To Ripple or Not to Ripple

Opening Scripture:

Psalm 119:9-16 (NIV)
9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. 10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. 12 Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees. 13 With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. 14 I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. 15 I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. 16 I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

Opening Statement: ‘Let the ripples of death be stopped and the ripples of life become waves

Before I begin today I want you to get an image in your mind. An image that will be continually called upon in the course of this message. I want you to think of walking up to the sandy shoreline of a big, clear pond. By the edge of this pond there are two stones – one seems smooth and glittering with streaks of quartz running around it – it looks pleasing, exciting, fun, beautiful. The other stone seems rough, it looks kind of pockmarked, it seems drab and dreary, it looks boring. I want you to think of bending down and picking up one of these stones that fit in the palm of your hand. I want you to think of reaching back with your arm and then casting the stone into the middle of this serene pond. As the stone descends into the water you notice the ripples that begin to make their way across the surface of the water until they are lapping at the shore by your feet. This is the image I want you to keep in mind as I am speaking today. Has everybody got this image in their mind?
Okay now we’re going to do some substitution in this image. I want you to think of the water in the pond as representing your life. As you walk up to the shoreline of this pond you have a choice of which stone to pick up. One of these stones represents sin – the other stone represents righteousness. The ripples that are set off by the stones that you cast into the pond represent the ripples that are started in your life by either the stone of sin or the stone of righteousness.
Now it is time to replay the image. I want you to think of walking up to the sandy shoreline of a big, smooth, clear pond. By the edge of this pond there are two stones – one seems smooth and glittering with streaks of quartz running around it – it looks pleasing, exciting, fun, beautiful. The other stone seems rough, it looks kind of pockmarked, it seems drab and dreary, it looks boring. I want you to think of bending down STOP! Freeze this image in your mind that are reaching down to pick up one of the stones. I want you to hold this image as I tell you a story.

The Psalm that was read to you this morning was written by one of the Bibles greatest heroes. A person that we’re very familiar with. A person that was named as a man after God’s own heart. Truly in the words of this Psalm we find a young man who was very concerned with pleasing God. Who was very concerned about being righteous before God. Who was very concerned with guarding himself against sin. And who was very sincere about his love for God. David at this point of his young life was truly a man after God’s own heart. When he eventually became king, David became well known and respected as the leader of God’s people. Among David’s first actions as king was leading the Israelites back to the proper worship and praise of God. David truly set the example for the rest of the nation. But then David fell. And he fell mightily.

The Story:
Many of us are familiar with the story of David’s sin with Bathsheba. For those who aren’t I would like to summarize this story that is found in 2 Samuel 11.

David remained behind in the springtime in Jerusalem while his army was out fighting a war. One evening David arose out of bed and went for a stroll on the roof of his palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. This woman was very beautiful. Soon David sent someone to find out about her and the reply was “This is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” David intrigued, sent off some messengers to bring Bathsheba to him. Bathsheba came and David slept with her. Then Bathsheba went home. Bathsheba found out she was pregnant and sent word to David to inform him.

David then sent for Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband who was on the battlefield to come home. When Uriah arrived David tried to get him to go to his house so that he would sleep with his wife. Uriah slept at the palace and did not go home. When explaining his actions Uriah said, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my master Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”

David, determined to get Uriah to his own house made him drunk. But Uriah still went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants.

David then wrote a death sentence for Uriah to carry back to Joab. David told Joab to send Uriah to fight where the battle was fiercest and then withdraw to leave Uriah to die.

Uriah was killed in battle along with some of the men in David’s army that were fighting with him. Joab sent word back to David that Uriah was dead and then after Bathsheba had mourned the proper time for her husband David married her. Bathsheba bore David a son.

RIPPLES OF SIN

The story of David and Bathsheba is a very sad story. Here we have a King who as a young man wrote of his undying devotion to God and abhorrence of sin, who was a pillar of righteousness to the nation he lead and who as a sinful man committed adultery. You see David in this story was on the shore of his life and he had a choice of which stone to pick up – the stone of sin, or the stone of righteousness. David chose the stone of sin and when he cast the stone it set off ripples of sin in his life. What kind of ripples are started by the stone of sin?

Ripple #1: Sin leads to Sin

In the story of David and Bathsheba it is very easy to see the truth of this statement. David started by looking at a beautiful naked woman bathing. Jesus remarked in Matthew 5:28 that all it takes is a lustful thought for the look to be considered a sin. David followed up by sleeping with Bathsheba – knowing that she was the husband of a very loyal soldier. Then having fathered a baby David seeks to cover up this sin by committing another in trying to get Uriah to sleep with his wife. When this fails David proceeds to cause the murder of Uriah. And finally David marries Bathsheba. Sin leads to sin. Not only did David sin repeatedly himself in this event but eventually it lead to the sinful actions of many of his children, household members and trusted men.

Look at Joab – in carrying out David’s instructions for Uriah he became an accomplice to the murder not only of Uriah but of the men who died with him as well. Joab even endeavors to help cover up this sin of David’s. If you read further in 2 Samuel you would find how one of David’s daughters was raped by one of his sons. This daughter was the sister of Absalom another of David’s sons and Absalom avenged his sister’s rape by killing the rapist. Absalom was banished from the kingdom but eventually when he returned he plotted to overthrow his father and for a period of time was successful.

Sin leads to sin. Folks when you pick up the stone of sin and cast it into your life it sets off ripples of more sin. What began as an innocent lie turns into an immense fabrication. Or look at it this way – the more you lie the easier it is the next time. What begins as a juicy story that just needs to be shared turns to a ripple of gossip that spreads like wildfire and leaves a wake of hurt and pain and division. What begins as an innocent diversion, or entertainment found in certain T.V. programs, Movies or Video Games turns into a change of thinking and sinful action. What begins as single “puff” can turn into an addictive habit. What begins as “one drink” can turn into a abused families, drunk car crashes, dreadful murder. Sin leads to sin.

Ripple #2: Consequences of sin

Because of the stone David cast, he had to live with the consequences of his sin. What are some of the consequences of David’s sin? The killing of a loyal man – in fact Uriah was listed as one of the 30 chief men of David (2 Samuel 23:24-39). These men were the same who were with David when he was fleeing Saul – they also performed great feats in service to David – which makes David’s sin all the more shameful. It lead to bloodshed and disaster in his own house by the hands of his children. I mentioned briefly earlier how Absalom led a revolt against David. This revolt forced David to flee Jerusalem for his life and endure the humiliation of defeat and rebellion from his own son. There’s an interesting story within a story that I’d like to share with you as we discuss the consequences of David’s sin.

Ahithophel

In the account of Absalom’s rebellion it is recorded that a man by the name of Ahithophel joined Absalom and became his advisor.

2 Samuel 15:12 (NIV)
12 While Absalom was offering sacrifices, he also sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, to come from Giloh, his hometown. And so the conspiracy gained strength, and Absalom’s following kept on increasing.

It is important to also note from this passage that Ahithophel was David’s counselor!!! King’s counselors were usually among the king’s closest friends and confidantes. Yet here was Ahithophel betraying his king and friend!! David wrote of the pain this betrayal brought him in Psalm 55:12-15

Psalms 55:12-15 (NIV)
12 If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. 13 But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, 14 with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God. 15 Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the grave, for evil finds lodging among them.

What is even more shocking is the degree of anger in Ahithophel’s advice to Absalom when David flees Jerusalem – listen to what scripture records.

2 Samuel 16:21 (NIV)
21 Ahithophel answered, “Lie with your father’s concubines whom he left to take care of the palace. Then all Israel will hear that you have made yourself a stench in your father’s nostrils, and the hands of everyone with you will be strengthened.”

2 Samuel 17:1-3 (NIV)
1 Ahithophel said to Absalom, “I would choose twelve thousand men and set out tonight in pursuit of David. 2 I would attack him while he is weary and weak. I would strike him with terror, and then all the people with him will flee. I would strike down only the king 3 and bring all the people back to you. The death of the man you seek will mean the return of all; all the people will be unharmed.”

The question that is asked when reading about Ahithophel’s advice is what gives rise to this anger and viciousness and betrayal.? Well it can be understood when we look at who Ahithophel is related to.

2 Samuel 23:34 (NIV)
34 Eliphelet son of Ahasbai the Maacathite, Eliam son of Ahithophel the Gilonite,

2 Samuel 11:3 (NIV)
3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?”

Ahithophel was Bathsheba’s grandfather!!! The reason behind his vengeance and anger is the shame David brought to his family by committing adultery with her. This would also explain the nature of Ahithophel’s advice to Absalom to sleep with David’s wives in plain view of all Israel and also why Ahithophel himself would want to ride out after the king and lead the execution squad. So you see sin has it’s consequences.

What consequences do we face when we sin? What ripples do we see in our lives? Sometimes the consequence we experience are from the sin of another. How many have suffered at the hands of an abuser and that has changed your life. Maybe there was someone who lied and stole money from you. Sin has lead to marital troubles, family troubles, community troubles and national troubles. Sin has lead to divorced homes, youth delinquency, high crime rates, disease, famine and war. And sadly, the consequences of sin may be found in divided churches, lack of commitment, and a general running from God. What consequences of sin are you living with today?

Ripple #3: Judgement

The Bible is very clear that the “wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23) and in the case of David there was no escaping this coming judgement for his sin. David had to pay the penalty for his sin in the eyes of the Lord and that involved death.
Just for a moment I would like to explain the difference between consequences of sin and the penalty of sin. When we sin there will certain consequences of that sin that will be played out in our life – sin sets in action certain natural outcomes. There is no escaping the consequences of sin – which makes it so harmful. However there is also a penalty for sin. And the penalty as already mentioned is death – not only physical death but spiritual and eventually eternal death. This penalty must always be paid, for God – although he is a loving and caring God – is also a just God. And God cannot condone sin.

REMEMBER THIS: the consequences of our sin come as a natural result of our own sinful actions but the penalty of sin is enacted as a result of God’s judgement.

Now back to David – God’ judgement on David is death because of his sin BUT David repents and asks God’s forgiveness

2 Samuel 12:13-14 (NIV)
13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.”

Nathan tells David that he will not die – but wait a minute here the penalty of sin is death and this penalty must always be paid!!! – Nathan continues “but the son born to you will die. ” Although David’s repentance saved him from his own death, the penalty of his sin was paid with the death of his son. “THAT’S NOT FAIR – THE SON WAS AN INNOCENT!” is the cry of many people when they first read this passage. How could God enact such judgement upon a little innocent baby? Have you ever thought about what God saved that baby from? A baby that was conceived in such a sinful manner? A baby that if he had been born would have been the “talk of the town” the ruin of God’s name? If we read further we find in 2 Samuel 12:21 David’s assurance that one day he would be reunited with his dead son in heaven. Yes God’s judgement seemed harsh but His great love is seen in the fact that He sent His own Son to die as a penalty for our sins!

RIPPLES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

And that brings me to the second stone. Going back to the story of David there is the need to ask the question what brought David to the place of repentance which I mentioned earlier. What caused David to say in repentance, “I have sinned against the Lord?” The answer is found in 2 Samuel 12:1 “The LORD sent Nathan to David.” I Praise the Lord that we serve a God of second chances. God wasn’t willing to give up on David, God was willing to give David a second chance and so he sent Nathan as His spokesperson to bring conviction into David’s life. If you continue to read the rest of chapter 12 you would discover that Nathan told David a story and by that story David was to realize and be convicted of his sin. Once again David was brought to the shore of his life and faced a choice of two stones. He could either ignore the conviction in his heart of his own sin and loft the stone of sin once again or he could grab a hold of the stone of righteousness and send its ripples coursing through his life. David chose the stone of righteousness.
Once again we can learn something from David’s choice.

Ripple #1: Forgiveness leads to forgiveness

One of the best things that David ever did in his life was say I have sinned. It was this attitude of genuine repentance that led to God forgiving David of his sin. Speaking on behalf of God Nathan said, “The LORD has taken away your sin. Your are not going to die.” (2 Samuel 12:13)

However a characteristic of true repentance is found in the willingness not only to accept the forgiveness of God but to forgive others for their sins against yourself. Forgiveness should lead to forgiveness.

One example of this forgiveness may be found in King David’s dealings with a man named Shimei.

2 Samuel 16:5-14 (NIV)
5 As King David approached Bahurim, a man from the same clan as Saul’s family came out from there. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he cursed as he came out. 6 He pelted David and all the king’s officials with stones, though all the troops and the special guard were on David’s right and left. 7 As he cursed, Shimei said, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you scoundrel! 8 The LORD has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. The LORD has handed the kingdom over to your son Absalom. You have come to ruin because you are a man of blood!” 9 Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head.” 10 But the king said, “What do you and I have in common, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the LORD said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?'” 11 David then said to Abishai and all his officials, “My son, who is of my own flesh, is trying to take my life. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the LORD has told him to. 12 It may be that the LORD will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today.” 13 So David and his men continued along the road while Shimei was going along the hillside opposite him, cursing as he went and throwing stones at him and showering him with dirt. 14 The king and all the people with him arrived at their destination exhausted. And there he refreshed himself.

2 Samuel 19:18-22 (NIV)
18 They crossed at the ford to take the king’s household over and to do whatever he wished. When Shimei son of Gera crossed the Jordan, he fell prostrate before the king 19 and said to him, “May my lord not hold me guilty. Do not remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem. May the king put it out of his mind. 20 For I your servant know that I have sinned, but today I have come here as the first of the whole house of Joseph to come down and meet my lord the king.” 21 Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said, “Shouldn’t Shimei be put to death for this? He cursed the Lord’s anointed.” 22 David replied, “What do you and I have in common, you sons of Zeruiah? This day you have become my adversaries! Should anyone be put to death in Israel today? Do I not know that today I am king over Israel?”

Forgiveness leads to forgiveness. When the stone of righteousness is cast into your life then ripples of forgiveness will be sent out. Who in your life has sinned against you – are you willing to forgive them? Maybe you’re experiencing the consequences of someone else’s sin – are you willing to forgive them? Maybe the consequences of your sin have fallen on others around you – have you asked for forgiveness?

Ripple #2: Consequences of Righteousness

On the surface it would seem that David’s choice of throwing the righteous stone had no consequence in his life. We need to remember however that David still had to live amidst the consequence of his sin. However, David was able to persevere and endure as a consequence of righteousness. The wars David fought were won, David and Bathsheba gave birth to Solomon and through Solomon the line of Jesus was continued. David’s son Solomon became heir to a nation that was the strongest in the world at that time. The borders of Israel had never been bigger. Solomon ruled over Israel in peace and prosperity because of David’s repentance and choice to cast the stone of righteousness into his life.

What about the consequences we can expect if we choose the stone of righteousness. What ripples can we expect to see in our lives? Instead of suffering and giving when facing trials and hardships we now endure and persevere. Righteousness leads to strengthened marriages, strengthened families, strengthened communities, and strengthened nations. Righteousness leads to solid homes, low crime rates, healing, peace and joy. The consequences of righteousness can be found in united churches, committed Christians and a general running to God. Do you want the consequences of righteousness in your life?

Ripple #3: Salvation

In contrast to the ripple of judgement set off by sin there is the ripple of salvation set off by righteousness. But let me be clear about something – In the act of picking up that stone of righteousness you are saying as David said “Lord I have sinned” You are repenting of that sin and asking for God’s forgiveness. Then something wonderful begins to happen as you pull back your arm to let the stone go. It’s like an invisible hand grabs onto your hand and propels that stone deep and solidly into your life. Folks, David’s son paid the penalty for his sin. But God’s son paid the penalty for ours. When we reach for the stone of righteousness we are reaching for the righteousness of Jesus Christ. When we cast the stone of righteousness into our lives the Holy Spirit is casting it with us. Oh and those ripples become waves. We cannot cast this stone ourselves. It is only by the gift of God in Jesus Christ that we can cast that stone. And the ripples of coming from this feeble throw we put forth are turned into waves by the power and the force of the Holy Spirit. Praise God that by the stone of righteousness, Jesus Christ, we are saved. And what is it we are saved from?

The ripples of sin lead to eternal death. But the ripples of righteousness lead to eternal life. We are saved from an eternity of separation from God and to an eternity of communion with God.

Now I want to repeat the statement I made at the beginning of this message, : ‘Let the ripples of death be stopped and the ripples of life become waves’

Now let’s pick up where we froze the image at the beginning of the message
I want you to think of bending down and picking up one of these stones that fit in the palm of your hand. I want you to think of reaching back with your arm and then casting the stone into the middle of this serene pond. As the stone descends into the water you notice the ripples that begin to make their way across the surface of the water until they are lapping at the shore by your feet.

To close I’d like to read a Psalm read by David when he was confronted with his sin with Bathsheba.

Psalms 51:1-17 (NIV)
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. 14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. 15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Altar – Create in Me a Clean Heart

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