Sister to Sister: That Night of Adultery…So Stealthily it Comes and Goes

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o-ADULTERY-facebook-3What was about to happen to David and Bathsheba in II Samuel 11 is very “Hollywood-ish”. In fact, Hollywood or Broadway would have had a heyday with Bathsheba’s bath time. It has everything that makes for the “R” rating (nudity, passion, adultery, and pregnancy by the wrong man) and yet they truly were “in love.” Lines like “The passion was bigger than both of them,” or “They just could not fight the feeling any more,” or “David had spent his lifetime running from Saul. He refused to run from his own desires,” would have been the trailer captions if Hollywood were doing the story.  But the Holy Spirit handles sin much differently than does Hollywood.

David had been called by God  the “man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22). There were times when he surely had been given the chance to kill his arch enemy, King Saul, but he so deeply respected God and His anointed, that he could  not smite the King (1 Samuel 23:14-24:22; 26). He had shown bravery, wisdom and kindness on multiple occasions. When it came to women, however, David surely thought he knew better than God. So many men (and women) today can handle most any temptation except the sexual one.

In Deuteronomy 17:16-20, God had, interestingly and prophetically regulated the throne of Israel, even before they had asked for a king. Notice this regulation:

But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’  Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.  “Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites.  And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.

But David had taken lots of wives and concubines, already (II Samuel 5:13). Certainly David’s copy of the law was not arresting his attention that night as he looked down from the palace roof and saw the beautiful Bathsheba as she bathed. The king for which the people had clamored to “ “go out before us and fight our battles” (I Samuel  8:20) was home during the battle and up on the palace rooftop looking at a beautiful woman as she bathed. This combination of failures was to be the huge blot on the record of David. This is the night that became his undoing in many successive and pivotal ventures. Lust, adultery, deceit, betrayal, making accomplices of subordinates, and murder followed each other in rapid succession in David’s mind, will and actions. His bedchamber must have turned into a dark, sleepless and torturous room of guilt, rationalization and plotting.  In fact, Scripture tells us in retrospect that the Bathsheba incident was the one time that David turned from following the commands of the Lord (I Kings 15:5). He should have had all of his defenses in place. But on that night, when his armies were succeeding, his personal, spiritual battle was lost as he looked from the roof and saw Bathsheba bathing.

It was a huge departure. How many times in later life must David have wished his distance vision had not been quite so good? Maybe he wished his spiritual distance vision had been a bit better!  How many times did he later wish he’d been out on the battle lines that night with his men as their active commander-in-chief? Sometimes large regret is born when we are in the wrong place, even for a short time.  Two people were in the wrong place on this particular evening.

Defenses are important. Prevention of opportunity…denial of tempting places and situations IS the best defense against adultery. David could have asked the question Joseph asked “…thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9). But he didn’t take the time to ponder the impending damage to the one to  whom Bathsheba belonged, that the message he was about to send was wicked, that its intended result was great wickedness, and that His sin would also be against the God who had faithfully delivered him on numerous occasions.  One night, one bath, one leisurely rooftop stroll , one message, one response, one tryst…all likely occurring in just a few hours…and the pain of Psalm 51 tells the rest of the story:

 

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment. (vs. 3-4)

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