not matter if it was not his. It did not matter if he had to break God’s commands in doing so. David fell into the temptation of thinking he was above the law of God. He committed adultery. He murdered an innocent man. He lied to cover over his sins.
David was caught. The truth came out. No more sweeping it under the rug. David’s sin, with all its ugliness, stood in front of him. All of a sudden David had the deer in the headlight look. His sins condemned him.
The feeling of being caught is not good. Our hearts sink at the moment our sin stands before us. The guilt builds up. We know the wrong we have done. Unfortunately, we do not want to confess. We’re caught. We try to pass the blame. Our first parents did the very same thing. When Adam and Eve sinned, they ran away from God. Adam passed the blame onto Eve. Eve passed it to the serpent. We still try to blame someone else. We blame a sibling. We blame our upbringing. We blame society.
We try to deny our sins. Everyone else does it, so we can do it as well. It does not matter that we live together before marriage abusing God’s blessings of marriage, since everyone else does it. It does not matter if we cheat in the business world, others do it as well. We try to minimize our sins. We point to others who have done much worse than we have done.
It does not matter. We’re caught. The mirror of the law points right back at the reflection showing us our sins. We cannot sweep all of our sins under the rug thinking no one else will know the difference. God sees all of our sins. Each of those sins, no matter how big or small they might be, deserves punishment, eternal punishment in hell.
We’re caught in our sins. We cannot deny it before the one who sees everything. At the same time we are also caught in his grace.
David could no longer escape from the wrongs he did. He confessed right away. “I have sinned against the Lord” (II Samuel 12:13). It had to be hard for David to do this. He spent so much time perhaps trying to convince himself that God did not care. David knew the truth. He lamented. He also must have felt relieved to confess his sin.
Nathan spoke reassuring words of forgiveness to David. He would not die. God wiped away David’s sin. There would be consequences for David’s actions. Things would happen as a result of his sinful actions that would not be pleasant. However, David’s sins found forgiveness in the grace and mercy of God.
They say that confession is good for the soul. We come before God confessing our numerous sins. As we confess, our sinful nature wants to silence the confession. Our minds want to convince us that sin is not bad. We know we’re caught. We know that we need forgiveness.
God catches us in his grace. God brings forgiveness to the heart filled with the guilt of sin. In his death we find the punishment for our sins removed. We’re caught in his grace. God loves us. We will not face eternal death for our sins.
God’s grace finds fulfillment on the cross. There Jesus took the guilt of our many sins. He removed the fear of death from us. He died so that forgiveness might be ours. This gives us the confidence of peace. We can tell a person they are forgiven. We can point them to Jesus.
Confession is good for the soul. Confession points us to Jesus. Confession points us to the cross of Christ where we find forgiveness in all we have done. Confession leads us God’s wonderful grace.
We no longer have to have the deer in the headlight look when it comes to our sins. We’re caught in our sins. We turn to Jesus to find strength. We’re caught in his grace. We find calm for our restless hearts only in him. Amen.