One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof, he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite. Then David sent messengers to get her.“2 Samuel 11:2-4
An Epic Tragedy
The story of David and Bathsheba is a tragedy of epic proportions. One man’s failure to turn from temptation resulted in deeply painful consequences for everyone involved.
David was king over Israel. One night, unable to sleep, David took a stroll in the cool night air to clear his mind of whatever was keeping him awake. In the distance he saw a beautiful woman bathing.
I’ve heard people blame Bathsheba, in part, for what happened next. Some say she must have known the king would be looking and she bathed on her rooftop in order to gain an “audience with the king.” That’s not how I interpret the events. Everything falls directly at the feet of David. Homes at that time did not have bathrooms. For privacy a person would go up on the roof to wash after the day’s busy activities.
Opportunities to Resist Temptation
She had no way of knowing that she was being watched. This was David’s first opportunity to resist temptation. He should have recognized the impropriety of the moment. He should have turned his head. He should have returned to his bedroom. All would have been avoided with one simple decision.
David stepped deeper into trouble by seeking information about the woman. Instead of turning his head he wanted more information. This was David’s second opportunity to resist temptation. He didn’t need more information. He needed to abandon his preoccupation with the woman. It would have been better to return to worrying about his responsibilities as king than to open his mind to fantasy and possibility.
His aid told him she was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. Urriah was one of “David’s Mighty Men,” supremely loyal warriors who possessed considerable military skill and the blessing of God. They were David’s most trusted soldiers. They protected the king and fought valiantly for the freedom of Israel. This was David’s third opportunity to resist temptation. Though he didn’t know Bathsheba, David knew Uriah. He should have honored the loyalty of Urriah by rejecting any notion of a sexual encounter. Instead, David ordered that Bathsheba be brought to the palace.
The rest of the story is filled with sorrow and pain.
- Bathsheba became pregnant.
- David ordered Urriah home from battle in order to cover over his sin.
- Urriah refused to enjoy the comforts of home while his comrades were at war.
- David ordered Uriah to return to the battle.
- David ordered his commander to abandon Urriah in battle.
- Urriah was murdered to cover over David’s sin.
- David took Bathsheba as a wife even though already married with children.
- Their baby died shortly after birth.
- His son, so angry at David, lead a coup to unseat his father as king.
- David’s son was killed in a battle against the army of Israel.
I can’t help but recall the saying, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”
How different the story would have been had David turned from temptation. What would have happened had David called to the Lord for help with his lust rather than call to his servants for information about the woman! Imagine the consequences that would have been avoided had he simply turned his head when he first saw Bathsheba.
Our Way Out
We all face temptation. 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” This is a promise filled with hope and our hope-filled with a promise!
Jesus knows the challenge of temptation. Hebrews 4:15 tells us, “We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” When we turn to Jesus rather than to temptation he says, “I know the struggle and I will help you through it.” This is our best response to any and every temptation.
We have asked the Lord, “Teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” Let’s make prayer a priority as we resist the inevitable temptations of life. Let’s avoid the painful consequences of our failure to turn from temptation.