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The Sin of David

Great Sins of the Old Testament

Jul 26, 2020

by: Jack Lash Series: Great Sins of the Old Testament | Category: Sin | Scripture: 2 Samuel 11:1–11:4

I. Introduction
A. The next five sins we’re going to cover in this series, and six of the next seven, are king-sized: the sins of David, Solomon, Rehoboam, Jeroboam, and Hezekiah, all kings. And then, the last sermon will be on Nebuchadnezzar.
B. 2Samuel 11:1-4 In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. 2 It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. 3 And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house.
II. II. 2Samuel 11:1–4
A. 1 In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.
1. It was the time of war – The problem starts with relaxation. David had always faithfully gone out with his soldiers. This time he stayed home. David remains in Zion.
2. It was spring – The winter was over, the flowers had blossomed, springtime had begun and it seemed like a good time to take a break. But David is “at ease in Zion.” (Amos 6:1)
3. This seems to reflect a change in David. His zeal for the Lord’s work has waned, and he’s decided to enjoy some of the benefits of his success.
B. 2 It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful.
1. ”David arose from his couch“ – The stumbling occurred after David’s afternoon nap.
2. His house was the highest place in the city. God has brought him to the heights. And from that high position he saw his neighbor bathing. In a land without high-rises or airplanes or drones, and little rain, bath houses have no roofs.
3. And David’s sin begins when he sees his beautiful neighbor, and instead of turning away out of respect, he stares, he lusts. David was melted by lust for this woman.
4. He didn’t even know who she was! She was not a person to him, just a body.
C. 3 And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?”
1. She was an important woman. She was the wife of Uriah, one of David’s most trusted soldiers.
2. And she was the daughter of Eliam, one of David’s mighty men, which means she was the granddaughter of Ahithophel, David’s trusted counselor... But this doesn’t deter David.
D. 4 So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house.
1. David took her, as if she was the plunder of battle. And then he sent her home: a one-night stand.
2. That’s all she meant to him. She was just a body to enjoy and then discard.
E. This set off a chain reaction of sins, from the arranged murder of Bathsheba’s husband to cover up his sin, to David’s somewhat pathetic inability to give his children the tough love they required.
1. But David repented of his sin and God forgave him.
2. So, in the end, this is a story of grace, though every story of grace is a story of sin.
III. Six years ago I did a five part series on David and Bathsheba, which are all on our website ( So, I’m going to narrow my focus this morning on three things:
A. The sin of David
B. How David, of all people, could have committed this sin
C. Why God allowed David to commit this sin
IV. The sin of David
A. Of course, David’s sin begins with lust. You can’t preach a sermon on this and not talk about lust.
1. What is lust? In the Bible, the word translated lust just means strong desire. Remember in our last sermon, on the sin of Achan, we talked about how Achan desired the treasure of Jericho so much that he risked everything in order to obtain it.
2. Lust is a burning desire that can carry a person away and cause a person to act in irrational and ultimately self-destructive ways.
3. But ordinarily, we use the word lust in a sexual sense, referring to a strong sexual desire for something which is not yours to have.
4. Sexual lust is unique in that it’s the only sinful desire which is actually enjoyable all by itself.
a. You don’t catch kids in the closet looking at pictures in a candy catalogue. The appeal of candy is in the eating of it, not in the looking at it or imagining it.
b. Not so with lust. It was pleasurable for David to look upon his bathing neighbor. I’m thinking he probably watched the whole bath and not just one brief part of it.
5. Of course, lust can lead to sexual immorality, as it did in David’s case. However, lust is a problem even by itself. Jesus talked about how lusting after a woman in your heart was a kind of adultery (Matt.5:28). And obviously, the same is true when a woman lusts after a man. If you’re lusting, you’re already wading in the pool of adultery. And that’s one of the reasons it is so powerful. People usually think of lust as harmless if it doesn’t lead to something worse, but people can be dominated by lust even if it never goes any further than their imagination.
6. But David’s sin went way beyond lust. He didn’t have to fantasize, he could HAVE. Why? Because David had power. If the palace janitor had seen Bathsheba and lusted after her, there’s probably not much he could have done about it, unless he forced himself upon her.
a. But David! David could do whatever he wanted! He was king! He had power! He had authority!
b. People were supposed to obey him. People were afraid to say no to him. And when you have the kind of power David had, it’s very tempting to use it for the wrong purposes (Gal.5:13).
7. When God confronts David about his sin, He does not emphasize the sexual aspect of the sin, even though that’s the thing which got it all started. The focus is on the abuse of power and the murder. The emphasis was on the aspect of the sin which hurt people, the very people David was assigned to protect.
B. (The abuse of power)
1. Now obviously I’m not saying that God doesn’t care about adultery. But we have to see by this story, and by the story God gave Nathan to tell David, how seriously God takes the abuse of authority: where people in positions of power and authority using that position to take advantage of those under them.
2. I think it’s fair to say that the harshest things Jesus said to people were about the abuse of power, about causing His little ones to stumble.
3. Jesus teaches and exemplifies servant leadership, sacrificial leadership. The little ones are His treasures. He takes their welfare very seriously.
4. But David was thinking that HE was the important one in the situation. Everyone treated him as important, and he had begun to believe it.
5. But in God’s eyes the little people – the Bathshebas and the Uriahs – they were the important ones here. They were God’s little lambs.
6. God had raised up good king David and given him kingly powers not because David was so worthy but because God wanted His precious people to have a good king, a good shepherd!
7. But power can easily go to a person’s head. And sadly, that happened to David.
a. When he saw Bathsheba, he used his power not to serve God, not to serve God’s beloved people, but to indulge his own sexual pleasures.
b. And then, in order to cover up his sin, he abused his power even more, even taking a life to do so.
8. So that was David’s sin. And sadly, it was a common sin among those who were kings.
V. How could David do this? David was one of the godliest men who ever lived, a man after God’s own heart. He was the writer of many of the psalms. He was the model, the epitome of godliness. How could he commit adultery, murder, deception, commanding his subjects to contribute to his sin? All the others did this kind of thing, but not David! What went wrong?
A. At first we think maybe we overestimated David. Maybe he didn’t have such a godly heart after all, maybe he just appeared to have a godly heart. But then we remember that this is God’s assessment: He had a heart after God (1Sam.13:14; Acts13:22), and that when God said this it was in the context of God saying that He was the One who could look into people’s hearts, not just look on the outside at what they do.
B. So, how could David do this? How could a man after God’s own heart perform such a demonic series of deeds?
C. In order to answer this, we need to remember that all mankind fell into evil and corruption when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden.
1. Many people think that there are good people and there are bad people. Others think that deep down everyone is good. But the Bible tells us that deep down, everyone is bad.
2. Passages like Romans 3:10–18 give us such an indictment of human sinfulness, not just how bad a human could be, but what is at the heart of every person, that it is clear all of us are capable of doing the most dastardly deeds.
3. Now those who are born again by the power of God have been given a new nature, so there is a side of us which truly loves, and truly wants to do the right thing. This is how there can be godliness and obedience and love. It is not by our human power. It is the result of God’s work through the Spirit.
4. But, our old nature still remains, so there’s a part of us which is just as capable of evil as we ever were, just as capable of evil as the worst non-believer. All of us have a sinful nature which never improves (until we die). This is just the way people are. What David did could have been done by any of us. There’s no person so godly that he isn’t capable of the worst sins.
D. When a person lives righteously, God is doing that, God is giving the necessary help.
1. Left to ourselves, we sin. Always. When we sin, it’s us. When we don’t sin, it’s God. There is no one (except Jesus) who has the inner righteousness to resist a temptation if circumstances are right. And there’s nothing anyone else has done to you which you couldn’t do to someone as well.
2. So, when someone like David commits sins like in this story, we know that this is a story not just about David, it’s about us. This is us. We are David. David is us. When we see David sin, we ought to say, “That’s me!”
a. And if we think we’re above that kind of sin, we need to remember Peter, who was so sure he would never deny Jesus, and had to learn the hard way that he wasn’t who he thought he was.
3. What’s the first thing which comes to your mind when you think of prison? Murderers and rapists? Sort of like David? We have the same vulnerabilities David had. And we could well be in prison right now, but for the protection or intervention of God. It’s not us, it’s Him!
a. Because of this, no believer has a reason to feel safe. Any of us can fall. Any of us could commit a sin so severe as to put us justly on death row.
4. It’s easy for us to criticize David, but we don’t know what it’s like to be in such a position of power. We think that if we had power, we would be different.
a. So, we lust after success instead of fearing the effect it would have on us.
b. We lust after good looks instead of fearing the effects of being good looking.
c. We lust after being highly talented or smart. We lust after being loved and admired and well-thought-of, instead of fearing what these things do to our souls.
d. We should wish for only as much success, etc. as will not cause us to stumble. And we should trust God, who alone knows how much success that is.
e. And when we achieve success, the first place we should go is to the Lord, “Lord, I need your help to keep my eyes on you. I am nothing without You. These earthly blessings are like garbage compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ as my Lord.” (James 1:10a)
5. Looking down at David with indignation is just begging God to show us our sinfulness.
6. God, of course, does give us help when we humbly look to Him.
VI. Why does God allow David to fall?
A. God can do anything He wants! He could have stopped it. He could have arranged for David or Bathsheba to be sick in bed: a stomach bug or a migraine headache could have done the trick. Or He could have made the weather bad that day. A little lightning, or even a little sandstorm would have been sufficient. He could have done many things. So, why didn’t He?
B. And think about all the damage that was done by David’s actions, which God could have prevented.
1. The grief to Uriah’s loved ones
2. The grief to Bathsheba’s loved ones
3. The effect on David’s other wives
4. The havoc wreaked on David’s family
5. The havoc wreaked on Israel.
6. The bad example it sets for Solomon to sin in a similar way
7. The stain on David’s reputation: everything else David does is tainted by this act.
8. The justification it provides for people to excuse themselves for giving in to temptation
C. And yet God allowed it. Why? Why does God allow David to sin?
1. Now we’ve got to be very careful when it comes to talking about God’s sovereignty over sin.
a. We are warned by James 1:13-15 that we are not supposed to think that God causes people to sin.
b. And yet God does have purposes for allowing human sin, for He is sovereign over all things, though we can’t understand the purposes of God completely.
2. We can see enormous blessings which came about on account of David’s sin.
a. To keep us from similar sins – a la 1Cor.10:6-11. David’s story is a powerful warning to us about the danger and destructiveness of lust and the abuse of power.
b. To humble a very privileged man – and privileged people need to be humbled or their privilege will go to their heads. After being privileged with a vision of heaven, Paul needed a thorn in the flesh to keep him from becoming conceited (2Cor.12:7). And, similarly, David needed to fail.
(1) Now God wants to keep us from sin, make no mistake about that. But God’s ultimate purpose is not to keep us from sinning. God’s ultimate purpose is to reveal Himself to us and transform us into people who know Him & walk with Him & love Him with all their hearts.
(2) And sometimes He’s got to allow us to sin to get us where we need to go.
(3) I know this opens up all sorts of dangers whereby we can justify giving in to sin, so we’ve got to be very careful. The last thing we need is more justification to sin.
(4) But, but, for those who have sinned, this is something very important we need to know.
(5) God works in mysterious ways. He is telling a magnificent story through each of our lives.
c. To provide us with a supreme example of repentance. When believers sin, and are in need of repentance, there is no place better to go in the Bible than Psalm 51! David provides us with a marvelous demonstration of repentance there. One man’s sin and repentance provided a template for all the rest of us.
d. To teach us about the amazing forgiveness of God (and provide us with a magnificent reflection on God’s forgiveness in Ps.32). This sin makes us realize how big God’s grace is. This sin makes us realize how powerful the blood of Christ is – that it can cover even this. If it wasn’t for this one sin, God’s people would always wonder if a certain sin was too big to be forgiven. If it wasn’t for this one sin, God’s people would always wonder if it was really possible that some person who committed some despicable act could truly be a believer. But because we have the Bible record of this sin being committed, because we have the Bible record of David returning to the Lord and being forgiven by the Lord, we know that there is no sin too big to be beyond the limits of the grace of God, and there is no sin so big as to prove that a person is not a true Christian.
(1) It shows us that God is bigger than our sin. No matter what we’ve done wrong, it is not beyond God’s grace, it is not beyond God’s forgiveness, it is not beyond the power of the cross.
(2) Think about the worst thing you’ve ever done. Is there something that just keeps bothering you? Is there something in your past you just can’t shake? Satan is the accuser of the brethren; he loves to provoke us to shame. But the fact is, if you have put your trust in Christ and if you have truly repented of something, then God says it is forgiven. As Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished.” That’s what we learn from this story of David.
(3) Now we also learn that there are often earthly consequences of sin which still have to be dealt with. But the guilt of the sin has been removed. Jesus bore that guilt on our behalf. All of it. Forever. That’s why He died on the cross.
e. To remind God’s people that Jesus – and not David – is our messiah.
(1) With the story of David, the flow of the OT takes a sudden turn toward the coming Messiah.
(2) There is no OT figure who is so associated with the promised messiah than King David.
(3) Sometimes Jesus is even referred to as David (e.g. Ezekiel 34:23-24, 37:24; Jer.30:9, Hos.3:5).
(4) Well, this story is here to make it clear that David is not our messiah, that things are really not about David, but about David’s promised Son. Just like our lives are not about us, but Jesus.
(5) Do you see how David’s failure glorifies Jesus, how it makes Jesus look all the more glorious?
(6) It’s actually a blessing to see the tarnish on people. It helps us to realize that they are not our messiah, they are not our savior, our hope is not in them.
(7) It’s actually good when children realize that their parents’ feet are made of clay. It’s actually good when a young couple realizes that they both married sinners. It’s beneficial when a newly-elected leader’s weaknesses begin to show.
(8) We’re so prone to make others our messiah. And the Lord has to show us that He’s our only Messiah.
f. And finally, it is through this union that God gave us Jesus. It was this sin which brought together the two from whom Jesus would come. Bathsheba became queen, and the mother of the rest of the kings of Judah, eventually including Jesus. She is even mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in Matt.1:6. Somehow through the dark devastation of David’s sin, our Savior – and our salvation – emerged.
D. Sometimes God allows things in life to be ruined. Many of us could tell stories of how God has allowed relationships to be ruined, health to be ruined, dreams to be ruined, possessions, important moments, jobs, projects. Think about all the things God has allowed to be ruined through Covid-19.
1. But our God works all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom.8:28). God even uses disasters, catastrophes, heartbreaks – even sins – for good.
E. But God is always bigger than the mess. And He is bigger than the sins of others against us.
1. David’s sin hurt a lot of people. It brought much harm to folks who put their hope in the Lord.
2. But, God used David’s sin for good. What a wise and mighty king He is that He can bring so much good out of so much bad!
3. And that’s true in our lives as well. We may not understand what is so good about the bad things which have happened to us yet, but we do understand that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is a God who makes good out of bad.
4. He is like a master chef who can take disgusting ingredients everyone else would throw right in the trash and create from them a world-class meal. For His people, He would never allow the bad stuff to happen if it wasn’t for all the good He was going to do with it.
5. Think about the worst thing which has ever been done to you. Think about the deepest wound you’ve ever been dealt. God is bigger than that wound. God’s love for you is more powerful.
F. I was thinking about this. I think the deepest wound I’ve ever been dealt is when my mother left my father and married another man when I was 16 years old. Why did God let this happen?
1. I have come to see the good in many of the painful things in my life. In fact, some of the deepest, profoundest moments in my life were when I realized the beauty in the painful things of my life.
2. But I have never seen the good in my parents’ divorce. But I’ve never really tried. So, I decided to seek the Lord’s insight on His good purposes in my parents’ divorce.
a. I have put my father’s wedding ring on my finger to remind me to pray and seek the Lord on this.
3. So far, I have seen a few things.
a. It’s helped me see more vividly the love that will not let me go.
b. It helped me grow closer to my father.
c. It helped my father became much more humble, gentle, open, and eager to be close to me.
d. It made me a better counselor.
e. It made me more compassionate toward children of broken marriages.
f. It solidified the fact that my true family was my brothers and sisters in Christ.
4. But I think there’s a lot more than this. So, I’ll continue to seek.
a. I may never grasp it fully in this life, but I know that one day, the Lord will wipe away my tears and I will see Him more clearly and know Him more dearly because of my parents’ divorce.
G. Some of you won’t yet be able to easily identify a deep wound you carry around with you. Others feel woundedness constantly.
1. But the problem comes when we feel our woundedness more keenly than we feel the comfort of God. In that case, then there’s still another step in the process you must pursue.
a. The fact is that God is bigger than our wound, and experiencing our wound more deeply than we experience God’s comfort means we’re not seeing clearly.
b. No matter how thoughtless or vicious someone was in what they did to us, their hatred or neglect is much smaller than God’s measureless love for us in Christ, their cruelty is small compared to God’s tender mercy.
2. If you have big sins, you need a big cross. And if you have big wounds from other people’s sins, you need a big Jesus. And we have a big cross, and we have a big Jesus. But sometimes we need to pray that the eyes of our hearts would be opened to see how big His cross is for us, and how big His love is for us.