A Major Blunder, an Attempted Cover-up, and a Murder Plot - 2 Samuel 11
Prayer: God we thank you that when your Word speaks of your people, of your chosen, that it is brutally honest. We thank you that an imperfect fallen person was "just the right man" & "a man after God's own heart". We're far from perfect, we need the encouragement that comes from knowing you use flawed people to do your will. We're saddened by the failings of believers, and pray for the sanctification of your church. Amen!
Quickly Form Groups:
1. Talk about the types of sins that trap people - especially people in your generation, after some discussion pray for strength when facing temptation.
You may have already guessed which passage we're at in David's life. Despite all the amazing Godly things David he is best known for this terrible episode in his life. It's like we see on the evening news, it's the bad news that gets the most attention. This passage saddens me, but at the same time encourages me - you see, despite David's failure (and this is a biggie) he's still the "man after God's own heart".
The Major Blunder:
2 Samuel 11:1 - It is Springtime in Israel, and the army has gone out to deal with the Ammonites once again (the same pesky group that started all the trouble in last week's passage). Apparently David didn't feel like going, even though he could have, so we get the sense that he's decided to take it easy, to indulge himself & enjoy the many benefits of being king. 1 Corinthians 10:12 This should be a warning to us, it's usually when we start getting a little too "comfortable" in our salvation that we get tripped up - we're just not paying enough attention or getting lazy in our faith.
2 Samuel 11:2 - Red Alert! Red Alert! Warning! Danger!! David is restless, has too much time on his hands & perhaps is a bit bored. He decides to go for a walk out on the roof in the evening. Sounds innocent enough, right? Roofs in that area were flat & frequently were used as outdoor rooms. Eastern palaces of that era typically had a king's bedchamber on the 2nd floor (for privacy), with a door that opened up onto a stretch of flat roof which had been furnished as a private area to relax, this is where we find David taking a late night stroll. Perhaps he heard the splash of water & looked out over the edge of his roof to see who else was up & about that night, whatever the case he looked out & saw a woman bathing - a very beautiful woman.
A couple things should get our attention here, this woman was not behaving in a modest way - as was the way of most Hebrew women. A modest woman would not have bathed in a place where she could be observed, and this woman is in plain sight of the king. The other thing we should notice is that the scriptures call her very beautiful, not just beautiful, and the scriptures rarely include the word "very" so this is no exaggeration, she was a knock-out. Was she hoping to be seen by the king? It seems that this was the case. It reminds me of the time Marilyn Monroe sang Happy Birthday to JFK, which raised eyebrows in that day - google it if you don't get the reference.
2 Samuel 11:3-5 - Who is at fault here? Both are at fault, she tempted & he gave into temptation - using his position as king as a means of manipulating the situation. I want you to know that these few sentences probably took some time, there was time to make an inquiry & time to be introduced & time for the seduction to reach it's dreadful conclusion. The note about purification is how we know that she was not already pregnant by Uriah, and that the child that resulted from their actions is indeed David's.
Uriah was one of David's mighty men, he was off at war, and while he was off at war his wife was at home tempting the king. Uriah was a Hittite, a foreigner, who had become a Jew by choice - even taking on a Hebrew name, the fact that his home was in close proximity to the palace indicates that he may have been a man of high rank. Bathsheba was also a foreigner by birth, a Gilonite, the daughter of another of David's mighty men. I'm guessing Bathsheba may have been attracted to David for a while, she & her family may have been part of the band of misfits that had been traveling with David when still in the wilderness. (Both Uriah & Bathsheba's father Eliam are listed in 2 Samuel 24 as part of David's Mighty Men)
The Attempted Cover-up:
2 Samuel 11:6-9 - David has Uriah called back from the war under a pretense that he wanted to know how the war was going. The fact that David's actions didn't arouse suspicion is another indication of Uriah's high standing among David's men. David "plays nice" and tells Uriah to go home & relax for a while, and even sends a gift on to Uriah's home showing his favor. David thinks his plan is going well but Uriah doesn't go home, instead he chooses to sleep at the entrance to the palace along with David's servants.
2 Samuel 11:10-11 - David discovers Uriah didn't go home and questions him, he wants to know why he didn't take the opportunity to rest well at home since he'd come from quite a distance. Uriah's response tells us a lot about him, he's a man of honor. Uriah wasn't going to go enjoy all the comforts of home while the rest of the army was off fighting. Compare that to David's recent behavior, David chose to stay home and take it easy & even played around with another man's wife. Uriah is demonstrating his camaraderie & solidarity with his fellow soldiers & refusing to enjoy his own home, bed, and wife. A foreigner's devotion & honor has outshone that of the Hebrew king.
2 Samuel 11:12-13 - David hasn't given up trying to cover-up his actions, so he tries once more. This time David gets Uriah drunk... but despite having too much to drink Uriah keeps his honor & once again sleeps with David's servants. This cover-up attempt has failed, when the child Bathsheba is carrying is born Uriah will know it is not his. This is a serious problem for both David & Bathsheba, Leviticus 20:10 & Deuteronomy 22:22, God's law prescribed serious consequences (the death penalty) for both of them.
The Murder Plot:
2 Samuel 11:14-17 - David is now taking desperate measures, he sends Uriah back to war with his own execution orders carried in his hand. Did Joab know what was going on? Did he suspect? It is not known, but he knew his king had asked him to arrange for Uriah to die, and so he did as he was asked.
Uriah died a hero's death, and David - the man after God's own heart - is the villain. Sometimes we think that because we're believers we aren't as evil as those in the world around us, that just isn't true! We are all born with a sin nature, we all are fallen, none of us is any better or any more deserving; however, a heart that is passionate for God draws us to God, and it is by His goodness we are saved. David still has a heart that is passionate for God, but he's lost his way.
2 Samuel 11:18-25 - The news comes by messenger that Uriah is dead, Joab is shrewd in how he has the message delivered so that David will know that the deed has been done but the messenger won't understand. David sends a message back to the front indicating his understanding & instructing Joab to carry on.
2 Samuel 11:26-27 - Bathsheba observed the standard mourning period, this would have been about 7 days, then she is taken to the palace to become one of David's wives. I wonder if there was any real love for her husband, she may have cared about him but it may have been an arranged marriage that wasn't satisfying, we just don't know. In time the baby is born, a son. This final attempt at a cover-up appears to have succeeded, but if it had we wouldn't have this passage recorded for historical posterity. Even if David hadn't been found out by men his actions would have been known by God, he simply wasn't going to get away with murder. God is displeased, and God is not going to let David keep his sins hidden, God is going to cleanse David once again.
When we sin we don't simply sin against other people, in fact it's not our actions against other people that carry the greatest consequences. David reflecting back later on this episode wrote Psalm 51 (Psalm 51:4).
Closing Prayer: Lord help us to diligently keep watch over our what we look at, what we listen to, what we read, what we think, what we say. We ask that the power of the Holy Spirit would guard our hearts & minds. Amen!
Quickly Form Groups Again:
2. We know that any sin causes separation from God, but what is it about sexual sin that makes it so especially heinous? Try to come up with verses to support your thoughts.
3. What warnings would you give to a friend you discovered was being tempted in an area of sin? How might you come along side to help?