Crucial lessons from David’s date with Bathsheba

Their ‘entanglement’ didn’t just happen; there were several enabling factors that could have been ignored, but weren’t, with disastrous consequences

We live in a culture that literally perspires sensuality – from TV to the internet to billboard advertising, the messages are loud, bold and very clear. This has resulted in personal and societal struggles that are so tangible that even the most strong willed among us have wilted under the heat.

Sadly, the Church has not been spared. Pastors and other church leaders have been caught up in adultery or other sexually inappropriate behaviour. Like the Corinthian church, today’s church has lost its grip on holiness thereby watering down its influence. No wonder our sons are being won to other faiths.

In his book He-Motions, Bishop T.D. Jakes notes “even strong men struggle”. So where we can turn to for help? Let’s learn from King David’s experience as recorded in 2 Samuel 11.

David, the son of Jesse, had it all. He was a man glowing with health and fine in appearance. Although he was a humble shepherd, he had a brave heart that enabled him to slay the giant Goliath. He had a pleasant personality and was full of so much joy that he danced for the Lord; plus he was the psalmist of Israel. In addition to being an accomplished king, he was described by God as “a man after His (God’s) own heart (1 Samuel 13:14)”. David literally had it all.

For all this, he failed to hold on to the values that held him firm in life and faith, leaving him vulnerable. He relaxed his grip on military affairs, assigning them to his general, Joab. While his army was away at war, he was relaxing at home. One night, standing on the rooftop of his palace, with his guard down, he saw a woman having her bath. One glance was all the devil needed to fill him with lust. Relaxing our principles, values, integrity and self-discipline leaves us open to temptation, which will then come in and take us down like a hurricane.

Ideally, David should have looked away after the first glance. But he did not. The Bible records that the woman was very beautiful. He continued to look and as he did so, he moved from being a man after God’s own heart to a lustful, obsessed man who forgot all that he knew about God. Then, despite receiving information that the object of his lust was a married woman – “Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite” – David did not back down but instead rationalised the matter in his mind and sent for her.

In his book titled The Myth of the Greener Grass, J Allan Petersondescribes the rationalisation in King David’s mind: “Uriah is a great soldier but he’s probably not much of a husband or a lover — years older than she is — and he’ll be away for a long time. This girl needs a little comfort in her loneliness. This is one way I can help her. No one will get hurt. I do not mean anything wrong by it. This is not lust — I have known that many times. This is love. This is not the same as finding a prostitute on the street. God knows that…”

Today we can justify extra-marital affairs or other immoral acts in the same way, saying: “This is love, not lust; God believes in love… I will sleep with her just this once. How can this feeling of attraction be wrong? I no longer desire my wife/husband… my marriage was a mistake…”

David’s downhill progression led to adultery, lies and murder to cover his sin. His interaction with Nathan the prophet led him to repentance but too late for the consequences – his child born out of his affair with Bathsheba died; his daughter Tamar was raped by her half-brother Amnon; Amnon was murdered by Tamar’s brother Absalom; Absalom loathed his father David and led a rebellion that turned the kingdom upside down.

If David could have had a sneak preview into the consequences of his encounter with Bathsheba, there would have been no second look. For the Church today, this story is a God-given lesson about the issues that lead to moral failure.

David wrote Psalm 51, about sin and repentance, demonstrating the place of hope within confession of one’s sins. He experienced God’s forgiveness even though he had to suffer the consequences. It is said that it is better to seek the pain of heaven than the pleasure of hell. Let me sign off with two questions: Does the story of David teach you any lessons? Does it instruct and frighten you enough to become more intentional about guarding against the trap of sensuality?