High Stakes Holiness

Given the modern air we are all breathing, Christians can easily make the mistake of thinking they are playing Solitaire, when in truth, they are playing Risk. Risk is a game of world conquest. And Solitaire is, of course, a single player game. If you’re in single-player mode, then there can be some tough surprises in life. You will regularly feel a bit confused about what is going on because you’ve bought into that weird coaching advice about you being your own opponent, or you being your own worst enemy, or it being “you vs. you” out there, or your need to believe in yourself. All of that is for the birds, the ones that go to government schools.

Something bigger than Solitaire is going on. We can see that in 2 Samuel 12.

The Text – A Summary

David had just taken Bathsheba, wife of Uriah. Bathsheba got pregnant. And David concealed his sin by murdering Uriah and taking Bathsheba as his wife. God sent Nathan the prophet to David to open his eyes. After Nathan’s set up about a rich man with many flocks taking a poor man’s lamb, David realized that he was the man. And his sin would have far reaching consequences. God says to David, “the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife” (v. 10). He adds that one of his own house would do to David what he had done to Uriah. Another man would lie with David’s wives in the sight of the sun. What David had done secretly would be done to him publicly. And this is exactly what happened when his son Absalom rebelled against him, laying with his concubines in the sight of all Israel.

David admitted his sin. And Nathan replied that the LORD had put away David’s sin. David would not die. But the child of David’s adulterous union with Bathsheba would. And the child died because David had given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme. David fasted and sought the LORD for the child’s welfare. Nevertheless, the child died. And David rose, worshipped, then ate. 

Relational Webs

Modern man thinks he is alone. He is solitary man playing solitaire. One man thinks he is lost at sea. Another man thinks he’s alone on an adventure. But the aloneness is there either way. The trouble is, he is not alone. God said from the beginning that it was not good for man to be alone. He finds himself in a web of relationships, which is different than being one marble in a bag related to other marbles in a bag. 

Modern man struggles with the discipline of the LORD revealed in this passage. A sword would come to David’s house because of David’s sin. How is that even fair? Shouldn’t God deal with David’s children and grandchildren on their own merits? They didn’t do anything wrong. David did. And then there is the child. The text says plainly, “The LORD struck the child” (v. 15). And this was a result of David’s sin. 

We have to deal with the text of Scripture which does not hold to the individualism of our day. The individual certainly exists. But the “ism” at the end signals a worldview that has nothing but the individual. It is a worldview that has lost the central biblical truth that man is represented by a head. Adam was our head. When he fell, “God struck the child.” When he fell, we fell in him. And Christ is the head of his people. When he died, we died. When he rose, we rose. His righteousness is our righteousness. And his victory is our victory. 

While none of us are in the same position as Adam or Christ, we still find ourselves represented and representing. And Christians find themselves in a long war. Christ is the head of a new humanity. And that new humanity is being restored. It is filling the earth. When we sin, like David, we afford an opportunity to those remaining in the kingdom of darkness to blaspheme God. On the other hand, when we walk in holiness, the enemies of God are put to flight and the new humanity in Christ is encouraged, built up, and strengthened in faith.

In short, the holiness stakes are higher than we think they are. They were so for David. And they remain so today.