Being powerfully used by God does not mean we are exempt from sin or temptation. It is hard to understand why a servant of God like David would behave so recklessly, engaging in adultery and then murder. Yet, as one theologian phrased it, “Sin is at its root irrational.”
Whoever is pregnant with evil conceives trouble and gives birth to disillusionment. Psalm 7:14
In today’s reading, David was at the height of his power. He had sent his army to complete his victory over the Ammonites while he stayed home. One evening, David took a stroll on the roof of his palace. From this vantage point, he could see into the courtyards of many houses in the city. Looking across them, he saw a woman bathing. He asked questions and discovered that this woman was the daughter of one of his best fighters (2 Sam. 23:34) and the wife of a dedicated soldier (2 Sam. 23:39). Knowing all of this, he sent messengers to fetch her and committed adultery (2 Sam. 11:4).
We do not know what Bathsheba thought about all this. Did she have a choice? There was certainly a power differential between them. We are not given that information as the narrative focuses instead on David’s actions and responsibility.
The narrator uses an interesting string of verbs to describe David’s sin with Bathsheba. David “saw” that the woman was “good” (the Hebrew word translated “very beautiful”) then he sent messengers to “take” her (vv. 2–4). These are the same verbs used in the story of the Fall in Genesis 3. Eve “saw” that fruit was “good/beautiful” and she “took” it. The author is subtly drawing a parallel between the two passages. This act would become David’s fall. His life would never be the same. The consequences of his sin would resonate for generations.
We are all susceptible to temptation and sin. Take a few moments and reflect on your own life. Are there areas you need to pray for forgiveness or temptations that you need to flee?