July 25, 2021

Live by the Spirit: The Seventh Commandment

Scripture Reading: II Samuel 11:1-15, 12:1-14
Teaching Lesson: Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 108 & 109

In the Seventh Commandment found in Exodus 20:14 God says, “You shall not commit adultery”. This is sometimes a difficult commandment to think about because there is a world of hurt that surrounds everyone who has ever been a victim or transgressor of it. There is always forgiveness and there is always grace, but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that allowing an “intruder” into one’s family is not so bad. In our reading from II Samuel 11 and 12 we see this playing out in the royal family of King David. In Chapter 11 David invites the intruder into his palace and thereby becomes himself an intruder into another relationship. He fails to protect his family and two people end up dead and others will be shattered in their inner spirit. If you were to read the whole story beginning in II Samuel 11 and moving on into the next few chapters, you will see how messed up David’s family becomes and it all begins with a look and a desire. The Seventh Commandment is transgressed and Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba dies, and the baby son born from the
adulterous affair between David and Bathsheba also dies.

What is God aiming to protect in the Seventh Commandment?
When King David breaks this commandment, how do we see the effects on his family?
What is “polygamy”? Is it part of God’s creation order?

A while back we studied the story of Joseph and in Genesis 39 we read about an episode in his life that is an interesting comparison to that of King David in our text. Potiphar’s wife wanted to seduce Joseph. However, in Genesis 39:9 Joseph says to her, “How can I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” Joseph recognizes that not only would he be dishonoring his master by giving into temptation, but also God himself. This kind of wisdom is absent in the encounter between David and Bathsheba. King David gives into temptation. Now, if we look at how the lives of Joseph and David turned out after these incidents, we see a striking difference between the two. In the case of Joseph, after initially spending some time in jail, he rises to become the ruler of Egypt. David, on the other hand, sees a slow and steady decline in his reign as king over Israel. One is raised up and the other is brought low. There are consequences to sin.

What does Proverbs 6:27-29 have to say about adultery?
Who is the very great-grandson of King David who brings grace into the mess of human sin?

The world is messed up and our lives in this world will be messed up. However, as the writer of Psalm 40 says, “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” As Christians we confess that in Jesus Christ (the very great-grandson of King David) we have been brought out of our slavery to sin and have been renewed by the Holy Spirit. We stand on solid ground when we stand on the Gospel and this is good news for everybody. The gospel found in the Seventh Commandment is in knowing that Christ can cleanse the thoughts of our minds and the secrets of our hearts. He is able to forgive our sins by grace alone.

If Exodus 20:14 states the Seventh Commandment negatively, how do we hear it positively in Ephesians 5:25-27?
How do we hear both grace and truth in Nathan’s words to David in II Samuel 12:13-14?
What does it mean when the Heidelberg Catechism says we are “Temples of the Holy Spirit”?
In light of the Seventh Commandment, how do you protect yourself and your family?

The Conclusion:
Grace is where we must finish. God has not only redeemed our souls, he also redeems our bodies. Body and soul, we belong to him. In God’s Will for our lives we keep in step with the Spirit who leads us on solid ground. In Christ God calls us back to himself and restores our primary relationship with him. God puts us on solid ground and then turns our hearts towards each other and makes it possible for reconciliation to take place on the human level as well. Led by his Word and Spirit we will be faithful to God and each other.