Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
So, how many of the Ten Commandments did King David break in our first reading, from 2nd Samuel, chapter 11? Were you keeping track? By my count, it was six of them. Let’s see if you agree, or if you find even more.
At the very beginning, we are told that while his whole army was out fighting the Ammonites and surrounding the city of Rabbah, David stayed back in his capital city of Jerusalem. I think Luther would say that David wasn’t properly fulfilling the responsibilities of his vocation as king of Israel. Vocation is all about acting properly in our duties of accountability to those in authority over us, and responsibility for those under us.
David shirking his duty to lead his people in battle, then, I take to be a 4th Commandment violation. Either way, David’s behavior throughout this episode certainly did not bring honor to his father and mother at the most basic level. They would have been horribly embarrassed by their son’s actions.
Next, David sees a beautiful woman, Bathsheba, but she’s the wife of another man, and he covets her. There goes the 10th Commandment. He gets his servants involved in summoning Bathsheba to his palace, causing these workers to sin against their vocations, and the woman against her vocation as a wife. Fourth Commandment, again.
David commits adultery with the woman: 6th Commandment, broken. He calls Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah the Hittite, home from the battle, pretending to be concerned about him, but really just wanting to use Uriah to cover up his own sin. That’s breaking the 8th Commandment about bearing false witness.
David’s attempts to trick Uriah fail because Uriah behaves in a faithful, loyal, and honorable way. So, David gets his top general, Joab, to put Uriah in the most dangerous part of the battle, and Uriah is killed. That breaks the 5th Commandment about being responsible for the physical safety of others.
Our worship folder today missed the last two verses that should have been there, but they are an important conclusion to this whole sad and sorry affair. They end with the words, “the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.” Boy, I’ll say!
So, if we review the story, we see that David broke the 4th Commandment, several times. The 10th Commandment. The 6th. The 8th, several times, also. And the 5th. How many is that? It’s five, if you’re keeping track. But I told you David broke six commandments, didn’t I? Which other one did we miss?
How about the one where the Lord says: “You shall have no other gods before me.”? Yes, David broke that one for sure. He made his comfort, his lust, his pleasure, and his reputation his gods, putting them ahead of his fear, love, and trust in the Lord God of Israel. All sin breaks that 1st Commandment. Every sin. King David was pretty rotten in that story, sinning frequently and sinning badly. He was Israel’s greatest king, called “a man after God’s own heart,” but in this particular situation, God was not pleased at all.
So, how many commandments did you break today? This week? This month? Have you kept a count? Do you have a notebook or tally sheet with all your sins recorded? Probably not, because we’d all run out of paper, ink, and time to do anything else but record our sins. What, did you just say to yourself, “Oh, I’m not that bad, really?” Add that sin of pride to the list, too.
We are rotten with sin, and all our protests to the contrary merely spread the stench further. And, just like David, whether we’ve sinned in a way other people think is awful or even in ways they mistakenly think are not so bad, the Bible tells us, “whoever keeps the whole Law, but fails on a single point, is guilty of breaking all of it.”  That sounds pretty severe, even unfair, but the reality is that even the tiniest sin from our point of view still separates us an infinite distance from a perfect and holy God.
What, then, can we do, we who like King David have sinned and are displeasing to the Lord? We have no hope but to look to the perfect, eternal king, Jesus Christ.
Our second reading, from Revelation 22, might not seem to fit all that closely with our Advent discussions of the connections and contrasts between the past imperfect king, David, and the future perfect king, Jesus. But it does, if you’re willing to do a little work at it.
For one thing, this second reading is from the very end of the Bible—it describes the coming of the eternal kingdom. It provides descriptions and promises about the perfect reign of our perfect King. Other than receiving the Lord’s Supper, you can’t get any closer to heaven than that chapter.
For another thing, notice what Jesus says there about Himself: “I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” Both root and descendant: The origin and the destination. Or, as Jesus says earlier in the text, “I am the Alpha and the Omega.”
Alpha and Omega are the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet, so Jesus was telling St. John, the author of Revelation, that He is everything that is needed, from A to Z.
When David was confronted by Nathan the prophet about all the sins he had done, David repented, confessed his sin, and threw himself at the mercy of God. He heard the Lord’s prophet declare that his sin had been taken away.
When you, in this penitential and preparatory season of Advent, are confronted by the Lord’s prophets about all the sins you have done, what will your response be? Will you deny them? Ignore them? Rationalize them? Attempt to explain them away?
Or will you heed the Lord’s warning: “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.”?
The Holy Spirit calls upon you to wash your body and soul in the blessed waters of the font, and your robe in the blood of the Lamb, so that you may have the right to come and eat of the Tree of Life, and may enter the holy city, the heavenly Jerusalem. Jesus promised that He would send His messenger to His churches to testify to you about these things. And so we do: You have sinned. Repent. Receive the righteousness of Christ to supplant and wipe away the dark, fatal stain of your transgressions. You are forgiven, for the sake of Him whose kingdom is not of this world. With the Holy Spirit and the Bride of the Lamb, add your voice and call to Jesus, “Come!”
He has testified, “Surely I am coming soon.”
Come, Lord Jesus, Perfect and Eternal King. Amen.