Our first lesson triggers the
imagination. Imagine that you are standing before a place somewhere deep down in your soul
where the door is always locked and the shades always pulled. On the other side of the
door is a small, lightless room. The room is carefully guarded that it allows only the
rebreathing of expelled air. Whatever it is that we protect in that room keeps us from
painful exposure and discovery. But what we protect in that room also keeps us from
confession, forgiveness, and growth.
a sermon based on 2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a
by Rev. Thomas Hall
Thats where David finds himself-suffocating inside a room that holds dark
secrets. A late afternoon. No one around. Nothing pressing to do. On top of a penthouse
palace. A woman bathing. In the Hebrew language, the verbs tell the story: he saw, he
sent, he took, he lay. No conversations. No hint of caring or affection, no hint of
love-only lust. He knows that in his actions, hes tossing the Torah aside like a
worn-out tee shirt. Maybe David thinks hes above the Law. After all, hes king
of the roost and nothing should be withheld from him-but even another persons
spouse? However he rationalizes his action, he commits a horrible abuse of power against
one of his subjects. Could be labeled adultery or even worse-rape.
In what would later become a soap opera stock in trade plot, the woman gets pregnant, a
scandal threatens to break open, and concealment is attempted. David tries to cover his
tracks like a cat trying to hide its contents in the litter box. First he hatches an
ingenious plan-a sleight of hand by trying to get the woman and her man together in bed.
That failing, the king desperate to hide his secret orchestrates the mans murder on
the battlefield. As the dust settles, we see a woman pregnant with King Davids son
who mourns her slain soldier-husband, Uriah the Faithful. We can imagine the funeral
ending on Monday and David swooping down to court the woman on Friday. Soon she becomes
the Kings Mrs.
Thats the secret. Thats what lies on the other side of Davids locked
door deep down in his soul. He thinks that hes weathered the storm. The press has
all but forgotten the rumors and besides, the war with the Ammonites has grabbed the
tabloid headlines. The womyn seems to be progressing fine in her pregnancy and David is
probably marveling at how God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform. The secrets
are safe-no one had found out!
In her book Pigs at the Trough, Ariana Huffington describes the CEOs of Enron,
Adelphia, Conseco, Tyco, and World Com as they attempted to hide their insider loans. She
also shows the heavy price that employees paid because of their greed. Our own religious
institutions have done the same thing-even worse-by withholding information about
pedophilic clergy. Secrets locked tight in little rooms eventually suffocate those who
live those prisons. Whether were talking the street of dreams, religious places, or
our own basements, the knee-jerk response to wrongs committed against God and others is to
stumble down the long stairway that leads to the room that we keep under lock and key and
there to deposit our secrets. As long as no one finds out the secret, David has gotten
away with murder-literally.
He really could have gotten away with it except for an unknown pair of eyes that roams
the universe watching us-including our deepest secret thoughts. These eyes saw the whole
sordid affair. Saw the bedroom. Saw the lust. Saw the murder. Saw the cover up. Saw it
all. And now the witness steps forward to blow the whistle. God who sees all sends Pastor
Nathan into Davids soap opera life. The royal chaplain comes with a carefully
rehearsed story. At first blush its just that-a story, gripping and entertaining.
Its one of those "once-upon-a-time" Disney flick stories. But not long
into the telling the story takes a dark turn and David suddenly finds himself drawn into
The story has only two characters. The first guy mentioned is virtually passed over in
a single breath: the guy was rich. Period. But the story really picks up steam with the
other guy. He owns a female lamb and that little lamb lives a pampered life-it is the
mans valued property. The lamb is raised like a daughter; eats and drinks at the
mans table and sleeps on the mans couch.
One day the rich man decides to fix lunch for his guest. "Ho hum," he yawns
opening the freezer, "Whats for lunch? Sirloin? Filet Mignon? Salmon
Steak?" Not that he couldnt serve his guest the best money could buy because
after all, we know hes rich. "Well, I certainly dont want to cut into my
profit line of herds and flocks. What shall I do?" Then the rich guy happens to see
the little sheep gamboling in the poor mans yard. "Hmmm. Im kinda hungry
for lamb chops." So he just up and takes the poor mans hand-fed lamb.
Thats what kings do-they take. Thats what David did-he took. The rich guy
takes this pet lamb and eats it for dinner. He takes what was not his and he treats it as
if it were his own. In the Hebrew there is a connection between the rich guy and King
David. One takes and "lies" with someone elses spouse (what David did with
Bathsheba) and the other takes and devours anothers deeply loved possession (what
the rich guy did to the poor man). In both cases, Nathan embeds the subtle accusation that
were talking about rape-taking, grabbing, forcing. .
Well never know how the story was supposed to end because David, so caught up in
the parable, explodes in anger: "That guy should be lynched!" Davids
outburst creates a crisis. How do you tell a King whos going to hell in a hand
basket that youre talking about him and live to see your grand kids? The
interruption brings on the moment of truth. Nathan steps up to the table, looks David in
the eyes, and speaks the truth about David. "You are the one, David." In just
four words Nathan smashes the locks off the Kings locked room and lets the
secrets come out.
Nathan has risked everything. He has risked his friendship. Risked his job. Risked the
safety of his own life when he accused the King of his sins. Yet, that is the good news of
this story-that God so loved that he confronted. In those four words, truth confronts
power. He tells it like it is and tells it to Davids face-no matter how dire the
consequences may be.
Doesnt this story raise questions about the way we love people? About the quality
of the love we claim to have and exercise as Christians? Do we love people enough to
confront damaging, sinful, destructive behavior even at the risk of jeopardizing our
Bill Hybels, in his book Who You Are When No Ones Looking, says that we must hold
a conviction when it comes to relationships. The conviction is this: that telling the
truth must become more important to us than keeping the peace.  I need to admit right
here and now that Im a card-carrying, unionized, baptized member of the brotherhood
of tender-hearted peace-keepers. Peace and harmony, I say. Maybe with enough
"Im okay, youre okay," hugs, problems will work themselves out. So
whether parenting or sitting around a table in a tense church committee meeting, I confess
that I am anything but a confronter. Then I began to understand that sometimes avoiding
the real issues in our marriages, in our congregations, in our families, and at the work
place will only produce a counterfeit peace, not the real thing.
Everywhere I look I see people . . . precious people who really matter to God but who
are running around and around in circles, dizzied by deception. I see married couples on
the edge of serious trouble, young people pushing their luck to the limits, all kinds of
people wandering aimlessly in the wastelands of destructive pleasure seeking. Too many of
us who see these people destroying themselves we simply chew our nails and wring our
hands, saying nothing because we do not understand tough love. 
Do we love enough to confront people, to look them in the eye and say, "I love you
so much that . . .
I cant stand silently by while you work yourself to death?
Im not going to pretend to be happy while you ruin your body by eating wrong,
never exercising, drinking too much or smoking?
I have to warn you that you wont find what youre looking for in bars?
Im going to have to say you cant stay in this position in my business any
longer. It seems to be destroying you as a person, and I cant let that happen? 
Not long ago a colleague of mine faced a very difficult pastoral situation in her
parish. Just prior to her arrival, a prominent person in the community and one who served
as her churchs music director and as a youth mentor made a very destructive and
short-sighted decision. Her choice was to live with a man other than her husband but to
continue her duties at the church as if nothing wrong had occurred. Such behavior deeply
impacted the congregation-especially the youth group-and caused the church to lose
credibility in the community. Yet, remarkably nothing was said, nothing was done.
My clergy friend agonized over the situation but knew what had to be done. My friend
confronted her worship leader. "You have great value and worth before God," my
friend began with a trembling voice, "and I value our friendship. But I am willing to
jeopardize our friendship in an effort to speak the truth to you. Youre living with
someone to whom youre not married. In your present situation you have nothing to say
to our youth. How can you lead us in worship when you are deliberately living a life that
is displeasing to the God you worship? Most of all, your behavior is destroying you. We
will help you, we will secure counseling for you. We want you to stay with us and receive
ministry. But as of this moment you can longer serve as our worship director nor mentor
I would like to say that the risk brought this person closer to God and community. But
I must be honest and say that she left the church and tried to wound the pastor and
congregation on her way out. Yet my colleague discovered the truth: there are times when
we must take that deep kind of risk: telling the truth.
When Nathan walked into the room that day, he recovered for David an awareness of God.
He aroused Davids sense of sin and his still tender heart was roused. And you know
the rest of the story. David prayed one of the most vulnerable, honest prayers that
Scripture offers us:
Generous in love-God, give grace.
Huge in mercy-wipe out my bad record.
Scrub away my guilt,
Soak out my sins in your laundry.
I know how bad Ive been;
My sins are staring me down.
Youre the One Ive violated, and youve see it all,
Seen the full extent of my evil . . .
Ive been out of step with you for a long time,
In the wrong since before I was born.
What youre after is truth from the inside out.
Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.
Soak me in your laundry and Ill come out clean,
Scrub me and Ill have a snow-white life,
Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,
Set these once-broken bones to dancing. 
God loves us too much to allow us to continue unchecked down a path of self-destruction
or sin that impacts others. Can we do any less? Amen.
 Bill Hybels, Who You Are When No Ones Looking (InterVarsity Press,
1987), page 70.
 Ibid, page 70.
 Ibid, page 74.
 Psalm 51 from The Message (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2002), page 975