King David and Bathsheba (1)
The Adultery: 2 Samuel 11:1-5
In chapters 8-10 King David consolidates his position internally through wise policies and externally through military victories. He thus, perhaps for the first time in his adulthood, has room to enjoy life’s pleasures. Sin’s ingenuity within us is terrifyingly exposed in what follows. For, it leverages what is at the very beginning an “innocent” desire into a vile, hellish experience that appears to shake the very foundation of God’s eternal decree concerning David and his family.
John Calvin placed the monumental issue that this event raises in it’s proper context.
To have a clear apprehension of their meaning, it is necessary that we reflect upon the covenant which God had made with David. The salvation of the whole world having been in a certain sense deposited with him by this covenant, the enemies of religion might take occasion to exclaim upon his fall, “Here is the pillar of the Church gone, and what is now to become of the miserable remnant whose hopes rested upon his holiness? Once nothing could be more conspicuous than the glory by which he was distinguished, but mark the depth of disgrace to which he has been reduced! Who, after so gross a fall, would look for salvation from his seed?”
John Calvin’s Commentary on Psalms – Volume 2; Psalm 51:4
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. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.
This is where the moral disaster began. David’s flesh desired far more than rest from battle, it sought reward for the years of violence and terror that he had experienced. But, at the beginning, he likely thought of this dereliction as a minor but well deserved and innocent respite.
2 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,3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba,the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”
Had David only looked away! But, as frail flesh and blood he experienced what we all have when we purposefully choose to lie, gossip, lust, covet, hate and blaspheme, among so many others sins. Is there a Biblical statement with more empirical evidence in support than the Apostle Paul’s from Romans 3:23: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”
King David used his power to act on his sinful desires. Here he made the mistake so common to those who wield power in this world: yes, he could turn a desire into a concrete act, but he could not control the consequences of that very same act. Those consequences only began with Bathsheba’s illicit pregnancy. They would not end until David’s kingship, family and nation had been torn into bloody shreds.