Let’s continue this foray into 2 Samuel 11 and the turning point in the life of David and of Israel.
So to summarize yesterday’s blog, King David of Israel in the Scriptures should have been off to war and not lounging around in Jerusalem. When he saw the woman bathing, he could have made better choices than lingering with his gaze. He found out about her – and that she was married to Uriah the Hittite – then invited her over for a night of whoopee. After their tryst, she returned home.
So let’s explain some details we’ve skimmed over so far:
Who was this Uriah? This becomes even more sad. He was one of “The Thirty,” David’s closest personal soldiers. They were faithful and absolutely loyal to David.
How secret do you think this was? Servants and messengers were involved. Have you ever lived in a small town? People don’t need telephones, emails, Facebook or television to get the word out. I’m reasonably sure the whole city knew before very long at all. This couple wasn’t fooling anyone. “The ‘Hebrew Inquirer’ coming to a news stand near you! Come and get it!”
Oh, but let’s not leave out verse 5:
The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”
A simple statement, but with repercussions as many a young couple have discovered over the centuries. With those three words, Bathsheba implied to David that we now have a mess on our hands. What are you going to do about it, David? By law, we are condemned to death by stoning.
You can read about how David tried to cover it up by bringing good and faithful Uriah from the fighting front so Uriah could have sex with Bathsheba, his wife, but he wouldn’t do it while his brothers-in-arms are still out in the field fighting. Finally, David had Uriah put at the front of the fighting at a wall of the city they were attacking where the fighting was the fiercest. There, Uriah was killed in the fighting (surprise!). Then David acted like he was shocked and carried on like he had lost a great friend – which he did. You can read all about this tawdry story in 2 Samuel 11: 6-25.
Remember that Athnah I told you about in Part 1 of this study? Another one is coming up in verse 27. Starting with verse 26:
When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the LORD.
It’s the same kind of situation as in verse 1. This short sentence in the last part of the passage is very important and some consequential events are about to follow.
David was compromised by his sin on several levels. That is, he became less than God had intended for him to be: as the king (the political leader), as the king (the religious leader), as a father, and ultimately in his personal relationship with God and his part in God’s overall plan for Israel.
- Compromised his political leadership: He disobeyed the laws of God for which he (and she) should be stoned to death. However, because of his position of power, he felt he wasn’t subject to that. People lost respect for his political leadership.
- Compromised his Godly spiritual leadership. He was seemingly a godly person, but he was living a lie. Therefore, people lost respect for his spiritual leadership.
- Compromised himself as a parent. For an example, David had many children through his many wives. Two of them were Amnon and Tamar, children by two different wives. Amnon raped his half-sister Tamar, which brought shame on Tamar and she would be unable to marry under their laws at the time. What was David’s response in verse 21?
When King David heard all this, he was furious.
That’s it?? He was just really angry? (It reminds me of Ben Stiller’s character Furious Man in the off-beat movie “Mystery Men”. His super power was that he would get – well – furious. That was it. Now back to David ….) No correction? No moral guidance? No fatherly counseling? Why is that? I believe that it’s because it hit too close to home. After all, he was no better than that. He still carried a lot of guilt for his past actions. As a result, Tamar’s full brother Absalom (another of David’s sons) ended up killing Amnon and eventually led a revolt against David. Now where do you suppose Absalom got all these people to follow him? How about those people disillusioned with their political and religious leader, the supposed upholder of the laws? Tragically, David had to flee Jerusalem for his very life from his own son Absalom. The family had lost respect for his parental leadership.
- Compromised his relationship with God. Chapter 12 of 2 Samuel tells us that God could no longer reach him, couldn’t talk to him. He had closed himself off from God. [From a counseling perspective, quite often (not always) when a person rejects God and rejects Godly counsel, they may have compromised their core values. Values are those moral standards and your belief system that you hold dear, that help you discern right from wrong.] God ended up having to send his prophet Nathan to get through to David.
- Compromised God’s Plan: II Sam. 12: 7-10. He did confess in 12:13, though:
Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”
To straighten himself out with God, David used the same principle and promise that we have available to us today in 1 John 1: 9:
If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
What a mess! All because David remained in Jerusalem instead of being out to war. And then he went to edge of the roof and saw a woman bathing. If it stopped there, there would have been no problem. However, he was tempted and lingered too long on the edge of his roof. When he stuck around long enough to see that she was beautiful, that was the beginning of his sin. When he carried out his desires regardless of the consequences, that pretty well confirmed his sin. James 1: 13-15 says it this way:
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
How can we avoid sin? How can we avoid going through all this mess in the first place? Here are seven steps you can take to prepare yourself to avoid sin. And remember: Sin is anything that interferes with your relationship with God, with others or with yourself.
Here is a way you can deal with sin:
First of all, set up your fortress ahead of time. You know sin will attack you and weasel its way into your life, so be prepared in advance. Know your weaknesses, where you will most likely be attacked. If you don’t know what your spiritual weaknesses are, ask God to reveal them to you. James 1:5 states, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God . . . .”
Second, ask God for help and strength to avoid or work through those situations that lead to temptation and/or to withstand those situations. I Cor. 10:13, reads:
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
Third, if you do slip up and make a mistake (sin), use the principle of I John 1:9 to confess and be forgiven and be purified from all sin. [Perhaps someday I will look at the Greek verb tenses in this passage as well as the Greek meaning of I Corinthians 10: 13. To understand what the original language is saying really makes those two verses stand out. For your information, Greek is the primary language in which the New Testament is written. Again, Hebrew is the primary language of the Old Testament.]
Fourth, if you do sin, be prepared to deal with the consequences of your actions, even though God forgives you.
When I was in college in East Texas (for a whole semester!) in 1970, there was a popular line of thought among the college students with a Christian background in Texas. They took the principle of 1 John 1:9 and then ran with it. Their reasoning: I can do whatever I want. All I need to do is confess it, and God has to forgive me as that is his promise. You can see how this would be popular. There was no thought of physical, emotional or spiritual consequences for their actions.
As a social worker, I have dealt with people who have made wrong choices: meth drug addicts who have poor short-term memory, poor thinking processes, rotten teeth; long-time alcoholics with a bad liver and/or a damaged pancreas; pregnancies in teen or in young adult years that compromised or postponed their future potential or high school dropouts who have made their ladder to success that much longer.
Finally, as mentioned there are consequences for whatever you do, good or bad. And if you make poor choices, don’t blame God for the consequences. However, don’t dwell on the past and get mired down, either. You used the principle of 1 John 1:9 and confessed your sin. God has forgiven you. Move on.
Further, you may well have to live with unpleasant circumstances as a result of your actions, but get on with life. Accept that there are consequences and live and work through them. Move on. And note that a part of moving on may include counseling or therapy with a licensed therapist.
Prayer is the key.
- Prayer is the key to setting up your fortress in advance of a temptation.
- Prayer is the key to knowing your weaknesses.
- Prayer is the key to asking for and receiving God’s strength in withstanding temptation.
- Prayer is the key to confession as in I John 1:9.
- Prayer is the key for working through and/or enduring the consequences of your poor decisions.
In conclusion, King David was a compromised leader, father and man. He was forgiven, but he was compromised nevertheless from being the man God intended him to be. Through the Bible and through prayer – and sometimes therapy, we have the tools and the means to make better choices than David.