In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites….However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem.
Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. … Later, when Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant, she sent David a message, saying, “I’m pregnant.” 2 Samuel 11:1-5
The story of David and Bathsheba has always been an interesting one to me. Here’s a man selected by God himself because of his heart. He was anointed long before he took the throne. He was known as a man after God’s own heart, and he was promised that he would always have a son on the throne. Through his family line came the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ.
And yet, he was full of humanity. Here we see that King David chose not to go to war as was the duty of the king. As he was outside on the roof of the palace for some unknown reason, he saw her. She was beautiful. He had to have her. His lust took over, and he called for her. He even involved his messengers in his little plan to get what he wanted.
Why did Bathsheba respond to his call? He was the king, and it was very risky to disobey the king’s orders. Perhaps she feared she would be put to death if she chose to disobey. Perhaps she was flattered that the king—someone like that—would be interested in her. Perhaps she was simply lonely because her husband, Uriah, was off fighting a war. We don’t really know why, but we do know that she went, that she willingly participated in the adultery.
We will never know that side of the story. I suppose God didn’t consider it important for whatever reasons. But, we do learn more of the story. Bathsheba became pregnant, and David panicked. What now? How does he cover up his sin? Uriah is out fighting a war, and Bathsheba is pregnant? How can he convince Uriah that he is the father? If it was obvious that Bathsheba had been unfaithful, she would be put to death…and she might implicate him. His reputation would be tarnished. How could he stop the consequences?
So he called Uriah home from the battle. He tried to convince Uriah to go home to Bathsheba, to sleep with her so he would think the baby was his.
But Uriah was loyal. He was committed. He lived with purpose. When asked why he didn’t go home to Bathsheba, he responded:
“The Ark and the armies of Israel and Judah are living in tents, and Joab and my master’s men are camping in the open fields. How could I go home to wine and dine and sleep with my wife? I swear that I would never do such a thing.”
2 Samuel 11:11
So, David tried again. This time, he got Uriah drunk, hoping that he would go home to Bathsheba in a drunken stupor. But, Uriah still would not go home to Bathsheba. He was a man of loyalty, responsibility, commitment. He would not indulge and satisfy his own selfish desires until his commitment to God and his fellow warriors was fulfilled.
Have you ever really thought about it from Uriah’s perspective? We don’t know a whole lot about this man. David and Bathsheba become the central characters. But we can surmise a lot about Uriah.
Let’s start with his faithfulness. He obviously had a true sense of responsibility. Yes, he was out of town for work, and perhaps Bathsheba became lonely. It might have been a difficult season in their marriage, but I have to believe that his character before King David speaks of every area of his life. He’s the type of man that any woman would be lucky to have.
But…his wife still had an affair. Despite the fact Uriah was where he was supposed to be, doing what he was supposed to be doing, standing strong with an amazing sense of responsibility and commitment…and Bathsheba still walked away into sin.
How many times have you heard others say that it takes two to make a marriage work and two to make a marriage fail? I certainly believed that all of my life. No one would walk away from a kind, loving, faithful spouse. Spouses who have affairs choose that path because their needs aren’t getting met at home. The faithful spouse must be critical, angry, resentful, nagging. Perhaps he/she isn’t meeting the spouse’s physical needs. The faithful spouse must be failing somewhere.
And yet, that’s not what we see with Uriah and Bathsheba. Sure, Uriah was on a business trip. But, Bathsheba chose to walk away from a loving, faithful spouse. There is no indication that Uriah was doing anything other than exactly what he was supposed to be doing.
I have learned that there are many, many faithful spouses doing their best to be the loving, committed husband/wife. And, despite their best efforts, their spouse chooses to walk away in the hardness of his/her heart. Adultery and divorce do not always result because both spouses have chosen to neglect the marriage; many times, adultery and divorce result from a choice—a selfish, greedy decision on the part of one spouse to get what he/she wants regardless of the cost, regardless of the pain.
I have heard stories of those who did everything right: dated with family approval, remained pure until married, committed their families to Christ. And, at some point later, one spouse chooses to harden his/her heart and selfishly walk into sin.
We think that if we follow the right formula, that is we marry the one we are certain God has called us to marry, we will somehow be insulated from the pain of adultery and divorce.
Unfortunately, God gave all humans free will, the opportunity to make decisions for themselves.
How many times have I made poor decisions based on what I wanted, on what felt good at the moment? How many times have I found myself in a season where I wasn’t abiding in Christ and I was quenching the Spirit? How many times have I found myself walking down a path that was taking me farther from my Savior?
We all have those times. We can only pray that we are sensitive enough to the voice of God that we wake up from our stupor and change our course before we make a life-altering decision that impact those around us.
But what happens when one spouse continues on that path without altering the course?
There will be consequences. In the story of David and Bathsheba, Uriah ended up murdered. David and Bathsheba lost their child. Can you imagine the guilt that they had to live with for the rest of their lives?
In many situations, consciences are seared, and hard-hearts refuse to repent. Offers of forgiveness are trampled. Families are ripped apart. Children lose their security. Hearts are broken. Words can’t even begin to describe the devastation.
And yet God…
God pours out his extravagant love, grace, and forgiveness. This story doesn’t end well for the innocent party. That breaks my heart. I wish that we could see Uriah alive, well, and thriving after walking through the pain of adultery. We don’t.
But, we do see a God of forgiveness and redemption. We see a man and woman caught in the deepest, darkest deception, a couple who eventually turns their hearts back to God. We see consequences. We see repentance: true, heartfelt, gut-wrenching honesty about the sin (see Psalm 51). And, amazingly, we see a God who restores and blesses a marriage that began in sin.
If God can redeem this marriage, I am certain that he can also resurrect my life as the victim of adultery. If God can bless this marriage, I am certain that his grace and mercy can bless any marriage. If God can take an adulterous relationship that results in murder and make something good, then there is no doubt that he can take the ugly mess that I was given and make something greater than I could ever ask or imagine.
And, he can do the same for you!