The story of David and Bathsheba is a ballad of bloodshed; a scene in which things seem to digress from bad to worse. Each time I read the story, I find myself astounded at the selfishness and short-sightedness of King David.
Why did he stay home while the kings of other nations – and, more importantly, while the soldiers of his own nation – marched out onto the field of battle (2 Samuel 11:1)?
Uriah the Hethite was one of King David’s mighty men (2 Samuel 23:39). These two men would have fought together; they would have had each other’s backs. Why did King David pursue an illicit sexual encounter with Bathsheba even after hearing the words, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam and wife of Uriah the Hethite?” (2 Samuel 11:3).
After his attempts to cover up his misdeeds were unsuccessful, why did King David order to have Uriah killed (2 Samuel 11:14–15)? Wasn’t he able to see that he was only making a messy situation even messier?
As appropriate as these questions may be, none of them are the ultimate take-away from the account of King David and Bathsheba. Instead, the story of King David and Bathsheba is a real-life illustration of how a godly man can be “drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire” (James 1:14–15).
With that perspective, I am transformed from a person who balks at King David’s selfishness and short-sightedness into a person who bawls alongside of him. The same sin-nature which led him astray has also led me to be self-centered and short-sighted. I see the destructive impact of my sin not only in my own life, but also in the lives of those for whom I care most deeply.
Perhaps you, too, are familiar with this sin-nature. Perhaps you, too, are weeping within.
By God’s grace, this unhappy story of David and Bathsheba has a redemptive ending. It includes much more than death and destruction. Eventually, Jesus Christ would be born into the world as a direct descendant of King David and Bathsheba (Matthew 1:6–7). He would do for others what His ancestor David was unable to accomplish for himself.
King David remained at home instead of going to battle. Christ willingly left His heavenly home to fight the battle against sin – and to win that battle on a cross and in an empty tomb.
King David took someone’s life in order to cover-up his sin. Christ willingly laid down His life to forgive the sins of others.
King David took a bride which was not rightfully his. Through living a holy and blameless life, shedding His blood, and rising from the dead, Jesus Christ purchased a people for His own possession (Titus 2:14) – a holy bride composed of people from all tribes and tongues (Revelation 5:9-10). A bride composed of people like me, and people like you.
God put the story of King David and Bathsheba in the Bible as a warning against the destructive tendencies of sin. But it is also a foreshadowing of the freedom from sin which Christ has won for His people.
How is God calling you to live in light of His gospel: as foreshadowed in the account of David and Bathsheba, and as fully revealed in the perfect life, gruesome death, and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ His Son?
Are you slow to believe that your sin is truly destructive? David’s sin resulted in at least two deaths: Uriah (Bathsheba’s former husband, 2 Samuel 11:17) and the son produced from David’s illicit union with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:18). Let the finality of those deaths remind you of sin’s temporal consequences, both for yourself and for other people. Let the death of the Son of God remind you of the eternal consequences of sin. Let His resurrection empower you to walk out of death and darkness and into His marvelous light (see 1 Peter 2:9).
Are you seeking to cover-up your sinfulness from the gaze of other people? Let the blood which King David shed remind you that your attempts at cover-up are futile. Let the blood which Jesus shed remind you that your attempts at cover-up are unnecessary, for you are covered already in His perfect righteousness. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).
Are you feeling crushed or condemned by the weightiness of your sin? Hear King David’s outrage against his sin as an assessment of your own: “As the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die!” (2 Samuel 12:5). Then, understand the work of the Lord on your behalf – the Lord who not only lives, but who also died in your place. He carries the weight of your sin; you bear it no more. For, “He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth; when he was insulted, he did not insult in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten but entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree; so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:22-24).
Christian – regardless of the unique ways in which these gospel threads strike you – may the story of King David and Bathsheba prompt you to bask in the healing which Christ’s wounds have won for you.