2 Samuel 11:1
“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. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.”
The slide into sin is one that we all recognize. We all know what our triggers are and we all know what tempts us the most. Not only do we know these things, so does Satan. Today, we examine a story that is told with unflinching honesty and in painful detail. It is time to look at the story of David and Bathsheba. So far, David’s story has been one of victory and success. He has routed all of his enemies and his relationship with God has been consistent and honorable. Then the biographer tells us of the unsavory event in David’s story that had life-long impact for both him and his descendants. “The story of David and Bathsheba has long aroused both dismay and astonishment; dismay that King David, with his manifest piety, could stoop to such an act, and astonishment that the Bible narrates it with such unrelenting openness, although the person involved is David, the great and celebrated king, the type of the Messiah.”*
Verse one of 2 Samuel 11 positions the up-coming decisions and actions perfectly. When it was time to go off and continue to defend the nation against the Ammonites David sends his army and stays home. Seems like a fairly innocent choice, right? Let the very capable army go and fight in the battle; time to take a break. But that simple choice set David up for a slide into sin that ends very badly. For reasons we will never know this side of eternity, David simply went off the rails and a lifetime of walking with God was set aside. And when you’re going downhill things can take on a great deal of speed and intensity. That is exactly what happened to David. Why does God tell us this story? While makes His guy look bad, it is critical that we know this about David. It is critical that we see the whole man, lest we put him up on pedestal where he doesn’t belong. Only God is God and only God does the right thing every time. For all his greatness, David is still a sinful human, in need of a Savior just like the rest of us.
In the New Testament, the book of James addresses this same inclination in humanity. “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15) When that rock begins its descent down the hill, it is tough to stop. But that does not remove all hope. The sinner can turn away from sin at any point in time along the way. We do not have to descend into the pits of hell before we realize that we are caught in a trap. As we will see with David, there are numerous points along that sin-path where a new path can be taken. God would have us turn away from sin at the earliest point possible. When we follow sin’s direction, we do so by our own choice and at great peril. David’s story stands as a warning post for those who will read and take heed. We can learn from the mistakes of others!
While I personally find this set of events to be very disappointing, I’m glad God included it in the text. If David can fall as far as he falls in this story and still be redeemed, then so can I. We do not slip out of God’s hands by His choice, but by our own. It is His will that we should always remain on His road. There is comfort in knowing that God pursues us even when we are walking (or sliding down the hill) away from Him and that redemption is possible because we are loved by a merciful and gracious God. Tomorrow we will get into the details. But for today, let us all be grateful that God loves us and will bring us back to His side through repentance and grace.