Written by: Don Carson
HERE IS DAVID AT HIS WORST (2 Sam. 11). In the flow of the narrative through 1 and 2 Samuel, it is almost as if adversity brought out the best in David, while his chain of recent unbroken military and political successes finds him restless, foolish, and not careful.
The sins are multiple. Besides the obvious transgressions of lust, adultery, and murder, there are deep sins scarcely less grievous. His attempt to cover his guilt by bringing Uriah home fails because Uriah proves to be that most exceptional of men: an idealist--an idealist who sees even his military responsibilities in terms of his covenantal faith (2 Sam. 11:11). And all this from a converted Hittite! Worse, David's extraordinary manipulation of the military and political levers of power shows that this king has become intoxicated by power. He thinks he can arrange anything; he thinks he has the right to use the state to advance and then cover up his own sin. The name of that game is corruption.
There are other remarkable elements in the narrative.
First, almost nothing is said of Bathsheba, except that she was beautiful, was seduced, and eventually married David. Of course, at one level she was no less guilty than he. But of this the text does not say a word. Elsewhere the Bible can record the exploits of good women (Ruth) and evil women (Jezebel); indeed, toward the end of David's life Bathsheba herself plays a significant role. Perhaps in part the text does not cast blame on her here because she has been manipulated by a figure far more powerful. More likely the silence signals not relative degrees of blame but primary focus: the account is of David, and ultimately of David's line.
Second, it is astonishing that David thought he could get away with this. Even politically, too many people had to know what he had done; the story could not be kept quiet. And how could David imagine, even for a moment, that God himself would not know? Was he at this point badly alienated from God? At the very least, this chapter provides a dramatic witness to the blinding effects of sin.
Third, the chapter ends--somberly and powerfully--with the simple sentence, "But the thing David had done displeased the LORD" (2 Sam. 11:27). Doubtless David was quietly congratulating himself for his clever cover-up. He had sinned and gotten away with it. Some of his more servile lackeys may even have congratulated their master. But God knew, and was not pleased. Believers who are walking with their Creator and Redeemer never forget that God sees and knows, and that what pleases him is the only thing that really matters; what displeases him will sooner or later catch up with us.