Regardless of who initiated their rendezvous, David and Bathsheba made a bad choice. And just like a snowball heading downhill, the problem grew out of control. The bad choices multiplied.
Consequences and Cover-up
Bathsheba found out she was pregnant. She sent David a note to let him know, then waited patiently for his response. He didn’t respond to her. At least not to our knowledge. It’s possible he sent her a message of reassurance to let her know he was trying to make things right, but Scripture doesn’t say as much. Scripture does, however, tell us what else the king did. He brought Uriah back from battle. The plan was to cover up the adultery by getting Uriah to sleep with Bathsheba. If the plan was successful, the child would appear legitimate, the son of Bathsheba’s husband rather than that of another man. The plan didn’t work. Uriah refused to go home. David got him drunk and tried to send him home again. It still didn’t work.
What’s wrong with Uriah?
Let me interrupt our avalanche for a minute. Why didn’t Uriah go home? Any man who is away from his wife for an extended time is eager to return to her bed. Instead of enjoying the evening with his gorgeous bride, Uriah slept on the steps of the palace with David’s servants. He slept outside. On the ground. With a bunch of slaves. Why?
Some claim he did this because of a law encouraging warriors to abstain from distracting pleasures during battle. This included heavy drinking and sex. Israel’s army was to remain pure, focused. Uriah upheld this. He told David he could not go home when the army and the ark of the covenant were still at war. How could he enjoy the pleasures of his wife knowing that his fellow troops were still fighting? Doing so would not only break a tradition of God’s law, but exhibit disloyalty to his comrades. Uriah was willing to disobey his king in favor of preserving his honor and devotion to God. This theory shows great contrast between Bathsheba’s two husbands. Uriah clung to the law of the Lord even while intoxicated and offered hedonistic opportunities. He refused even to take pleasure in what belonged to him. David, on the other hand, had more than he needed and still went against God’s law to fulfill his selfish desires.
Another possibility for Uriah’s defiance to the king: he knew what David was trying to do. Uriah must have been an intelligent man. He was one of the king’s Mighty Men, after all. You didn’t get that job for a song. Also, people talk. A lot of people had to know what was going on. There were the servants David questioned while watching Bathsheba bathe, the ones who escorted her to and from the palace, anyone who saw her in the palace or on her journey there, her maidservants who surely would have noticed the changes in their mistress, or anyone who knew any of those people. It would only take one person to tell Uriah. He very easily could have heard rumors and surmised plot. If he refused to visit his wife and returned to her in a few months, he would know the truth. If he slept with her now, how would he ever know if the child was really his? And maybe he just didn’t want to see her. If he truly loved her, he likely would not be eager to confront her and her alleged sin.
Still going …
After Uriah’s second night by the gate of the palace, David sent him back to battle with a sealed note for Joab, the commanding officer. Uriah was to be executed. (As a side note, if the above theory subjecting that Uriah knew what was going on is correct, Uriah may have also known he carried his own death sentence. If so, his active faithfulness to King David only magnified his righteousness.) The murder was to look like a casualty of war, of course, but now at least one more person (Joab) knew something was up. David’s sins increased: coveting, stealing, adultery, lying and now murder. Batting .500 may be great in baseball, but it’s not so good when you’re supposed to be a man after God’s own heart. David broke five of the ten commandments without breaking a sweat. Well, okay. I’m sure he was sweating a little, but it didn’t slow him down any.
David received the report that Uriah was killed (along with several other Israeli warriors). He waited the customary seven-day waiting period then he brought Bathsheba back to the palace and made her his wife. Consider the circumstances for their honeymoon. She’s pregnant, and he just had her husband killed. Oh, and she has to share him with his other seven wives and who-knows-how-many concubines. That’s the stuff of legends, people. And they lived happily ever after. Well … not quite.
Before we get to the “ever after,” what’s my point today? What do I want you to take away from this? A few things.
- Sin is dangerous and it’s tough to stop. Think of it like quicksand. It may appear to be a shortcut to where you want to be, but it’s a trap. It’s better to walk around it than to try to get out once you’re in it. Obedience may not be simple, but it’s safe. It’s best.
- Sin is rarely isolated. I may believe my sins only affect me, but that’s rarely, if ever, the case. Sin affects the sinner, those who love the sinner and sometimes even strangers near the sinner. It destroys the relationship between us and God; it adds strain (to say the least) to our relationships with those who love God, even if they are unaware of our sin. Perhaps our poor decisions won’t cause the deaths of a dozen soldiers, but it could prevent a neighbor from coming to Christ. It could hinder a new believer in his or her walk. It could help a brother justify his sins. It could tear apart a marriage, a family, a child’s security. What sins are we harboring without thought of how it affects those around us? Are those the legacies we want to leave?
- Christ alone is immune to sin. David was hand-selected by God to be king. He was a man who knew the heart of God and even he fell to great transgressions. We may think we are stronger, that we can resist temptation, but we are all human. Not one of us is perfect; our many sins prove just that. Each day we choose whom we will serve: God or self. How can we prepare to resist temptation? Memorize Scripture. Build edifying relationships. What else?
The good news is that Christ died to cover all our sins. He offers us righteousness through His forgiveness. Simply by placing our faith in Him, we can be absolved of all our wrong-doings. Better yet: once we believe, we received the Holy Spirit who grants us the strength to do all things through Christ. Sometimes that strength pulls us out of the quicksand and sometimes it helps us walk around it.
We’ll pick up this series on Monday with Part 4. We’ll meet the prophet Nathan and see what sentence God delivers to our happy newlyweds.