Among the most familiar sins recorded in the Scriptures is King David’s adultery with Bathsheba. Why did he do it? The text describes his behavior in 2 Samuel 11.
2 Sa 11:1 Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem. 2 Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance.
Here’s a start at least. David saw a very beautiful woman bathing while he was walking on the roof of his house. No doubt he chose to lust after her, and he failed to curb his sinful desires. However, to say that David sinned only because of what he saw – a beautiful woman bathing – is only partly correct. Actually, David’s sin also resulted from some things he failed to see from the top of his palace. In fact, if he had paid attention to some undeniable realities, he might have turned his eyes away from Bathsheba.
David had some major blind spots. So do we, whenever we choose to disobey God. By noting his blind spots, we we will be much more able to deal with our own.
1. First, David did not see the people’s need for a leader. As stated above, it was at “the time when kings go out to battle” (2 Samuel 11:1 NASB) that David sent others to war but stayed home himself. Israel’s army may have won against the Ammonites, but her king lost his war, because he did not lead. The same is true today. Before you sin, ask: “How will this action affect my ability to lead and influence others for the Lord?” “Is my devotion to showing others the way serious enough that it helps prevent me from losing my way?”
2. David also blinded himself to the past experiences, failures, and consequences in the lives of others. Since the beginning of time, David must have known what had become of others, perhaps many others, each of whom had sinned immorally by committing adultery with someone else’s wife. They were caught. The woman became pregnant. They were unable to cover it up. A marriage died. A lifetime of guilt and shame ensued. David didn’t see, or refused to see, that his experience would be no different. He failed to learn from those who preceded him. Before you sin, ask: “Who do I know that took a similar action or made a similar decision, and how did that work out for them?”
3. In addition, David didn’t recognize the corrupting, corrosive effect that absolute power can have on a man. He can begin to think that he is above the law, that he wrote the law, or that he can ignore the law. David’s authority could have swollen his ego to such an extent that he was unaware of how far he had fallen already. Before you sin, ask: “Am I so proud, so narcissistic and self-absorbed, that I believe than I can disobey God’s rules and treat other people as objects?”
4. David overlooked his good friend, Uriah the Hittite, who was Bathsheba’s husband. This man was one of David’s “mighty men,” his most loyal followers (2 Samuel 23:39). When David saw Bathsheba, he did not see himself deceiving her husband Uriah, getting him drunk, and having him killed. If he had, he might have denied his own lust and temporary pleasure. Before you sin, ask: “How will this decision affect my friends and those who have put their trust in me?” “How will this action destroy rather than protect the purity and sanctity of my friends’ marriages?”
5. This mighty king failed to see an innocent baby. The child conceived by David and Bathsheba would die as a part of David’s punishment (2 Samuel 12:14). If the king had foreseen the baby suffering with an illness for seven days, the sorrow that David himself would experience, and the lifetime of guilt that he would carry, he might have avoided his adulterous encounter. How many sinless babies have been aborted, their precious lives thrown away, as the result of sexual misconduct? Before you sin, ask: “How will this choice affect my children and other innocent people?” “Would I be willing for my young daughter, niece, or granddaughter to know that I did this?” “Would my son, nephew, or grandson respect me if this action became known?”
6. David became blind to his loyal wife, Abigail. This good woman provided for David and kept him from sin, in spite of her foolish husband Nabal. She became David’s wife after Nabal died. See 1 Samuel 25. How would David’s choice of another woman affect Abigail? Apparently he never asked. Before you sin, ask: “How will this conduct affect my dedicated, God-fearing spouse and my covenant before God to be faithful to him or her until one of us dies?”
7. King David lost sight of His children – Tamar, Amnon, and Absalom. Turmoil would characterize David’s household from this point forward. The sword would never depart from his house (2 Sam 12:10). David’s son Amnon would assault and violate his own half-sister, Tamar. Her full-brother Absalom would murder Amnon, become a fugitive, and take over the throne for a time. These sons carried out the very things recorded in David’s playbook. David would hear of Absalom’s death and mourn, saying, “Would that I had died instead!” Before you sin, ask: “How will this behavior affect the way my children turn out and the long-term direction of future generations?”
8. David lost sight of his God-given throne. If David had realized that, because of his immorality, he would forfeit his anointed position as king and run from his own son, would he have sent for Bathsheba? Likely not. Before you sin, ask: “How will this deed affect my calling to serve the Lord in my current position?”
9. At the heart of it all, David did not see God when he was on the palace roof. He became blind to God’s authority in his life, God’s righteous wrath toward sin, God’s broken heart when one rejects His will, and God’s grace, which had blessed and sustained him from the beginning. Before you sin, ask: “How will this decision affect my relationship with the Lord? My prayer life? My spiritual peace and confidence? My eternal salvation?”
What happened to David can happen to us. Peter wrote by inspiration: “If anyone does not have these [qualities of spiritual growth just mentioned], he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins” (2 Peter 1:9 NIV). It is when one sees what he wants to see rather than what he ought to see that he runs into a wall or off of a cliff.
Do you want to be strong and prepared when temptation arises? Then take some time, go up on your palace roof, and concentrate on the things David didn’t see from his roof.