Updated: Oct 2, 2020
We all know the story of David and Bathsheba, the King who had an affair with another man's wife. I'm glad the Bible reveals the worst about its heroes. It serves as an appropriate warning that none of us are immune to temptation and sin. I won't rehearse the story here; you can read it for yourself in 2 Samuel 11.
Permit me to share some thoughts about how we can keep from duplicating David and Bathsheba's errors. 1. Think. Most sin can be avoided by just thinking instead of feeling. Play it forward. Be honest. Once we begin lying to ourselves, all other lying becomes easier.
2. Remember. Why did we start following Jesus in the first place? My guess is that we wanted our sins to be forgiven, then live a life of growth, self-control, and integrity. Sometimes its best to look back before we move ahead.
3. Understand the value of a good reputation, as well as how quickly it can be lost. It only takes five minutes to lose a reputation you’ve worked 30 years to establish. Don’t even go there. By Middle Eastern standards of royalty, David’s affair was a small thing, but it got into the pages of the Bible and has been retold for thousands of years.
4. Flee. That’s the least followed, best advice in the Bible. (1 Corinthians 6:18). It’s usually easier to avoid temptation than it is to resist sin. Luther famously said, “If your head is made of butter, stay away from a fire.”
5. Have a higher purpose than self-indulgence. We’re not here to suck air, draw a paycheck and indulge carnal desires. We’re here to love God and people and prepare ourselves and others for Heaven. A man with a mission will not be easily diverted. The Puritans called it living under “the expulsive power of a higher affection.”
6. Let God help. The Bible says, "With every temptation He makes a way of escape.“ (1 Corinthians 10:13). The problem is that, in the midst of the temptation, we don’t stop and say, “Okay God, show me the way of escape.” If you ask, He'll deliver. So ask.
7. Walk with the Spirit. Paul said, “Be filled with the Spirit and you will NOT fulfill the desires of the flesh." (Gal. 5:16). I take that to mean what it says. Jesus called the Holy Spirit our “helper,” but we must be intentional about letting Him help every day. Ask Him.
8. Stop living the "hidden" life. Once you start covering things up, you’ve embarked on a new, full-time job. It will eventually bring you down.
We can’t leave this story and assert that David never smiled again. Eventually he repented, and in some ways his repentance is as famous as his adultery (See Psalm 51). Fortunately he found his way back to God and died “as a man after God’s own heart.” But there were still consequences; there always are.
The good news is this: God WANTS to redeem our story, despite our foolishness. David and Bathsheba went on to have a son named Solomon. Solomon had a son named Rehoboam. Rehoboam had a son named Abijah. Abijah had a son named Asa and so it goes all the way down to Joseph, the husband of Mary, and her son changed human history. Somehow, some way, God redeems it all. And aren't we glad!