II Samuel 11–12 David's Great Sin.
Key Notes: A folly of two. David did not defend his actions. He was forgiven but consequences were severe. His child in Heaven? Don't dally.
We are dismayed that David could commit adultery and murder and are astonished that the Bible would tell it. This is one of the most famous of Old Testament stories. I trust we can learn from tragedy.
11:1–5 David stayed home from fighting the Ammonites at the siege of their city, Rabbah. After his afternoon nap, he walked on the palace roof and saw a beautiful woman bathing on a adjoining building, probably having the ceremonial bath after her period. Why was she visible? Where were the screens?
He found out that she was Bathsheba, wife of Uriah. He took her; she did not protest. She was fertile. She went home and reported back to David a few weeks later that she was pregnant. The sin was not David's alone.
11:6–13 David sent for Uriah, her husband, to come home from the war, and invited him to go to his house, sending a present with him. Uriah slept at the door of the king's house. When David asked why he did not go home, he replied that he was under war conditions and could not relax. David had him to dinner and got him drunk, but he still did not go home. The child was not his and David was exposed.
11:14–17 Then David told Joab to put Uriah into the battle under conditions that would result in his death. (The letter with his death-warrant was carried unwittingly by Uriah himself.) He was put in an intense area of fighting. and left to die.
11:18–25 Joab sent back word to David about the fighting. Joab prepared the messenger for sharp criticism. When David was told that Uriah was dead, he sent back to Joab that he should not be troubled by Uriah's death, since "The sword devours now one and now another". He should overthrow the city.
11:26 When Bathsheba heard that her husband was dead, she lamented. After her mourning, David sent for her and she became his wife. They had a son.
11:27 But the thing David did displeased the Lord.
David committed two crimes, and contrived to do two others: he
•committed adultery with another man's wife;
•tried to deceive the man into assuming the responsibility for the pregnancy;
•murdered the man, one of his best generals, to cover up his adultery;
•made Joab his partner in crime.
Suddenly he appears evil--selfish and cruel.
12:1–6 God sent Nathan the prophet to David with a parable about a rich man who seized a poor man's one pet lamb that was like a daughter to him. He needed a meal for a traveler and killed the poor man’s pet lamb for his guest's dinner. David was enraged and demanded that the man be killed and that he restore the lamb fourfold for his theft and his lack of pity.
12:7–15 Nathan said: You are that man. God anointed you king of Israel, delivered you from Saul, gave you his house and wives and the house of Israel and Judah and much more. But you have despised the word of the Lord, killing Uriah and taking his wife. Now the sword will not depart from your house. Your wives will be taken and your neighbor will lie with them in public.
David confessed that he had sinned against the Lord. Nathan said God had put away his sin. He would not die, but the child would die because David had scorned the Lord.
David was punished in three ways in fulfillment of the prophecy:
•Three of his sons were killed (Amnon, Absalom and Adonijah);
•his concubines were taken in public adultery by his son Absalom (IISam.16:22);
•his new child died.
Forgiveness does not cancel consequences. But his life was spared and his kingdom preserved.
In response, David penned the Psa. 51.
Have mercy on me according to your abundant mercy. Wash me from my sin.
I know my sin. I have sinned only against you.
You are justified in your sentence. I have been a sinner since birth.
Teach me wisdom in my heart. Cleanse me. Hide your face from my sin.
Create in me a clean heart. Don’t throw me away; do not take you Holy Spirit from me.
Open my lips that I may praise you. You do not want sacrifice but a contrite heart.
Do good to Zion, rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will be pleased with sacrifices and offerings.
12:16–23 The child of Bathsheba fell ill and David fasted and prayed and lay on the floor at night. After seven days the child died. The servants were afraid to tell him because he had been distraught. But when David understood that the child was dead, he got up, washed, changed clothes, went to the house of the Lord and worshipped, then went home and ate, breaking his fast. The servants asked him why he stopped mourning. David replied that as long as the child lived, he begged God's mercy, but when the child was dead, there was no point to fasting.
"I shall go to him, but he will not return to me."
This is one of our best hints that we will see our relatives in heaven.
12:24–25 David and Bathsheba had another child, Solomon; Nathan named him "Beloved of the Lord" because the Lord loved him.
12:26–31 Meanwhile Joab was still fighting the Ammonites (?2 yrs. later). He called to David to come and take the city lest it be named after Joab. So David went with the rest of the army and conquered Rabbah, captured the king's crown, weighing a talent of gold (?about 70 pounds) with a precious stone in it , and put the people to work at hard labor with saws, axes and picks, and toiling at the brick-kilns.
If so great a saint can sin so severely, what hope is there for us? May God protect us. And His forgiveness is available to us also.
What can we learn from such failure?
Do not dally; stay in harness.
Pride goes before a fall.
Marriage does not prevent sexual temptation. It provokes it.
40–50 is a dangerous age for men.
Religious leadership is a hazard. It creates opportunities.
Don't expect other people to stop you. It may be in their interests not to interfere. Bathsheba and Joab both cooperated.
Know your weakness and make a plan ahead of time to deflect sexual temptation.