I have been in the books of 1 and 2 Samuel for what seems like forever, for several reasons:
- My tendency to get busily distracted in, as Stephen Covey calls it, the ‘urgent and important’ or the ‘non-urgent and unimportant’ facets of life
- My commitment to inductive Bible study—very rewarding, but it takes a minute , and
- (unintentionally) what seems to be quickly developing into a more detailed study of the life of David
Today, I was reading the infamous story of David and Bathsheba, found in 1 Samuel 11. Of course, even if you have not read the Bible, you might know the highlights:
- David sees Bathsheba naked, and is struck by her beauty.
- He takes the ovulating Bathsheba to bed with him, and she becomes pregnant with his child.
- His first attempt to cover his sin is to send for Uriah, currently away in the military, and allow Uriah to go home and make love to his wife.
- When Uriah does not go home, David sets the stage for Uriah’s death; David then takes Bathsheba for his wife.
- The Lord is not pleased with David, and David’s adulterous/ murderous actions trigger a series of events which tear apart David’s kingdom.
As is often the case with inductive Bible study, I saw something totally different than I would have otherwise focused on in reading this passage. I pondered first on how David found himself in this position. After all, as Nathan prophesies to him in 1 Samuel 12, ’I gave your master’s house to you and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.’ (vs. 8, NIV) But David lost sight of his many, many blessings. Why?
- He was, relatively speaking, alone. (1 Samuel 11:1)
- He flirted with his sin, then rationalized it, instead of fleeing from it. (1 Corinthians 10:13, 2 Timothy 2:22)
- He tried to somehow make right what was already wrong.
These lessons speak for themselves about the value of being surrounded by wise counsel and understanding self. If I fully take in how David slipped, it forces me to deal honestly with the sin in my own life.
There is another aspect of this passage that is missed because of the focus on the life of David. This story, a piece of “juiciness” in the midst of (literally speaking) war stories, completely overshadows the ability to peek into Uriah’s heart. Unlike David, Uriah ‘had nothing except one little ewe lamb’ (vs 2 Samuel 12: 3, NIV), the lovely Bathsheba. His station almost seems counter-intuitive in this age of ‘naming it and claiming it.’ But yet, even this one blessing he was willing to lay down for his greater commitments to the Lord, to David, and to his country.
Uriah, unlike David, understood without fail what was important to him. It cost him everything, but I dare say that he left this earth in peace about what he accomplished while here. Is this where I am living today?