And so we come to the low point in David’s life. It’s interesting to note that David is mostly known by non-Christians for two events in his life. His battle with Goliath. And his adultery with Bathsheba. One incredible victory. And one utterly, awful failure.
How in the world did this “man after God’s own heart” get into such a mess? Basically, it started with a hardening of his heart.
It probably started much sooner, as I’ve pointed out before. God had commanded the Israelite kings not to have multiple wives (Deuteronomy 17:17), and yet David hardened his heart against this command, and already had several wives by this time. That set the scene for what happened in this passage. Imagine if David had committed himself to obedience in this area early in his life. Would he still have fallen? Perhaps, but I have to think he would have had a better chance fighting off temptation had he made a practice of controlling his desires toward women when he was younger.
But he made other mistakes too. II Samuel and I Chronicles both point out that at a time when kings went off to war, David sent his army, but he himself stayed home. In other words, he wasn’t where he was supposed to be, defending his country and taking the land God had commanded the Israelites to take. Instead he was lounging around at home. There’s an old saying, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” And that was definitely true in David’s case. When we aren’t doing the things we’re supposed to be doing, and instead, are just idling around, we’re a prime target for temptation. I think men can especially identify this when it comes to pornography on the internet. How often do we just idle around on the internet because we’ve got nothing to do, and then start looking at things we shouldn’t?
David’s mistakes didn’t stop there. From his rooftop, he saw Bathsheba bathing, and instead of turning away, he…lingered. And watched. And eventually he inquired about her. He found out her name and further that she was the daughter of one of his top 30 “mighty men” in his army, and further that she was the granddaughter of one of his chief advisors Ahithophel (II Samuel 23:34). Not only that, she was the wife of another of his “mighty men,” Uriah the Hittite (II Samuel 23:39).
Yet despite the fact that she was married, and that she was the granddaughter of his chief advisor, he hardened his heart, called her in, and slept with her.
When she became pregnant, instead of owning up to his sin, he further hardened his heart and tried to cover it up, calling in Uriah to “give a report on the state of the army,” and then trying to get him to go home and sleep with his wife so that Uriah would think the baby was his.
How David’s heart must have pricked him the next day when Uriah gave his explanation for not going home.
The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my master Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing! (II Samuel 11:11)
Here was a man totally loyal to David, and David had slept with his wife and was now trying to deceive him. And when that failed, he essentially murdered Uriah and married Bathsheba. The coldness of his heart by that time is seen by his words to Joab, his general, when news of Uriah’s death came.
Don’t let this upset you; the sword devours one as well as another. (11:25)
How do people who love God fall into sin? It happens when we harden our hearts. And the more we harden our hearts, the colder our hearts become. And the colder our hearts become, the worse we sin.
How about you? Are you hardening your heart to sin? If you do, you may find yourself doing things as bad as David if not worse. You may feel like David probably once did and think you’d never stoop so low. But when we harden our hearts, it can easily happen to us. Just think of all the Christian leaders you’ve heard of who have fallen the same way. If it can happen to them, it can happen to us. So let us always guard our hearts and keep them softened towards God.