The Dangers of Spiritual Pride, 2 Samuel 6


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“The Dangers of Spiritual Pride”

2 Samuel 6

August 30, 2020

Faith Presbyterian Church – Evening Service

Pastor Nicoletti

 

We return again this evening to the Book of Samuel.

 

David has been anointed as king of all Israel. He has conquered Jerusalem for the people of God. He has defended Israel from the Philistines. He is doing well in many ways … though as we noted last Lord’s Day, a clear problem seems to be emerging with his relationship to women. He keeps taking more women as wives and as concubines. Those of us who know that adultery and then murder lay ahead in David’s story note the seeds of that sin already in the previous chapters.

 

Nonetheless, we are not yet that far along. David has united Israel under his reign. And now he wants to orient them to the worship of the Lord – the worship of Yahweh, their God.

 

And with that, we come to Second Samuel, chapter six.

 

Please listen carefully, for this is God’s word for us this evening:

 

6:1 David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale-judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of Yahweh of hosts who sits enthroned on the cherubim. And they carried the ark of God on a new cart and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. And Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart, with the ark of God, and Ahio went before the ark.

And David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before Yahweh, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of Yahweh was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. And David was angry because Yahweh had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day. And David was afraid of Yahweh that day, and he said, “How can the ark of Yahweh come to me?” 10 So David was not willing to take the ark of Yahweh into the city of David. But David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. 11 And the ark of Yahweh remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and Yahweh blessed Obed-edom and all his household.

12 And it was told King David, “Yahweh has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing. 13 And when those who bore the ark of Yahweh had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal. 14 And David danced before Yahweh with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. 15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of Yahweh with shouting and with the sound of the horn.

16 As the ark of Yahweh came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before Yahweh, and she despised him in her heart. 17 And they brought in the ark of Yahweh and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it. And David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before Yahweh. 18 And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of Yahweh of hosts 19 and distributed among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins to each one. Then all the people departed, each to his house.

20 And David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” 21 And David said to Michal, “It was before Yahweh, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of Yahweh—and I will celebrate before Yahweh. 22 I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your eyes. But by the female servants of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor.” 23 And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.

 

This is the Word of the Lord. (Thanks be to God.)

 

Let’s pray …

 

Lord, like the psalmist,

when we think of the direction you give us through your ancient word,

we take comfort, Lord.

Let your word be now our joy and delight,

as we attend to it here in your house,

so that we would remember your revelation as we go from here, day and night,

that we may cling to and follow it.

Give us that great blessing,

of walking in your ways, by the power of your Spirit

Grant this, we ask, in Jesus’s name. Amen

[Based on Psalm 119:52, 54-56]

 

INTRODUCTION:

 

We see a similar pattern play out twice in our text this evening, in two different ways.

 

The pattern is of David having a good and right beginning, followed by the problem of spiritual pride which corrupts the good beginning, and then David must respond to the problem.

 

The first time this pattern plays out, it is in relation to God. The second time this pattern plays out, it is in relation to other people.

 

Tonight I want to consider each time the pattern plays out, and ask what we are to learn from it.

 

 

A GOOD BEGINNING TOWARDS GOD:

 

And so we begin with David’s relationship towards God. And as we said, at the start, we have a good beginning.

 

And we see this at the beginning of chapter six. David wants to honor Yahweh. He gathers a large group of chosen men, as we read in verse one – either to guard the ark from Philistine attack [Leithart, 210] or orient many in Israel towards national public worship [Firth, 375].

 

The theme of the gathering is the kingship and the enthronement of Yahweh, since the ark represents Yahweh’s presence, and he is described as being enthroned above it. [Davis 71-73; Leithart, 209-210]

 

There is celebration, there are songs and music. This seems to be a good thing for David and a good thing for Israel.

 

 

SPIRITUAL PRIDE TOWARDS GOD:

 

And then disaster strikes. God suddenly strikes down one of his worshippers. Which can come to us as a surprise the first time we read this. What is God doing? Why would he respond this way?

 

To understand God’s response, we need to better understand the significance of David and Uzzah and Israel’s actions. And to understand their significance, we need to read them in light of the Old Testament law.

 

Because the fact is that Uzzah’s action was only the last in a line of offenses that David and Uzzah and Israel committed here – offenses which dishonored Yahweh, and which were rooted in spiritual pride.

 

Let me explain what I mean.

 

Numbers chapters four and seven, and Leviticus chapter sixteen all explain how the ark – the throne – of God was to be treated. [Davis, 75; Leithart, 211] A set of rules are put in place, all of which are designed to emphasize the holiness of God, and the fact that sinful men and women cannot approach and draw close to God on their own. And David, Uzzah, and Israel brazenly violated a whole slew of these laws.

 

First of all, we read in Numbers four and seven that when the ark is transferred, only one Levitical clan is authorized to transport it: the sons of Kohath. But those described transporting it here were not Kohathites.

 

Second, it is specified in Numbers 7 that while many items from the tabernacle could be transported on carts, the ark could not – it was to be carried by Kohathites using poles designed for that purpose.

 

Third, when the sons of Kohath carried the ark, they were to do it without ever looking at or seeing it. Numbers chapter four specifies that the priests were to cover the ark with multiple coverings before the sons of Kohath approached it.

 

Fourth, the sons of Kohath were also forbidden from touching the ark. Numbers four says: “the sons of Kohath shall come to carry these, but they must not touch the holy things, lest they die.” [Numbers 4:15]

 

In fact, the law of Moses tells us that no one – not even the high priest – was to approach the ark without sacrifice for sin.

 

Leviticus 16 recounts the instructions of the Lord, and how when Aaron was going to approach the ark, he must first make a sacrifice for his own sin, and then also make a sacrifice for the sins of the people of Israel, and he must bring the blood of those sacrifices with him, and even then he should first light incense inside the Holy Place, to obscure his vision of the ark.

 

Those are the rules for the ark of the covenant. They are not arbitrary or overly harsh – but they reflect a foundational spiritual truth: God is holy. Men and women are unholy – they are sinful. And no sinful human being can come into the presence of God without the blood of a sacrifice for his sins.

 

Numbers 4 and 7, and Leviticus 16 all give laws that reflect the holiness of God and the humility of sinful human beings before God.

 

Now – compare that with what we see here in Second Samuel 6.

 

The ark is not being transported by the sons of Kohath as God has commanded.

 

The ark is not being carried, but is put on a cart.

 

The ark is uncovered, out in the open, seen by all present.

 

There is no mention of a sacrifice of any kind.

 

The conduct of David, and Uzzah and Israel here looks nothing like what is described in Numbers 4 and 7 or Leviticus 16.

 

You know what it does look like? It looks a lot like the way that the Philistines treated the ark in First Samuel 6 [Firth, 375; Leithart, 211]. It has some level of reverence – like the Philistines, they used a new cart so that it was a cart that had never been previously used for common purposes. [Firth, 375] But it is nothing like what God commanded.

 

As one commentator puts it, “Attentive readers will be anticipating the worst” when they see how Israel is treating the ark. [Leithart, 211]

 

And then, when the cart falters, Uzzah reaches out and touches the ark itself, breaking yet another commandment. And the Lord strikes him down.

 

Uzzah’s sin really was the crown of Israel’s sin here. And it too was rooted in spiritual pride.

 

We may struggle to see that, but Tim Keller puts it really well. He says that when Uzzah sees the cart falter, and he reaches out to prevent the ark from touching the ground, Uzzah is assuming that he is more spiritually pure than the ground is. And he is incredibly wrong. In fact, the whole ceremonial law is meant to emphatically contradict that assumption. And for his negligence and spiritual pride God strikes Uzzah down. [Firth, 372-373]

 

God loves us. God is fiercely affectionate towards his people. But he is also holy. He is not safe. And we, being sinful and rebellious creatures as we are, cannot approach him as we are on our own.

 

The only way we can approach God is with the blood of a sacrifice that is made for our sins. Which is why the only way that we can draw close to God is through the blood of Jesus Christ. He has paid the penalty for our sins, and you cannot know God, you cannot draw close to him, without his blood.

 

That’s why the Christian life starts with faith in Jesus. It’s why our life in the Church begins with the cleansing rite of baptism which points to the blood of Jesus. It’s why Lord’s Day worship begins each Sunday morning with the confession of our sins and the reception, again, of cleansing through the blood of Jesus.

 

We cannot approach God without cleansing. And we all need to ask ourselves if we forget that. Do we acknowledge our need for Christ’s blood with our mouth, but then deny it with our actions – by failing to confess your sins to him in private, by presuming on our access to him because we live a respectable life, or are part of a respectable family, or are a member of a respectable church?

 

Uzzah, we can gather from his position, was a respectable man, in a respectable position, among the people of God. I bet he could have told you with words all about the importance of sacrifice in the Scriptures. But then here he is, denying the holiness of God and his own sinfulness by his actions.

 

This is what spiritual pride looks like. Where do you see it in your life?

 

In response to Uzzah’s sin, God brings judgment – just as he did on the Philistines in chapter five. That’s why the naming of this location parallels the naming of the location where God struck down the Philistines. God is no respecter of persons. He will strike down the spiritually prideful whether they are among the pagan soldiers or his very own priests. [Davis, 76; Leithart, 211]

 

And as he does, he sorts and separates out his people. It’s interesting that verse six notes that all this happened at a threshing floor. A threshing floor is where the wheat is separated from the chaff – a picture the Bible repeatedly uses for God sorting out the unfaithful from among the faithful. [Leithart, 211-212]

 

So God brings judgment on spiritual pride among his people.

 

As an aside, we should note how this whole story stands against any claim that the Bible was devised by humans to verify their own desires or longings.

 

Who on earth would make up a story like this? It brushes against so many of our instincts. We want to believe that our God would never judge us. We want to believe that being part of the right group makes us automatically the good guys. We would never invent a God that is so holy and that brings such judgments. It makes us tremble. We don’t like to tremble.

 

But that is what the Christian Scriptures give us. One small piece of evidence of exactly what we said this morning: that the Bible is God’s self-revelation, recorded by the work of the Holy Spirit, and not the independent creation of any human being.

 

Anyway … back to the text.

 

 

REPENTENCE & HUMILITY TOWARDS GOD:

 

God brings judgment, and David’s first response is not repentance, but anger, fear, and resignation.

 

David gets angry, we are told in verse eight, and while he may have been angry at himself to some degree, he also seems to be angry at God.

 

We are told that David was afraid – but the fear described here does not seem to be the reverent fear of the Lord that the Bible often talks about, but the fear of an adversary. [Firth, 376]

 

Finally, David seems resigned to give up on bringing the ark into Jerusalem. Instead he leaves the ark with Obed-edom the Gittite – a Gentile, and possibly a Philistine from Gath. [Alter, 227; Leithart, 212]

 

Obed-edom, apparently knows how to treat the ark with more reverence that the Israelite priests. Because he is blessed by Yahweh, where Uzzah was struck down.

 

God blesses Gentiles to bring about jealousy in Israel, and lead them to repentance. [Leithart, 212]

 

That repentance begins in verse twelve, when David returns to the ark.

 

And the intentional adherence to the law of God this time is noted more overtly in First Chronicles chapter fifteen, but it is alluded to here in Second Samuel as well.

 

In verse thirteen, the reference to steps indicates that the ark is now being carried. First Chronicles tells us how David assembled the Kohathites and other Levites to carry the ark properly. [Firth, 377]

 

Also in verse thirteen we read a reference to sacrifice – probably meant to indicate that this sacrifice took place at the beginning of the journey, after the first six steps – not that it was repeated every six steps [Alter, 227; Firth, 373]

 

We read of sacrifice again in verse seventeen, which tells us that this time sacrifices marked both the beginning and the end of transporting the ark. [Firth, 378]

 

David’s wearing a linen ephod indicates a priestly role for him here. [Alter, 227; Firth, 377]

 

And David is dancing.

 

The dancing of David described here was vigorous. [Leithart, 212-213] Dancing in the Old Testament is not a regular part of worship, or a feature of the sanctuary (David never assembles a Levitical dancing troupe like he does a Levitical choir). Instead, dancing is associated with special celebrations, processions, and feasts. [Leithart, 213-214]

 

David repents, and he is blessed.

 

We should consider two things in his repentance.

 

First, the need for reverence and humility here is combined with the appropriateness of exuberant worship. As one commentator puts it: “in Yahweh’s presence you should both shudder and dance.” [Davis, 78]

 

Second, we should note that as opposed to Saul, David learned from his mistake when he wrongly related to Yahweh. [Firth, 376]

 

Saul too, remember, failed to obey the commands of God. And he was called out for it. But he responded by making excuses, by shifting blame, and by ultimately doubling down on his pride.

 

David’s response here was not immediately perfect. He got angry. He saw God as his enemy. He abandoned the ark with a Philistine. But he didn’t stop there. He came back. He repented. He learned humility before God, and he lowered himself even further by dancing before the Lord publicly.

 

Whatever mistakes you have made, whatever ways you have sinned, whatever elements of spiritual pride dwell in your heart and your life, David here is a picture of repentance for you. Stop making excuses like Saul. Stop blaming others. Own your sin. Humble yourself before the Lord.

 

In all this, David gives us a positive picture here in his relationship with God. He begins with spiritual pride, but the Lord corrects him, and David eventually receives the correction and humbles himself.

 

 

A GOOD BEGINNING TOWARDS OTHERS:

 

And then, after that, the pattern will repeat itself, with a different focus … and with a different end.

 

Because second, we see how David relates to others.

 

And again we start with a good beginning.

 

First of all, David is loving his people and fulfilling his duty to them by orienting them towards the worship of Yahweh, their God. He has gathered them for such worship, he has called them to such worship, he is working to build the life of the people around their relationship to Yahweh. All of this is good.

 

Second, he incorporates the people into the worship, by distributing the food from the peace offering to the worshipers, as laid out in the law of Moses. [Firth, 378]

 

Third, David gives gifts to the people to bless them beyond their participation in the peace offering, as is described in verse nineteen. [Firth, 378]

 

So far things are going well!

 

And then we come to David’s interaction with Michal.

 

 

SPIRITUAL PRIDE TOWARDS OTHERS:

 

David comes home, and he might have expected to be received with honor and praise, but instead he is met by Michal with cutting sarcasm. [Firth, 378]

 

Michael’s confrontation has two points: First, that David has acted in a disgraceful way instead of a truly honorable way, as the king. And second, that David has acted inappropriate in a specific way with regards to the young women who had been present. [Leithart, 215]

 

David’s defense is that he did not dance for the young ladies but before the Lord, and he is willing to be humbled before the Lord. [Leithart, 215] The point in what David is saying is that to dance before a lesser person might be debasing, but dancing before someone who is greater than you are – as Yahweh clearly was – that was not debasing, but good and right. [Alter, 229] And both David and the narrator agree that that’s what David was doing. [Firth, 377]

 

David, in other words, was right in dancing before the Lord, and Michal was wrong in saying he debased himself.

 

And in fact the narrator highlights that there is even more depth to David’s rightness and Michal’s wrongness than first meets the eye.

 

Throughout the confrontation, Michal is repeatedly referred to as “the daughter of Saul,” which highlights that this is not just a conflict between two spouses, but between two royal houses. [Alter, 228]

 

Saul, remember, was characterized by elevating himself and holding himself in honor, and failing to recognize Yahweh’s superiority over him. And Michal seems to be demanding that David do the same thing. But David will not. David focuses instead on Yahweh’s honor above his own – heeding the correction he received at the beginning of the chapter. [Firth, 373-374, 380]

 

And so Michal’s criticism is mostly wrong.

 

But she may not be completely wrong.

 

Her mention of David’s impure motives toward the young ladies who watched him dance should strike us. We’ve seen the evidence that David has a problem with women. We know that it will lead, a few chapters later, to adultery that then leads to the murder of Bathsheba’s husband. We know David has a problem – he is already giving evidence of that. But we have not yet heard anyone say anything to him about how he might have a problem. Until Michal says something right here.

 

And Michal’s accusation seems not only to be about honor, but also about sexual intent. As commentators point out, while it is unclear to what extent David exposed himself [Firth, 378], the verb used by Michal is clearly meant in a sexual sense and her accusation seems to have an edge of sexual jealousy. [Alter, 229]

 

And Michal, of all people, might have had the clearest view of David’s problem. She was his first wife, whom he had to leave behind when he fled from Saul. With him gone, she was remarried to Paltiel, who we saw in chapter three was clearly devoted to her. But then she was taken from him and returned to David. But by the time she was reunited to David, he had a harem – a house full of wives and concubines. [Alter, 228-229; Leithart, 215]

 

Michal seems to have had a point about David’s problem with women.

 

Which means that even though much of Michal’s criticism was from a wrong perspective – from a Saul-like focus on personal honor – and even though Michal may have had sinful motives – to cut David with sarcasm – still, something very significant in her criticism was spot on.

 

David responded to all the things Michal said that were wrong … but he ignored the thing that she had right.

 

And there lies David’s spiritual pride towards Michal.

 

And it will prove just as deadly as his spiritual pride towards God did at the beginning of this chapter.

 

Because if David had sifted Michal’s words – if he had refuted what was wrong, set aside her motives, and heard the rebuke that was rooted in the truth, then everything could have been different. David could have considered his ways. David could have avoided the death and destruction that lay ahead for him. But he didn’t.

 

The outcome of Michal is a bit ambiguous. Verse twenty-three says “And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.” The result is clear: there would be no dynasty that combined the line of Saul and the line of David. But the cause is not clear.

 

Some read this as a judgment from God. [Leithart, 215] That would emphasize the seriousness of Michal’s sin, though would not relieve David of his failure to heed what was true in her words.

 

But others point out that it may simply mean that David refused to be intimate with Michal again after that altercation. That would seem more to stress David’s disposition towards Michal. After all, in First Samuel 1, when speaking of infertility, the narrator used different language than we find here. [Firth, 379] In the end, the cause is unclear. [Alter, 230]

 

But either way, the fact remains that David’s spiritual pride towards Michal keeps him from hearing the words of correction he needed to hear. David may have been right in the words he did speak. But then, in spiritual pride, he dismissed the remainder of her accusation without comment. And it led to devastation in his life.

 

It might help to consider a parallel situation that ended differently.

 

In Book IX of his Confessions Augustine speaks of a situation his mother found herself in growing up.

 

While still in her parents home, her parents would send her to the family’s wine cask to draw out wine for them from time to time. And though she was not permitted to, she began to sneak a sip herself every time she got it for them. It began with a sip. But soon she was doing it more and more, drinking more and more each time, until, as Augustine puts it, it had developed into “the habit of avidly [gulping] near goblets-full of wine.”

 

Augustine, reflecting on these events in prayer, speaking to God, writes:

“Would anything have been efficacious against that sly sickness, had your medicine not been watching over us, Lord? Father, mother and guardians may all be absent, but you, [God,] are present, you who created us and called us and even through those set over us work for our good and the saving of souls. How did you work then, O my God? How did you cure her, how bring her back to health? Did you not elicit a hard, sharp reproof from another soul, and use it like a surgeon’s knife drawn from your hidden providential resources to cut away that diseased tissue in a single sweep? The maid who usually accompanied her to the cask was one day quarreling with her young mistress – a thing that sometimes happens – and flung an accusation against her when the two of them were alone, calling her in the most bitterly insulting language a wine-swiller. This shaft went home, and my mother took heed to her disgraceful conduct, condemned it and threw it off at once.”

 

Augustine then considers the significance of this. He writes – still in prayer, speaking to God:

“Just as flattering friends pervert, so quarrelsome foes may often correct us, though you, [God,] [repay] them not for what you effect through their means but for their intention. That angry maid meant to upset her little mistress, not heal her, so she spoke up in private, either because the quarrel happened to break out in a place and at a time when they were alone, or because she might have exposed herself to danger if it emerged that she had delayed so long in reporting the matter. But you, Lord, are the ruler of all things in heaven and on earth, and as worldly events flow on their tumultuous way you dispose them in due order, diverting the course of that deep torrent to serve your purposes. Through one unwholesome soul you brought wholesomeness to another.” [Confessions IX.8,18]

 

Hear that central line from Augustine again: “Just as flattering friends pervert, so quarrelsome foes may often correct us.”

 

Monica, Augustine’s mother, heard that correction, even though it was given with sinful motivation, with no concern for helping her repent, and only with the aim of wounding her in an argument. Still, Monica heard the truth in it.

 

David, Michal’s husband, did not hear the correction. Yes, Michal spoke from a sinful perspective, and with a sinful motivation to wound rather than help, and she might not have even been correct in the specific instance she applied her critique to. But she still had a point about David. But David didn’t hear it.

 

His pride – his confidence that he could never have a problem like that – kept him from taking the correction he desperately needed.

 

What about us?

 

Where do we see this pattern in our lives?

 

Because we can have spiritual pride show up in our relationships with others in similar ways.

 

I think we can see it in a whole range of places, but let me mention examples of just three: in the church, in the culture, and in our close relationships.

 

First, in the church.

 

Pastor Gutierrez and I heard an example of this at our denomination’s General Assembly in 2019.

 

There we went to a seminar run by Kimberlee Norris, from the organization MinistrySafe – an organization that helps churches and other ministries put policies in place to prevent child abuse in their organizations.

 

Norris shared how one of the biggest problems she encounters is churches that say that while they know abuse is a problem in other churches, it wasn’t something that would ever happen at their church.

 

Some might say that an organization like MinistrySafe just doesn’t understand that their church is not like the other churches the organization has worked with. Others might say that someone like Norris just approaches the issue in too lawyerly of a manner. Still others would focus on questioning this or that statistic that Norris used in her presentation.

 

People object to the framework or the motivation of Norris or MinistrySafe and assert, essentially that things like abuse “would never be a problem for us.”

 

In other words, they respond with spiritual pride.

 

Norris has had that problem in the PCA as well. In fact, we learned that she has one version of her presentation that begins with case after case of past child abuse that arose in PCA settings, which she uses with PCA churches and ministries to try to poke a hole in their assumption that churches like theirs would never have that kind of problem.

 

Our conviction is that such an attitude is rooted in spiritual pride, which is why we have been working to revise our own child protection policy, to make sure it is up to date with the latest best practices. We hope to complete and implement the update around the time that things start getting back to normal here.

 

The pattern of spiritual pride in the church is still a common one. This issue is not the only place it turns up.  Where do you see it? Where, as a church, can we be guilty of spiritual pride when people raise concerns with us?

 

We see it in the church.

 

We see it also in the culture. And there it tends to go like this. Person A brings a concern to Person B about a problem. Person B replies by criticizing Person A’s framework or motivation, and leaves it there.

 

So maybe Person A tells Person B “I think you or your organization have some problems with race – with how you respond to minorities.” And Person B says, “Well I think you have a Marxist worldview and you’re just virtue signaling.”

 

Now, putting everything else aside, I want to pause on that kind of response and ask: what does David with Michal – what does Monica with her maidservant – tell us about that response?

 

Maybe Person A is a Marxist. Maybe they are virtue-signaling. But is some part of their criticism true? Is it accurate? Have they seen and named something that is there in Person B, but something that Person B, like David, would prefer to ignore?

 

Spiritual pride dismisses the concern by seeing the flaws in the person who raised them. Spiritual humility will consider the concerns even if they know they come from a bad perspective and were spoken with bad motivations.

 

And in our culture, this of course goes both ways. Person B may say “I think what you’re advocating here is unfair and unjust” and Person A might want to respond, “Well that’s just because you’re an Ultra-Libertarian who cares more about money than people.” But that response is not the way of spiritual humility. Spiritual humility takes the concern seriously. Maybe they see something you missed. Maybe you really are advocating something unjust and unfair.

 

We see the temptation to spiritual pride in the church. We see it in the culture.

 

Finally, we also see it in our close relationships.

 

We’ve all been there. You are in an argument with your spouse, or your adolescent child, or your parent, or your roommate, or an acquaintance, or a co-worker, and they make a criticism about you and it stings.

 

And your reaction is to want to make it clear that their viewpoint is stupid, and their motivations are all wrong.

 

And maybe their viewpoint is stupid. Maybe their motivations are all wrong. But maybe they’re still right about that thing they said. Maybe you need to consider it. Maybe it’s spiritual pride that keeps you from taking their claim seriously.

 

 

CONCLUSION:

 

Our text tonight presents two episodes.

 

One of spiritual pride towards God. One of spiritual pride towards others. Both times pride mars what had been a good thing to begin with. Both times there is a chance for repentance.

 

We see David repent in response to God … though it does take him a few months.

 

We don’t see him repent towards Michal … and we know that disaster looms.

 

Monica shows us a different way.

 

The call for us is to follow the path of spiritual humility: To relate to God in humility, knowing it is only by his mercy and the blood of Christ that we can draw close. To hear the words of others even when they sting, even when their motives are wrong, even when 90% of what they say is wrong – to hear the 10% that may be right, and let God use it to call us to repentance.

 

For it is humility and repentance that is the path to true life.

 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This sermon draws on material from:

 

Alter, Robert. The David Story: A Translation with Commentary of 1 and 2 Samuel. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 1999.

Davis, Dale Ralph. 2 Samuel: Out of Every Adversity. Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus, 1999.

Firth, David G. 1 & 2 Samuel. Apollos Old Testament Commentary. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009.

Keller, Timothy. The point on Uzzah was made in a sermon I heard over a decade ago at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. I remember the line, but I have not hunted down the exact sermon it came from.

Leithart, Peter J. A Son to Me: An Exposition of 1 & 2 Samuel. Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2003.

 

 

 

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