Up to this point in the narrative, David has been presented as mostly heroic. The young shepherd defeated a giant, bringing victory for God’s people. Then he was chased by a jealous king whose life he spared more than once. When David became king, he led God’s people to victories over their enemies. And most recently, David showed kindness to Mephibosheth.
But in this chapter, we see David not just stumble but make a series of choices to sin against God, and in doing so, he not only brought dishonor to God but also harmed himself and others. It all began with David taking a seemingly harmless stroll in the evening. Commentators debate whether verse 1 implies that David should have been off to war with his troops or not. He had not been to other battles before this (2 Sam. 10:7), and perhaps he was waiting for the preliminary part of the battle to be concluded before joining his men. Either way, his walk on the rooftop appeared to have been innocent—at first. While on the roof, he noticed a woman, Bathsheba, bathing. In this moment, he made the first of a series of choices that led him deeper and deeper into sin.
David’s initial mistake was that he didn’t turn away from temptation but entertained it instead (v. 3). Then he made it possible to act on his temptation by calling for Bathsheba to be brought to him (v. 4). Finally, at least in this initial part of David’s sin, he gave in to temptation and slept with her (v. 4). In this account, we see the truth of what James would later write in James 1:14-15. David was enticed by his evil desire, allowed it to conceive, and it gave birth to sin and, as we will see later, death.
Many of us see David as a hero of Goliath proportions, which is why this account is so important. We need to remember that every person in Scripture—save Jesus—was a sinner in need of salvation. Even David, the giant slayer. And thanks to God’s kindness, mercy, and grace, that salvation has been provided for people in Christ Jesus.
The best place to break the chain of temptation is early on. What steps can you take to stifle it in its infancy?