Summary: How does sin get a grip on David? How can we avoid its grasp?
David and Bathsheba
Up to this point we have been looking at David as a model for our own lives. He is the man who is “after God’s own heart.”
Those of you who know the story of David know that this story was coming and you would remind me that we shouldn’t always see David as a model – he is far from perfect. “Far from perfect” is a vast understatement. In this story, it almost seems like the David we have been reading about has been replaced by some monster. The truth is he hasn’t, and maybe the reason the story is so horrifying is because it reminds us that we all have the potential to be a monster. David has become that monster, but I think that even in this story, David becomes a model to us.
David definitely doesn’t begin as a model, nor is he a model for most of the story. In the beginning of the story, David is “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” We usually say that phrase when someone is caught up in something and hurt through no fault of their own. Jane Kreeba was just shopping on Younge Street and was caught in the crossfire and gunned down. David, on the other hand is there by choice – “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.”
That first verse tells us that David was already on a slippery slope – and the slope gets steeper.
David should not have been in Jerusalem, he should have been with his troops in battle against their enemies. I think that the first verse reminds us that we are most prone to temptation when we are not where we are supposed to be. If David gets lost in this chapter, not being where he was supposed to be is his first steps toward getting lost.
What are your first steps toward getting lost? Being in the wrong part of town, not being at home? Sitting in front of the computer when you should be asleep or with your family? Stepping into the group of gossips at work? Climbing up onto the (metaphorical) judge’s seat when you should be sitting in the advocate’s seat? Where is the most dangerous place for you? For David, it was being in Jerusalem when he should have been on the battlefield.
For David, it was more than just not being where he should be and being where he shouldn’t be; it points to a shift in David that has happened in David. He has gone from the hands-on king of the people who was a servant of God and a leader among equals to an aloof king who sends people to do his bidding. He goes from a servant of God to a king playing God.
The funny thing about when we say that someone is playing God, the God that they are playing looks nothing like the God of the Bible. The god that we play is a god that controls everything and sends everyone to do his dirty work. The God of the Bible is best seen in the personality of Jesus – who call his disciples friends, who takes the job of the lowest slave and washes their feet. The reason that David was called “a man after God’s own heart” was that he had the character of God – he was a king of the people; fighting side by side with them, mourning with them when their was loss, celebrating with them when there was a celebration. Our God is the God of Immanuel – “God with Us,” and to be a god-like king is to have the character of God – the servant king, the king who is with his people, not just over his people.
Name people who are “acting like God.” Serving, not lording
David was not just in the wrong geographical location; he was in the wrong headspace.
David is up on the roof, looking over the city and he sees a beautiful woman bathing on her roof. We aren’t told how long he looks, but we know he certainly didn’t turn away to give he her privacy. His look was stealing her privacy, his lust was stealing her innocence, and as we find out soon, his enjoyment of her beauty was stealing what only her husband should have. He sees her beauty, and he wants her.
Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you – Leonard Cohen, Hallelujah