Today’s readings bring us the sad and disturbing account of David’s adultery with Bathsheba. When he asked, he was told plainly, “Is this not Bathsheba … the wife of Uriah?” (2 Samuel 11:3). On an effort to cover up his adultery he uses his authority to arrange the death of Uriah. How could David have been so blind to commit such dreadful sins – a murder to cover up the first. Let’s weigh up the situation.
When someone has power and is answerable to no one else, there is the potential to misuse that power. The only human being to succeed in overcoming all forms of temptation was Jesus – and his temptations revolved around the misuse of his special powers. David had achieved all that was humanly possible, except that God did not permit him to fulfil his dream of building a magnificent temple. David had a very committed and energetic mind; he set about assembling much of the material that would be needed to build the temple.
Note now there is a strange lull in his activity at the time of his sin. Our reading indicates that when winter is over it is customary for “kings to go out to battle” (verse 1), this would be to reassert their control over their dominions, yet this time David “remained in Jerusalem” and “sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel” (verse 1).
There is an important lesson here; there can never be a time when we can take life easy or relax when there is work to be done in service to our Lord. The Lord has given His servants different talents, abilities and opportunities and when we shirk using those we have, perhaps feeling, “my Lord delays his coming”, we start to give opportunity for distractions and attractions to lodge in our minds, and we start to drift off course. In Matthew the servant said, “My Master is delayed … and eats and drinks with the drunkards” (24:48,49). That servant ends up “in that place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (verse 51).
Mercifully the Lord “put away” David’s sin because he had already proved himself an exceptional servant; nevertheless he suffered the consequences for the rest of his life, his authority was undermined, especially with Joab, and he lost confidence in himself. The lesson for us is plain, it is never time to ‘take time off’ when there is work for the Lord to be done.