One evening David got up from his bed and strolled around on the roof of the palace. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing--a very beautiful woman.
2 Samuel 11:1-5. - (THE KING'S PALACE.)1 Chronicles 20:1).
1. He was about fifty years of age; had been reigning in Jerusalem upwards of twelve years; dwelt in a stately palace on Mount Zion; and possessed numerous sons and daughters, a splendid court and a powerful army. He had been "preserved whithersoever he went," subdued his enemies, and returned in triumph. His natural gifts and fervent piety (Psalm 24:4; Psalm 101:7) were even more extraordinary than his material prosperity; and he now stood on the pinnacle of human greatness and glory.
2. "We might well wish, in our human fashion, that, as he stood at this elevation, he had closed a life hitherto (as far as was possible before Christianity) almost entirely spotless, and bequeathed to posterity a wholly unclouded memory, and the purest type of true royalty. But the ascent of the dizzy height is always attended by the possibility of a slip and then of a headlong fall" (Ewald).
3. "Rising from the couch where he had indulged in his noonday siesta to an undue length, David forthwith ascended to the roof of his house. So ambition commonly follows excess; nor do they whom the contagion of luxury once corrupts readily seek after moderate and lowly ways. But that ascent of David, alas! was a prelude to his deplorable downfall. For he ascended only that he might fall, beholding thence, as from a watchtower, Bathsheba the wife of Uriah, and immediately becoming passionately enamoured of her" (J. Doughty, 'Analecta Sacra:' 1658).
4. It was the turning point of his career, which was henceforth marked by a long series of calamities. And "it is sad to think that the cup of life, alter being filled for him by God and made pure and sweet by previous suffering and self-restraint, should have been recklessly poisoned by his own hand" (Binney).
"His steps were turn'd into deceitful ways:
I. AT A SEASON OF SLOTHFUL RELAXATION. In the spring of the year, "when kings go forth to war," instead of going forth with his army to complete the subjugation of Ammon, "David sent Joab," etc., and abode in Jerusalem. Formerly, when "the Lord had given him rest" (2 Samuel 7:1), he spent his leisure in a worthy manner, and displayed an ardent and even excessive zeal; but now, in choosing rest for himself, he showed a lack of zeal, and his unhappy choice was followed by disastrous consequences. "His actual fall into sin seems to have begun by the abdication of his functions as captain of Israel" (Maclaren); which was itself the effect of "previous relaxation of the girded loins and negligence of the untrimmed lamp." Inactivity (voluntarily chosen, without adequate reason, and regardless of opportunities of useful service) is commonly:
1. Induced by a course of successful enterprise, and the attainment of great prosperity. If adversity has slain its thousands, prosperity has slain its tens of thousands. "When his pillow was the rock and his curtain the cave; when his sword, under Providence, procured him his daily bread from the foes of his country, and the means of existence formed the object and pursuit of life, - he was pious and immovable; he must have been active or he must have resigned his life. But now the case was widely different. He had not only all the necessaries, but all the luxuries which the most refined voluptuousness could devise, attending in rich profusion around him. He had certainly the duty of his charge to impress its importance on his mind; but then he had the opportunity of neglecting it, and even David, it appears, was not proof against the solicitations of this opportunity" (Thompson, 'Davidica').
2. Indicative of a state of spiritual declension.
(1) Of a gradual decay of faith and neglect of watchfulness and prayer, and so leaving his hold of God;
(2) of a defective sense of responsibility to God;
(3) of pride and security, "mortal's chief enemy," so that the self-denying labours and hardships of the battlefield seemed no longer necessary; and
(4) of undue love of ease and sensuous pleasure, fostered in David's case by polygamy. "The sense of delicacy and chastity, which has such a purifying and preserving influence on the life, could not flourish side by side with the polygamy in which he permitted himself" (W.M. Taylor). The majestic forest tree falling suddenly beneath the blast excites our surprise; but, on examination, it will be found to have been undergoing at heart a gradual process of decay, which at length brought the giant to the ground.
3. Conducive to the indulgence of sinful propensities; exposing to the peril of falling into "the snare of the devil." Want of proper occupation tends to develop the hidden evil of the heart. "Standing waters gather filth" (Matthew Henry). "Idle hours bring forth idle thoughts, and idle thoughts are nothing but dry kindling wood that waits only for a spark to be suddenly ablaze" (Disselhoff). "The industrious man hath no leisure to sin; the idle hath no leisure or power to avoid sin" (Hall). David "may have been quite unconscious of bad habits of mind; but they must have been there growing in secret. The tyrannous self-will, which is too often developed by long successes and command; the unscrupulous craft, which is too often developed by long adversity and the necessity of sustaining one's self in a difficult position; - these must have been there. But even they could not have led David to do the deed he did had there not been in him likewise that fearful moral weakness which comes from long indulgence of the passions - a weakness which is reckless of conscience, of public opinion, and of danger either to earthly welfare or everlasting salvation" (C. Kingsley). "This single act can only be regarded as the expression of his whole disposition of mind" (Hengstenberg).
II. UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF STRONG TEMPTATION; or the desire of self-gratification. For "each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust [desire], and enticed," etc. (James 1:13-15). "Lust is egoistic desire under the incitement of impulse. But the action is not yet performed; it still lies with the man to combat the lust, or by the free choice of his will to yield himself to it" (Martensen, 'Christian Ethics'). It:
1. Arises in most cases from impressions made upon the senses by external objects. "And it came to pass in an eventide," etc. (ver. 2). The eye is the most common inlet of temptation. "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food," etc. (Genesis 3:6). Achan first saw, then coveted and took (Joshua 7:21). "David at this time had forgotten the prayer, 'Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity.' We see, therefore, how dangerous a thing it is to suffer the eyes to wander. Job made a covenant with his eyes" (Wilier). "They who abuse the eye deserve to have the inward eye darkened" (Gregory).
2. Derives its force from various circumstances; such as
(1) the unexpected, sudden, and deceitful manner of its occurrence;
(2) the power and opportunity of its gratification;
(3) the temperament, predisposition, and besetting sins of its subject;
(4) the entertainment of it in the fancy, which forms false images of good, and invests them with a perilous fascination; and
(5) the delay of endeavour to overcome it, wherein there always lies peculiar and most imminent danger (Genesis 39:9).
3. Becomes by such means an absorbing passion (Matthew 6:28, 29); blinding the mental vision, perverting the moral judgment, and influencing (though not absolutely compelling) the choice of the personal will, by which sin comes into actual existence. "There is a black spot, though it be no bigger than a bean's eye, in every soul, which, if once set a-working, will overcloud the whole man in darkness, and something very like madness, and will hurry him into the night of destruction" (Arabic saying). To escape this fatal issue there is need, not merely of resolute resistance and fervent prayer, but also of instant flight. "The temptation of the flesh is overcome and impure passion mortified by flight, and not by fighting face to face. He then who flies fastest and furthest is most sure of victory. Once more I say to thee, Fly! for thou art as stubble. Therefore fly, fly, if indeed thou wouldest not be overtaken, led captive, and slain!" (Scupoli).
III. AGAINST THE RESTRAINTS OF RECOGNIZED OBLIGATION. "And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba," etc.? (ver. 3). Whilst he knew not who she was, there might be at least some excuse (considering the position of an Oriental monarch, and the common practices of the age) for his passion (2 Samuel 3:1-5); but now that he was informed that she was "the wife of Uriah," the claims of a higher law than his own inclination must have risen up distinctly before him; and he had to choose between renouncing his evil desire or breaking through the numerous restraints placed in his path. These restraints are:
1. Set up by the express commandments of the Divine Law, which says, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife;" "Thou shalt not commit adultery;" "Thou shalt not steal" (2 Samuel 12:4-6).
2. Strengthened by the special responsibilities of peculiar position and relationship; such as David held, as King of Israel, under Jehovah, with respect to his subjects, and more particularly his faithful servant Uriah.
3. Enforced by the terrible consequences threatened against transgressors (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 28:15). It is nevertheless possible to burst through all such restraints. And in the exercise of his freedom and the abuse of his power, David set them at nought, and "despised the commandment of the Lord" (2 Samuel 12:9). "When lust has conceived, every restraint generally increases its vehemence, the thoughts of future consequences and the consideration of the presence, purity, and justice of God are excluded; his Law and authority are disregarded; faith and fear and love are out of exercise; and the enhanced imagination of the satisfaction to be found in indulgence possesses and engrosses the soul" (Scott).
IV. WITH THE PERSISTENCY OF WILFUL PRESUMPTION. "And David sent messengers, and took her," etc. (vers. 4, 5). Regarding himself as a special favourite of Heaven, he perhaps imagined (as others have done) that he might leave the ways of lowly obedience and self-denial, and go whithersoever he pleased, and yet be preserved from harm (Deuteronomy 29:19; Psalm 19:13; Matthew 4:6); and under this delusion he persisted in his purpose, and fell from his moral elevation into the depths of sin and to the verge of destruction. "How are the mighty fallen!" By such persistency:
1. The sinful purpose of the heart is confirmed and completed in outward action.
2. The guilt incurred is aggravated.
3. The natural consequences of sin become more serious and extensive; and, in some respects, they cannot possibly be averted (ch. 12:11-14).
1. No man, however holy, is exempt from the liability of falling into sin. "Be not highminded, but fear;" "Let him that thinketh he standeth," etc. "If such a strong and tall cedar as David fall, how ought weaker Christians to fear and to pray that God would deliver them from temptation!" (Guild).
2. Material prosperity and outward show are frequently associated with moral failure and secret iniquity. Whilst the conquest of Rabbah went forward, David became the victim of his own unfaithfulness.
3. The fall of men into sin is to be attributed to themselves - their voluntary choice of evil; and not to their circumstances, or constitution, or the withholding from them of the help of God. "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God," etc.
4. It is of unspeakable importance to maintain the exercise of the spiritual life in full vigour, and to watch against the first approach of evil. "The narrow way has precipices on both sides; let us walk it awake and watchful, for we are not more exact than David, who by a moment's neglect was precipitated into the very gulf of sin" (Chrysostom).
5. By the record of the sins of good men (1 Samuel 21:2), the truth and worth of the Word of God are plainly shown. "If such a story does not give one a view of the unfathomable depths of sin and of its power, he will never learn what sin is" (Schmid).
6. In the whole course of history One alone has appeared "without sin;" he was tempted and overcame, and he is the Succourer of them that are tempted. - D.
I. THE ORIGIN OF DAVID'S TRANSGRESSIONS. Seldom, if ever, is it the case that crime, to any enormous extent, is perpetrated by men even of the common Stamp, upon sudden and momentary impulse. There is almost invariably to be observed a regular gradation in sin, until it towers in all the fierce and frightful ascendancy of open guilt. Thus was it here. Despise not the fear of extreme iniquity, as if you were incapable of such a thing. If David fell, who once stood so high and 'holy in Christian character, to what a depth may we yet fall, we who have never yet attained to any thing like his early piety:, his primitive godliness.
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.
And it came to pass in an eventide.I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF DAVID PREVIOUS TO HIS FALL. For several years he had been in a state of great trouble: But it was not in this state of trial and affliction that he offended. During this period we see him exercising, in a remarkable degree, the faith, the resignation, the humility, the patience, the meekness of the servant of God. But now God had brought his troubles to a close. For some years he had been the most powerful monarch in that quarter of the world. These were his circumstances when he fell.
II. CONSIDER THE PECULIAR TEMPTATION WHICH IS SUFFERED TO PRESENT ITSELF TO DAVID, AND THE WAY IN WHICH HE ENCOUNTERED IT. The temptation arose, a temptation sudden and great. He gives way to the seduction. He calmly descends from his palace with a determination to bring the evil of his heart into act, and to perpetrate the crime which the tempter had suggested to him. This we may conceive to have been the turning point in David's career. Oh! had David paused but for one moment; had he retired a while to deliberate upon his Conduct; had he put up one prayer for Divine help; had he passed on even to the duties of his kingly office so as to divert his thoughts into a different channel; the snare might have been broken, and he have escaped. But, alas! David is left a melancholy monument of what the best man may become when he forsakes his God, and when his God, in consequence, abandons him.
III. THE STATE OF DAVID AFTER HIS FIRST SIN, AND HIS PROGRESS TO NEW OFFENCES. What must David have felt after the perpetration of the first crime? Immediately the sense of the Divine presence, the inspiring hope of Divine favour and eternal glory, would withdraw from him. The consequences of his crime were becoming visible, and the once noble and generous David now resorts to low artifices to conceal his guilt. He sends for the injured husband. He treats him with a subtlety unworthy both of himself and of his loyal subject, endeavouring to impose upon him a spurious offspring. When deceit, however, would not prevail on Uriah, a fresh crime must compel him. Crime leads on to crime. David, therefore, urged by a dread of detection, determines to add murder to adultery.
IV. THE CRIMINAL SCHEMES OF DAVID HAD NOW TAKEN EFFECT, and Uriah could no more disturb the bed of his seducer and murderer. But when there remained no obstacle to enjoyment, the Divine Hand suddenly arrested him in his guilty career. God sent Nathan the Prophet to convince him in his guilt.
V. THE DREADFUL CONSEQUENCE OF THIS TRANSGRESSION. Where God forgives, He does not always wholly spare. He may so pardon the sin as not to inflict upon the sinner eternal condemnation, and yet punish him severely. And such was the case of David. Besides the wound his soul had sustained, and which, perhaps, might never afterwards be entirely healed, we find the remainder of David's life harassed by perpetual sorrows.
1. It may teach us to guard against declension in grace, and watch against temptation. If temptation is urgent flee from it and think of the fall of David.
2. Charity and tenderness in judging of those who fall. Call them not, as the world are too apt to call them, hypocrites. David was no hypocrite — but David fell.
3. Finally, let us beware of employing the fall of David as a plea for sin, and of presuming that such a restoration as his to favour and holiness will be granted to ourselves. Before we can build upon the hope of a restoration such as his our circumstances must be those of David.
(J. Venn, M. A.)
(W. G. Blaikie, M. A.)
II. THE PROGRESS OF SIN NOW OPENS BEFORE US. Indolence and sensuality worked out their regular and invariable effect upon the erring monarch. He rises from his bed in the evening time — the bed of luxury, every passion pampered, every avenue to sin wide open, nothing further necessary to bring about his ruin than some external object to move the overt act of evil. The wife of Uriah, one of his principal and most faithful generals, becomes the object of temptation. The temptation triumphs, and the first work of iniquity is accomplished. Sin now becomes compulsory; the fear of detection and infamy, perhaps of personal danger from the just wrath of Uriah, drives the royal culprit to every mean and despicable expedient in order to conceal his transgression. Sin now drives on the soul to violence; and with cold and unfeeling treachery Uriah is made the innocent messenger of his own destruction. What a series of close-linked iniquities — indolence, luxury, lust adultery, hypocrisy, falsehood, treachery, murder! And this is not all; we have here but the single series of crimes; there is a complication likewise which we must not overlook if we would read off the history in all its forcible and solemn instructiveness. Bathsheba is made an accomplice in sin, a moral victim to the guilty passion of the king, while her husband is sacrifced to his fears. Here are souls and bodies of men, precious lives, sported away under the hellish dominion of triumphant guilt! What complicated crime! What an awful history!
III. THE CONSUMMATION OF EVIL. All that we have hitherto looked at belongs only to substantial guilt; guilt branded, it is true, with atrocity, but the consummation of evil still remains for our reflections. Many months had elapsed since the commencement of this wretched business, and a long period of time, too, had intervened between the death of Uriah and the visit of Nathan, to awaken the royal transgressor to repentance. Throughout this whole interval, there was no movement of remorse towards heaven in the heart of the king; he feared the reproof of man, and the wrath of man, as we have seen, and laboured by murderous efforts to avoid them; but there was yet no remorse towards God, no recognition of his turpitude, as viewed by the Most High, no fear of Divine censure, of Divine indignation, no effort to arrest or even deprecate the wrath of Jehovah. Thus, then, David had fallen into practical infidelity; every active consideration of God's existence, omniscience, and justice had vanished away. What a mystery is sin; it possesses us to self-destruction, while it diminishes nothing of our sagacity or skill in arraying and condemning the guilt of others. It is enough for satanic malice and purpose, if the soul be filled with every holy sentiment, and wisdom, and quality for external occupation, provided it remain dead to its own interests, unmoved by its own guilt! This prostration of judgment, this death of conscience, consummated the spiritual misery of the fallen monarch. How long should such a state have lasted, if God had not specially recalled the sinner to repentance? For ever! There was no human power, no natural remedy left for his restoration. To reclaim him, fear had failed, and conscience had failed, and memory of past obedience had failed. Reason was stupified, and stupified for ever, if God had not, in his faithfulness and mercy, sent a special waffling to his soul, calling forth repentance. Let us pause here one short moment, while we collect together the admonition, which may be adduced from what we have now perused.
1. And first, as we saw the steady, onward progress of sin, from the almost imperceptible germ of indolence and luxury, to the actual crime of murder, and the utter infatuation of all spiritual sense and judgment, let us hence, I say, beware of the least compliance with iniquity. We often trifle with sins of small account, set limitations to our compliance with the follies or luxuries, or harmless indulgences of the world, as they are termed.
2. Reflect with horror on the complication of sin. For our self-gratification alone it is that we are led on to crime at first; that gratification must have victims; aye, if the besetting evil within us be but pride or covetousness, it must have victims. Some must suffer for our indulgence, many will become hardened by our example in guilt; for often the man who is called, in the false language of the world, his own enemy alone, will have to answer, perhaps, for the eternal death of others.
3. Trust nothing to your own shrewdness of discernment between good and evil. your own spiritual-mindedness and holiness, about the external objects and other men. Our profession is worth nothing, our spiritual attainments no proof of personal approbation with God, of personal holiness, while they range beyond self. We must deal with self. prove self, pass judgment on self, and live in communion, secret union with Christ, or our religion is but sounding brass and tinkling cymbal.
IV. THE RETURN TO VIRTUE. Mark the proof; here is a king, with all the powers of life and death over his subjects, in his own will, in his own hands. He is confronted by a man of humble state, of lowly lot, a man devoid of ally earthly influence. By this man he is accused of a grievous murder, and that, too in broad noon day, before his courtiers and counsellors, on his very throne of judgment; and so far from yielding to resentment at so daring an intrusion, or expressing the least displeasure at the abrupt and public accusation with which he is so assailed, he sinks at once into contrition, and confesses his iniquity — "I have sinned against the Lord." This is what we need, a thorough conviction of our sins now; we shall have it certainly in the world to come, if it be not here attained. But conviction there is too late for anything but eternal torment; we must have it here, that under a thorough sense of our lost condition, we may apply to the rich mercies of the Redeemer for pardon.
V. PARDON I And may pardon be had for such iniquities as adultery and murder — for such extremes of crime? Yes, for all transgressions; the vilest may hope; this history is for our encouragement, to seek that grace which never was denied to suppliant man — "Christ is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him."
VI. NO ENCOURAGEMENT TO CARELESS SIN, and fruitless admission of criminality, with the secret or avowed purpose of continuance in crime. That from which nature shrinks with more alarm than all the threatenings of eternal misery can inspire is present suffering; that was inflicted, in all its severity, upon David.
(C. M. Fleury, A. M.)
1. Prosperity enervated him. Prosperity is a danger to men of David's mould. Contrast the readiness with which he went forth in the old days when Saul hunted him as a bird! He was standing in high places! He needed clinging grace.
2. Prosperity induced sloth. Our inner life is very responsive to our outward condition.
II. WHEN OPPORTUNITY AND TEMPTATION MEET THERE IS STRUGGLE. Without reserve the Bible tells the shameful story — shows how one sin drags after it another until it compels you to write against the name of the man (not free from the weakness of human imperfections, yet sincere and upright) — to write against that man the horrible list of crimes, deception, adultery, injustice, treachery, and murder.
III. THE INFLUENCES WHICH SAPPED THE WALL OF HIS WILL. You feel instinctively such a fall could not have been instantaneous — fifty years old, a devoted, upright man of God to so fall. The tempest has not strength in it to snap such an oak if the heart of the tree is sound. The sacred narrative shows the weakness, reveals the secret decay.
1. Close the doors of imagination against carnal imagery; make a covenant with your eves and keep it. There was a "prepared plate" in the camera of David's mind, or the beauty of Bathsheba had been as nought to him. Take heed where you go for your recreations. Idle strolling may in some moods lead to pitfalls. He concealed when he should have confessed. Better to have crept to the mercy-seat covered with his filth than, as he did, wait in the palace with his sin.
(H. E. Stone.)
1. Are there any who are ready to justify their enormities from the example of David? Who are saying to themselves, "If David, notwithstanding these enormous crimes, was a saint of God, and obtained pardon, I am safe?" Let such consider his habitual conduct, his splendid virtues, and his deep repentance. In examining his habitual conduct, we behold a heart devoted to God. He fell into acts of the greatest wickedness; but these were not permanent, but diametrically opposite to his general walk and conversation. Justice requires also that we should contrast his murder and adultery with the splendid actions of his life. "David," says the sacred historian (1 Kings 15:5) "did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite." Think of his confidence in God; of his trust in the everlasting covenant; of the magnanimity and clemency that he so often displayed; of his zeal for the glory of God; of his humility; of his acquiescence in the severest dispensations of providence; of the pious emotions which glow in his psalms, and were felt in his heart; and after taking this general review of his life, say if there are many who from the bed of death can look back to more numerous or more splendid monuments of piety and virtue. Consider, too, the depth of his repentance. Behold him prostrate in the dust, dissolved in tears, pleading for the life of his soul; looking back with unutterable anguish to his conduce; bearing the agonised remembrance of it to the grave; never palliating his crimes; fleeing for pardon to unmerited grace.
2. This subject teaches us that one sin gradually leads us to another; that he who enters upon a criminal course knows not where he shall stop in his course; that he who indulges impetuous passions and inordinate appetites will shortly be deprived of the power of saying to them, "Hitherto shall ye come and no farther;" and that, therefore, our only safety is to be found in resisting the first approaches to crime, and "abstaining from all appearance of evil." Oppose, then, the beginnings of evil; beware of cherishing one sinful thought; you know not to what lengths of guilt and shame it may carry you; you cannot tell where its destructive consequences will end.
3. This subject addresses those who, like David, have departed from the ways of the Lord; have violated their engagements; have wounded their consciences; have grieved the Spirit of God and His saints. There is a sacrifice which has sufficient virtue to expiate all your accumulated guilt. By the application of the blood of Jesus, and the communication of his Spirit, you shall obtain the restoration of peace with God, and strength to serve Him in time to come; like David and like Peter recovered from your falls, you shall again participate of his favour and love.
4. In reviewing this history, we are naturally led to ask, Why did Providence permit this shameful fall in David? or, to extend the question, Why does God allow sin to remain, and sometimes to break out forcibly in his regenerate children? This question cannot easily be answered. It is not for want of power to prevent it; for He could perfectly sanctify them. It is not for want of hatred to their sin; it appears as odious, more odious in them than in others. It is not for want of love to them; he regards them as his friends and his children. Why, then, does he not render them immaculately holy? The following are, perhaps, some of the reasons of this dispensation. These do not at all justify the offender, though they vindicate the providence of God, and show its omnipotence in educing good from evil itself.(1) By them, the grace of God, in justification, is illustriously, and will be eternally magnified.(2) They are thus taught the depth of that iniquity which is in them, and rendered humble and dependent.(3) Thus they are taught to value more dearly the advocacy and intercession of the Lord Jesus.(4) The remembrance of the anguish of soul which they endured before God restored unto them the joy of His salvation; the recollection of "the wormwood and the gall" inspires them with additional fear of sin, and makes them more studious to mortify it. They tremble at the disease they have already felt, and walk in holy fear.(5) They are thus, by the wonderful providence of God, fitted for service. "When thou art converted," says Christ to Peter, after predicting his fall, "strengthen thy brethren." By the bitter experience of the power of sin they can admonish others against it.(6) The sins of believers make them tong for heaven. They are made ready to drop this body of flesh if with it they may drop the body of sin and death. "They groan, being burdened," and sigh for that land of perfect holiness, where they shall no longer offend their God.
(H. Kollock, D. D.)
2. One sin leads to another, or requires another to cover it.
3. See the hardening effect of sin! The tender-hearted David becomes a monster of cruelty! (Read, after verse 26, 12:26 to end.)
4. The degradation of sin! Joab taken into counsel.
5. The Lord's unseen contemplation of man's actions. (Verse 27. Hebrews 4:13; Proverbs 15:11.) I, THE GREAT ONUS OF THE CRIME. For Christians the terrible ingredient of wilful sin is this: They crucify Christ afresh. They cause His name to be blasphemed. (Romans 2:24.) This makes our responsibility; hence 1 Peter 2:12; 2 Corinthians 6:3.
II. DAVID'S REPENTANCE. Notice immediate confession on conviction of his sin. His confession brief, heartfelt, going to the root of the matter.
(R. E. Faulkner.)
2. A year had passed away since David's fall. He had returned to Jerusalem in triumph. The dead Uriah was probably forgotten. The child of guilt was burn, and loved by David with a passionate tenderness. .The dreadful story, however, was not, we maybe quite certain, all forgotten by the king himself. However much the commission of the crimes of adultery and murder had injured or blinded his conscience — as wilful sin always does — still, "the man after God's own heart," the man who had shown through many temptations "an honest and good heart," the man who had loved and trusted God so faithfully, could not have rested quite at his ease under the terrible memory that he had allowed base passion to conquer his better self.
3. God was looking in mercy upon His servant, and Nathan was sent to him to bring him to the fulness of a sincere repentance, and to restore trim to peace with God. Nathan did his duty fearlessly and completely. Whatever sorrows there are and must be to penitents who have deeply fallen, still "God is the God of comfort," and He comforted David. Bathsheba was now his wife. Another child was born to them and David — with the sense of restored peace with God — called him Solomon, "the peaceful."
(W. J. Knox Little, M. A.)
I. REMARKS UPON THE CONCOMITANT CIRCUMSTANCES ARE: —
1. The time of David's adultery. This has a three-fold description, as(1) The time of the year, at springtime;(2) The time of war, when David had renewed his war against the Ammonites; and(3) The time of the day, in an eventide (ver. 1, 2.) To which may be added(4) The time of David's age and reign. Common computation makes it David's seventh year, the forty-ninth of his age, and the nineteenth of his reign. But learned Dr. Lightfoot computes it to be the twenty-sixth of his reign and so the fifty-sixth of his age, seeing he was thirty years old when he began his reign in Hebron, being in the tenth year of Samuel.
2. The place of David's sin: it was his own palace where he was indulging himself to ease and pleasure, when he should have been fighting the Lord's battles in the field with his army against the Ammonites. While he kept abroad in the wars in his own person he was safe enough. It was at evening tide when David should have been at his devotion, as had been his custom (Psalm 55:17), seeing he would not be in the field to fight.
3. Upon the third circumstance, the person, the sight whereof was the occasion of David's soul fall. She is described here divers ways:(1) A woman washing herself, to wit, from her legal uncleanness (Leviticus 15:19; Leviticus 18:19.) Possibly some window was carelessly left open for air in her chamber, that was near the palace royal, where she could espie no beholder; but lust, being quick sighted, lustful David espied her through the casement that then was casually or carelessly left open.(2) "Very beautiful to behold." This was a strong bait to David, who had been indulging himself with some excess of eating and drinking.(3) She is described by her name, as well as by her beauty (ver. 3.) David enquired after her, who she was, when he should rather have reproved himself for looking and lusting after a forbidden object; more especially when he found she was a daughter to one and a wife to another of his famous worthies (2 Samuel 23:34, 39.)(4) "David sent messengers to fetch her." Unbridled lust, like the wild vine, will ramble over the hedge.(5) She came from her own house into his palace, not by force but by persuasion, pretending only to speak with her; but she came not so well fortified for resisting a temptation as she should.
II. Let us turn aside with Moses to take a LITTLE PROSPECT OF THIS, A GREAT WONDER,
1. As to David, "A man after God's own heart," yet his unbridled lust had metamorphosed him into a beast, He might now well say in the words of Asaph, "So foolish was I and ignorant, and even as a beast before Thee." (Psalm 73:23.) This teacheth us, that the best of men are but men at the best; and who art thou, O man, that thinkst thou art safe and secure enough from acts Of sin? "Surely thou knowest not the plague of thine own heart" (1 Kings 8:38.)
2. As to Bathsheba, some do say she was not free from faultiness upon several accounts.(1) That she bathed herself in her garden, so nigh to the King's court, for Uriah, being one of David's worthies, had his house assigned him near to the royal palace.(2) That she so willingly came with the first messenger without any jealousy of a snare to her, after such too open a washing herself in the view of the court.(3) That she so easily yielded unto David's tempting her without any reluctancy, forgetting her fidelity to her honourable husband, choosing rather to be a base harlot to a king than an honest wife to a good subject.
III. DAVID'S ADDING MURDER TO HIS ADULTERY, INSTEAD OF REPENTING FOR HIS SIN.
1. First, David's contrivement to congeal his sin from the eyes of men, in the meantime not regarding the all-seeing eye of God, etc.(1) He sends for Uriah, that he, returning home and lying with his wife, might believe this now begotten child, to be of his own begetting.(2) The discourse betwixt David and Uriah upon his return at royal summons (v. 7.)(3) David deals still with Uriah while sober, and dissemblingly gives him an amicable dismission (v. 8) bidding him go home and refresh thyself after thy travail, "and rejoice with the wife of thy youth" (Proverbs 5:18.) Not doubting but he would converse with his wife, and so cover both their sin and their shame.(4) David's expostulation with Uriah, occasioned by his not embracing the King's leave to go to his house, but sleeping all night, among the king's guard (v. 9.)(5) Uriah still holds his resolution (v. 11) neither the dignity of the king (saith Peter Martyr) nor the beauty and importunity of his wife could reclaim him from his refractory humour. Thus the providence of God did counter-work all the policies and projects of David, who designed all along to have his sin concealed, when the most wise God will have it revealed; and lest the king should think it was too saucy a sullenness in a subject to be thus peremptory he renders a most pregnant reason for so persisting in his resolve.(6) Still David, instead of repenting, proceeds from bad to worse (vers. 12, 13), when he found himself crossed in his former contrivances with Uriah while sober, he will try one trick more in making Uriah drunk, that when intoxicated he might forget his oath and lie with his wife, putting off all his former austerity.
2. The last, but worst link of that doleful chain of David's lust: So far was David still from repenting of his sin that, seeing his craft (for concealing his adultery he failed him in all the other fair means he contrived, now) resolveth upon cruelty in the use of foul methods to get this good Uriah cut off insensibly, and so to cover his adultery with murder, that so he might not live to accuse the adulteress.(1) In order hereunto he wrote a letter to Joab (v. 14), not with black but rather with blood, and Uriah must carry this sword to Joab for the cutting of his own throat.(2) Uriah must be set in the hottest battle, and then lurched (v 15). Joab must believe this most excellent person had some way deserved death, and he must be the executioner; yet could he not be ignorant of the law, that no criminals should die without two or three witnesses against them; therefore, he was too obsequious in obeying so tyrannical a command (v. 16, 17), but Joab haply hoped thereby to ingratiate himself with David for the murder of Abner, which he had not yet answered, for now David was like to be no less guilty than himself. Right or wrong, he'll please the king.(3) Tidings hereof are dictated by Joab in what order the messenger must tell David (v. 18, 19), and if the king object any rashness in the enterprise, he must answer "Uriah is slain also," and that answers all objections.(4) David was pleased, saying "Let not Joab be displeased," etc. (v. 25), where he smootheth up his general, slights the slaughter of so many gallant men, and deeply dissembleth with the messenger, that so neither his bloody command nor Joab's fawning obedience might be discovered to him. David had, been still striving against the stream in the use of fair means, and none would do to his content; but, having found success in this foul policy, oh how he hugs himself under hardness of heart.(5) Bathsheba mourned for the death of her husband (v. 26), and no doubt it was a feigned and a merry mourning. She was inwardly pleased, both as freed from fear of his rage and punishment of an adulteress, and: as hoping now to be made a queen. Had she been sensible of her sin (afterwards doubtless she was) she would have mourned like a dove, as Queen Huzzah did (Nahum 2:7.) But after seven days of mourning (saith Josephus) the ordinary time (Genesis 50:10, 1 Samuel 31:13) the adulterer married the adulteress; and probably more haste might be made here. that she might be thought to be with child by David after they were married (v. 27.) "But the thing that David had (lone displeased the Lord," which was not simply his marrying of her, for that is nowhere forbidden in Scripture, but for his alluring her to adultery, and for murdering her husband after it.
Homiletic Review.Professor George Lincoln Goodale, speaking of the cultivation of plants, said: "It is impossible for us to ignore the fact that there appear to be occasions in the life of a species when it seems to be peculiarly susceptible to the influences of its surroundings. A species, like a carefully laden ship, represents a balancing of forces within and without. Disturbances may come through variation from within, as from a shifting cargo, or in some cases from without. We may suppose both forces to be active in producing variation, a change in the internal condition rendering the plant more susceptible to any change in its surroundings. "Under the influence of any marked disturbance a state of unstable equilibrium may be brought about, at which times the species as such is easily acted upon by very slight agencies." Analogous to the learned scientist's observation of growing plants is the experience of every growing human life. We cannot pass over its ever-repeated evidence that there are occasions when character, to use Dr. Goodale's phrase, "seems to be peculiarly susceptible to, the influence of its surroundings;" and disturbances, whether from within or without, produce such a state of "unstable equilibrium," that the character is "easily acted upon by any very slight agencies." Then is it that, by the merest little only, life's important steps are taken, and lead to either success or failure.
(H. W. Beecher.)
(E. P. Thwing.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(A. Maclaren, D.D.)
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