Having seen David rise from a lowly shepherd boy through multiple trials to ascending the throne of Israel, we now arrive at a point in his life that painfully demonstrates how even those close to God and with a passion for Him are not immune to temptation and failure.
One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful and David sent someone to find out about her. 2 Samuel 11:2-3
The messenger came back with information that should have stopped David cold right there and then. He identified the woman as Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, one of David’s soldiers.
To appreciate what’s about to happen we need verse 1 of this chapter:
In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. 2 Samuel 11:1
So all of David’s army is on the battlefield, including one of his captains, Uriah. But at the moment, David is blinded by lust and sends for the woman. They have intimate relations and shortly thereafter, she sends a message to the king that she is pregnant.
It is important to realize that in the culture of the day, a woman had no rights. It was unthinkable to deny the king anything he desired. Whether or not Bathsheba was a willing accomplice to adultery only God knows. The focus here is on David who was overcome with desire on seeing her bathing and acted impulsively to satisfy his own wants.
The first lesson derived from this scene takes us back to the Garden of Eden. Eve looked at the tree and saw that the fruit was good and desirable… Gen. 3:6 David looked and what he saw was desirable. Do you see the connection? Theologians describe it as the ‘lust of the eyes’; that is, when our eyes become the entryway for sinful thoughts that lead to sinful actions. Our five senses were given to be vehicles for holiness but how often do they become vehicles for sin, as David’s did in this instance. He saw but instead of averting his eyes and going back inside the palace, what he saw prompted him to foolish action that led to sin. David had risen to such a position of power that anything he wanted was done by willing servants.
Therefore, the second lesson flows from the first: David failed to reckon with the interval between ‘wanting’ and ‘getting’. There is no ‘romantic’ excuse such as that so often used in our day to justify this kind of behavior. Rather, amid all of his integrity and humility in other areas of his life, self-control in sexual matters remained a weakness. In 2 Samuel 5 we learned that ‘David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem.’ (vs. 13)
This event is a heart-stopping warning to all of us. The great King David, a man after God’s own heart, was nevertheless subject to a weakness that hurled him headlong into a reprehensible sin that later prompted the writing of Psalm 51 which says in part:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love;
According to Your great compassion, blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Psalm 51: 1-2
The alarming rate of infidelity, even among God’s people in our day, demands us to take a hard look at David’s fall. But the application is not reserved only for sexual sins but for ALL manner of sin.
1) he saw and what he saw propelled his imagination down a road it should not have gone.
2) he turned those thoughts into words by commanding his servant to go find out about the woman. Virtually all temptations go from the mind to the mouth before they become action.
3) he sinned in actuality.
We need to learn from David where to stop sin, any kind of sin. If wrong thoughts lead to wrong words that lead to wrong actions, then the arena of self-control must begin in our thoughts. That is where we flex the muscle of self-control and stop sin at its origin. The book of Proverbs tells us: As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Prov. 23:7
Whatever our area of weakness may be, the formula is the same. I encourage you to memorize these two verses of Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the everlasting path.