IT’S COMMONLY OBSERVED that King David’s terrible fall can be traced to him not being where he should have been: The whole sordid Bathsheba and Uriah situation began to unfold, we read in 2 Samuel 11, “at the time when kings go forth to battle… But David tarried still at Jerusalem.”
However, this lack of judgment was compounded by his also being where he shouldn’t have been. The Samuel account notes how David spotted Bathsheba when he went walking on the roof of his house in the evening.
“Danger, Will Robinson!” as the robot in Lost in Space warned. Back in those times, it was not uncommon for people to bathe on the roof of their home in the evening; it was cooler then, and the water would have been warmed by the day’s sunshine. In other words, a modern-day version of David’s action might be: “I think I’ll just go and take a stroll past this window to the girls’ changing room.”
If you feel I am maligning David unfairly, consider how verse 2 notes that, having spotted someone bathing, “he saw… the woman was very beautiful to look upon.” This is not something you would notice from a quick, unsuspecting glance that might cause you to look away. There’s a difference between noticing and looking. David looked. He was rubbernecking.
As we all know, these seemingly small but incremental indiscretions set in motion a chain of events that led to terrible manipulation, power-wielding and betrayal. James could well have had this sad chapter in mind when he wrote, “Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:14-15).
But in actuality, David’s fall began even before he decided to take time off from war. His eyes were wandering long before he saw Bathsheba: he had already taken several wives, in violation of God’s command in Deuteronomy 17:17. It warned that Israel’s future king “must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray.”
Whatever our weakness, we can’t afford to treat it lightly. God’s admonition to Cain is worth remembering: “If you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:7). Whenever we waffle on God’s directions, trouble is sure to follow.
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