We’ve all heard the story of David and Bathsheba. David is standing on top of his palace and looks out to see Bathsheba bathing on her rooftop. Wait. Her rooftop? Where did we get that? I had always heard she was on her rooftop bathing promiscuously in clear view from David’s palace. Go back and read 2 Samuel 11:2-4 again.
2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home.
Where is David? The roof. Where is Bathsheba? It doesn’t say exactly where. What exactly is Bathsheba doing? Look at the parenthesis. She isn’t just simply enjoying a bath…in a premeditated place to gain David’s attention. In observance with Jewish law, she was bathing in what is called a mikveh for her monthly purification (you can learn more about the mikveh here). Bathsheba was doing what was required for purity while David was impure in his lust for her.
Some have said that Bathsheba was in the wrong because she should not have consented but we need to remember who David is and what position he held. David has abused his position as king. Bathsheba mourns for her husband when she learns of his death (11:26). Confronted by Nathan with a story, David is forced to examine himself in the mirror and face his sins. This is David’s lowest point. In what is by far his darkest moment, David pours out his heart to God. You can read his prayer in Psalm 51.
There are so many lessons that come out of this story. David holds a special position and therefore his actions come with greater consequences. This is why leaders in the church are held to a higher standard and judgements come more harshly when sexual scandals arise. With David’s sin came a severe punishment. There is something about David in this story that cannot be ignored though. How does David respond to sin? Does he give excuses like Saul? Does he place blame on Bathsheba? Does he rationalize his actions? No! He exposed his heart to God and asked for renewal. He confessed his sin before God and sought purity. When the consequences of his sins ended with the death of his son, he went to the house of the LORD and worshipped.
David, while flawed, continually sets an example of how one should respond to life’s situations. Even though Saul and Absalom both tried to kill David and he responds to each of their deaths with lament and mourning. It is difficult for many of us to separate ourselves from our selfish desires and lament the loss of life when the time comes. David was the greatest king Israel ever had, but one who is greater would come from his line (2 Samuel 7).
Next Sunday is celebrated as “Palm Sunday” in much of Christendom. Jesus comes to Jerusalem on a donkey and is celebrated as the king returning to his kingdom (Mt. 21:1-11). David, the one anointed by God, points to the Messiah, the Christ, THE Anointed one of God. The next week, April 16, we will celebrate Easter together. We will take time to step away from The Story readings to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior who sits on the throne forever!