If there was a Greatest Hits publication containing well known Bible stories today’s passage would likely feature. David and Bathsheba are iconic enough as a standalone hit but to be immediately followed by Nathan the Prophet's court-spiel is a reader's delight. We could spend a long time studying this story... it is SO much more gripping than last Sunday's reading!
If you were asked to pin the starting point of David's fall from grace you might be tempted jump to V3, where David summons Bathsheba. In this devotional, I'd like to suggest that that is already too late in the tale. The text becomes quite sarcastic and sassy when you read it slowly. Look again at the first verse and ask yourself how you'd expect this verse to end:
'In the Spring, at the time when Kings go to war...'
I'd anticipate being told that David was at war. This was not the case. We are told David had delegated his men and the army away to fight his battles (v1). Here the King was not doing as was expected of Him which is hinted at again at the end of the verse; 'But David remained in Jerusalem' (emphasis added).
We get more clues that something was not right in verse 2. 'One evening David got up from His bed and walked around on the roof'. I don't think I'm reading too much into the Text to ask, why was David only getting out of bed in the evening? I checked a Hebrew commentary, as it is the original language of the Old Testament, and the word used for 'evening' doesn't seem to be the one used for 'night'. David's life rhythm is at the least abnormal. Bathsheba seems to struggle in a similar way. Living within an honour and shame culture, it would have been embarrassing to be caught bathing on a roof while it was still light enough for neighbours to see. We can only wonder if this was naivety or an intentional act. Did we know she was in the sight of the palace?
Reflecting on this I think we can conclude that before anyone gets to the point of v4's 'full-blown adultery' (for lack of a better expression), there are many a short step took in that direction that should have never happened. We should be wise, focused, and intentional in how we plan our days, and then doing as we planned and intended. As the old maxim states 'idle hands are the devil's workshop'. Be dilligent: don't let sin slip in (Jude 1:4), don't let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth (Ephesians 5:4) because sin grows and the fall-out is often heartbreaking. The warning in James 1:14-15 is harrowing.
A good counter-measure is living with integrity. Harnessing openness and honestly with a loved one alongside directly with Jesus through prayer can ensure we are not 'overcome by any temptation common to man' (1 Corinthians 10:13). The two Psalms listed serve as songs of sobriety. David understood the consequences of the poor choices He had made and realised He wanted the life God provided more. God forgave David. Whenever I read those Psalms I'm amazed at the vast capacity for God to forgive. The same God that forgave David lives today and is willing to forgive us if only we go to Him and ask. Praise God!