II Samuel 9:1-11:27; John 15:1-27; Psalm 119:49-64; Proverbs 16:1-3
Man, there’s a lot going on today! I’ll just make a few quick comments about the first part of our Old Testament reading and then I’ll get onto the juicy part – David and Bathsheba!
I love what the first part of chapter 9 reveals about David’s heart – he’s so tender and sentimental and honorable. Even though he’s been hounded almost to the point of death by Saul, David still seeks someone of Saul’s line to show kindness to, in honor of Jonathan. Isn’t that amazing? And then, in Chapter 10, we again see David show honor and kindness. Did you notice that? One of David’s allies, the king of the Ammonites, dies and his son succeeds him; David’s immediate posture is to be loyal to the son, because of his father (II Sam. 10:2). Though we see that this plan doesn’t work as we read farther into the chapter, the heart of David is still shown to be in the right place.
Don’t these two stories make the disappointing actions of David even more painful in chapter 11? And did you notice the real kicker here? David’s not even supposed to be at home. If he’d done as the other kings do, and gone out to battle in the spring (II Sam. 11:1), then he wouldn’t have been home with time on his hands to get himself into trouble with Bathsheba. As you clearly saw when you read, things go downhill quickly. David makes one bad choice after another bad choice, with lies that result in even bigger lies. (These cowardly and dishonorable decisions provide such a foil for Uriah, who is noble and self-sacrificing and so loyal to his king.)
The story culminates with David’s order (and its follow-through) for Uriah to be put at the front of the line of battle so his chances of dying are increased. This plan succeeds, Bathsheba has a period of mourning, and is then brought into David’s house and made his wife. We see that she has a son, presumably from their adulterous relationship prior to their marriage but the timing isn’t totally clear. What is clear is how God feels about it. “But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD” (II Sam. 11:26). We’ll have to wait until tomorrow for the final end of the story and God’s discipline in David’s life, but the reading today should give us great pause.
David’s actions show how one small bad decision can lead to several other big ones; his story shows how sin leads to more sin, how lying leads to more lying, and how people get hurt when we fail to walk in God’s ways. In David’s case, a marriage bed is defiled, a man killed, and a nation deceived by the king. Probably our fall wouldn’t be so dramatic. But let’s all be careful about lingering overly long at the cubicle of the attractive co-worker or talking unkindly behind our mother-in-law’s back or fudging the hours on our time sheet. These seemingly small things are steps away from God’s best. As we see in our New Testament reading, true life is found in abiding in Jesus (Jn. 15:6) and in this is found great joy (vs. 11).
I don’t know about you but I want to move toward life and joy!
- Esther McCurry
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