David And Bathsheba In The Bible

The story of David and Bathsheba is one of the most dramatic accounts in the Old Testament. One night in Jerusalem, King David was walking upon his rooftop when he spotted a beautiful woman bathing nearby (2 Samuel 11:2). David asked his servants about her and was told she was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, one of David’s mighty men (2 Samuel 23:39). Despite her marital status, David summoned Bathsheba to the palace, and they slept together.

David And Bathsheba In The Bible

Bathsheba later discovered she was pregnant (2 Samuel 11:5), and she informed David. The king’s reaction was to attempt to hide his sin. David commanded Uriah to report back to him from the battlefield. Bathsheba’s husband dutifully answered David’s summons, and David sent him home, hoping that Uriah would sleep with Bathsheba and thus provide a cover for the pregnancy. Instead of obeying David’s orders, Uriah slept in the quarters of the palace servants, refusing to enjoy a respite with Bathsheba while his men on the battlefield were still in harm’s way (2 Samuel 11:9–11). Uriah did the same thing the next night as well, showing integrity in sharp contrast to David’s lack thereof.

It became apparent that David and Bathsheba’s adultery could not be covered up that way. David enacted a second, more sinister plan: he commanded his military leader, Joab, to place Uriah on the front lines of battle and then to purposefully fall back from him, leaving Uriah exposed to enemy attack. Joab followed the directive, and Uriah was killed in battle. After her time of mourning, Bathsheba married David and gave birth to a son. “But,” 2 Samuel 11:27 notes, “the thing David had done displeased the LORD.”

When David and Bathsheba’s child was born, the Lord sent the prophet Nathan to confront David. Nathan used a parable: a rich man took a poor man’s only sheep and killed it, even though he had many flocks of his own. David, a former shepherd, was so angered by this story, which he thought was true, that he responded, “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity” (2 Samuel 12:5–6).

Nathan then pointed to David and uttered the chilling words, “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7). David was the one guilty of this sin, and judgment would be upon his house in the form of ongoing violence. David repented (see Psalm 51), and Nathan said, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the LORD, the son born to you will die” (2 Samuel 12:13–14). The child did die a week later, and David’s household experienced further hardship in later years. In total, four of David’s sons suffered untimely deaths—the “four times over” judgment David had pronounced upon himself.

In the account of David and Bathsheba, we find many lessons. First, secret sin will be found out. Second, God will forgive anyone who repents. Third, sin’s consequences remain even when the sin is forgiven. Fourth, God can work even in difficult situations. In fact, David and Bathsheba’s next son, Solomon, became the heir to the throne. Even in bad situations, God has a plan that serves His sovereign purpose.

David And Bathsheba In The Bible

In this article, we’ll look at 3 life lessons from the story of David and Bathsheba. The lessons are: stop while you’re ahead, bad things happen to good people, and there are consequences to our actions.

Stop While You’re Ahead

The first life lesson we can learn from the story of David and Bathsheba is to stop while we are ahead. David had two opportunities to stop while he was ahead, but because he didn’t it led him to sin.

When David saw Bathsheba bathing on the roof, The Bible implies that he had lustful feelings towards her by following him seeing her with the statement “the woman was very beautiful” (2 Samuel 11:2 NIV). Understanding how he felt about Bathsheba, it was David’s first opportunity to stop while he was ahead. But rather than stop, David sent someone to find out about her. 

David then learned that Bathsheba was married and so opportunity number 2 presented itself. But with his mind already set on what he wanted, it was hard for him to leave it there. 2 Samuel 11:4 says “David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her” (NIV).

David’s lead up to committing adultery with Bathsheba is similar to how we can find ourselves in problems in life if we don’t stop while we are ahead. In the beginning, when the decision is easy, we should look ahead at what the decision could lead to and decide to end it there to protect ourselves.

Proverbs 27:12 says “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty” (NIV). Unlike David when he initially saw Bathsheba, in life, we should be prudent by seeing the danger in making certain choices. If we don’t, we’ll find ourselves paying the penalty. 

Bad Things Happen To Good People

By reading this article, chances are you lived long enough to see the reality of this life lesson from the story of David and Bathsheba. Uriah, who had proven himself to be a good man, ended up losing his life because of David. As it was no fault of his own, this part of the story teaches us that bad things happen to good people.

For reference, we see that Uriah was a good person by the reason he gave for not going home to his wife. David had recently sent for him to return from the war and was trying to get him to sleep with his wife so that he would believe he impregnated Bathsheba. But instead of going home, he slept at the entrance of David’s house. Why? He told David:

 “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”

2 Samuel 11:11 NIV

In other words, he could not get comfortable knowing what his fellow soldiers were going through. But despite being the type of person that he was, he still ended up dying by David’s instructions.

Such is life, we can do everything right but still suffer unduly. Sometimes I find myself wondering what I did wrong whenever I get sick or something bad happens. Yes, in some cases it’s the delayed result of our actions (as I’ll point out in a later lesson), but it isn’t always our fault. 

If you know the story of Job, you know that he didn’t do anything to deserve all his troubles. Similarly, Jesus was perfect yet he was crucified. This is a hard life lesson we must accept.

There Are Consequences To Our Actions

The next life lessons from David and Bathsheba may seem obvious, but it is one that we often need to be reminded of. The lesson is that there are consequences to our actions. The results of David’s adultery with Bathsheba had multiple consequences and although David tried to prevent one of them, he could not.

David’s Repentance Didn’t Prevent The Consequences

As a result of David and Bathsheba’s adultery, Bathsheba became pregnant. But because God was displeased with what took place, God told David “because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die” (2 Samuel 12:14 NIV).

What David did next is what we may find ourselves doing as believers and it’s where this lesson as a reminder is necessary. When the child got ill, 2 Samuel 12:16 says “David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth on the ground” (NIV). At this point David was sorry. Earlier when the prophet Nathan condemned him, David acknowledged that he had sinned (2 Samuel 12:13). But with the punishment already established, the child died despite David’s pleading and fasting.

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