King David and Bathsheba (4)
The End of the Road: 2 Samuel 11:22-27
We now follow David to the end of the road that he started down at the beginning of chapter 11. This is by no means the end of the story, for the consequences of this sin will torment David to the very end of his life.
22 The messenger set out, and when he arrived he told David everything Joab had sent him to say. 23 The messenger said to David, “The men overpowered us and came out against us in the open, but we drove them back to the entrance of the city gate. 24 Then the archers shot arrows at your servants from the wall, and some of the king’s men died. Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.”
It appears that the messenger has further embellished the story, adding details that explain why the Israeli warriors were so close to the city walls. But, once the cover story is in place he wastes no time before sharing the key information: your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead. Can we not surmise with confidence that the messenger was well aware that this situation was deeply wrong? He thus feels obligated to contribute his own part to the creation of this evil lie, both for purpose of self-preservation and standing with the king. Thus, David’s sin has corrupted everyone who has become involved in the vile coverup.
25 David told the messenger, “Say this to Joab: ‘Don’t let this upset you; the sword devours one as well as another. Press the attack against the city and destroy it.’ Say this to encourage Joab.”
Here we reach the disgusting, putrid moral sludge. King David has turned all of the wit and cunning that had before been used to survive King Saul’s murderous assaults to the rape of a man’s wife and then this same man’s murder. In so doing he also irrevocably undermined his own political and moral standing as king. Is there in the annals of Scripture a more complete and disgusting example of sin through the abuse of power?
26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him.27 After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son.
The final step is obvious. For what purpose all the evil if the prize is unclaimed at the “victory?” Thus, the widow Bathsheba is made King David’s wife and she bore him a son.
I can find no Biblical text that suggests the slightest moral failing on Bathsheba’s part. Some say that her public bathing was a purposeful incitement of King David’s lust. Perhaps, but the Biblical text, besides simply describing the event, makes no mention of her motives. Thus David and David alone bears the explicit responsibility for all of this monstrous sin.
But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.
David has conducted the perfect coverup from a human perspective. To all who are outside Uriah’s death is indistinguishable from the other thousands who have given their lives for the nation. For those few in the know, they are so personally complicit with the crime that their lips are sealed. And, Bathsheba is not under the King’s power as his wife.
There’s just one loose thread…the LORD God Himself, who is displeased.
From a human point of view all is lost. In the next chapter we will see just how God’s promise is yet preserved in spite of King David’s sin. John Calvin provides the preview.
Upon the fall of one who was so great a pillar in the Church, so illustrious both as a prophet and a king, as David, we cannot but believe that many were shaken and staggered in the faith of the promises. Many must have been disposed to conclude, considering the close connection into which God had adopted David, that he was implicated in some measure in his fall. David, however, repels an insinuation so injurious to the divine honor, and declares, that although God should cast him headlong into everlasting destruction, his mouth would be shut, or opened only to acknowledge his unimpeachable justice.
Commentary on the Psalms — 51:4