The man who had all he wanted (2 Samuel 12:7-8), decided he wanted something he couldn’t have. This says something profound about the deceitful nature of both sin and the human heart (Hebrews 3:13; Jeremiah 17:9). After all, David was no spiritual slacker. He fought giants and composed psalms. He survived being pursued by King Saul and his 3,ooo troops—his conscience not allowing him or any of his men to take Saul’s life when they twice had the opportunity. This was a man who had the grace to remember his promise to Jonathan and sought out his son, Mephibosheth, in order to bless him. He was a spiritual warrior. He was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22).
And, he was a sinner.
The writer shows the blackness of David’s sin by juxtaposing it with Uriah’s integrity. David called Uriah home from the fighting and sent him home to be with Bathsheba so it would look to all the world like he fathered the child that was already on the way. But Uriah was too noble to sleep with his wife while his fellow soldiers were deprived of such blessings (11:11). Even inebriated, his self-control was more than anything David had displayed (11:12-13). Finally, David had him put on the front line where he would be killed in battle. He wrote this in a letter to Joab and sent it through Uriah. Uriah’s integrity was such that David never doubted that the letter would get there unopened. He used Uriah’s trustworthiness as a weapon to bring about his death. That’s cold!
It wouldn’t escape the readers of Samuel’s history (and it shouldn’t escape ours), that this noble man was not a Jew, but a Hittite. This outsider was betrayed by the king of the Jewish (covenant) people. Furthermore, Uriah was one of David’s mighty men, as was Eliam, Bathsheba’s father (2 Samuel 23:34,39). So David betrayed the nation he was supposed to lead and two of the men who had served him so closely and so well.
How could he go from the sensitive singer to a hardened murderer?
The answer is simple: one small step at a time.
David didn’t wake up one morning and decide he would kill Uriah and take his wife. The idea would have been repulsive to him as it was to all right-thinking people. No, it seemed to have started with a failure to be where he was supposed to be, doing what he was supposed to be doing (12:1). Then it took another step when David looked at Bathsheba and, rather than exercising self-control, desired to have her sexually. He then sent someone to find out who she was in order to get one step closer to fulfilling his sexual desires (he didn’t identify her so he could buy her some curtains!). Finally, he sends someone to go get her and his lust is consummated and she goes back home.
If he thought it was over then and everything would return to normal, he was quite wrong (Man is always through with sin long before it is through with him).From this point on, things changed dramatically. It was no longer about David seeking to fulfill his lust, it’s all about the king doing damage control. What a little self-control would have prevented on the front end, nothing, not even a murder, can cover-up on the back end. You can’t sow to the flesh and then hope for a bad harvest.
David’s punishment was severe—the son born to he and Bathsheba died. Moreover, the sword he used against Uriah did not depart from his family and their sad history (Tamar, Amnom, Absalom, Adonijah), testified to the fulfillment of this curse.
When Paul wrote to a group of worldly believers (1 Corinthians 3:1ff), he reminded them that the examples of Israel’s crimes and punishments were written down as warnings for us (10:11ff). While he wasn’t speaking specifically of David, his case would have fit.