Work on the statue of David started in 1464. The city of Florence commissioned several large statues for the cathedral in the city. Two sculptors worked on the statue, one after the other, but neither get very far. And both had their contracts terminated. As they worked on the statue, both of them complained that the marble Florence had purchased had too many imperfections and it wouldn’t ever stand up under its own weight. Between the two of them, by starting at the bottom, only a portion of David’s legs were sculpted. So for 25 years, David laid in the stone, on his back, out in the elements.
In comes Michelangelo. He’s 26-years-old, the highest-paid artist of his day, and the city officials offer him a contract to finish the statue. And in just over two years, he finished what has become maybe the most famous statue in the West. Most paintings of David show him in his most famous story, when he fights Goliath. And they show him either holding or standing over Goliath’s head. But Michelangelo decided to show David before he confronts Goliath. He’s calm, cool, and collected. He’s carrying his slingshot over his shoulder, but it’s not the focus. It’s barely visible. He presents David as clever, not just as a fighter. David won a battle with a giant, and now his statue stands 14-feet fall in the Galleria dell’Accademia.
David comes along at a rough time in Israel’s history. They have not been a nation all that long. God has made a covenant with the people, and their blessings depend on their faithfulness to the covenant. When the people are unfaithful, God permits neighboring nations to come and attack them. But when that happens, he also sends a person called a judge to act as a sort of temporary prophet-king to lead them out of an invasion. Judges didn’t have successors like a king. The book of Judges is the miserable history of how often God sent judges to bring the nation back from the ledge.
The prophet Samuel comes along as the final judge, and the people are now demanding a king instead of just a temporary judge. God is to be their king until he appoints a human king for the people, which he had promised to Abraham as far back as Genesis and again to Moses. But instead of waiting on the providence of God, they demand a king right now. Samuel speaks to God on behalf of the people, and God assures him that the people are not rejecting his leadership but God’s kingship.
God will provide a king for the people. God sends a man named Saul to Samuel, and God makes it clear to Samuel that he will be the first king of Israel. But he will be a king “for the people.” Saul is a great leader until he has a few losses and becomes paranoid. Under Saul, the Philistines constantly attack Israel, and there are few victories. Essentially, Philistia controls the land of Israel, and it’s almost as if they’re back in Egypt under the oppression of a foreign power. Samuel is raised up almost as a Moses, who will be instrumental in bringing peace back into the land. God removes his Spirit from Saul and sends Samuel out to find the man who will replace Saul one day. Instead of Saul being a king “for the people”, David will be a king “for me”, or for God.
David’s life shows us the providence of God. Providence is God’s guiding hand over the affairs of this world. David is introduced to us as a very young man, but God has already a will in place for David’s life. He would be a shepherd, a king, a keeper of the covenant, a general, a musician, and a psalm writer. He would also be an adulterer and a conspirator in a murder. He’s complex, to say the least. But through it all, David’s life is a shining example of how God lovingly guides and directs his people into a righteousness not of their own but that which is a gift.
Recently, a pastor and a professor at Ukraine Baptist Theological Seminary made the news because he moved his family out of Ukraine for their own safety and then went back by himself to minister with other pastors to shepherd their people. People don’t do that because they’re good in their heart. People do that because they know in their heart that God is in control and guiding the affairs of this world so that the gospel is preached to the nations, and no matter what world events may take place, everything serves the good will of our heavenly father. So of course we pray for relief for those under attack, but we simultaneously trust God, who guides and directs the affairs of this world.
Samuel is grieved over how Saul has performed. He was a great man, but once his ego was shattered through failures, he never recovered. And from this point on, it would only get worse. Saul’s a character study in how greatness can destroy a man of low character. Saul makes sacrifices that he’s not authorized to make because he gets impatient and can’t wait for Samuel any longer. He gets jealous of David and tries to kill him. But he still was a great strategist. And seeing someone with so much capability ruin themselves was tough on Samuel. He’s grieving not just the downfall of the first king of Israel but that the first king of Israel would fail so badly. Is this the best Israel has to offer?
God tells Samuel to get up and take action. There is another man to whom God will give the throne after Saul dies. Samuel is sent to Bethlehem in Judah, which should not surprise a man who teaches the Scriptures. In Genesis 49, as Jacob is dying and blessing his sons who would become the twelve tribes of Israel, he says that “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of all the peoples” (v.10). There was always meant to be a king in Israel, and he would be a descendent of Judah.
When Samuel goes to Bethlehem, he will meet a man named Jessi, and one of Jessi’s sons will be the next king of Israel. This time, instead of the people demanding to have a king, God will choose to give them a king. God tells Samuel, “For I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” Now it’s not that God did not choose Saul, because he orchestrated how Saul and Samuel met. But in his providence, God will at times permit the sinful behaviors of his people play out as a disciplinary tool. The people were unfaithful in searching for a king that would serve in God’s role, and God said to them, “Thy will be done.”
Samuel is afraid of Saul in his paranoid state. If Saul finds out that another king has been anointed, there is little doubt in Samuel’s mind that he’ll be imprisoned or, more likely, killed. So God provides a good reason to make the journey, making a sacrifice, and as a judge and prophet he would have done this anyway. When he arrives in Bethlehem, he will invite Jessi’s family to the meal that would follow the sacrifice of the heifer. When he passes through Saul’s land, he won’t raise suspicion.
Sometimes there is a fine line between careful planning and deceit. But there is also wisdom in knowing how much to say, the way to say it, and what doesn’t need to be said right now. Samuel does not need to lie about what he is doing, but at the same time, God has already rejected Saul as king.
The first people he meets in Bethlehem are the town elders. They seem flustered by Samuel’s unannounced visit, and they ask, “Do you come peaceably?” That seems like an odd question for a prophet, but Samuel’s reputation as a no-nonsense judge and prophet precedes him. Just a few months earlier, chapter 15 tells us, Saul failed to destroy all the people of the Amalekites, taking some of them as slaves and imprisoning their king, King Agag. Samuel is at his whit’s end with Saul, so Samuel went up to Agag and took his lunch. He took his sword and chopped him into pieces. Suddenly a little curiosity about Samuel’s surprise check-in doesn’t seem to be so uncalled for. But he assures them that he comes in peace and invites them to the feast after they ceremonially purify themselves.
The sacrifice takes place, and the meal is about to begin. Samuel is looking Jessi’s sons up and down to see which one is God’s choice. Naturally, he starts with the oldest son, Eliab. The oldest son has the birthright, he’ll inherit the most from the family, he’s carrying the most responsibility among his brothers, and he’s likely the strongest from his brothers. But you know what you do when you assume. Looks are deceiving. God says to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (v.7).
How often our instincts lead us down the wrong path. If Eliab had been anointed for the way he looked, he would have been as bad or worse than Saul. When Saul was anointed king, the people liked him because of how tall and handsome he was. But in his heart, he was a paranoid, ego-driven man, obsessed with power. His failures simply shown a light on his heart. There might be many reasons that our instincts guide us toward the physically attractive, but at the end of the day we’re told that for whatever reason we strive toward those things, those features do not a king make.
Physical strength is good, and a clean appearance is good manners. But those exterior attributes can be accomplished apart from good character. Only the LORD can see who we truly are. The things we hide from others are open before God. Nothing is hidden from his sight. We might fool others for a time, but if we are just fooling others, we might very well be the judgment on those people from God as Saul was.
One of God’s attributes is that he is a perfect judge. He is impartial, judging only against his own standard of holiness and perfection. And as he knows the innermost parts of who we are, he does not make mistakes in his judgment. In Hebrews 10, when the author is speaking of God’s perfect judgment, it’s then that he writes, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (v.31).
We do not fear God because he is unjust, but because he is just. And even though we often downplay our sinfulness or mischaracterize it as moral failures or mistakes, God sees us as we are, fully exposed before him. Jesus tells us, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37). Nothing is hidden from his view. That both humbles us and encourages us, because he will not misjudge us. And if we are found in Christ, then we have already been judged. The judgment that Paul writes of, that I will endure at the end of the age, is to determine whether or not Christ died for me or if I will die for me. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3 that the judgment for Christians will simply expose whether our works were done in faith or not.
How do we judge people? What’s the natural way? We hear their words, and we read between the lines. We look at their appearance. We ask questions like, “Do they look right for the job?” We ask for resumes and CVs, we ask for character references, because you and I can’t look at a person and know their heart or their intentions. This makes us prone to make mistakes in judging someone, and it makes prejudice possible. We can’t know everything, so we have to make some assumptions.
But not so with God. Psalm 139, which is famous for telling us that God knits us together in the womb, also says, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways” (vv.2-3).
This is why the providence of God should matter so much to us. You and I are physically and spiritually incapable of guiding the affairs of this world because we are spiritually and physically incapable of understanding not only our own hearts but the hearts of other people.
God both raises up and tears down nations, which we are seeing in our own world today. God moves the hearts of the kings as he providentially moves his will forward. This is also why the church is free to make judgments about good and evil. We can look at world events, and we can look at what people and whole nations do, and without apology say that it is good or evil. We do not need to understand why things happen the way they do, because we do understand that there is one above us who does understand with perfect knowledge.
Eventually Samuel sees seven of Jessi’s sons. He knows that he is there to anoint the next king of Israel, but God has rejected every one of Jessi’s sons so far. There must be another. Because David is the youngest and the smallest, he’s not even considered by Jessi worth calling in from the fields. He’s out with the sheep keeping them safe. It’s almost prophetic, because “shepherd” will become a key attribute of the kings of Israel. Even before he’s made a king, he’s learning what it takes to be a shepherd, what it means to lovingly guide and direct those prone to wandering, knowing when to use your words and when to use your stick. He could learn that in obscurity, or he could learn that during his time as king. How much better off was both he and Israel by him learning to be a shepherd before taking office.
David is anointed now, but he will not become king for years. He still has the normal amount of growing up to do. Being shoved into a place of prominence before you’re ready is a dangerous place to be. It’s a good and noble thing to desire a high office, but to have an office without character is a recipe for the full catastrophe. God will often keep us in places of little to no recognition to guard us against an even greater fall once we are recognized. The day of small things is not a bad place to be if you desire the day of great things. It is in the day of small things that our hearts learn the things of God, where humility is learned, cultivated, and practiced. Without learning humility, greatness is a curse. This was the hard lesson that Saul learned, and David will himself struggle with it throughout his life.
David is anointed for greatness at this young age in front of his brothers, even if they’re unclear as to him being anointed as a future king. And even David is said to be ruddy or have a red complexion, to have beautiful eyes, and handsome. So dashing good looks do not prohibit you from greatness, but neither do they qualify you.
Then we read that the Spirit of God “rushed” on David. The language around the behavior of the Spirit is always exciting. You never read about the Holy Spirit sneaking into someone’s heart or slyly entering after a courteous introduction. The Spirit rushes on Saul, and he rushes on David. The Spirit falls at Pentecost. The Spirit is not just a force, but he always shows up in force. The Spirit is fully a part of the Trinity. The Spirit is a person. He is co-eternal with the Father and the Son and shares equal ultimacy with them both. The Spirit is as fully God as the Father and the Son.
The Spirit is always the agent of redemption. Whether before or after Christ, the Spirit is the one who applies the redemption that Christ bought with his blood to individuals. If the Spirit applies the blood of Christ to the church who looks back to him in faith, then the Spirit also applied the blood of Christ to the faithful within Israel who looked forward to him in faith. The difference is that in the old covenant, God lived among his people in the temple. The new covenant surpasses the old in that the Spirit of God now lives in us, because we are in Christ, who is himself the new temple.
And because God had always planned to place a king on the throne in Israel, God will make a covenant with David when he becomes king, promising that there will always be a son of David on that throne, that he will have an eternal kingdom. From that time on, when David fell short, the faithful looked forward to a time when a future son of David would be perfect and bring the people into right worship and perfect obedience to the covenant.
Providence is God’s guiding hand over the affairs of this world. From the beginning, God structured the kingdom of Israel to prepare the people for the son of David who would make a new covenant and lead his people into a right relationship with God where everyone would know him. David was a foreshadowing of Christ in so many ways. The prophet Samuel anointed David, John baptized Christ. The Spirit rushed on David, the Spirit descended on Christ. David was chased by Saul, Christ was chased by Herod. David was rejected by his people, Christ was killed by his people. God restored David after his sin, the Father resurrected the Son after his death.
In all the ways that David points us to Christ, perhaps his sin does it just as well. When we look to David, we can’t help but feel frustration at how he misses the mark over and over. That in itself draws our attention to our own sin and our own frustrations in the sins that remain. But where David would fall short as a king, the new son of David surpasses the old.
The prophet Jeremiah writes about the coming son of David who would redeem us when he writes, “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness’” (Jeremiah 23:5-6).
David looked forward to a future son who would accomplish everything the law demanded. No longer do we seek after a righteousness of our own, because Jesus Christ himself is our righteousness. Providence is God’s guiding hand over the affairs of this world. From before David knew he would be king, during his time of preparation, and through all of his successes and failures as the primary covenant-keeper in Israel, God was working all things to bring about our redemption. He continues to work to that end, culminating one day in the restoration of all things.
Weeds grow when you clear land. Weeds are nature’s way of protecting itself and combatting erosion. If you don’t protect the topsoil, it will easily wash away when it rains. That’s why you’ll see weeds where you’ve never planted them; in cracks in your driveway and sidewalk; even breaking through your plastic barriers. They grow quickly and easily. They require no maintenance. Just planting what you want doesn’t clear away weeds. You have to remove the weeds to protect what you want. You can spray for weeds one year, and you are guaranteed to have to do it again the next year.
In the same way that weeds are the part of nature we don’t want and can’t get a handle on, sin continually creeps up in places we thought we had it under control. Sin grows in the little places we never imagined it, the cracks and crevices. We think we have one sin mastered only to find out that it goes by many names. To put it more clearly, sin is our nature’s way of trying to reclaim our hearts and minds.
We all too easily get comfortable with our besetting sins instead of engaged in a fight with them. Sometimes winning a fight looks like standing your ground and getting a few good swings in. Sometimes winning a fight looks like turning the other direction to drain your enemy of its power. Without exception, Scripture tells us to flee sexual immorality. That means not engaging on any level. We don’t engage on the mental level, with fantasy. We don’t engage on the emotional level, through intimacy. And we don’t engage on the physical level, with proximity.
In the life of David we see a man who already struggled with sexual immorality and then isolated himself from his normal routines. And by struggled with sexual immorality, I mean he gave in to it over and over. The struggle is good and not the sin. One some level, every one of us struggles with sexual immorality. But instead of putting up a fight, David let things happen to him. He isolated himself, he turned fearful, then vengeful, and finally, it turned him into a horrible callous man.
Sin grows in barren isolation. Righteousness grows in biblical community.
God cares about sin because he cares about righteousness. Only in Christ is righteousness achieved, and it’s not by us conquering sin. Christ conquered sin through his obedience even to death. The prime example this hope is David’s life, as far back as him fighting Goliath. The covenant made at Sinai came with blessings and curses. The curses were that when the people defected, became faithless and disobedient, God would send in foreign nations to rule over the people until they repented and turned back to the Lord. Goliath was a Philistine, and the Philistines were there in Israel as the judgment of God.
Why did God send in David? Because God sent one man to do for the nation what the nation would not and could not do for themselves, namely, remove the instrument of God’s judgment. David stood to represent the nation, in between God and the people, and to destroy the enemy. David is a shadow or a foretaste of what the people needed even more than freedom from the tyranny of foreign powers: freedom from the tyranny of sin. During his reign of king, David would push the Philistines out of the nation.
But David would let the people down time and time again. Looking at Saul, we see that good looks and physical strength is no guarantee of leadership ability. Looking at David, we see that starting well is no guarantee of godliness. Every time he sinned, every time he took a new wife, every time he stayed behind, he showed the people that he was not the expected messiah who will save the people. Every time he failed, the expectation for God to send one who would replace even this beloved king grew more and more.
David is anointed king of Judah in 2 Samuel 2 then king of Israel in 2 Samuel 5. Already there are major divisions between north and south, but the kingdom won’t split for a couple of more generations. Samuel anointed David king back in 1 Samuel 16, but he was a young man. Not until Saul dies is he the rightful heir of the throne. The Philistines are finally removed from Israel at the end of chapter 5. God cuts the covenant with David in chapter 7, that he will have an eternal descendent on the throne. Then David has many military victories in chapters 8-10. Now in chapter 11 successful, boastful, entitled King David is isolated, fearful, vengeful, and callous.
vv. 1-5 First we see David as an isolated man.
Spring allowed the roads to be clear for military travel. Wartime was spring through harvest. We’re told that the Israelite army going up to Rabbah was a siege work, which meant that this would have been an extended time of military action, not some quick skirmish or a single battle. This might go on the entirety of the war-fighting season. Since the king had many responsibilities, there may have been times when the king stayed behind, especially if this was intended to be almost a year. But v.1 does say that the kings did typically go out with their armies, so it seems that it was expected that David would go, even for an extended period of time. Either way, whether it was normal or disreputable, David is now isolated.
In the afternoon, many people would take a nap in a cooler place to rest up from the heat. He takes a stroll to his roof, which as the king’s house, would have likely been the highest point in the city. It would have been easy for him to see quite a distance.
Bathing on the roof would not have been abnormal. Generally, you’d be shielded from the view of everyone below. But from his perch, David doesn’t look away. His sin is not that he saw her but that he kept seeing her. Seeing her turned in to fantasizing about her. Fantasizing about her turned into finding out about her. Turning around would have gone a great distance in preventing what’s about to happen, but instead, he let his eyes draw him in. His eyes fed his mind. His mind fed his heart. And out of his heart came many kinds of deceit.
Scripture does not even try to make Bathsheba complicit. No context implies that she’s enticing David to do what he will do. We’re not even told that she’s unclothed. There are places in the world where people bath publicly, such as in India, and they do not completely undress to do so. All we’re told about Bathsheba, beyond her bathing on the roof, is that her father is Eliam and her husband is Uriah.
Eliam is among David’s mighty men, 30 men of courage who who have followed David to hell and back in battle. Eliam’s father is Ahithophel, who is one of David’s counselor, much like a cabinet member. It could have been that when he saw Bathsheba, he wasn’t close enough to recognize her face but close enough to recognize her beauty. While we don’t know if he knew who she was before seeing her and calling for her, he intimately knew her father and grandfather. David himself would have been about fifty-years-old by this time.
David sent for her through messenger, then we’re told that he took her and she came to him. And to prove that there was no chance her husband was the father of this forthcoming child, we’re told that she was bathing to achieve ceremonial purity, because she had finished her monthly cycle. The child that will be born to David and Bathsheba is undoubtedly David’s.
David has a history of sexual sin. Unfortunately, Bathsheba fits right in with David’s inability to have much self-control. David had an ongoing problem with sexual sin. David already had multiple wives: Ahinoam, Abigail, Maccah, Haggith, and Eglah are listed specifically in 2 Samuel 3. In chapter 5, there are so many more wives and concubines that they’re not even named. Kings were prohibited from polygamy in Deuteronomy 17:17-20. So even for all the good he did, he failed to obey the law perfectly. Taking Bathsheba was just the next step.
David already had wives and concubines, so why did he need Bathsheba? David was isolated. His appetite could go unchecked with little to no accountability. Like all appetites, they might be satisfied for a short while, but they always come back. Without even a little self-control, our appetites becomes our god. The apostle Paul says of those who reject the truth in Philippians 3:19, "Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.”
vv. 6-13 Then we see how frightened David is.
Joab is David’s military general and would be in charge of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband. Uriah is from the Hittite people and is probably a soldier-for-hire. However, he seems to have made the change to an Israelite, because Uriah means “Yahweh is my light”. He would fight for David’s army, for Israel, and in turn David would provide for all of his needs. And we’ll see that Uriah is heavily contrasted with David in terms of his character.
There would really not be much of a reason for David to call Uriah to get an update on the siege. It’s already raising suspicion in Joab’s mind. But David is frightened, so he starts scheming. He brings Uriah home, hoping that he will do what married couples do after being apart and think the child Bathsheba is carrying belongs to him. To compound David’s adultery, now he’s tricking another man into raising his own child. When we have no self-control, we turn to self-protection. When we break God’s law, we look to shift the blame. Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. And if David can, he will shift responsibility to Uriah.
Knowing that you’ve sinned is not the same as confessing that you’ve sinned. David clearly knows what he’s done, because he’s scared. And his fear, instead of leading him to repentance, has instead led him to concocting a scheme to cover up his adultery.
There was precedent for soldiers not to sleep with their wives before or during battle. They were to stay focused on the task before them. Uriah is not going to indulge himself while his fellow soldiers are fighting away from their own families, many of whom will never return. He also has great reverence for the ark of God, which he says is also just dwelling in a tent. So instead of going to his home to be with Bathsheba, which David told him it was alright to do, he stays the night at the entrance of the palace instead. He stays in the servants’ quarters. We’re supposed to contrast Uriah’s integrity, a gentile, with the integrity of the fallen Israelite king.
David finds out and has Uriah stay an extra day. David gets Uriah drunk, hoping that without his senses he’ll go home and find Bathsheba. But even off the wagon, Uriah has more integrity than David and refuses to go home. So David, instead of repenting, now has to find a new way to keep Uriah from finding out about what he as done.
vv. 14-21 Because David is isolated and frightened, he turns vengeful.
Desperation makes us do horrible things, all in the name of not getting caught. How much sooner can things move on, even if it hurts, if we confess our sins to those who we’ve offended? The weight of sin is unbearable if it goes unconfessed. It makes us stupid. And in his desperation, David turned into the kind of person we all have inside of us—a vengeful person.
In his sinful stupidity, somehow it makes sense to David that Uriah has to die. That will fix everything. Everyone will think the child is Uriah’s since he was in town for a couple of days. So David sends Uriah back to Joab saying that Uriah should be put in the front of the fighting for the sole purpose that he is killed. Not only is he to be put in the front ranks, but when the fighting gets started, have everyone else back away from him. Make him a target, David says.
Joab sees through David’s plotting. Instead of having Uriah be the only casualty, the men stay together and many of them are killed in battle. Uriah’s death would simply be lumped in together with the body count. So Joab sends a messenger back to David tell him about the mass losses.
Joab knows that David will ask for more than a body count. He also knows that something is amiss. Joab knows a woman is involved. And as commonplace as polygamy might have been among other pagan kings, he knew that it was not allowed in the law for the Israelite kings. Somewhat prophetically, Joab knows that David, in his anger about the great losses, will wonder why Joab had the army so close to the wall. It was well-known Israelite history that one of their greatest black-eyes was when Abimelech died at the hands of a woman who rolled a rock on his head from her roof. Abimelech was one of Gideon’s sons, and he killed all of his brothers in order to make himself a king even before Israel had kings. But the people hated him, and one woman took it upon herself to take him out.
David may not have actually said this, but Joab half expects him to. It’s thick with irony. A woman on a roof was the downfall of a very proud man in time of the judges. And a woman on a roof was the downfall of a very proud man in the time of the kings. David failed to practice self-control and failed to be obedient to the law of God. It is his failures that have turned him into a vengeful, old man.
vv. 22-27 David has manipulated people’s lives, and the only way to mask the truth is for him to turn callous.
Joab’s messenger arrives in Jerusalem to tell David the bad news. More soldiers died than he expected. It was a slaughter. Walking up to a city wall was like walking up to a tank. Soldiers perched on the top of the wall could shoot down at the soldiers below with nothing to stop them. They were like sitting ducks. Joab expected this to infuriate the king.
However, David is so relieved that Uriah is dead, that his problem is solved, that he shows no remorse for sending so many men to their deaths. He was prepared to lose one man, and if other soldiers died to make that happen, then so be it. The message he sends back to Joab is, “Do not let this matter displease you, for the sword devours now one and now another. Strengthen your attack against the city and overthrow it.” Basically, he says to Joab, “What are you gonna do?”
Sin and sin’s coverup when you’ve been found out will necessarily lead to repentance or callousness. Eventually, David will admit his sins and repent. But for now, he’s doing what sinners do and basking in the peace of getting away scot-free.
Sin also sends us into hiding. This whole time, David has stayed in his house. Even while Bathsheba mourns for her husband’s death, David stays home. Sin isn’t just grown by isolation, but it keeps us isolated, as well. Every time David is mentioned, where is he? He’s holed up in his palace, safe and sound, while everyone else is suffering for his sin.
The story is far from over, however. David brings Bathsheba into his house, but the story takes a turn. Up until now, God has not been mentioned. But once God is mentioned, it’s not good news for David. Everything is not okay. “But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.” From start to finish, this is David’s sin. Sure, later on, down the road, Bathsheba proves to be a schemer herself, but this is on David.
One of the prophets in David’s time was Nathan. God sends Nathan to David to call David out on his sin. Nathan gives David a story about a rich man who steals a poor man’s lamb to feed a guest. He asks David, “What should be done to this thief?” And of course, David says that the rich man should restore what he stole and then die. Famously, Nathan says to David, “You are the man!”
Nathan goes on to say that because, as king, he has led Israel astray through his example, the child born to David and Bathsheba will die. We should not say that our sin will lead to the death of our children, but in this instance, it did. From this point on, David is changed. When his child is born, he is sick. He dies before he is even named. When the attendants tell David of his son’s death, he actually stops his mourning and goes to the ark to worship. When they ask him why he has stopped mourning when many would have just begun, he is assured that in the life to come, he will see his son again.
The grace of God turned a man like David, an adulterer and conspirator, into a man who hopes in the resurrection of the dead. What is our blessed hope? Is it to never die? Or is it to die to this frail, sinful body and be raised incorruptible?
Jesus died that we might die, which graciously removes the weight of this sin-ridden body. Jesus lived the perfect, obedient life that when we live again, we will be sinless and stain-free, as he is. The return of Christ, which brings with it the resurrection of the dead, is our blessed hope.
David did some horribly wicked things. But those wicked things were the very sins for which Christ died. The vile things that you and I have done are the very sins for which Christ died.
Once restored in community, David wrote Psalm 51 as a confession of his sin before God. In it, he writes, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice” (vv.7-8). Confession and repentance brings about both brokenness and gladness. Brokenness in that we have failed at sinless perfection, and gladness in that we are purged of our sins by the blood of Christ. What is it that pleases God? “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (v.17).
Sin grows in barren isolation. Righteousness grows in biblical community. If you’re isolated, find biblical community. So many sins begin in isolation. Earthly tactics do not do away with the power of sin. In Colossians 2, Paul says rules like “Do not taste, do not touch” do not guard against the indulgence of the flesh. So what does? “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16). Sin is defeated in biblical community.
Those who turn to Christ in faith and repentance are never turned away. Bring your sin, your evil deeds, you good deeds done with selfish motives, and confess that Christ is Lord. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart.