Part Four: David and Bathsheba
2 Samuel 8:1-12:25
The Years of Unparalleled Glory
Now that David has established his rule over the 12 tribes of Israel, he begins to consolidate his power by subduing the nations surrounding Israel. He is going to make sure that Israel is finally safe from foreign invasion.
2 Sam. 8:1-18 lists the lands David conquered upon becoming king. In the table below list the lands David conquered at this period of time.
|Bible Verse||Direction||Land/People Conquered|
|2 Sam. 8:1||Southwest||.|
The result is that David conquers all the areas around Israel, from the Nile River to the Euphrates River, in other words, all the land that God had previously promised to Abraham.
The glory God bestowed upon Israel during the days of David still resonates today. On the flag of the modern nation of Israel is a star, the star of David. There was no greater king before him or after him. Only his greater Son Jesus surpassed him in greatness.
DAVID'S ONE-NIGHT STAND
At the point of David's greatest achievements comes the greatest tragedy of David's life. It will affect not only him but also his sons and his kingdom for years to come. The incident occurs during spring. What normally took place during spring (2 Sam. 11:1)?
What was David doing instead of leading the troops into battle (11:1)?
At what time of the day did David rise from his bed (11:2)? What does this tell you about David?
It may just simply be the truth that David is bored. He is in his late 40's or early 50's, and he has no clear direction for his life. Earlier he had come up with a vision for his future, to build a magnificent temple for the Lord; however, that vision had got shot down. When David failed to replace that vision with a new vision, he was opening himself up to boredom and to serious temptation.
What does he see (11:2)?
Notice that the passage says that he saw she was beautiful. In other words, he didn't see a woman scantily dressed and immediately turned away; he stopped and lingered, gazing at her.
When he inquires after her identity, he is told that she is the _______________ of Eliam and the ____________ of Uriah (11:3). In other words, he knows right off the bat that she is a woman deeply involved in relationships. This is not simply between him and Bathsheba; this is between him and her father and husband. Ultimately he is going to have to deal with the father and husband. Whereas David will kill the husband, Bathsheba's grandfather Ahithophiel will later help overthrow David for a short period of time.
Ahithophiel was one of David's most trusted advisers. It was said of him that his words were as the voice of God. When Ahithophiel betrayed David and advised Absalom, Absalom would have destroyed David if he had followed Ahithophiel's instructions. As it is, Absalom disregarded his instructions and let David escape. Ahithophiel went home and committed suicide because he realized that they had lost their one opportunity to destroy David. Of this treachery David writes: "He who eats my own bread has lifted up his heel against me." This whole sordid mess though can be traced back to David's treatment of Ahithophiel's granddaughter, Bathsheba.
Dads of daughters need to let some young men know that the way they treat their daughters is not simply between them and the daughters; it's also between them and the dads.
Uriah was not a Jew; rather he was a ______________ (11:3). Unlike most in David's kingdom, Uriah was not racially bound to follow David. He followed David out of love and loyalty. This makes David's crime against him all the worse.
How long does the liaison last between David and Bathsheba (11:4)?
If you don't think a one-night stand or a one-time slip can be devastating, you need to remember this story. This one-night stand sets into motion a sequence of events which leads to disaster.
What happens in consequence of this one-night stand (11:5)?
What is David's solution to this problem? Does he fully disclose what he has done or does he try to cover it up?
Read 11:6-13 to discover how David tries to cover all this up.
David sends for Uriah who is fighting against the Ammonites. What does he encourage Uriah to do (11:8)?
Why does Uriah refuse to do this (11:11)?
How does this compare with David's attitude towards the war?
David persists in trying to get Uriah to sleep with Bathsheba. Finally, exasperated, David decides he's going to have to kill Uriah. What instructions does David give his top commander Joab (11:14-15)?
To whom does David give this dispatch to send to Joab (11:14)?
Now notice that all these events do not occur just simply over a few hours. What occurs takes place over months. Bathsheba did not have a Home Pregnancy Test to determine overnight whether or not she is pregnant. It takes weeks to discover this. Then it takes days to summon Uriah and carry out his scheme. This is not a momentary lapse of judgment; it is vicious and premeditated. David is guilty as sin in this whole episode.
Don't make excuses for David. What David did was monstrous. What's even worse is this: if David was capable of doing such a heinous deed, what are we capable of? There but by the grace of God go I.
David feels like he's gotten away with his crime; however, what does 2 Sam. 11 say: "But the thing David had done was __________ in the sight of the _________" (11:27)?
His crime has set into motion the divine wheels of justice. Whenever the justice system of man fails, there is still the divine system of justice waiting in the wings. David may be above the laws of man; however, he is not above the laws of God. Judgment is coming, swiftly and irrevocably.
JUDGMENT (2 Sam. 12:1-14)
It is now time for judgment. Nathan the prophet approaches David and tells him that a problem has emerged in Israel. He is actually telling a parable to show David the depth of his crime. What parable does Nathan recite to David (12:1-4)?
The parable is pretty melodramatic. It's not just a sheep; it's a ewe in the parable (notice the sheep is female just like Bathsheba was female). Moreover, this one ewe was a special pet to the family. Moreover, the rich man does not simply take the ewe; he kills it. ALL THE FAULT lies squarely on the shoulders of the rich man; none is placed on the shoulders of the ewe. In God's eyes Bathsheba is faultless in this episode. In fact she is viewed as a victim; sexual abuse involves powerful and David is the most powerful man in Israel at this time. David is the culprit.)
David is incensed when he hears this parable. (He doesn't realize it's a parable; he thinks it is a true incident.) David issues judgment upon the man in the parable. What punishment does David feel the man deserves (12:5-6)?
At this point Nathan wheels around and turns to David: "YOU are the man!" David is the man in the parable. God tells David that his sin was not against Uriah and Bathsheba; it was against the Lord Himself. Fill in the blanks to see how God is claiming that this sin is primarily against Him: "It is _____ who anointed you king over Israel and it is ____ who delivered you from the hand of Saul. _____ also gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your care, and ______ gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little ____ would have added to you many more things like these?" (12:7-8).
What surprises us is that God is not condemning David for a sexual sin. Sexual sins are serious; it's just that sexual immorality was not the main sin here. The main sin was an abuse of power. As king, David used his power to seduce Bathsheba and destroy Uriah. What made it all the more worse was that David was not born with this power. He did not receive this power by means of his own strength. He received all this power because GOD GAVE IT TO HIM! God had given David this power to serve Him and to serve His people. David though had taken the power GOD had given him and used it to seduce a married woman and to murder her husband; David had used this power in a way which totally contradicted the very purpose God gave it to him in the first place. God is furious.
The same applies to us. God has not given us wealth or fame or power or beauty in order to crush others. He has blessed us in order that we might bless others. When we misuse these blessings to harm others, we don't ultimately have to face the ones we harmed; we have to face the God who gave us these blessings.
David's judgment upon the man in the parable now comes crashing down upon himself. David did not say that the man would die; rather he said that the man deserved to die. Is God going to execute David because of this sin (12:13)?
Who will die instead (12:14)?
What will happen to David's wives and concubines as a result of this (12:11-12)? David had done this in secret, thinking he could get away with it. Will his son do this crime in secret?
David had said that the powerful man in the parable should repay the weak man 4-fold. Well, David unknowingly called down judgment upon himself for he likewise will pay four-fold. He will lose 4 of his sons to premature deaths: the baby born to David and Bathsheba (12:14), Amnon (13:1-29), Absalom (18:15), and Adonijah (1 Kings 2:19-25).
THROUGH THE EYES OF THE APOSTLES
What is surprising to many of us is that even after this incident, David is still spoken of in glowing terms in the NT. For example, when the early Christians pray to God, they call David "their father" (Acts 4:25). Repeatedly the NT claims that Jesus is David's Son (Matt. 22:41-46; Mark 10:47). What is surprising is that the NT not only calls Jesus David's Son, it UNASHAMEDLY calls Him David's Son.
Why doesn't the NT take this incident as seriously as we think it should? If God wiped out the family of Saul simply because he started church too soon and refused to execute a pagan king, surely David's punishment should be a lot greater.
First, remember that David was a man after God's own heart. No matter what David did, he loved the Lord. The same could not be said of Saul. God never had Saul, whereas God did have David's heart. For example, right after Samuel confronts Saul for hurrying up the sacrifice, Saul makes excuses for his sin. David does not make excuses. He admits that he is a sinner and humbly submits to God's judgment.
Next, whereas David's sin is great, it is still the sin of the flesh and not the sin of the spirit. The greatest judgment Jesus levelled against people was against sins of the spirit--hypocrisy and judgmentalism, not against sins of the flesh. Whereas He readily forgives the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-12), He does not extend that same forgiveness to the Pharisees (Matthew 23).
Also, we need to remember that our relationship with God is based upon forgiveness. It is not just one element in our relationship with God; it is the PRIMARY element in our relationship with God. In fact, Paul uses David as an example of forgiveness and grace. Unfortunately, some Christians act as if forgiveness means you never did anything wrong. That's crazy! If we didn't know the end of the story, we would have justified the men who were about to kill the woman caught in adultery and then have condemned the very woman JESUS PARDONS! Our values many times so contradict the values of Jesus. Forgiveness assumes you HAVE done something wrong, maybe even something terribly wrong. Paul quotes David (Ps. 32:2) to show that a certain type of man is ultimately blessed. According to David who is that man (Rom. 4:8)?
In other words, Jesus is not sitting up in heaven with a ledger book writing down all the things we've done wrong so that He can get us. He is forgiving us. Yes, He has to deal with the spiritual damage we've done in our lives; HOWEVER, He is not interested in sin book-keeping. It is so foreign to His nature.
Grace is critically important in the Christian faith. We ALL need it. I love the end of The Lord of the Rings. For 1,200 pages Frodo has been traveling to Mt. Doom in order to destroy the ring of power. When he finally gets there, you think he is going to toss it into the fire. What happens next though makes perfect sense. For nearly a year Frodo has been carrying that ring, and it has been wearing him down the closer he gets to Mt. Doom. The ring is taking over Frodo. At the final moment when he is to cast the ring into Mt. Doom, he can't do it; the ring has won. The ring does get destroyed; however, Frodo is not the one who does it. Does Tolkien condemn Frodo like most of us would? No, rather when Frodo returns for the coronation of Aragorn, Aragorn rebukes Frodo when he bows down before Aragorn: "You bow down to no man." At that point all the people of Minas Tirith bow down before Frodo and his hobbit friends. It is said that Tokien broke down and wept when he wrote this. Why? Because grace is always needed. This little hobbit had made it much farther than any of us would have made it. Instead of condemning him, Tolkien praises Frodo.
Finally, remember that if the Lord extends grace to somebody, who are we to hold a certain sin against them. What did God do which showed that He had certainly extended grace to David and Bathsheba (2 Sam. 12:24-25)?
This person later becomes the ancestor of Jesus (Matt. 1:6). If God graced David to this extent, we should grace him also. Moreover, if God graces people like David, who are we to hold any sin against another?
Do not think though that David suffered no consequences. He did. He lost 4 sons prematurely. Absalom will end up raping David's wives and concubines on a roof top in front of all Israel. Shame and destruction devastate David's family after this incident. Yet God has forgiven him. He does become the ancestor of Jesus.