I was reading the story of David and Bathsheba this morning is 2 Samuel 11. The story never grows old to me and in some ways, I feel like shouting at the page the way that I would shout at the screen while watching a cheesy horror movie. “Don’t do it, David. You’re gonna regret this!” It’s like those slow motion moments in life where you can see everything playing out but you can’t do anything to change it or make things different.
For those of you not familiar with the story, David, the King of Israel, is hanging out at home during the season when most kings are off with their troops at war. He finds himself struggling with insomnia and he does what most of us would probably do if the same thing happened to us, he goes for a walk. His walk takes him on the roof of the palace where he can most likely survey his kingdom, looking over it all from his vantage point, he could probably see just about everything…..and he did. While his eyes overlooked his kingdom, they happened upon a beautiful woman bathing on her roof.
Instead of going back inside and trying to find something else to help him sleep, David sent someone to find out about the woman. Once he found out who she was, he sent messengers to retrieve her. Once they had brought her to him, he slept with her. She gets pregnant and David’s bad decision process continues to spiral out of control as he concocts a plan to have her husband sleep with her to make it seem like he was the one who impregnated her. Then, after all of his other plans fail, he has her husband killed.
The text reads fairly quickly through some of David’s bad decisions. “But David remained in Jerusalem.” “…and David sent someone to find out about her.” “Then David sent messengers to get her.” “…and he slept with her.” In the course of 4 verses in 2 Samuel, David makes some decisions of monumental proportion, very bad ones.
I try to convince myself that David’s downward spiral could never be mine, but that’s just naïve. If I had a dollar for every person who used the phrase, “I would never…..” and eventually did the very thing that they claimed they would never do, I would be a rich man. As much as I would hope to never be in a situation like David, I look at the different decisions that he made along the way. Can you really claim that it was just one decision? I don’t think so, it looks like a series of bad decisions.
But the thing that gets me every time is that after the last bad decision, David still had a means to make things right. After he saw her, he could have gone back inside. After he found out who she was, he could have left it there. After he had her brought to him, he could have sent her home. After he slept with her, he could have confessed. But it’s never that easy. We make one mistake and it seems like a chain reaction or dominoes, everything topples over one piece at a time.
What a contrast between the story of David and the story of Joseph in Genesis 39. Joseph was being seduced by Potiphar’s wife and he ran………far and fast. He didn’t hang around to see how this would play out. He didn’t say to himself, “I can handle this.” He just got himself out of the situation. He escaped. Of course, if you know the rest of the story for Joseph, it didn’t immediately end well for him, but it did eventually. It did for David too, but the life lessons that he learned may have been less painful learned through other circumstances.
As I journey through life, I realize that there are circumstances that I come upon from which I need to run far and fast. I can’t stick around to see how they play out. We can’t pray harder that we can sustain a tempting situation WHILE we’re in the middle of that tempting situation, we’ve just got to run. While we can’t deny the power of God and the Holy Spirit, we also can’t walk into the lion’s den and expect that we won’t get bitten. Sure, it happened to Daniel, but he didn’t have much of a choice. Don’t temp God, and don’t let yourself be tempted.
What a lesson to learn. I am grateful for David’s mistakes for two reasons. First of all, I can learn from them. Second of all, I realize that even in the midst of his screw ups, God still loved him and forgave him. Sure, there were consequences for his actions, but God did not abandon him, and that’s really good news.