The Big Idea
There are times in life where a position of power and influence presents the opportunity to act in a way that is wrong before God and that is harmful to those we are supposed to serve. We must not abuse positions of authority to fulfil our own desires.
2 Samuel 11
As king, David was in a position with privileges and responsibilities. In this story, he abuses that position by shirking on some of those responsibilities and using his privilege to gratify is own desires in ways that were harmful to others.
In Spring-time, it was customary for the armies to go out to war and it was the king’s place to lead his men. On this occasion, David had become complacent, and while he was still happy sending others out to fight and die on his behalf, he chose to remain in the comfort of his palace in Jerusalem.
With the young men out fighting, David was alone in Jerusalem with the women of the city (plus the children and those too old or incapable to fight). He became consumed with lust, and one afternoon from his roof he saw a woman bathing and she looked desirable to him. We should notice the strong parallels between this and Eve being drawn to the fruit in Genesis 3. That which is forbidden looking tempting to the eye.
David chose to act on his lust. He asked his advisors about the woman, and despite being told that she was married, he sent for her anyway and had sex with her.
As we consider what is going on here, it is very important that we note the power dynamic that is at play. Bathsheba was summoned by the king. People came to her house to bring her to him. Once there, it was clear that he only had one thing on his mind, and he had created a situation where it would be very difficult for her to refuse him. This was David’s sin and Bathsheba was (one of) the victim(s).
As a result of their time together, Bathsheba became pregnant, and when David found out, a cover up job began. He invited Uriah back from the battle in that hope that he would spend the night with his wife and they could pretend the child was his, but as his other soldiers did not have the same privilege, he decided to abstain. In the end, David sent a note back with Uriah to arrange that Uriah was killed in battle.
When news arrived of Uriah’s death, Bathsheba was (understandably) devastated and lamented over what had happened. David however sent for her again and she became his wife and bore a son.
Often when we read narrative stories in the Old Testament, we simply have a description of events that happened without necessarily a moral assessment of those events. This time it is different. As the story draws to a close we are told ‘the thing that David had done displeased the Lord’. David had abused his position. He had forced himself on a woman and killed a man. He had used people for his own gratification rather than serving them. And God was not happy with him because of it.
Taking It to Jesus
The fact that Jesus’ genealogy mentions Bathsheba and that he comes as the result of this union shows that God can and will work through even the messiest of situations. Jesus shows a very different approach to power dynamics on numerous occasions, for example when he meets the woman at the well in John 4. Rather than abusing his position he is kind and compassionate, treats her as an equal, acts with dignity and bestows grace upon her. All of this is exactly what David failed to do here.
- Pay attention to the positions you have that give you power and influence over others. Make sure you use that power to serve rather than to use others for your own ends.
- Be aware that there will likely be people in the congregation who have been on the wrong end of situations like this. Be sure to speak with grace and perhaps offer the opportunity for (appropriate) prayer ministry.