David was a great man. Yet, at the peak of his career, he succumbed to sin and initiated a series of stunning moral failures. This man, who had followed God for years, fell in a big way.
The story of David’s fall provides a valuable lesson for every believer today. Consider these excerpts from 2 Samuel 11:1-27:
2 Samuel 11:1: In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army … But David remained in Jerusalem.
David’s first mistake was to neglect his responsibilities. If David had done his job and gone off to war, which was his responsibility as Israel’s leader, he would not have been left idle in Jerusalem. David shirked his duties, and then opened the door a series of other costly mistakes.
The following verses reveal the quick progression of David’s fall with Bathsheba. Note how David saw her, then sent someone to find her, and then he slept with her.
2 Samuel 11:2-5: From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba … the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her … The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”
There is no mention of any moral hesitation or resistance on David’s part. When David saw Bathsheba he should have stopped right there–at the first moment of temptation–but he didn’t. David’s fall continued and this is how sin works. After sinning with Bathsheba things got worse because David attempted a cover-up.
David summoned Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, from the battlefield and sent him home in hopes that he, Uriah, would sleep with Bathsheba. Then, David could claim Bathsheba became pregnant by Uriah. But, David’s cover-up failed.
2 Samuel 11:10-11: When David was told, “Uriah did not go home,” he asked him, “Haven’t you just come from a distance? Why didn’t you go home?” Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my master Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”
Uriah did not go to his home to Bathsheba and explained why to David. Uriah’s explanation contrasts his goodness with David’s wickedness. God was rebuking David through Uriah’s honorable words, but David didn’t receive it.
2 Samuel 11:14-17 reveal the low point in David’s fall: In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. In it he wrote, “Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die … Uriah the Hittite died.”
David’s sin had run its course–Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, was dead. David sacrificed the honorable Uriah to protect himself–David literally sacrificed the innocent to protect the guilty.
Remember this lesson from David’s fall: To protect yourself and others, stop at the first moment of temptation before things get out of hand. Obedience to God is never a mistake.