Jump Start # 2031
Matthew 1:6 “Jesse was the father of David the king, David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah.”
Our verse today comes from the lineage of Jesus. Solomon’s mother was Bathsheba, who had been the wife of Uriah. Just a simple statement, HAD BEEN THE WIFE OF URIAH, but so complex and layered with trouble and tears. We know the story. We’ve heard it preached so many times.
David saw Bathsheba bathing. He wanted her. He sent for her. He had her. And, the consequences began. She was with his child. Simple solution, in David’s mind. Bring home Uriah. A loyal soldier. A foreigner, a Hittite. One of David’s mighty men. So loyal, that his house was close to the palace. Send him to Bathsheba and no one will know. He wouldn’t do it. Get him drunk and he’ll go home. He didn’t. Finally, send him back to the front lines. Pull the troops back and allow him to be killed. The deed was done. David then married Bathsheba. God sent Nathan the prophet to bring to the eyes of David all the sins that he had committed. Blood was on his hands. He was guilty. Broken and penitent, David confess to God and begs for forgiveness. God grants it, but there are consequences. David’s home falls apart. It is never the same.
That’s the story. We know it. There is something that we don’t know. Did David ever tell Bathsheba? In her mind, her husband, Uriah, died a national hero. Today, he’d probably get a bronze star or a silver medal for heroism and bravery. He died in battle. He likely would not have died that day had David not sent the orders. He had been in many battles and he knew how to survive. In the movies, his death scene would have him whispering Bathsheba’s name in his final breath.
Did David ever tell Bathsheba? Did forgiveness hinge upon this? Was he truly sorry if he this remained a secret with him? This makes for some interesting conversations in a Bible class but most of this would be speculation and guessing.
But what about modern Davids today? A man comes to the preacher or the eldership and confesses that he has had an affair. He is sorry. He promises that it is over. Tears trickle down his cheeks as he tells the sordid story of how weak and fallen he had become. He begs for forgiveness and help. He agrees to an on going Bible study to strengthen his faith. He puts accountability filters on all his tablets and phones. He wants to do what is right. There remains one huge elephant in the room. His wife doesn’t know. She didn’t catch him. She didn’t find out. He covered his tracks well. He was careful. But now, he is done with living a double life.
Now, the question. Must he tell his wife? She has no clue. She will be shattered. The marriage may end. The kids may be torn from their secure home. Their world may end. The prospect of a divorce probably means that house has to be sold. His wife and kids may have to find something smaller and the kids may have to transfer to a different school. They may have to switch congregations. What will their friends think? What about her parents? His parents? The long road of shame, embarrassment is just beginning. It may be too much. Along the road, there may be many spiritual causalities. He may be overcome with grief and quit. His wife may be disillusioned and quit. The kids may grow up confused and never become interested. What has happened has long term consequences.
Should he tell his wife? Should a preacher or an eldership demand that he confess all to his wife before he is considered back in fellowship with God? WOW! Heavy questions. Not easy. Too often, not thought out. It’s easy for those who have a good marriage and will go home to a loving family to demand, you confess all. They will sleep well, but his life is sure to fall apart.
Recently, my friend S. asked me a question much softer than this. If I have done something wrong to someone and they do not know about it nor know that it is wrong, should I tell them, she asked. That’s easier to answer than telling a David that he ought to confess to Bathsheba.
This opens a much wider discussion. Does my forgiveness necessitate me telling everyone that I have hurt? If I do not confess to others, will God refuse to forgive me? Most of the passages are directed toward the injured forgiving the person who caused the hurt. If we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us. If someone sins against us, we are to go to them. If they listen, we have won our brother. But what about the standpoint of the one who had done the hurting? Does he have to confess to others, even if they do not know it?
Here is what I told S.
First, the very concept of confession is transparency. The word “confess” means to speak the same thing. It’s like an echo in a cave. You shout, “Hello.” In the distance, you hear, “hello.” The echo spoke the same thing. If you shouted, “Hello,” but you hear back, “Good-bye,” you best run out of that cave. Someone else is in there. In the old Western movies, the Indians complained that the white man spoke with a forked tongue. He’d say things and do the opposite. Confession is to speak the same thing.
Confession is risky and humbling. It means being honest. No more cover-up. No more excuses. No more blaming others. Being honest is to admit that you have failed and let people down.
Second, if the person doesn’t know, at least now, what if they find out later? What if they find out from someone else? That’s a problem. Now you no longer seem honest, transparent and humble. You have kept things from them. In the case of an affair, all it takes is an email, Facebook message or a midnight phone call to expose what was hidden. In David’s case, there was a commander who knew. He read the note that Uriah carried to the battle front. Today, he is loyal. What about tomorrow?
Trust is shattered into more pieces when someone finds out years after the fact. They not only feel hurt and betrayed, but they see the other person as a hypocrite. They have kept a secret from them. It makes a person wonder, what other secrets have they kept?
Third, there are consequences to confessing. Friendships may be ruined. Marriages may end. That’s the price tag that comes with sin. But it can also be an opportunity for healing, forgiveness and love. How one expresses it and how one packages the wrong that was done has a lot to do with this. You say these things because you love the person. You say these things because you do not want to hurt them ever again. You say these things because you love them.
Fourth, I’m not a huge fan of making demands and forcing people to do things. I believe if a person truly understands grace, forgiveness and righteousness, that their heart will lead them to do what is right. Some aren’t there. They are still playing a game and are not serious about their walk with God. In such cases, they need to be lead into a deeper understanding of righteousness in Christ. Years ago there was a nationally known lawsuit against a church because they demanded someone divorce their unfaithful mate. They didn’t want to do that but were pressured. It got messy, especially when the courts got involved. Let the Scriptures teach and lead a person. Guide them to what the passages say. Let them see it for themselves. There is a difference in having to do something that is hard and uncomfortable and something one feels pressured to do. Our hearts ought to lead us to do what is right, even if it is hard and difficult. Doing something because we are forced to do it, begins with the wrong motive and usually doesn’t work well.
I have known times when a man confessed to his unknowing wife about an affair. It was hard but forgiveness prevailed and they got stronger and closer in the Lord. Divorce isn’t always the outcome.
Did David ever tell Bathsheba? I don’t know. I don’t think I would have wanted to be in that room if he did. But looking at David’s heart though this low period in his life, I would tend to think that he did. He was honest. He was humble. He was open to God.
This is a good place to begin conversations…