I offer this trailer as more of a tongue-in-cheek treatment of this story. People (e.g. Hollywood) tend to glamorize stories such as David and Bathsheba, Samson and Delilah, Adam and Eve… but all of these (and many of the biblical narratives) are stories about sinners. The Bible is a book about God and his work in redeeming sinful mankind. Yes, we are all sinners, but just because the Bible tells us the stories of sinners and how God still chose to use them, we must be careful to not overlook the fact that they are indeed sinners.
Let’s look at this story and its consequences. David as a great king, anointed by God and blessed beyond measure. The latter part of 2 Samuel, though, focuses on the turmoil in David’s life which was all direct consequences of his decision to follow through with sinful temptation. To begin with, we are told in 2 Samuel 11:1 that “in the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel…. But David remained at Jerusalem.” This is a prime example of someone making a choice to position themselves where temptation may be the greatest. David stayed behind while all the other fighting men went to war. It goes on to say that when David “was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful.” It is very possible that David knew full well that he was likely to see this woman from the roof and that’s why he was wandering around up there!
He inquired about her and then had her brought to him. Of course, he was the king, so she willingly came to him. David seduced her, had sex with her, and she became pregnant. Then, he chose to compound his sin by trying to cover up his affair. He had her husband, Uriah, brought back from the battle lines and tried to get him to go home to sleep with his wife. However, being the man of integrity that he was, Uriah chose not to go home. He said (v. 11), “The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? As you live, as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.” So David had him sent back to the battle with orders to place him in a position where he was certain to be killed.
God did not just turn his face and look the other way. He confronted David with these words (2 Samuel 12:7-12).
“I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if this was too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.” Thus says the Lord, “Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.”
Now, it is important to note that David did indeed repent. In fact, if you haven’t lately, read his wonderful Psalm of repentance in Psalm 51. However, also realize that even though David repented, he still lived with the consequences of his sin, as promised by God in the above passage. He
- lost the child conceived that night to illness
- had another son (Amnon) rape his daughter (Tamar)
- had yet another son (Absalom) avenge that rape by killing his stepbrother (Amnon)
- lost the respect of the nation
- had to flee for his life from his own son (Absalom)
- had his wives stolen and sexually abused by his son (Absalom) in broad daylight in front of anyone who cared to watch
- lost his son Absalom by the hand of his general (Joab) in spite of explicit instructions to spare his life
- had his general (Joab) go rogue in performing war crimes against David’s enemies during times of peace
- lost confidence in himself and in God by choosing to enact a military census and draft, bringing on God’s judgment because of this act
God is a God of grace, and we learn from Romans 5:8-11 that
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have no received reconciliation.
Some people like to respond to the question, “How are you today” with “Better than I deserve!”. The truth of the matter is that God is a God of grace, and though we may choose to sin, and sometimes reap grave consequences of that sin, those who have given their lives to Jesus and trusted him have escaped the ultimate wages of sin, which is death (Romans 6:23)
For Further Investigation
- Does the Case of David and Bathsheba Justify Adultery Today?
- David and Bathsheba, lecture by R.C. Sproul in his Life of David Series of Sermons