Today’s reading: 2 Samuel 8-12.
Abraham Lincoln said,”Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” There’s something about success that threatens and tempts us. David suffered one of the greatest failures of his life not long after the high water mark of his kingship. He had survived the ten-year chase from King Saul, won over all Israel to become king, received God’s promise that his descendant would have an everlasting kingdom, and defeated his enemies to the north, south, east, and west. Then he caved in to temptation and brought disaster upon himself, his family, and an innocent man.
David’s adulterous affair with Bathsheba began because he was in the wrong place. How many people today make the same mistake! We know where our temptation lives, but rather than avoid that spot, or make it inaccessible, we go there anyway. The Bible is clear that we should run from temptation, not linger with it. David should have been with his soldiers on the battlefield. Instead he was idling away the hours in the palace. The pursuit of our purpose protects us from sin, but David abandoned his purpose and pursued pleasure.
He fell into sin because he bit the baited hook of desire. James said, “each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” David saw Bathsheba bathing and could have – should have – moved away where he could not see her. His desire, however, dragged him in and he was hooked. David could only blame himself. He made the choice to chase his lust.
David’s failure at its root was also a failure of faith. When we give in to temptation as he did, we’re telling God, “what you’ve given me isn’t good enough. There’s something better out there and I’m going to get it.” Lack of faith also caused him to reject the truth of God’s word that in sexual encounters “the two become one flesh.” When David united himself with Bathsheba, he was also uniting himself with her husband, Uriah. Remembering this fact can be one of the most powerful deterrents to sexual sin. If you consider committing adultery, you are dragging your spouse into the new sexual union as well as the spouse of your adulterous partner. David ignored Uriah’s union with Bathsheba. As a result, Uriah lost his life.
David’s success led to temptation which led to sin which brought calamity upon David and all those around him. Why?
- He didn’t pursue his purpose.
- He was idle.
- He didn’t run from temptation.
- He didn’t trust God’s provision for him, but wanted more.
- He allowed his own desires to master him.
In the days and years to come David suffered greatly for his mistake. God forgave his sin, but the consequences of his actions remained. He learned firsthand that “sin takes us farther than we want to go, makes us stay longer than we want to stay, and costs us more than we want to pay.”
This was not an isolated sin. For some time, backsliding had been eating out David’s heart. The cankerworm takes its toll before the noble tree crashes to the ground. See Psalms 51:8. Joab and his brave soldiers were in the thick of a great conflict. Rabbah was being besieged and had not fallen. It was a time when kings went out to battle, but David tarried at home. It was a fatal lethargy. If the king had been in his place, this sin would never have besmirched his character. – F. B. Meyer
Image by Caroly Czifra on Flickr, CC by sa 2.0