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TEXT: II Samuel 23:5
SUBJECT: Family Life #7: Disappointing Families
This afternoon brings us to sermon eight in our study of Family Life. Thus far, the sermons have singled out one member of the family: the husband one month; the wife another; and so on. Today, though, I speak to every member of every family. And even to those who have lost their family or never had one. Also, I'm emphasized duty for the most part. Now, a word of comfort.
The topic is implied by our verse. It is the disappointment of family life. David first spoke these words. And he knew a good deal about the pain of things not turning out the way you hoped they would.
Let's start with the obvious. David was a good man--a very good man. He was "A man after God's own heart" and "The Apple of His eye". David "hated vain thoughts, but loved [God's] Law". He prayed "in the morning"; he meditated in "the night watches"; "Seven times a day" he praised the Lord.
David was not perfect, of course. But when he sinned, he repented, often very quickly, and always with sincerity and deep sorrow.
His devotion to God was not a momentary or occasional thing, but a lifelong habit. Converted as a boy, the old man died with a song of praise on his lips!
We can't find a better summary that Peter's: "David served his own generation by the will of God and fell asleep".
HIS EXPECTED FAMILY LIFE
What sort of family life would you expect of such a man? The Psalm puts it well,
"Blest the man that fears Jehovah,
Walking ever in His ways;
By thy toil thou shalt be prospered,
and be happy all the day.
In thy wife thou shalt have gladness,
she shall fill thy home with good;
Happy in her loving service,
and the joys of motherhood.
Joyful children, sons and daughters,
Shall about thy table meet;
Olive plans, in strength and beauty,
full of hope and promise sweet".
That's the sort of family, you'd expect David to have. An admiring wife, obedient children, a house full of song and praise, humility and love.
DAVID'S REAL FAMILY
Is that the family life he had? We don't know every detail, of course, but what we know is nearly all bad.
His first wife was King Saul's daughter, Michal. For a time, she loved David dearly, even risking her life to save his. But later, she became bitter and contemptuous. Her last recorded words were these lovelies:
"How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself in the eyes of the maids, as one of the base fellows uncovers himself".
All because David "loved the LORD" and "Danced before Him with all his might".
As for his other wives (he had many), we don't know very much. But if they were women, they must have competed for their husband. And that can only produce tension, noise, and unhappiness in the home.
"Where envy and strife is,
There is confusion and every
If David's wives were bad--his children were only worse. One, of course, he lost in infancy. And that broke his heart. The ones who grew up, though, were even more heartbreaking to him.
Amnon raped his sister. Absalom murdered his brother and waged war on his father. Adonijah seized the throne which belonged to his brother. And so on. Do you think these men became wicked all at once? I doubt it. Someone who grew up in the family said,
"Even a child is known by his deeds,
By whether what he does is pure
David's family life was a royal mess. Had they lived today, you know some of them would have ended up spilling their guts to Oprah or duking it out on Jerry Springer!
But surely David wasn't responsible for any of it. Was he? Hosea had a very bad wife--but it wasn't his fault. Many have terrible children who honestly tried to bring them up "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord".
Did David have any part in his family's guilt. He did. About Adonijah, at least, the Bible says,
"His father had not rebuked him at any time by saying, `Why have you done so?' He was also a very good looking man".
Let's think about it: Before Adonijah became "a very good looking man", I suppose he was a darling child. And every time David looked at him, he melted at the little angel.
Because Adonijah was so beautiful, David never corrected him. And wasn't Absalom handsome too? And wasn't Tamar gorgeous? And how about Solomon?
It seems David was an indulgent father. And that contributes mightily to the unhappiness of the home.
"The rod and reproof give wisdom,
But a child left to himself
brings shame to his mother".
And what about his many wives? The rules of marriage were looser then than they are now, but it was never God's will to "multiply wives" or to favor one wife (or her children) over the others. All of which David did.
And then, of course, we have to mention his sins of adultery and murder as undermining his moral authority at home and setting a bad example for his children.
Thus, David contributed much to the family problems he suffered.
Thus far, the sermon has been pretty depressing. But now comes the good part: David's confession. It was uttered near the end of his life; it was spoken in faith; it is true. Here it is:
"Although my house is not so with God, yet He has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. For this is all my salvation and all my desire; shall He not make it increase?"
This meant one thing to him; that God would overlook the chaos that tore his house so and still use that family to bring Messiah into the world.
What does it mean to us? It means family problems do not "Separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord". Nothing does:
--Not an unfaithful husband
--Not a sneering wife
--Not disobedient children
--Not abusive parents
--Not a combination of all the above!
In the hand of God, these problems "work together for our good". Not that they're good, but they "work for good". How? Only God knows it all. But here are some hints:
1.They reveal things about us we need to know, but things we cannot know without the problems that expose them. Job insisted on his innocence. Till the agonies of life showed him otherwise. Then he "abhorred himself and repented in ashes".
a.Every man is content and joyful when his wife does everything he wants her to do. But what about when she says, "No"? Then his impatience boils over and he knows himself better. It's easier to say, "Oh wretched man that I am!" than to believe it.
2.They remind us of how dependent we are on God. Samson needed God every minute. But he didn't know it until things went wrong in his family. Betrayed by his wife, he was blinded by the Philistines, slapped in chains, and put into the work of an ox or a donkey. Only then, he cried to God for grace.
a.Family life can put us in the same spot. How does a wife make her husband faithful? How do parents make their children love each other? We can't. But "With God all things are possible".
3.They exercise and strengthen our graces. "Tribulation works patience".
a.Marriage is not like work; children are not like sports. You can't fire your wife; you can't put your kids on waivers. You've got to live with them. And this "got to"--blessed by God--will make you more patient, longsuffering, humble, prayerful, and hopeful. And these things are good for you.
4.They give us a longing for heaven. For the believer, family problems don't last forever. They give way to a world of infinite happiness, a world where Christ is
"All in all".
CLOSE AND APPEAL
If your family is something like David's, let me tell you: I sympathize with you. The smallest problem with my wife or children just gnaws away at my soul. If I know about it, I pray for you.
But more importantly: Christ prays for you. And loves you through them all. If your husband is disloyal, your Savior remains true. If your parents abuse you, your Heavenly Father cherishes you. If your children make you cry yourself to sleep, God will soon "wipe away every tear".
For now, hang in there. In faith. You won't be sorry. II Corinthians 4:17.
May God bring it to pass. For Christ's sake. Amen.
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