Bible Readings for September 15th
The events of 2 Samuel 11 are difficult to read. David, the king after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14), commits a series of wicked acts that could not be further from what God desires. This is the summary we read in the last verse of the chapter: “But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD” (2 Sam. 11:27). If we had any temptation to believe David could be the Messiah whom Yahweh would use to usher in his eternal kingdom fully, 2 Samuel 11 dispels that notion altogether. What can we learn from this story?
First, David’s great sin did not happen all at once but instead when a variety of small sins compounded together. The first verse of this chapter gives a not-so-subtle hint that the only reason David was in a position to see Bathsheba at all was that he had shirked his duties to go to war at a time when kings should be going to war with their armies: “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle…” (2 Sam. 11:1). Additionally, it isn’t that Bathsheba threw herself at David and David succumbed to weakness; rather, we read that he gazed on the woman from his palace while she was bathing (2 Sam. 11:2).
If David had fulfilled his responsibilities or even if he had simply avoided stoking the flames of his lust, the ensuing events would never have happened—and this point is perhaps the most instructive for us. Great sin almost never catches us totally by surprise. Rather, Satan knows how to lay the foundation for sin brick by brick. Never forget that the fight against sin is often won—or lost—hours or days or weeks or months or even years before a specific opportunity for sin presents itself.
Second, we should see (again) that sin begets more sin. The masterful writing of this story unfolds the details of David’s descent slowly, so that, for example, we read originally that Bathsheba was “bathing” (2 Sam. 11:2), but only after David sends for her and takes her do we discover what kind of bathing she had been doing: “Now she had been purifying from her uncleanness” (2 Sam. 11:4). In other words, David interrupted Bathsheba when she had been preparing to go to worship.1 From there, the details snowball, so that David conspires first to deceive Uriah (2 Sam. 11:8), then to murder him (2 Sam. 11:15), and then to take the widow Bathsheba as his own wife to cover up his wickedness (2 Sam. 11:27).
Brothers and sisters, flee from sin. Do not make any provision for your flesh, but take seriously the fact that Satan prowls like a roaring lion, seeking with malicious cunning to devour you. We will continue reflecting on this story tomorrow.
1 My seminary Hebrew professor Allen Ross pointed this detail out in his Hebrew Exegesis course.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.