We have an overabundance of bird feeders at our house. Consequently we have an overabundance of squirrels. Now, if the squirrels ate like birds, I wouldn’t mind, but they don’t. They eat like squirrels. The term “squirrel proof” is an oxymoron. You see, squirrels are smart, patient and tenacious. There has not been a feeder invented that they can’t crack! I’m pretty sure that our house is known to the squirrel population as the Penn Hills buffet-where every day is free if you have a bushy tail. The staple finch feed provides a variety of delicacies. The suet packs a protein punch, and the fruit and nut adds just the right amount of sweet for dessert. The weekend special also includes the added delight of whole roasted peanuts in the shell, perfect for eating or hoarding.
So, to remedy this problem we put out a trap to catch the little guys for relocation to a less gluttonous environment-for their own good, of course. At first, they were leery of the trap sitting on the deck but they did notice the BIG…FAT…roasted nuts that were at the very back of the weird wire box. For the first day, they circled the trap, sniffing and examining. It seems that somehow they knew that going inside wasn’t a good idea. The second day, they sat and watched as the blue jays flew in and out, each time grabbing a nut and eating it right in front of them. Eventually, they got braver, (Hey, if the blue jays can do it, why can’t we?), and put a paw or two just inside the door. Finally, one of them took the dare and went all the way in, grabbed a nut and ran back out. You see, the pressure plate is a little bent so it sometimes takes repeated pressure to spring it.
One day, it happened. Two squirrels, who were hanging out together, came by the trap. One of them went in, grabbed the nut and BAM!, the door slammed shut. Panic ensued! The trapped squirrel was all over the 6 sides of that cage. The free one ran around the outside and over the top trying to find a way to open the door. Eventually, everyone calmed down a bit, and the two squirrels sat nudging each other through the cage wire, appearing to try to comfort each other and distressed because there was no escape. It was almost heartbreaking to watch.
We drove the captured squirrel out of the neighborhood, across the interstate and into the nearby game lands and let it go. Several days later, we caught his friend and some others and reunited them. I’m pretty sure it’s them that wave to me each morning from the walnut trees that grow by the creek where I walk.
Sin is very similar to the squirrel trap. The devil will bring something or someone along. It may not start out as sinful but over time and given too much attention can become enticing in a wrong way. The devil is smart. It looks real good but that inner voice warning us of actually stepping into the trap keeps us at bay and out of harm’s way. But given time and right circumstances, we begin to see others doing it without consequence and eventually we just give in and enter the trap worn down by the temptation and our time-weakened resolve. We may even get away with it for a little while, but once the Devil knows that we are all in, BAM!, the door shuts and we are trapped in our sin almost before we realize what is happening. The Devil is patient.
Sin is deceitful. It weakens our conscience by slowly deluding us into thinking that wrong is right. We are warned to not be ignorant of the devil’s schemes, to be on the alert, and to not be fooled over and over again in scripture but our enemy is a formidable one. Today especially, we must realize that our culture lends itself to this kind of a morally eroding environment and we must guard our hearts against it at all costs. The devil does not have a moral compass.
David had this very same experience in his sin with Bathsheba. Then he committed murder to cover up his sin! Does it get any worse? And yet, David was a man after God’s own heart who had faithfully served and loved the Lord up until that time and who still loved the Lord. We don’t know for sure why David was in the palace instead of out on the field with his troops. Was he tired or battle weary? Was he ill? Was he burdened with the responsibilities of being King or knowing that the Messiah would come through Israel? Or perhaps he had grown comfortable with having the comforts of life. Whatever the reason, David got himself into quite a pickle. This did not surprise the Lord. He appointed David knowing beforehand that this would happen. He did not take his throne from him afterwards either. And in fact, David will have a prominent position in the new heavens and the new earth. However, David lived with some of the consequences of his fall for the rest of his life. Consequences are good deterrents when the Devil decides to give it another go in your life.
(As a side note, interestingly enough, Saul’s sin DID cost him the throne, even though in today’s world, his sin was much less awful and was even done appearing to be service to the Lord. Hmmm… food for thought and study. Perhaps God judges sinfulness according to what’s in our hearts and not just by the things that happen in the weakness of our flesh or the arrogance of our own thoughts.)
But thank God, HE is tenacious! He does not let go of His own easily. He is a God of redemption. Like he did with the prodigal son, who was left with nothing but his sin and a dung heap, God waited until the appointed time to confront David. And from Psalm 51, we know he repented.
In verse 10, he asks the Lord to “Create in me a clean heart, God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me.” David realized that without a clean heart and a steadfast spirit, he would likely sin again. Actually, that verse can be translated “Create for me a new heart.”
Sins of the flesh and presumptuous sin are two different things. Willingly sinning is presumptuous sin, evidence of an unregenerate heart, and it separates us from God . Sins of the flesh are stronger than our own resolve, no matter how sincere it may be. Addicts of any kind know this all too well. So why did everything work out for David and cost Saul his life?
- David realized that his heart was dirty. He regretted sinning against God by sinning with Bathsheba. He knew he needed a heart change in order to bring about a behavior change.
- He realized that he couldn’t do what was needed by his own resolve, a 12 step program, or an accountability partner. This is simply works and works cannot change a heart.
- He went to the only one who could give him a new heart and humbly submitted himself to God’s will and way. God did not disappoint. He forgave, cleansed and restored David to his rightful place in the kingdom.