We’re a David and Not a Uriah (2 Sam 11)
Those familiar with the Bible know well the account of David and Bathsheba. David, the great king of Israel, had it all: wives, power, fame, intimacy with God. Yet within David, like all us, arose a discontentment and a desire to have what was not his. 2 Sam 11 describes the tragic scene: After lounging around in his bed, while his army was off fighting his battles, David arose late one afternoon and went for a stroll on his roof; on this stroll he noticed from afar a beautiful naked woman taking a bath. Desiring her, David learns from his servants that she was none other than Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, one of his leading officers (who was currently away from Jerusalem on the battlefield). David sends for the young woman and the two proceed to have sex. Shortly after their adulterous incident, Bathsheba reveals to David that she is pregnant with his baby! Now David had a big problem on his hands: by committing adultery, he had broken the law of God and committed an offense punishable by death in Israel (Lev 20:10). To cover up his sin, David has Uriah sent home from the battlefield, with the hope that, after a brief visit with David, he would go home and make love to his wife—believing that this would lead to Uriah to think that the baby was actually his! David’s attempts fail: Uriah does come back to Jerusalem and speaks with the king, but he refuses to go home and experience the comforts of sex and home cooking while all of his fellow soldiers are forced to remain in the cold on the battlefield miles away. Uriah was an honorable man; even after David gets him drunk, he still remains faithful and refuses to go home. Eventually, David sends Uriah back to the battlefield with a note in his hand addressed to Joab the commander of the army: ‘When the battle is fiercest, place Uriah in front and then pull the army back.’ Essentially, David has Uriah killed, and then after Bathsheba has finished grieving, he takes her to be one of his wives. All of this was very displeasing to the LORD (2 Sam 11:27b).
It is easy for us to read an account like this and look down on David. ‘What a wicked man!’ We self-righteously think, ‘At least I never committed adultery!’ At least I never murdered someone!’ We all see ourselves as a Uriah and not as a David. It easy for us to see another person’s sin, and fail to see our own. Such a view is self-deceptive: if we are really honest with our hearts, I believe we’ll see that we’re really all a David and not a Uriah.
David’s sin began with coveting his neighbor’s wife, which led to adultery, deception (lying), and murder. While many of us have not followed David’s steps physically, haven’t we all followed his steps in our heart? We desire something that is not ours (spouse, possession, status, sex appeal, wealth), and our discontentment leads us to sin either physically (stealing, committing adultery, slandering, gossiping) or emotionally (hatred, jealousy, malice, bitterness, greed). Jesus tells us that the sins of our heart make us guilty and condemned before God, just like sins that we commit with our actions (Matt 5-7). To look with lustful desire at another is the equivalent of having sex with them (Matt 5:27-30). You and I have coveted and sinned; we are all guilty and God is displeased with us, as He was with David. None of us is a Uriah, we are all a David.
Our only hope is found in God’s mercy, demonstrated in the cross of Christ. Jesus died to pay the penalty for David’s rebellion and for yours and mine. He didn’t have to, but in grace and mercy he did it. Our only hope on the Day of Judgment is Jesus, who was sinless and died our death so that we might be right with God.