Was telling lies David's besetting sin?

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Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
In Thomas Brooks' book The Golden Key, he argues that lying was King David's besetting sin (Works, 5: 20-21). What do you make of this claim?
 

Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Senior
Well, I don't have a way to read the actual argument, but let me assume that what he is saying is that what he is trying to say is that at the root of all David's sin is lying. Could this not be argued for every commandment?

At its root, all my sin is idolatry, since I worship the creature over the creator (first commandment).
At its root, all my sin is false worship, since I ascribe to creation (or myself) what belongs only to God (second commandment).
At its root, all my sin is taking the Lord's name in vain, since by my sin I blaspheme God's name (third commandment).
Etc., etc., etc.

In other words, isn't it so that in every one sin every other sin is found (if that makes sense)?
 

JTB.SDG

Puritan Board Sophomore
Does he give any scripture to back up his claim, or is he just throwing it out there in passing?
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
In Thomas Brooks' book The Golden Key, he argues that lying was King David's besetting sin (Works, 5: 20-21). What do you make of this claim?

I would need Brooks' definition of lying. There is a pietistic view of lying that is contrary to Scripture. In the Bible, there are times and even classes of people that are not entitled to the truth. Many 'I-can-not-tell-a-lie' types would not hesitate to leave a light on in their home while away to deceive 'lye' to would-be burglars. That's intentional lying. Is it not? David often 'lied' to outwit his enemies during wartime and when on the run from Saul. Should president Isenhower have told the Germans when and where he was planning to launch the D-Day invasion? The famous Corrie ten Boom clearly 'lied' to the Germans by building a secret room in her home. When asked where the captives were hiding, Corrie's can-not-tell-a-lie sister truthfully said, "under the table." But I noticed that when the souldiers kicked over the table and found no one, Corrie's holier-than-thou sister didn't offer more information by stating, "No, no, they are under the floorboards." I also have noticed that commentators find fault with Abraham for claiming Sarah was his sister. But the Bible does not. (Gen. 20) When Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah, his wife, "She is my sister." And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. What happened?
  • God warned Abimelech in a dream "and said to him, "Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man's wife."
  • God prevented him from "touching" Sarah.
  • Abimelech's men were very much afraid of God's vengeance over the near disaster.
  • God closed up the wombs in the kingdom over the near disaster.
  • God told Abimelech that Abraham would pray for him and his land.
  • Abimelech comes to Abraham asking what he had done to cause him to sin.
  • He then gave Abraham his wife back and added sheep, oxen, male and female servants, and a large land grant. He saw to it that Sarah's good name was restored and vindicated.
But the pietistic commentators find fault with Abraham. Whatever happened to Biblical Theology?
I could add the incident about Moses killing the Egyptian, but I will forbear.
Michal helped David deceive Saul's men by lying about David's sickness and making it look like he was sick in bed after helping him to escape. (1 Sam. 19)
  • David feigns madness 'lyes' before Achish king of Gath to flee with his life. (1 Sam 21)
  • Later, David lyes again the Achish claiming that he and his men were raiding town's in Israel (1 Sam. 27)
  • 1 Samuel 21 David went to Ahimelech, the priest at Nob, and lied about being on an urgent mission for King Saul.
  • David and his men hid 'lied' in a cave to escape Saul (1 Samuel 24)
  • And on and on and on.
These are the type of lies I think of when I think of King David. And I have read commentators who claim that these types of lies were a blot on David's character.

I am sure I missed many 'lies' of David. What other lies come to mind?
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
But... :)

"because David did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the case of Uriah the Hittite." -I Kings 15:5 NASB
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I don't buy it, unless Brooks makes a specific argument. I'm sure being a weak father/husband was a more debilitating sin than lying.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
I think it would be safer to argue that lying was a besetting sin rather than the besetting sin of David's life. As for the specific points Thomas Brooks makes in defence of this claim, I have given you guys the reference to consult for yourselves. Do you want me to do all your work for you? :p
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think Brooks' point was not to argue definitively that sin was David's primary besetting sin (though he does call it "David's special sin"); rather, his point is that we should all set ourselves strongly against our besetting sins, whatever they are. David comes up as an example because he tells a number of lies in Scripture (Brooks cites 1 Sam 21:2, 8 and 27:8, 10), but also prays in the psalms that God would keep him from lying (intriguingly a number of the citations are from Psalm 119, which doesn't have a Davidic superscription!). Brooks could probably have formulated his example more clearly, but his main point surely stands regardless.
 

Wretched Man

Puritan Board Freshman
I would need Brooks' definition of lying. There is a pietistic view of lying that is contrary to Scripture. In the Bible, there are times and even classes of people that are not entitled to the truth. Many 'I-can-not-tell-a-lie' types would not hesitate to leave a light on in their home while away to deceive 'lye' to would-be burglars. That's intentional lying. Is it not? David often 'lied' to outwit his enemies during wartime and when on the run from Saul. Should president Isenhower have told the Germans when and where he was planning to launch the D-Day invasion? The famous Corrie ten Boom clearly 'lied' to the Germans by building a secret room in her home. When asked where the captives were hiding, Corrie's can-not-tell-a-lie sister truthfully said, "under the table." But I noticed that when the souldiers kicked over the table and found no one, Corrie's holier-than-thou sister didn't offer more information by stating, "No, no, they are under the floorboards." I also have noticed that commentators find fault with Abraham for claiming Sarah was his sister. But the Bible does not. (Gen. 20) When Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah, his wife, "She is my sister." And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. What happened?
  • God warned Abimelech in a dream "and said to him, "Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man's wife."
  • God prevented him from "touching" Sarah.
  • Abimelech's men were very much afraid of God's vengeance over the near disaster.
  • God closed up the wombs in the kingdom over the near disaster.
  • God told Abimelech that Abraham would pray for him and his land.
  • Abimelech comes to Abraham asking what he had done to cause him to sin.
  • He then gave Abraham his wife back and added sheep, oxen, male and female servants, and a large land grant. He saw to it that Sarah's good name was restored and vindicated.
But the pietistic commentators find fault with Abraham. Whatever happened to Biblical Theology?
I could add the incident about Moses killing the Egyptian, but I will forbear.
Michal helped David deceive Saul's men by lying about David's sickness and making it look like he was sick in bed after helping him to escape. (1 Sam. 19)
  • David feigns madness 'lyes' before Achish king of Gath to flee with his life. (1 Sam 21)
  • Later, David lyes again the Achish claiming that he and his men were raiding town's in Israel (1 Sam. 27)
  • 1 Samuel 21 David went to Ahimelech, the priest at Nob, and lied about being on an urgent mission for King Saul.
  • David and his men hid 'lied' in a cave to escape Saul (1 Samuel 24)
  • And on and on and on.
These are the type of lies I think of when I think of King David. And I have read commentators who claim that these types of lies were a blot on David's character.

I am sure I missed many 'lies' of David. What other lies come to mind?
Just because God restored Sarah and other possessions to Abraham doesn’t necessarily imply he was right in lying about his wife being his sister. God offered mercy and grace to Abraham (and all the other sinful patriarchs and “hero’s” of the Bible) despite his failures.

God told Abraham he would give him a son through his wife, Sarah. He failed to believe God and gave her away to another man in cowardly deception.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
Just because God restored Sarah and other possessions to Abraham doesn’t necessarily imply he was right in lying about his wife being his sister. God offered mercy and grace to Abraham (and all the other sinful patriarchs and “hero’s” of the Bible) despite his failures.

God told Abraham he would give him a son through his wife, Sarah. He failed to believe God and gave her away to another man in cowardly deception.

Hi Nathan,

Hate to say it, but you are proving my point. In the Bible, Abimelech and his entire population is the recipient of God's ire. The Bible is silent on the evil of Abraham. I am not saying that what Abraham did was right. What I am saying is that the commentators and now you are condemning his actions or non-actions where the Bible is silent.

I also mentioned Moses' "murder" of the Egyptian. The commentators condemn Moses of murder. Are they right? In this case, the Bible is not silent.

Acts 7:23-25
"When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel.
And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian.
He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand.
 

Wretched Man

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi Nathan,

Hate to say it, but you are proving my point. In the Bible, Abimelech and his entire population is the recipient of God's ire. The Bible is silent on the evil of Abraham. I am not saying that what Abraham did was right. What I am saying is that the commentators and now you are condemning his actions or non-actions where the Bible is silent.

I also mentioned Moses' "murder" of the Egyptian. The commentators condemn Moses of murder. Are they right? In this case, the Bible is not silent.

Acts 7:23-25
"When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel.
And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian.
He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand.
Interesting thought. I was just in a discussion a few weeks ago regarding Lot and his offering his daughters to the lustful Sodomites. In your view, are we also not safe to assume this was sinful of Lot (and similarly for the Levite in Judges 19) to have done this, since the Bible doesn’t condemn it outright?
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
Interesting thought. I was just in a discussion a few weeks ago regarding Lot and his offering his daughters to the lustful Sodomites. In your view, are we also not safe to assume this was sinful of Lot (and similarly for the Levite in Judges 19) to have done this since the Bible doesn’t condemn it outright?

Many sins in the Bible are not "condemned outright." Additionally, I am not saying that Abraham's lie was not a sin. My main point was that Abimelech and his people caught all the flack, and it was Abraham that prayed for him, and the Lord answered his prayer. Just how wrong Abraham's lie was is an open question. Yes, he lied, but we should not go beyond Scripture in condemning him when all the condemnation that is recorded is against Abimelech. Check out the commentaries and see how many spend time condemning Abraham.

As to Moses' sin in killing the Egyptian, I think we should hold one's peace entirely in view of the commentary of Luke in Acts 7.

I think most members of the PB would agree that it is permitted to lie to would-be criminals. E.g., Leaving a light on to give the impression someone is home. But is it always wrong to lie to would-be murderers? Apparently it is according to most commentators. (see examples below)

Here are a few comments on Abraham's lie:

2. Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister—Fear of the people among whom he was, tempted him to equivocate. His conduct was highly culpable. It was deceit, deliberate and premeditated—there was no sudden pressure upon him—it was the second offense of the kind [see on Ge 12:13]—it was a distrust of God every way surprising, and it was calculated to produce injurious effects on the heathen around. Its mischievous tendency was not long in being developed.

Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 27). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

2. His sin in denying his wife, as before (ch. 12:13), which was not only in itself such an equivocation as bordered upon a lie, and which, if admitted as lawful, would be the ruin of human converse and an inlet to all falsehood, but was also an exposing of the chastity and honour of his wife, of which he ought to have been the protector. But, besides this, it had here a two-fold aggravation:—(1.) He had been guilty of this same sin before, and had been reproved for it, and convinced of the folly of the suggestion which induced him to it; yet he returns to it. Note, It is possible that a good man may, not only fall into sin, but relapse into the same sin, through the surprise and strength of temptation and the infirmity of the flesh. Let backsliders repent then, but not despair, Jer. 3:22. (2.) Sarah, as it should seem, was now with child of the promised seed, or, at least, in expectation of being so quickly, according to the word of God; he ought therefore to have taken particular care of her now, as Jdg. 13:4. 3. The peril that Sarah was brought into by this means: The king of Gerar sent, and took her to his house, in order to the taking of her to his bed. Note, The sin of one often occasions the sin of others; he that breaks the hedge of God’s commandments opens a gap to he knows not how many; the beginning of sin is as the letting forth of water.

Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 49). Peabody: Hendrickson.

The contrast between Abraham’s saintly deeds in ch. 18 and his deceitful cowardice here shocks every reader. If his fear in Egypt (12:10–20) was understandable though not justified, what can be said for his repeating the same misleading story about his wife in Gerar, a small town in the south-eastern corner of Canaan (cf. 10:19)? After enjoying such intimacy with God in ch. 18 why had he apparently abandoned faith in divine protection and relied on his cunning? On the other hand, the men of Gerar are shown to be very different from the Sodomites. Abimelech protested the purity of his motives and his desire to please God. So we learn that Abraham was not as saintly as ch. 18 perhaps suggested, nor were all the Canaanites as wicked as Sodom. Real life is often a mixture of contradictions—the totally pure or completely evil exist only in fiction.

Wenham, G. J. (1994). Genesis. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 75). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

I could go on and on.
 

Wretched Man

Puritan Board Freshman
Many sins in the Bible are not "condemned outright." Additionally, I am not saying that Abraham's lie was not a sin. My main point was that Abimelech and his people caught all the flack, and it was Abraham that prayed for him, and the Lord answered his prayer. Just how wrong Abraham's lie was is an open question. Yes, he lied, but we should not go beyond Scripture in condemning him when all the condemnation that is recorded is against Abimelech. Check out the commentaries and see how many spend time condemning Abraham.

As to Moses' sin in killing the Egyptian, I think we should hold one's peace entirely in view of the commentary of Luke in Acts 7.

I think most members of the PB would agree that it is permitted to lie to would-be criminals. E.g., Leaving a light on to give the impression someone is home. But is it always wrong to lie to would-be murderers? Apparently it is according to most commentators. (see examples below)

Here are a few comments on Abraham's lie:

2. Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister—Fear of the people among whom he was, tempted him to equivocate. His conduct was highly culpable. It was deceit, deliberate and premeditated—there was no sudden pressure upon him—it was the second offense of the kind [see on Ge 12:13]—it was a distrust of God every way surprising, and it was calculated to produce injurious effects on the heathen around. Its mischievous tendency was not long in being developed.

Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 27). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

2. His sin in denying his wife, as before (ch. 12:13), which was not only in itself such an equivocation as bordered upon a lie, and which, if admitted as lawful, would be the ruin of human converse and an inlet to all falsehood, but was also an exposing of the chastity and honour of his wife, of which he ought to have been the protector. But, besides this, it had here a two-fold aggravation:—(1.) He had been guilty of this same sin before, and had been reproved for it, and convinced of the folly of the suggestion which induced him to it; yet he returns to it. Note, It is possible that a good man may, not only fall into sin, but relapse into the same sin, through the surprise and strength of temptation and the infirmity of the flesh. Let backsliders repent then, but not despair, Jer. 3:22. (2.) Sarah, as it should seem, was now with child of the promised seed, or, at least, in expectation of being so quickly, according to the word of God; he ought therefore to have taken particular care of her now, as Jdg. 13:4. 3. The peril that Sarah was brought into by this means: The king of Gerar sent, and took her to his house, in order to the taking of her to his bed. Note, The sin of one often occasions the sin of others; he that breaks the hedge of God’s commandments opens a gap to he knows not how many; the beginning of sin is as the letting forth of water.

Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 49). Peabody: Hendrickson.

The contrast between Abraham’s saintly deeds in ch. 18 and his deceitful cowardice here shocks every reader. If his fear in Egypt (12:10–20) was understandable though not justified, what can be said for his repeating the same misleading story about his wife in Gerar, a small town in the south-eastern corner of Canaan (cf. 10:19)? After enjoying such intimacy with God in ch. 18 why had he apparently abandoned faith in divine protection and relied on his cunning? On the other hand, the men of Gerar are shown to be very different from the Sodomites. Abimelech protested the purity of his motives and his desire to please God. So we learn that Abraham was not as saintly as ch. 18 perhaps suggested, nor were all the Canaanites as wicked as Sodom. Real life is often a mixture of contradictions—the totally pure or completely evil exist only in fiction.

Wenham, G. J. (1994). Genesis. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 75). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

I could go on and on.
Thanks for the explanation. And I agree with your position that all forms of lies should not be assumed to be sinful. Jesus of course lied to his half-brothers about not attending the feast.
 
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