Summary: David’s life teaches us that sin has a cause, it has consequences and it has a cure.
I was sitting at my desk opening the morning mail, several years ago and in another place, when I picked up a letter from a fellow pastor in a nearby church. I knew him well and thought of him as a good man and a faithful pastor, but I was shocked to read that he was resigning due to stress and other personal problems. He and his wife were getting a divorce after several years of marriage and three children. Rumors started flying, and one day I received a phone call from the pastor asking if I would meet with him and his wife. They began to spill out their hurt and the sordid details of the dysfunctional relationship between them. It also came out that this pastor — whom I thought I knew well — had developed an unhealthy relationship with two women in his church. After he resigned his church he decided to attend our church, even though it was another denomination. One Sunday I looked out over the congregation and there he sat with one of his female friends on his right and the other on his left. The people in church that morning were shocked and stunned, because everyone in that small town was aware of the scandal. That morning we received communion at the altar and he knelt down to receive communion between the two women — neither of whom were his wife. It was an awkward moment to say the least. I have had to ask the question many times in my life, and this was certainly another occasion for asking it again: “How can a good person be so bad?”
As we read the life of David we ask the same question. He is such a good person in so many ways. He had a heart for God from the very beginning. He wrote much of the book of Psalms, one of the best loved and most frequently quoted parts of the Bible. Even Jesus quoted his writings. He was a man of courage, facing the giant Goliath and many other mighty warriors. He spared the life of King Saul, even though Saul was trying to kill him. He was merciful to his enemies and benevolent toward his friends. We see him worshiping the Lord with great zeal and emotion. He is constantly singing praises to God. But, in an unguarded moment, he gave into the temptation to lust. And in an effort to cover up his sin he committed murder. As we read about the life of David in the Old Testament, we read of his courageous acts and his fervent worship of God, but when we come to this part of his life story it is like a slap in the face. We are scandalized that anyone would do something like this — especially someone who claims to love God and serve him.
How can a good person be so bad? How does that happen? The life of David answers those questions and helps us to guard against this kind of thing happening to us. The life of David teaches us many things, and the first is: Sin has a cause. There is always a reason for the things we do — a underlying cause. The problem is that so often we point to some situation which is the cause or someone else who is to blame. We shift the blame and see the cause as something outside us instead of something inside us. We want to point to everything and everyone but ourselves. In David’s case the problem was most certainly a problem inside David. There were no excuses. He had everything. He had more wives than he could handle. He had all the privileges, power and pleasures of the kingdom — but he still wanted more.
What were the causes of sin in David’s life? I think there were probably several contributing factors, but one of the foremost was pride. David had been an absolute nobody, but he quickly gained fame and prestige through killing Goliath and becoming King Saul’s aide. He was anointed king by Samuel at a young age. He seemed to maintain his humility until he was securely on the throne of Israel. At first it was humbling to know that he was the Lord’s anointed, but then he thought everyone ought to respect this privileged position. Everyone around him paid him homage. No one ever questioned his authority or criticized his decisions. It all began to go to his head. If he wanted something it was brought to him immediately. So by the time he saw Bathsheba bathing out in the open, he ordered a servant to bring her to his quarters like he would call for an evening snack. There is not the slightest twinge of his conscience at this point. He doesn’t give it a thought. And when Bathsheba later sent word that she was pregnant with his child, he ordered the head of Israel’s army to place Bathsheba’s husband in the battle where he knew he would be killed. And Joab, the leader of the army of Israel, complied with David’s request without hesitation. What power was at David’s disposal! One word from him and he could have anything — anything. One word from him determined whether someone lived or died.