“In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 11:1)
In 1963, our nation’s willpower was challenged by an advertisement for Lay’s potato chips that almost everyone still remembers today. “Betcha can’t eat just one!”
The reason we still remember this slogan is it was so true. That Lay’s potato chip was so light, salty, greasy and wonderfully tasty that none of us would eat just one. It was as if our hand and taste buds had a mind of their own.
Little did we know at the time how the fast food and snack industries would utilize that truth with salt, sugar and cheese to make trillions of dollars while our nation became more and more obese, diabetic and heart-unhealthy. Even less did we suspect how this slogan applies both individually and nationally to something far more dangerous than excessive salt and sugar.
I am talking about sin, and nothing in scripture illustrates my point better than what happened to King David in Numbers 11.
David was a man after God’s own heart. (1 Samuel 13:14) He was an extraordinary song-writer, worshipper, warrior and leader of warriors. David talked with God and sought to always keep his attention on God. (Psalm 16:8) He conquered Jerusalem and brought the Presence of God into that city so it could become God’s city. (2 Samuel 6; Psalm 48) God was so pleased with David that He made a covenant establishing David’s house and throne forever. (2 Samuel 7)
Then, one day in the spring, when kings go to war with their armies, David decided to sit out and let his armies go without him.
It is hard to blame David for wanting to have a spring break. He had spent most of his life in war or the wilderness. But it was the responsibility of kings to lead their armies, and there is no indication in scripture that David sought or received God’s permission to take that time off. So let’s call this Chip #1.
Because David was a warrior king, and all of his friends had gone off to war, he had less to occupy his time. He ends up taking a nap on a couch followed by a stroll on his roof, where he is able to witness a beautiful woman taking a bath.
This woman was one of David’s subjects, entitled to her modesty, and both adultery and coveting another man’s wife were violations of God’s commandments. (Exodus 20:14, 17) David should have looked away, but he didn’t, and he lusted for her. Chip #2.
David found out the woman was Bathsheba, the wife of one of his friends and mighty men, Uriah the Hittite. Now the loyalties of both kingship and friendship applied – another opportunity for David to catch himself. But instead he rationalized that while the cat was away, the mouse could play. In an action that was almost certainly more like exploitation than adulterous romance, he had sex with her, even though she was in the time following her menstrual bleeding when she was most likely to become pregnant. Chip #3.
As far as David was concerned, it was all over, but Bathsheba became pregnant, and now David needed a “cover-up” plan. He brought Uriah back from the battlefield hoping he would sleep with his wife and think the baby was his own. Chip #4. When Uriah was too honorable to do that, he got him drunk. Chip #5. When that didn’t work, he ordered his general to create a situation where Uriah would be killed. Chip #6. David then took Bathsheba as his wife and the baby as his legitimate child, and considered the whole situation successfully concluded. Chip #7 – bag empty.
Folks, you can’t eat just one. If a very godly David can go from taking unauthorized time off into voyeurism into lust into adultery into deceit into dishonor into murder, then what do you think will be your next step when you give in to a simple temptation like cheating on your taxes or expense account, flirting with that co-worker, taking a curious glimpse at pornography or sampling that “feel-good” drug. Romans 6-8 reveals that we no longer have to be slaves to sin, but we can still become slaves to sin if we keep making the wrong choices.
America also can’t eat just one. While our nation has never been perfect, we have a godly foundation just like David. However, when we gained political, military and economic superpower status after the end of World War II, it was as if we began to see ourselves as the good king of the world. The pursuit of prosperity and ease led to increasing self-indulgence, which led to the so-called sexual revolution and the inception of the drug culture, which led to the need to insist upon the right to abort unwanted babies, which led along with divorce to a devaluation of life and family.
At the same time, the pursuit of prosperity and power led to more and more greed, increasingly centralized political and economic power, and a growing gap between rich and poor. Covetousness, labelled as “wealth redistribution”, is just around the corner.
King David was confronted by God’s word and repented deeply for everything he had done. (2 Samuel 12; Psalm 51) He still suffered some consequences, but he ended well.
Will you and I do the same? Will America? All I know for sure is that there must be a confrontation with God’s word. There must be repentance. And there must be an understanding that you can’t eat just one.
God bless you, and God bless our community.