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Lessons From the Life of David: David and Bathsheba

It was with a great deal of appreciation that I received Loveland’s invitation to address our young people, to return again to Estes Park after fifteen years, this time not as a conventioneer but as a speaker.

From the topic assigned – ‘David and Bathsheba’ – it is evident what the Host Society intended that we deal with this evening, namely, the sexual aspect of our natures. What does the life of David, and in particular the incident with Bathsheba teach us about this aspect of our natures – its powers, the assaults against it, the grievous sins to which it can so easily lead us? And, what is our calling with respect to chastity and control?

SEX! SEX! SEX! One wonders whether our society has anything else on its mind these days but Sex! Not Love, but Sex. The trouble is the world is putting forth a concerted effort to make sure that that’s all we think about as well. For this reason, we must deal with it. It permeates the very air we breathe it seems.

Now, I am a bit of a prude, and I still wince at the bald use of these terms. I am no friend of the open, free use of the word ‘sex’ and derivations thereof, as though we are speaking of something as common as food and water, eating and sleeping. This matter belongs to the private aspect of life, and we must speak of these things accordingly. In the course of the speech, however, I am going to have to use the term and forms thereof rather frequently. It is in the nature of the case. This is where the battle rages the hottest, where the assault is being made, where the enemy advances. The strategy and deceptions of the Enemy must be exposed. Silence on these matters will simply yield this territory to him. This we will not do.

The first thing that strikes us is that David was no teenager when he committed his sin with Bathsheba. He was middle-aged. He was closer to 47 than to 17. This does not mean, of course, that David’s sin has little to say to teenagers at this point. Rather it simply tells us that sexual sin is not a sin peculiar to the youth, as though once you get past 25 years of age, temptation in this regard becomes a matter of past history. Rather, what David’s sin tells you is that this is a matter you are going to have to deal with all your life long. We all must.

The point is, it is as youth, teenagers, that you must being to deal with this power, with the reality of one’s sexual side and desires. That is simply the biological fact of human development and growth. Here is a new facet of one’s person and identity, the sexual. And as a teenager one must begin to deal with it. But you must do that as Christian teenagers, in a way different from the world.

Further, it is a power, an inner power. That a saint of David’s stature, a warrior so seasoned in the battle of faith, should succumb to this sin, should be so completely overwhelmed by this temptation, certainly speaks of its power. It stands as a warning concerning the precautions we must take in this regard.

However attractive sexual satisfaction may seem to you, the terrible fruit of David’s doing in this regard, and God’s severity in dealing with him, ought to bring us up short. This history warns against sexual uncleanness in all its forms. And do not forget that sexual uncleanness does not need a partner. It can take place in the privacy of one’s own home. We must stop to consider that for such unlawful satisfaction or desire for it there is a price to pay, a terrible price. That’s one of the main lessons of this chapter of David’s life.

Now, in this chapter of David’s life there is another name involved, though it is often overlooked, and that is the name of Uriah, Uriah the Hittite. Uriah is the gleam in the gloom.

Every indication is that Uriah was a young man; not a teenager perhaps, but not much older either. Bathsheba was the wife of his youth. I point out to you that Uriah showed tremendous sexual restraint. When David called him home from battle for deceitful reasons, he could have gone home to Bathsheba. That was his right. And do not think that he did not have the desire. But he would not; no, not for God’s sake. He exercised restraint. He is the example for good. He showed by his chaste conduct that the sexual can be harnessed and controlled. To say that the sexual side of our nature is powerful and persistent is not to say that it is ungovernable. Uriah demonstrates that. Uriah found grace to abstain and to control. David on the other hand did not find that grace. He did not seek it. He gave himself to this sin. And with devastating results.

The question is, how did it all come about? What led to this whole sin syndrome?

In the first place, let’s understand where David’s first sin lay. David’s first sin was not lust, sexual desire. Rather, David’s first sin was not being in a spiritual frame of mind. His first sin was being spiritually careless. Thus he was unprepared for the Devil’s assault.

This is the point of that seemingly insignificant fact recorded in II Samuel 11:1. There you read “And it came to pass … at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; . . but David tarried still at Jerusalem.” Notice, when kings went to battle, David did not! He loitered in Jerusalem. David, the warrior king, decided to take a spiritual vacation from the battle of faith. He becomes spiritually sluggish, careless, and puts pleasure before duty. It is no wonder that he is easy prey to sexual temptation. Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop, so is an idle mind. Lack of spiritual preparation and activity makes one a sitting target for this kind of temptation.

That’s how it goes. We are bored. We have nothing to do, i.e. no interest in spiritual things. So we look for something to do, something to interest us, something to stimulate us. So, we turn on the T.V., we read a book, we go to the magazine rack. And we are sitting targets for the sensual, the suggestive, the impure.

There is only one line of defense against the assaults of sexual temptation, and that is spiritual preparation. You may be sure that when David got up from his bed that night, he did not get up from his knees in prayer. He had not bothered praying, or if he had you may be sure it was one of those thoughtless assembly-line prayers to which we are all so prone. He went to the roof-top defenseless.

How foolish, young people, how foolish we are if we think that we can go thru life, even thru one day in our society, and think that we will not have to deal with some kind of suggestive sexual temptation. How foolish not to anticipate the Enemy’s line of attack, and to fail to take spiritual precautions against it: to fail to pray for grace to turn my eyes from beholding vanity, for spiritual strength.

The simple fact is that we live in an age when the whole of society is one great roof-top on a hot night. And if you are looking for something to excite you sexually, you can certainly find it. I do not have to tell you where. You know; in the movie theatre, on the magazine rack, at the peep show, for that matter in the back seat of the car. It’s there. And it’s all meant to stimulate and excite.

I suppose it could be argued that David was not on the roof-top looking for Bathsheba; she just happened to be there. (I am not convinced, however, that his intentions were at all innocent). But there she was; and so he looked. What else was he supposed to do? Not look? Yes! Precisely, young people, not to look; turn his head: and get off that roof. And then he should have gotten on his knees and prayed for the grace of forgiveness and of self-control. That’s precisely what you are to do when confronted by this temptation. You are to turn your eyes from

beholding vanity. You put away the magazine. You turn the page. You lay it aside.

What our calling is in this regard, God’s Word makes very clear, “Flee fornication.” (I Cor. 6:18) This refers not only to the deed, but to the desire. It is a sin which will pursue us. Sometimes the best defense is with our feet. Certainly it means that we are not to let ourselves thoughtlessly, carelessly to be led into circumstances where our passions are stirred and the flame fed.

Young people, you do not flee it in the back seat of a car feeding each other’s passions either.

Neither do you flee it by listening to the driving rhythm of that godless rock music. You are not naive are you? You understand that music. It pulsates with the pulse of aroused blood. That is its purpose. That’s its words. Its meant to arouse the sexual passions. And it will. To date, and to listen to that stuff, and then to think you can escape sexual sin and temptation is sheer folly. It will simply put you on the roof top. And what will be brought forth is sin.

You think that is a small matter? Look at David, and consider, and be wise.

You people, do you pray? Do you pray over against this sin? Do you understand the seriousness of this sin, and its power? This history of David should make it plain.

Another thing that we learn from this chapter in David’s life is to distinguish between lust and love. They are not at all related.

The world identifies the two. This is one of its great evils. They sing “Love! Love! Love! We are drunk with love!” But what they mean is “Sex! Sex! Sex! and Lust!’’ Their love is completely defiled. And the distinct impression left is that apart from the sexual there is no real love.

Young people, that is a great lie. The truth is that the sexual is reserved for marriage, and for marriage alone. There it is a good gift. There it is an expression of love; not outside of marriage. Outside of marriage all it is is fornication and uncleanness, not love.

The question we ask is, what is love?

Let me put it into simplest terms – love is the power of attraction; it attracts you towards something in the other. Why do you love someone? Because you find something attractive in that other. That’s a vital element of love.

But there is another element in love, (that is, love worthy of the name), and that is, what do you find attractive? What attracts you? This is going to determine what kind of love you are involved in, whether it is true and Christian love, or some perversion of it.

As young men and women, what are you attracted to? What are you looking for? Why do you say you love her? Is it because of her looks? Is that what attracts you? Is it his body? His or her status? Or is it simply their personality? Or athletic ability or popularity? Is that all it is? Can that be true love, love worthy of the name ‘Christian’?

The answer of course can only be a resounding ‘No’! Love, true love, is always coupled together with faith. It has to do with Christ. True love sees what is spiritual, what is godly, and is attracted to it. True love is attracted to the ‘Christ’ in a person.

Now when we say that the spiritual must be involved, we are not saying that there is not something about the total person that attracts us to one more strongly than another. There is of course. Personality is involved. But the point is, if we do not perceive the spiritual, the person does not display godliness, then the person is not for us. If your attraction to someone has nothing to do with spiritual, and you do not even trouble yourself with looking for it, then what you have is not love. What you have may be human affection, or it may even be lust, but it is not love.

Here again we have David’s sin and evil. He certainly was not attracted to Bathsheba because of her spirituality. I am not saying you understand that Bathsheba was unspiritual. But that was not David’s interest. The man did not even know her name! He had to ask his servants who she was. He knew only one thing about her, she was beautiful to look upon. And that’s what he wanted. So he lusted; he took her; he committed adultery with her: and he sent her away.

It was a matter of self-satisfaction, that’s all. It was not love. There was nothing spiritual about it. And sin followed.

Young people, what is it that attracts you? What are you looking for? Godliness, spirituality?

Or again, what are you interested in displaying? What do you want people to be attracted to in you? Godliness? Spirituality? Can it be seen in your clothing, in your speech, in you? As disciples of Christ you are not ashamed of that are you? Young people, remember that it is in the sphere of chastity, modesty, and godliness that love can flourish, not in immorality.

There is more to learn from this chapter in David’s life. A chief lesson is. there is only one way to deal with this sin in its many forms, and that is by confession, not by cover-up! This is exactly why David’s sin grew to such terrible proportions. He decided to deal with sin by cover-up. And he multiplied sin upon sin. He became involved in lying, betrayal, encouraging drunkenness. and at last even murder; anything to hide the evidence. That is how this sin works.

This is not to say that this sin will lead us to murder, (though in this connection abortion is a prevalent sin today and a temptation, and is nothing but murder), but it will lead to further sin. especially cover-up. In the end, unconfessed, this sin becomes a fire that never cries ‘Enough’, and it can all but devour one. There must be confession, and repentance, and abstinence. That is the only way to deal with it.

Cover-up will never work. Oh, it’s true that you may keep it from becoming public knowledge. That is possible. But the point is, you are never going to be able to deal with it in such a way as to be free from it. from its power, its guilt, to put it aside, and to find peace.

This was what David found to his great grief. Rather than confession, he tried cover-up, and he failed miserably. It led eventually to Uriah’s murder, to David’s shame and remorse to the end of his days.

God. of course, prevented any cover-up. He doomed it from the beginning. Bathsheba conceived and became pregnant. Public knowledge was inevitable. The deed could not be hid.

And now here words of warning must be sounded. As you well know fornication and sexual immorality does not end up in pregnancy every time. That can be avoided. But does that change anything?

As you well know’ the world has perfected its means whereby she can engage in this sin of sexual promiscuity and prevent the consequences, namely, unwanted pregnancy. There are such things on the market today as ‘the pill’, and ‘condoms’, and what not.

(And whoever thought I would be talking publicly to youth about such things as ‘condoms’. But these are being advertized publicly. And you are the focal point of the advertising push. So we are forced to speak of them, like it or not. You are well informed as to what is available.)

I simply want to point out that this is the world’s method of dealing with this evil. They want to engage in the sin. and escape the consequences. You understand, such is sheer ungodliness. It’s the Devil’s solution. But it changes nothing. The defilement remains.

If you think this is a way of concealment, you are the more the fool. God is not mocked. To resort to this method can be no more successful in the end than David’s murder of Uriah. There is no cover-up.

Even if David had persuaded Uriah to go home to Bathsheba, so that in the end Uriah thought the child was his, the cover-up would not have been successful. Why not? Because of those final ominous words at the end of chapter 11. “But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.”

That’s the point. The Lord knew. He always does. And the Lord would deal with him. He always does. All things are open to His eyes.

The bottom line, young people, is. sexual immorality is displeasing to the Lord. And in particular not turning from the sin is displeasing. How displeasing is evident from the consequences in David’s life. The child died, and he had endless troubles in his home. The Lord brought home His deep displeasure with impurity.

The Lord shows it today too. That is apparent from the epidemics of sexual diseases prevalent today, the severity of them; AIDS for instance. What are they but the judgment of God! And even if one does not contact the disease in their sin, the displeasure of God certainly remains the same.

And so you understand, beloved young people, there is no cover-up. And we must not resort to cover-up either. Rather we must seek a covering. And the covering we must seek is the blood of Christ. That is the only covering for this sin.

That is the only way to deal with it, confession; confession of sin, repentance, and praying for grace to possess our vessels in holiness. It was only when David did that, acknowledging his guilt, that he found peace, was able to break with the way of sin, and was able to discover the way of true love again.

Let us also briefly state that for this sin there is forgiveness. God forgives this sin too in a wonderful way. Once we have confessed and repented of it, we do not have to go about with a burden of guilt and despair.

Consider how abundantly God forgave David, even of his murder of Uriah. God did not disown him. God went to him with the gospel, exposed the sin, called him to repentance, and assured him ‘The Lord hath also put away thy sin. Thou shalt not die.” This is not the unforgivable sin. We are all guilty in some form or the other. We must not despair of God’s mercy.

Now it is true that there were temporal consequences for David, and rather severe ones at that, death and family troubles. But in that regard notice three things. First, the severity was in accordance with David’s position as king, his high position. The Lord was showing that He was no respecter of persons.

Secondly, there was not only adultery involved, but murder and cover-up as well.

Thirdly, the punishment was a temporal punishment. It was not eternal punishment. Ultimately, it was chastisement, not a curse or condemnation.

The point we must notice is, that to continue in the sin of sexual uncleanness is a dangerous business. There must be repentance before it leads to worse and worse things. If it does, the severity of the consequences will grow accordingly. God’s name and holiness, after all, are involved.

So, young people, have nothing to do with this sin in any of its forms. Recognize its power; leave it as a deadly foe. Your bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Keep them sanctified. Do that for God’s sake, and for your own happiness.

One might ask, do you mean to say that there is no room for courting, for romance? No, there is room for courting and for romance even. But it is to be chaste romance. The two are not incompatible.

There is something altogether wonderful about the blossoming love of youth. Scripture itself takes note of that through Solomon, the son of David and Bathsheba, “There be three things

which are too wonderful, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.” (Prov 30:18. 19) That’s a godly young man with a virtuous young maid. And this latter is more wonderful than the three which preceded it.

Young people, if David were here this evening speaking to you. what do you suppose he would say? How he would urge you to learn from his sin. from his folly, and thus avoid his griefs. How he would urge you not to be weak like himself, but to be strong like that young Uriah, who was the gleam in the gloom. Indeed, may the God of David give you grace to lay these lessons to heart.