When I first read the passage from 2 Samuel 11:1-15, I remembered these words from Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah.”
Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty, and the moonlight overthrew you.
It’s a little scary to see David-a man after God’s own heart-give in to his sinful desires. We can’t read this story without considering the fact that we are no different than David. We are susceptible to, and capable of, great sin.
How did David fail God and come up with a plan to murder Uriah? The same way we do. Some of us might not fall as far as David and Bathsheba did, and some of us fall even further. Bad choices have bad consequences. In this case, the consequence was the death of Bathsheba’s child.
David’s sin occurred because he ignored his duty and indulged his desire. Had David been leading the troops as a king should, he would not have found himself in this moment of enticement. Also, he literally presided over a harem despite God’s command to refrain from having multiple wives and concubines. So that moment on the rooftop was part of a pattern. Sin is never satisfied. It gets more and more daring as it opposes God. It was simply a matter of time before David’s sins would catch up with him.
Nowhere does Scripture implicate Bathsheba in this event. She was innocently taking a bath, as she normally did within the supposed privacy of her courtyard. David saw her and he coveted her; then he sent for her and took her. She was a subject of the king and was required to do his bidding.
Bathsheba was the victim of a man whose God-given power had gone to his head. Hebrew law required that anyone caught in adultery should be stoned. While it was improbable that the people would insist on such punishment for their king, his actions would have discredited him had they been known, so David tried to cover up his adultery and make it appear as if Bathsheba’s child belonged to Uriah. There is no limit to the depths of sin a person is capable of once he or she starts to walk away from God. David reasoned that since he was given everything by the hand of God he was entitled to anything he wanted. He soon learned that the concept of selfish entitlement was one that God didn’t know.
Something is often overlooked in this passage; namely, the character of Uriah. From this passage we see that he is a man with great character. His statement about the Ark and his comrades being on the battlefield shows the devotion and commitment that existed in his life. He brings to mind words that Christ would speak many years later as recorded in Luke 9:23: “And he said to them all, if any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” David could have learned much from the words Uriah spoke to him, but he was too involved in his sin.
David hoped Uriah would have slept with Bathsheba and then when her pregnancy became obvious, everyone would believe that Uriah was the father. However, Uriah did not sleep with his wife. He believed that it would not have been the right thing to do while his comrades were in the field during battle. Uriah’s sense of duty, even when he was drunk, contrasted with David’s failure to even show up for battle.
David was so anxious to cover up his sin that he was willing to commit murder, an act he had vehemently opposed regarding Saul, Abner and Ishbosheth. Committing just one sin often makes people callous to bigger sins, until they find themselves doing things they never imagined they would do.
Our cars have dashboard warning lights that tell us when something is wrong. When one of these lights comes on, we can stop and find out what the problem is, or we can ignore it and suffer the consequences. We sometimes do the same things in our spiritual lives. When we do something wrong, we get a warning light from our conscience. If we ignore it, our spiritual lives will stall just like a car will stall if we ignore the car’s dashboard warning light.
The truth is that we are all sinners. We lower our standards and values just for a little taste. The next thing we know, we have fallen into the trap of sin and don’t know how we got there. It starts with a small lie or a casual glance. One bad choice leads to other bad choices and we are trapped. That is why Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2, “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.” While our hearts are like a tinderbox, and sparks are plentiful, we need to use all diligence in all places to prevent a blaze. Satan can climb housetops and enter closets, and even if we could shut him out, our own sinful nature is enough to ruin us unless God’s grace prevents it.
God gives us second chances, especially when we repent. David and Bathsheba eventually repented. God forgives us when we mess up if we repent. God doesn’t give up on us. David and Bathsheba appear in Matthew’s version of Jesus’ family tree because God wants us to know that He is a forgiving God. When we mess up, He doesn’t abandon us. He forgives us. He wants us to know that when we fail (and we will), He will pick us up, dust us off, clean us up and give us a new start.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; pp.413-414)
- Carolyn Dale Newell, “Our Second Chance God.” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
- “Not Immune.” Retrieved from Christianity.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Skip Heitzig, “Warning Lights.” Retrieved form Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
- Kelly McFadden, “Hooked.” Retrieved from www.homeword.com
- Pastor Greg Laurie, “No Spiritual Vacations.” Retrieved from www.harvest.org
- Allister Begg, “Beware of Temptations.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- “Temptress or Victim?” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org