The story of Bathsheba begins while her husband, Uriah, is away from home fighting the Ammonites. In the opening scene, this beautiful girl is bathing on her rooftop in the cool of the evening (II Sam. 11:2). David sees her as he is walking on his palace roof and sends men to bring her to him. She apparently offers no resistance. In a few weeks, she tells David she is pregnant (v. 5). Seeking to avoid a political scandal, he formulates a plan to make Uriah believe he is the father. Adultery always breeds compound problems.
David’s deceptive plans go awry. His first ploy is to send for Uriah under the pretense he wants a battle report. He tells him to go home, but the noble soldier sleeps on the steps of the palace instead. David’s “Plan B” is to send Uriah home drunk, but still he refuses. Faithful Uriah tells the king he cannot enjoy the comforts of his home while his fellow combatants are camped in the open fields (v. 11). This is an opportune moment for David to repent, but sins hardens his heart. In desperation, David sends a letter to the captain of his army to place Uriah in the heat of a battle where the honorable man finally dies for his king. Deceit and lies lead to premeditated murder and spiritual callousness. The pregnant Bathsheba grieves for her husband and David takes her as one of his wives (v. 26).
But the Lord is highly displeased with David (v. 27) and a year later sends Nathan to visit him. When the prophet fingers the king’s sin, David is convicted and repents. Although David has killed a lion, a bear, and a giant earlier in his life, the internal enemy of lust trips him up (I Sam. 17:36). Nathan says he must pay for his sins because he had no pity but took what Uriah loved most (II Sam. 12:7-12). David is forced to make restitution. God says the child born from his adulterous affair will die (12:14). David prays and fasts for a week that the child will live, but to no avail.
Reaping what he has sown, David’s life goes downhill from this point on. The double sin of adultery and murder erodes his kingship and his ministry. In the months that follow, he does not chastise his son Amnon for raping Tamar, for David was also guilty of a sex crime (II Sam. 13:14). He says nothing to Absalom when he kills his brother Amnon for this rape, for David was also guilty of murder (vv. 28-29). He has no words of rebuke for Absalom for attempting to get Amnon drunk, for David also tried this on Uriah. He does not scold Absalom for deceiving Amnon prior to this murder, for David was also guilty of deception. Because the king has become weak as a leader, Absalom usurps his throne and initiates a civil war that kills thousands.
It is the sin you rationalize that will destroy you. David is remembered as “the man after God’s own heart,” but to become such a man requires searching one’s own heart (Acts 13:22). Because Nathan was bold enough to confront David 3,000 years ago, we have the Psalms of David today. Let us pray the prayer he wrote in repentance for his sins; “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” (Ps. 51: 11-12).