2 Samuel 11:2-24
And it came to pass in an evening, that David arose from off his bed, and walked on the roof of the king's house…
How ardently would most, if not all readers of David's life have wished that the first verse of this chapter had been — "And David died, and was gathered unto his fathers; and his son reigned in his stead." The golden era of his life has passed away; his sun has begun to go down; and what remains of his life is chequered with records of crime and chastisement, of sin and sorrow. What we now encounter is not like a spot but an eclipse; it is not a mere pimple that slightly disfigures a comely face, but a tumour that distorts the countenance and drains the whole body; of its vigour. There is something quite remarkable in the fearless way in which the Bible unveils the guilt of David; it is set forth in all its enormity, without an attempt to excuse or palliate it; and the only statement introduced in the whole narrative to characterise his proceedings are these quiet but terribly expressive words with which the chapter ends — "But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord." In the bold and fearless march of Providence, we often see the hand of God. What mere man, framing the character of one designed to be a pattern of excellence, and to bear the designation — "the man after God's own heart" — would have dared to ascribe to him such wickedness as this? The truth is, that though David's reputation would have been far brighter, if he had died at this point of his career; the moral of his life, so to speak, would have been less complete. In some way that we cannot rightly explain, he does not appear to have been duty sensible either of the guilt or of the danger of this tendency. He does not appear to have watched against it as against other sins, nor to have taken the same pains, through grace, to subdue it. In the passage now before us we find a catastrophe, resulting from this state of things, which was truly the beginning of sorrows. The king of Israel becomes familiar with sorrows and trials, compared to which any that he had suffered when flying and biding from Saul were light indeed. The lust which he has spared and indulged, re-appearing in his children, introduces incest and murder into the bosom of his family; it violates the sanctity of his home; and in place of the comely order, and the sweet tranquility of brothers and sisters dwelling together in unity, his palace becomes an abode of brutal appetites and murderous passions — the stain and horror of which time can neither lessen nor remove. Such a fall as David's could not have been altogether instantaneous. It must have been preceded by a spiritual declension, probably of considerable duration. The likelihood is that the great prosperity that was now flowing in upon David in every direction had had an unfavourable effect upon his soul. For a long period the very extremities of his situation had driven him to dependence on God — necessity was laid upon him; but now that necessity was removed. Add to this the fact mentioned in the beginning of this chapter, and so mentioned as to imply that it is a significant one — that at the time when kings go forth to battle, David allowed his army to go without him, and "tarried still at Jerusalem." This seems to imply that the king had fallen into a luxurious, self-indulging mood; that he was disposed to sit still and enjoy himself rather than accompany his brave soldiers to the self-denying labours and dangers of the field. Next, let us notice the manner in which David was led on from step to step of sin. His first sin was — suffering himself to be arrested by the sight of the woman; his fall began with a sin of the heart; had he made a covenant with his eyes, like Job, he would have nipped the temptation in the bud; .he would have been saved a world of agony and sin. Let us try to gather up briefly, first, the principal kinds of sin of which David was guilty on this occasion; and then, their chief aggravations.
(1) There was the crime of adultery, including, as it always does, the sin of robbery, and the murder of character, and constituting, according to the criminal law of the Jews, a capital offence, the punishment of which for both parties was death.
(2) Attempted deception, in his efforts to prevent his crime from being known.
(3) Tempting Uriah to drunkenness — braving the curse afterwards denounced by the prophet.
(4) Ingratitude and injustice to Uriah, whose noble services in the cause, of his king met with a "cruel return.
(5) Meanness and treachery; it was mean to take advantage of Uriah's absence in the first instance; it was mean to attempt, through him, to conceal the crime; it was mean to try to intoxicate him; and it was incredibly mean to make him the bearer of a letter detailing a plot for his death.
(6) Commanding another person (Joab) to do an unjust and atrocious action. And,
(7) The crowning sin of murder — slightly masked, no doubt, and less atrocious in appearance as the mode of death was-what every soldier was exposed to, but, in substance, deliberate murder.The aggravations of these sins were great.
(1) All this was done by the king of the nation, who was bound not only to be an example to his people in general, but especially to discountenance crime, and to encourage and reward bravery in his service.
(2) God had shown singular goodness to David; he had been rescued by God from all his enemies, placed upon the throne, and surrounded with every species of lawful enjoyment.
(3) The very profession made by David, and for the most part so consistently — his reputation as a good and holy man — made his offences the greater.
(4) He had reached a mature or almost advanced age; he was long past the boundary of youth, and therefore the more inexcusable in giving way to youthful lusts. And(5) There was the example of Uriah — so eminent a pattern of faithfulness to his duty as a soldier — of firm aversion even to lawful indulgences that might indispose him for the hardships of a soldier's life, or be unsuitable in the comrade of brave, self-denying men. Such was the labyrinth of guilt and wickedness into which King David was now betrayed. How, then, it may be asked, can the thing be accounted for at all? It may serve, in some slight degree, to account, for it, if we bear in mind the source of the spiritual life and the mode of its operation. When a man is converted, two opposite principles begin to struggle in his heart — the old man and the new: "The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit lusteth against the flesh." In some natures, both the old man and the new possess unusual vehemence; the desperate energisings of the old are held in check only by the still greater vigour of the new; and if by any means the new man lose his vigour for a time — if the communication with the great Source of that vigour be interrupted, frightful havoc may be wrought by the old. Some men are giants every way: Luther, for example, was a giant in intellect — a giant in animal force and power — a giant in gracious affections; and when in such men the native inclinations burst the restraints of the new nature, it is no common wickedness that may be looked for. It was so with David. But it is one thing to account for David's sin — it is another to excuse it. These remarks are designed for the one purpose, not the other. The whole transaction bears the character of a beacon, and the beacon is one of the darkest even in the faithful records of Scripture history.
(1) First of all, it shows the frightful danger of interrupting, however briefly, the exercise of watching and praying — of discontinuing communion with the great Source of spiritual strength, especially when the evils that first made us pray earnestly are removed. An hour's sleep may leave Samson at the mercy of Delilah, and when he awakes his strength is gone.
(2) Further, it affords a sad proof of the danger of dallying with sin even in thought. Admit sin within the precincts of the imagination, and there is the utmost danger of its ultimately mastering the soul. The outposts of the spiritual garrison should be so placed as to protect even the thoughts, and the moment the enemy is discovered there the alarm should be given and the fight begun.
(3) Still further, his fail exemplifies the frightful risk of tolerating anywhere in our hearts a single sin. One sin leads on to another and another; especially if the first be a sin which it is desirable to conceal.
(W. G. Blaikie, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.