Today’s passage is one of the most well-known, but negative, examples of David’s life. It is the account of David and Bathsheba, where David sees Bathsheba bathing, has his servants bring her to him, and he has an affair with her. She then tells him that she is pregnant, and to cover up his sin, David first attempts to have her husband Uriah come back so that people would think that the child is his. But Uriah’s determination to be a good soldier actually leads him to his death, as David orders that Uriah be put on the front lines. Uriah essentially carries his own death certificate in the form of a letter from David to the commander of his army, communicating these plans. This account is summarized well in verse 27: “But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.” (ESV)
What can we draw from this passage?
1. Temptation struck before David saw Bathsheba.
David should not have even been in Jerusalem at the time this took place. Verse 1 says that this time was when all the kings went to battle; but David stayed behind. The reason for this is unknown, but since no legitimate excuse is given, it is likely that at the very least, David had selfish reasons and was being disobedient by staying back. Temptation then struck, likely harder, because of the selfish position of his heart.
2. David compounded sin with more sin (which never works).
As terrible as his affair with Bathsheba was, he added on to that sin with even more sin, all in the hopes of covering up the first sin. Have you ever been tempted to do this? How did it work out? As we will see with David in the coming chapter, our sin will always be exposed; if not by others, certainly by God.
3. David’s sin was against God.
David certainly sinned against Bathsheba and against Uriah, but his ultimate sin was against God. David knowingly broke the law of God and verse 27 shows that God was very displeased with him. As we will see, there will be consequences for David’s sin, as there is for ours, but the good news is that we will also see David repent from his sin and turn back to God.
Psalm 51 is the place that we see this repentance from David, and it is a place that I often point people to who are really struggling with understanding forgiveness and repentance. It gives us hope as we look at Jesus, who is the only perfect, sinless person that has ever walked the planet. It can be difficult to understand, because of the things that we have done, that our standing before God is not dependent upon our behavior, but in Christ.
We should see the sin of David as a warning to guard our hearts from temptation, but we should also see the amazing grace of a God forgives us even when we feel unworthy, and that should lead us to our knees in humble worship of our great God.
By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Associate