DAVID AND BATHSHEBA
Proverbs 15:3, ESV
The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.
2 SAMUEL 11:1-5, NIrV
1 It was spring. It was the time when kings go off to war. So David sent Joab out with the king’s special troops and the whole army of Israel. They destroyed the Ammonites. They marched to the city of Rabbah. They surrounded it and got ready to attack it. But David remained in Jerusalem.
2 One evening David got up from his bed. He walked around on the roof of his palace. From the roof he saw a woman taking a bath. She was very beautiful. 3 David sent a messenger to find out who she was. The messenger returned and said, “She is Bathsheba. She’s the daughter of Eliam. She’s the wife of Uriah. He’s a Hittite.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him. And he slept with her. Then she went back home. All of that took place after she had already made herself “clean” from her monthly period. 5 Later, Bathsheba found out she was pregnant. She sent a message to David. She said, “I’m pregnant.”
Kings have the power to do whatever they want. But just because you can do anything doesn't mean you should! While walking on the roof of his home, David saw a beautiful woman and thought, "I want her for my own." So he ordered his servants to bring Bathsheba to him, though she already had a husband of her own. By taking another man’s wife, David was breaking God's seventh commandment: do not commit adultery. The king thought no one knew about his secret sin. But Bathsheba became pregnant. When her baby belly grew, all Israel would know the evil thing David had done.
+ Why was it wrong for David to do what he did?
+ Who do you think already knew about David’s secret sin?
2 SAMUEL 11:14-17, NIrV
14 The next morning David wrote a letter to Joab. He sent it along with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front. That’s where the fighting is the heaviest. Then pull your men back from him. When you do, the Ammonites will strike him down and kill him.”
16 So Joab attacked the city. He put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest enemy fighters were. 17 The troops came out of the city. They fought against Joab. Some of the men in David’s army were killed. Uriah, the Hittite, also died.
Bathsheba became pregnant while her soldier-husband, Uriah, was away at war. This was a huge problem; soon, everyone would learn of David's secret! To hide his first sin, David sinned a second time! He sent orders to Joab, Uriah's battle commander: "Put Uriah where the fighting is the most deadly. Then leave him all by himself." Why would David give such a strange order to Joab? Because he wanted Uriah to die in the battle! And if Uriah died, it would help hide what he had done with Bathsheba. To help hide his secret sin of adultery, David was willing to order another sin – murder!
+ Who carried the letter of David's secret plan to Joab the commander? (vs. 14)
+ Why did David want Uriah to die in battle?
2 SAMUEL 11:22-27, NIrV
22 The messenger started out for Jerusalem. When he arrived there, he told David everything Joab had sent him to say. 23 The messenger said to David, “The men in the city were more powerful than we were. They came out to fight against us in the open. But we drove them back to the entrance of the city gate. 24 Then those who were armed with bows shot arrows at us from the wall. Some of your special troops were killed. Your servant Uriah, the Hittite, is also dead.”
25 David told the messenger, “Tell Joab, ‘Don’t get upset over what happened. Swords kill one person as well as another. So keep on attacking the city. Destroy it.’ Tell that to Joab. It will cheer him up.”
26 Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead. She mourned over him. 27 When her time of sadness was over, David had her brought to his house. She became his wife. And she had a son by him. But the Lord wasn’t pleased with what David had done.
When the messenger told David about Uriah's death, it was good news to David’s ears. He had successfully hidden his secret sin of adultery! But David’s good news was terrible news for Bathsheba. Her husband was dead! David waited seven days for Bathsheba to mourn for Uriah. Then, he took her home to be his wife. "Now," David thought, "all my worries are over! No one will know what I've done!" But there was someone David had forgotten about during all of his secret sins and schemes. God had seen all that the king of Israel had done and he was not happy about it one bit!
+ How did Bathsheba feel about Uriah's death? (vs. 26)
+ How could God possibly know about David's secret sin?
2 SAMUEL 12:1-9, NIRV
1 The Lord sent the prophet Nathan to David. When Nathan came to him, he said, “Two men lived in the same town. One was rich. The other was poor. 2 The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle. 3 But all the poor man had was one little female lamb. He had bought it. He raised it. It grew up with him and his children. It shared his food. It drank from his cup. It even slept in his arms. It was just like a daughter to him.
4 “One day a traveler came to the rich man. The rich man wanted to prepare a meal for him. But he didn’t want to kill one of his own sheep or cattle. Instead, he took the little female lamb that belonged to the poor man. Then the rich man cooked it for the traveler who had come to him.”
5 David was very angry with the rich man. He said to Nathan, “The man who did this must die! And that’s just as sure as the Lord is alive. 6 The man must pay back four times as much as that lamb was worth. How could he do such a thing? And he wasn’t even sorry he had done it.”
7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! The Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘I anointed you king over Israel. I saved you from Saul. 8 I gave you everything that belonged to your master Saul. I even put his wives into your arms. I made you king over all the people of Israel and Judah. And if all of that had not been enough for you, I would have given you even more. 9 Why did you turn your back on what I told you to do? You did what is evil in my sight. You made sure that Uriah, the Hittite, would be killed in battle. You took his wife to be your own. You let the men of Ammon kill him with their swords.
Nathan the prophet had a dangerous mission: to tell David that God knew about his secret sin. When Nathan spilled his secret, the king might have him killed! So Nathan broke the news to David using a story. He told the tale of a rich man who stole a poor man's beloved lamb. When David heard it, he shouted, "That's so unfair! This man deserves to die!" Nathan let David know, “You are that man!” Now, David had not simply stolen someone’s sheep. He’d done something much, much worse. David, the rich king of Israel, had stolen poor Uriah’s wife! If anyone was deserving of death, it was David!
+ How do you think Nathan the prophet knew about David's secret sin?
+ How was David like the rich man in Nathan’s story?
2 SAMUEL 12:13-15, NIRV
13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You aren’t going to die. 14 But you have dared to show great disrespect for the Lord. So the son who has been born to you will die.”
15 Nathan went home. Then the Lord made David’s child very sick. That was the child David had by Uriah’s wife.
As David tried his very best to hide his sin, it drove him to do his very worst! He had ordered one of his best soldiers to be killed in battle on purpose. David may have successfully kept his sin a secret from his people. But after speaking with Nathan the prophet, David learned it was impossible to keep sin a secret from God. So David stopped trying to hide. He confessed and told the truth about his sins. There was good news for David: God had forgiven his sins and he would not lose his kingdom. But there was sad news, too. Because of David's sin, Bathsheba's baby boy would not live.
+ Who did David say he had sinned against? (vs. 13)
+ What was the consequence of David's sins? (vs. 14)
PSALM 51:1-10, NIRV
1 God, have mercy on me
according to your faithful love.
Because your love is so tender and kind,
wipe out my lawless acts.
2 Wash away all the evil things I’ve done.
Make me pure from my sin.
3 I know the lawless acts I’ve committed.
I can’t forget my sin.
4 You are the one I’ve really sinned against.
I’ve done what is evil in your sight.
So you are right when you sentence me.
You are fair when you judge me.
5 I know I’ve been a sinner ever since I was born.
I’ve been a sinner ever since my mother became pregnant with me.
6 I know that you wanted faithfulness even when I was in my mother’s body.
You taught me wisdom in that secret place.
7 Sprinkle me with hyssop, then I will be clean.
Wash me, then I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear you say, “Your sins are forgiven.”
That will bring me joy and gladness.
Let the body you have broken be glad.
9 Take away all my sins.
Wipe away all the evil things I’ve done.
10 God, create a pure heart in me.
Give me a new spirit that is faithful to you.
David was quite the talented musician. He not only played the harp beautifully for King Saul, he also wrote at least 76 of the songs in the book of Psalms, the songbook of the Bible. The verses we looked at today come from one of David’s songs. It’s a song that David sang straight to God.
As you glanced at the beginning of Psalm 51 in your Bible, you might have noticed something. It says David wrote this song after the prophet Nathan came to him. And after reading the words of Psalm 51, that should make sense. It's clearly a song about someone who felt very sorry for their sin. But it’s also a song that can help any sinner, including you and me, confess (or tell the truth about) our sins to God.
David started off his song by asking God for mercy. Mercy is when you show kindness to someone even though they don't deserve it. By singing, "Have mercy on me, God," David is teaching us to say, "God, please show your love and kindness to me even though I’ve done terrible things.”
As David’s song continued, he asked God to wash away his sins. When we disobey God's commands, sin dirties and stains our hearts. After David confessed, Nathan the prophet said God had taken away his sins and forgiven him. And if we confess our sins to God, he promises to do the same for us, too!
In Psalm 51, David helps us understand something important about all sin. Now, David had sinned against Bathsheba by taking her away from her husband. And he had sinned against Uriah when he gave the order to let him die on the battlefield. But as much as he had hurt those two people, there was someone much greater that he had disobeyed. The one David had sinned against the most was God! That’s why he wrote, "Against you (God) only have I sinned." David was done pretending that he could hide what he had done from God.
Unlike his many-times-great grandfather David, Jesus never had to confess his sins. Why? Because he never sinned, not even once! Jesus is actually why God forgives sinners like David (and you and me)! Instead of punishing each of us when we sin, Jesus was punished in our place. On the cross, Jesus paid the price of death that our sin deserved. And because Jesus was already punished for our sins, we can confidently confess our sins. We can be sure that God will forgive us and show us mercy. Instead of the forever death we deserve, God will give us the gift of forever life in his good kingdom!
+ What does it mean to ask God for mercy?
+ How did Jesus make it possible for our sins to be forgiven?