2 Samuel 11:1 – “It happened in the spring of the year, 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 people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.” NKJV
Armies have for centuries kept their top generals and leaders safe in the rear ranks or, where short distances were involved, even at home. David was a warrior-king who ordinarily would be leading the charge in war, but this time he didn’t go! The Ammonite capital of Rabbah was less than 40 miles from Jerusalem. David could easily control the battle through reports brought to him from his trusted general Joab. Messengers could be sent out from him to alter strategy if necessary.
David’s place was with his army, but something was wrong. Perhaps he had become weary with battle; maybe he had grown a little “soft” surrounded by the wealth and comforts of the palace. We don’t know for certain, but what we do know is that David was at a place of low spiritual vitality. His heart had lost its edge; he was drifting from God.
People find it hard to understand that simply doing nothing is very dangerous to our spiritual lives. Relationships fall apart because we don’t work at them. A beautiful garden is destroyed by neglect; a house crumbles around you if you don’t maintain it. Many people die prematurely, not through any accident, but simply by neglecting their health; ignoring the warning signs and not making the necessary adjustments.
As Solomon put it in Proverbs 24:30-34: “One day I walked by the field of an old lazybones, and then passed the vineyard of a lout; they were overgrown with weeds, thick with thistles, all the fences broken down. I took a long look and pondered what I saw; the fields preached me a sermon and I listened: “A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next? Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life, with poverty as your permanent houseguest!” MSG
2 Samuel 11:2-5: “Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house. And the woman conceived; so she sent and told David, and said, “I am with child.” NKJV
David couldn’t sleep one evening so he gets out of bed and takes a stroll on the terrace. There’s no indication that David was “on the prowl,” but when your guard is down, the devil will set you up! Bathsheba, bathing that evening in the privacy of her own yard, did not count on being watched. But when the king summons her to his room, it’s safe to assume that she felt obligated to obey. It was common for kings to take whomever they wished, married or not, yet it was a clear violation of God’s law.
Days, if not weeks pass by. Then David receives news that Bathsheba is pregnant. David knows that the child is his, so he concocts what he thinks is a foolproof plan:
2 Samuel 11:6 – “Then David sent to Joab, saying, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David.” NKJV
It’s still early in the pregnancy, so he decides to order Bathsheba’s husband home from the battle field, hoping he will sleep with her and discover later that his wife is pregnant.
However, David underestimates Uriah: 2 Samuel 11:7-11: “When Uriah had come to him, David asked how Joab was doing, and how the people were doing, and how the war prospered. And David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah departed from the king’s house, and a gift of food from the king followed him. But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. So when they told David, saying, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “Did you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?” And Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are dwelling in tents, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are encamped in the open fields. Shall I then go to my house to eat and drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.” NKJV
Uriah was not a common soldier. He was one of David’s thirty valiant men, which is probably why his house was so close to the palace. Uriah had served David since the early days when David was a fugitive, running from Saul. He was a Hittite by birth (they had settled in Hebron before Abraham’s arrival) but his parents probably converted to Judaism since the name, “Uriah,” means “My light is the Lord.”
So David, trying to buy more time, tells Uriah to stick around for another day before returning to battle: 2 Samuel 11:12 – “Then David said to Uriah, “Wait here today also, and tomorrow I will let you depart.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next.” NKJV
The scheme? Get Uriah drunk and then tell him to go home to his wife. However, Uriah’s convictions are stronger than the alcohol and again he stays with the servants:
2 Samuel 11:13 – “Now when David called him, he ate and drank before him; and he made him drunk. And at evening he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.” NKJV
Now, at this point, the treachery begins to unfold. David prepares to do the unthinkable by removing Uriah out of the picture and taking Bathsheba as his wife, hoping he could still hide his sin:
2 Samuel 11:14-15: “In the morning it happened that David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. And he wrote in the letter, saying, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die.” NKJV
David was cold hearted to send this message to have Uriah killed – with Uriah.
2 Samuel 11:16-17: “So it was, while Joab besieged the city, that he assigned Uriah to a place where he knew there were valiant men. Then the men of the city came out and fought with Joab. And some of the people of the servants of David fell; and Uriah the Hittite died also.” NKJV
Uriah is sent to the front lines where the fighting is fiercest, and is killed.
Joab sends a veiled message to David to confirm the kill: 2 Samuel 11:18-24: “Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war, and charged the messenger, saying, “When you have finished telling the matters of the war to the king, if it happens that the king’s wrath rises, and he says to you: ‘Why did you approach so near to the city when you fought? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? Who struck Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Was it not a woman who cast a piece of a millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you go near the wall?’—then you shall say, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.’” So the messenger went, and came and told David all that Joab had sent by him. And the messenger said to David, “Surely the men prevailed against us and came out to us in the field; then we drove them back as far as the entrance of the gate. The archers shot from the wall at your servants; and some of the king’s servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.” NKJV
David’s response to Joab is quite telling: 2 Samuel 11:25 – “Then David said to the messenger, “Thus you shall say to Joab: ‘Do not let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another. Strengthen your attack against the city, and overthrow it.’ So encourage him.” NKJV
Joab, don’t feel badly about it, just keep fighting. But – 2 Samuel 11:26-27: “When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. And when her mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.” NKJV
Did you ever hear of Edgar Allen Poe’s story, “The Telltale Heart?” The main character has committed murder and he buries the body of the victim in his basement, but he’s unable to escape the guilt of his crime.
He begins to hear the heartbeat of his dead victim. This goes on and on and on, the heartbeat growing louder and louder. Eventually, the man goes mad, but the pounding that he heard was not from the grave below but from within his own chest.
You get the feeling that’s how David felt. David had lived with his sin for almost a year, thinking no one knew about it. But the guilt became unbearable – his conscience really bothered him:
Psalm 32:3-4: “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.” NLT
It is a natural consequence of shame that we try to hide the deeds that we know are sinful, but it is a waste of time to try and hide anything from God.
Hebrews 4:13 – “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” NLT
When David tried to hide his sin, he was miserable. His guilt was hurting him – his conscience was tearing him apart. He suffered mental and bodily agony day and night – beaten down by his sin! His whole body was wasting away or falling apart from the heavy strain of the load of his guilt, and his spirit had been immersed in torment and sorrow.
In order to Get David’s attention, God chastened or disciplined David – hard: Psalm 6:1-7: “O Lord, don’t rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your rage. Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak. Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. I am sick at heart. How long, O Lord, until you restore me? Return, O Lord, and rescue me. Save me because of your unfailing love. For the dead do not remember you. Who can praise you from the grave? I am worn out from sobbing. All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears. My vision is blurred by grief; my eyes are worn out because of all my enemies.” NLT
Psalm 38:1-8: “O Lord, don’t rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your rage! Your arrows have struck deep, and your blows are crushing me. Because of your anger, my whole body is sick; my health is broken because of my sins. My guilt overwhelms me—it is a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and stink because of my foolish sins. I am bent over and racked with pain. All day long I walk around filled with grief. A raging fever burns within me, and my health is broken. I am exhausted and completely crushed. My groans come from an anguished heart.” NLT
When the time was right, God sent a prophet to David, because He loved him too much to let him go on like this, damaging himself and his kingdom.
2 Samuel 12:1-14: “Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: “There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.” Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.’” So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.” NKJV
When David is confronted, he realized how ugly, detestable, and repulsive his deeds were, and he immediately acknowledges the terrible things he has done.
When he did, God forgave him – Psalm 32:1-5: “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” NLT
The life of David illustrates a comforting truth: God does not quickly or easily give up on His servants! He sent a great fish to His reluctant prophet, Jonah, to restore him to service. He used a rooster to remind Peter of his sin. In His providence, God also worked to reclaim and restore His servant David.
David sinned grievously – of the Ten Commandments, he broke the first one when he allowed his lust to become his god; he broke the tenth when he coveted Uriah’s wife; he broke the seventh when he committed adultery with Uriah’s wife; he broke the ninth when he lied to Uriah and the eighth when he plotted to steal Uriah’s wife; and finally he broke the sixth when he had Uriah killed so he could take his wife!
However, God knew that David’s heart was tender and open to God’s rebuke. God sent His servant Nathan to bring David back to his senses and to face the reality of his sin.
2 Samuel 12:13 – “Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “Yes, but the Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin.” NLT
David was not a bad man who did some good things. He was not a good man who did some bad things. David was a real, honest to goodness human being who more often than not was a real mess. But David loved God. David sought God. He honored God’s Word. When confronted with his sin, he confessed.
We may at times look at our own lives and honestly say that God has a real mess on His hands with us. David’s life shows us that this is not a problem for God – when we make the choice to be humble about who we are, and to rely on the grace and goodness of God to see us through, God forgives, makes us clean, makes us whiter than snow.
All of us are sinners – just like David! Deep within, we know that we have sinned. What can we do with our sin? We can deny it. We can tell ourselves that we are not sinners. But denial never erases the fact of sin; it only complicates its existence.
We can ignore it, look the other way and pretend it didn’t happen, we can act like our sin is unimportant. We can stay busy, thinking that our sin problem will go away.
We can try and hide it, we can blame it on somebody else, we can try to sweep it under the rug and remove it from our view:
Proverbs 28:13 – “You will never succeed in life if you try to hide your sins. Confess them and give them up, then God will show mercy to you.” GNB
Psalm 66:18 – “If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” NLT
Or we can confess it, acknowledge it to God and let Him cover it with His grace, like David did!
Psalm 32:5 – “Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” NLT
There’s something about sin that’s chaotic, that messes us up deeply inside. The guilt and burden of sin can become unbearable and even cause us physical pain. The memory of past sins can haunt us and make our lives miserable.
But there is something about confession, about lining ourselves up with the truth of God’s word, about repenting and turning away from sinful actions and attitudes that straightens us out.
Acts 3:19 – “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” NKJV
1 John 1:9-10: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” NKJV
I beg you – open your heart to God like David did with honesty – no deceit, sham or make-believe. Repent of your sins, turn from the evil of your life. If you do not forsake your sin, you cannot and will not be forgiven. Acknowledge your sin, confess it before God, and see it as God sees it. Bring it out in the open before Him, and renounce it. Then accept God’s forgiveness.
Psalm 86:5 – “O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.” NLT
Joel 2:12-13: “That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.” NLT
Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” NKJV