2 Samuel 15
Dr. Chris White September 8, 2013
It is King David’s son, Solomon, who said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” That’s the phrase we might use when speaking of his father and his catastrophic moral fall with Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11. There is nothing new under the sun in this sin, but this level of failure for King David is surely new. So how does a man after God’s own heart fall? How does a man attached to so many stories of faith in God show such faithlessness and treachery? The question of the day is this: When does God come in? As we look at this story, we’ll ask that question at each stage.
First, where is God on David’s dark night? Read along with me from 2 Samuel 11:1-2:
In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful…”
A king, well-established, sits home alone, and the greater share of his life’s struggle for security is behind him. Those of us without kingdoms might think that a kingdom is enough, but a king might tell you different. Only David knows why the view from the king’s roof suggests that a kingdom is not enough. When eyes could focus on a hundred other rooftops and the mind could focus on an army at war, David decides to give his attention to the woman on one rooftop.
So where is God? He was there, of course, but David did not invite God to the view from the rooftop. Which is surprising, we think. We need God on those dark rooftops, and God will meet us on those rooftops. He will undoubtedly tell us that this rooftop is, indeed, a vista for the gaps in life, but He will also tell us that it is a great place to really see the wealth of our lives. He will move our eyes to the horizon and to the stars to see what has truly occurred so far and what truly matters. Yes, there is a woman bathing, and there will always be something or someone that seems to offer a way out of boredom, fear, or every life-stage crisis. But if, in this solitary place, we invite God into the emptiness, He tells us what is really before our eyes.
Our question: When does God come in? Is He with us on the roof?
We all face dark nights on a roof—looking out, looking back, and looking forward for a sense of where we’ve been and where we might still go. We get tired and lonely, we find ourselves vulnerable, and we find ourselves on rooftops with a view that brings what appears to be an opportunity for something/someone new. It was on a night like this that 1 Corinthians 10:13 is so helpful: No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. We are not uniquely tempted on our dark nights. These are common temptations among common people, and God will provide a way out. But we must bring Him into our story.
Second, where is God in the fall? Read with me 11:2b-5:
David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”
The fall of David is his adultery with Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife. But his fall will eventually include Uriah. As the story tells it, he will bring Uriah home from the front in order to get him home with his wife and attribute the pregnancy to her husband. But Uriah doesn’t cooperate. He is faithful to both David and the army to the point that he will not sleep in his home, much less with his wife, while the army remains in the field. David, sensing a disaster, sends him back to the front with a note for Joab, the leader of the army: “Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.” And that is what happened. The fall is complete.
When does God come in? At no point do we see David inviting God into the disaster. David is far from the lonely man on the rooftop; he’s using every perk of his position to get what he wants and to hide what he doesn’t want known. He’s behaving as if you cannot invite God into a mess He did not make. At every point in this story God could come in. At every point in this story God’s entry would have the outcome and the legacy of David. But God does not come into the story. David does not invite Him.
Our question: When does God come in? Is He welcome at the fall?
David’s story reminds us that there is not one “fall.” There are many falls when we fall. There are small sins in the mind, in secrets, in cover-ups, and in desperation. There is never just one point when we did not trust God. And this means that there are many places along the fall that God can be invited in. How many places in life does a professional say, “Well, if you had come in earlier we could have helped?” So it is with God and our sins. We might remember that the only difference between Judas and Peter is the willingness to seek Christ in the fall. But what a difference in legacies.
Finally, where is God when the crash occurs? Read 11:26-27:
When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.
When we ask the question of this story, “When does God come in?”, we find Him in the last verse. And this from the narrator, not David. There is a clear message in this. God was never actually absent in the story. In fact, the chapter that follows is a chapter of consequences for every detail of the story. God was on the rooftop when David was alone, in his palace when he was with Bathsheba, on the porch with Uriah when he refused to sleep in his house, on the front line when Uriah died, and present at the wedding of the couple. And that is David’s problem. God was always present. He missed nothing. *Psalm 139:1-12
That is also the source of David’s regret. God was always present and able to help. God missed nothing. He did not miss what was missing in a king’s life when he no longer went out to war. He did not miss the signs of restlessness that lead a king’s eyes to Bathsheba. He did not miss the moment when a king’s privileges became reasons for a king’s abuses. He did not miss about David what David missed about himself: that under the right circumstances he would do anything to hide a sin. God did not miss any of this. Tragically, God was the answer for all of it.
Our question: When does God come in? Is He welcome at the crash?
Ironically, we only find God’s great work in Christ when we have truly crashed. Here we find forgiveness. Simple words: If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9