It Didn't Have to Happen
It would have been the scandal of the century!
Had it happened in our day and age, the Daily Tribune would have hit
the newsstand with bold, black headlines six inches wide that read:
KING STEALS ANOTHER MAN'S WIFE
It would have been the scandal of the century,
Jehovah's fair-haired boy...this man after God's
own heart has just proved himself to be less than a spiritual superman. Off
came the cloak with the big red "S"...And the bright red shoes that
had catapulted him from a phone booth in Bethlehem to the palace have just
turned to feet of clay.
King David has just broken the heart of his God.
But it didn't have to happen!
It wasn't just the natural thing that comes
with success. If you read the daily newspapers today, you will be led to
believe that greatness and success carry with them the price tag of immorality.
You will be led to believe that you cannot be wealthy or powerful or successful
and be holy at the same time.
That's a lie! It didn't have to happen!
But it did!
And this lesson, by far the darkest chapter in King
David's life stands as a grim reminder to each of us that though the road to
greatness passes by a million valleys where lurk temptations 'ere not
known...alas, our God has granted to each of us, as we travel by those valleys,
what He has chosen to call a way of escape.
Our job is to recognize those dangers for what they
are, and be alert to and take advantage of the way of escape God has granted
us...before it is too late.
God's account of David's great mistake is very
clearly recorded in II Samuel, chapter 11. If you will turn there you will
witness the decline and fall of a national hero; the same national hero who
only a few years before, led by God's Spirit, had taken aim and slain a giant.
His God knew just where the giant was vulnerable, and David was in the will of
Now he was not. And God's enemy knew just exactly
the area of David's life that was vulnerable. Now it was Satan's turn to be the
giant slayer, and were it not for the amazing grace of God, he would have
succeeded. Satan knew David's weakness.
He knows mine. And he knows yours. He knows the
time and place we are most likely to forget about the way of escape, and in
our own energy try to stand against the Goliaths of the flesh. He also
knows that clothed in anything but the armor of God, we will not be able to
So before we start throwing stones at David, we'd
best examine our own lives in the light of the process that subtly took God's
great king into the caves of despair.
Let's begin reading in II Samuel, chapter 11.
1 And it came to pass, after the war was expired,
at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his
servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon,
and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.
2 And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David
arose from off his bed, and walked up on the roof of the king's house; and from
the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to
3 And David sent and inquired after the woman. And
one said, "Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah
4 And David sent messengers and took her; and she
came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her
uncleanness; and she returned unto her house.
5 And the woman conceived, and sent and told David,
and said, "I am with child."
It is one of the most devastating five verses in
Scripture. Here is a man after God's own heart; one whom God has raised up to a
position of leadership and power; one to whom God has made an
everlasting covenant, that of his kingdom there shall be no end. Here is a man
who has everything, who deliberately, by an act of his will, chooses to disobey
the will of God, and the word of God, and the way of God.
But it didn't have to happen! David allowed a pattern of things to go unchecked
in his life that led up to this moment. At any one of dozens of points, he
could have chosen to take the way of escape. He simply either didn't think it
could happen to him, or he came to believe that as a spiritual leader, he was
immune to certain of God's laws; but at any rate, little by little, he set
himself up to fall. And fall he did.
Now we are not here to hammer David. Anyone of us
here could fall as David fell. In one area of our lives or another, most of us
have. The question is not "How hard can we be on David"; the question
is "Where did David go wrong?" and "How can we keep from making
the same mistake?"
Before we pursue the story itself and the
progression of events that led up to David's fall, let's look at two or three
essential principles that will help keep the whole story in perspective.
DANGER AT HEADQUARTERS HILL
First of all, consider the setting. It was danger
time at headquarters hill. David, the fugitive, had become David, the ruler.
David, the warrior, had become David, the man of leisure. The David who had to
hide in caves and beg for food was now basking in the lap of luxury. The famine
had turned to feasts; the poverty to power; the humiliation replaced by honor.
David, the has-been, is now David, the hero. David, the King's enemy, had
become the King. Everything was going his way.
He had money, prestige, power, and respect. He was
by anyone's assessment sitting on top of the world. That is a very dangerous
place to be. It is not a bad place to be, but it is a dangerous place to be.
When David was on the run, being persecuted, his life in danger, he had no hope
and no help apart from God. He had no time to let his guard down, no chance to
be slothful or indifferent. His every move placed his life in jeopardy. Now he
had tasted the cup of success.
And Satan not only knows the vulnerability that
accompanies that success, he is ever willing to exploit it to its fullest. So
principle number one is this (and we will explore it further later in the
lesson) beware when there is no visible warfare in your life. It is not
a time to relax in your spiritual struggle. It is a time to intensify your time
in the word, to deepen your time in prayer, a time to never be without the whole
armor of God. It is a time when pride creeps in; when indifference develops;
when temptations of all sorts subtly surround you, waiting to catch you off
guard. Do not consider the lull in the battle a sign the battle is over.
Consider it rather a time to send for reinforcements; lest the next onslaught
of the enemy catch you unawares. Satan, you'll remember, used Job's time of
peace, prosperity, and power as a signal that it was time to throw the book at
him. He accused him of only loving the Lord because everything was going well.
He well may have been accusing David now of the same thing.
PRAISE GOD, HE'S NOT FINISHED YET
The second principle to keep in mind was that
Praise God, He wasn't finished with David yet. This isn't the end of David's
life; it isn't even the end of David's reign. It simply marks a time when
David, by choice, entered a deep valley where the power of God no longer
energized his life. God knew, as He did with Job, that the other side of that
valley there would be a humbler David; a more mature David, a wiser David, a
more sensitive David. He never would have chosen to do it this way, but He
wasn't finished with His man yet.
And that is an important principle for all of us to
consider. You may well have made the same mistake that David made. You may well
have made a different kind of mistake, something less visible, but no less
devastating. You may have found yourself in the throes of humiliation and
grief, crying "God how can you ever use me again?" For a time the
heavens may seem to be silent. That is a part of the process of repentance.
Read the Psalms of David. Listen to the grief that poured from his heart as his
fellowship with God seemed at times to be irretrievable. Then watch as, at the
very depths of his grief, when it seemed God would not listen, heaven opened
again, sunlight flooded his tear-stained cheeks, love overwhelmed his grieving
heart, and he was restored in the eyes of his God. God isn't finished with you.
You may have sunk to the depths of degradation. Everyone may know. No one may
know. God knows. And He is but waiting to not only restore you, but to lift you
to heights you have not known. God wasn't finished with David yet. And God is
not finished with you...no matter what you have done...if you have or if you will
TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES
Principle number 3 to remember is that David didn't
obey the truth, so he had to pay the consequences. Part of his problem in the
next few verses stems from the fact that Satan had subtly sold him the lie that
it is possible to sin and not get caught. Satan tries to tell us that some
people can violate God's laws and never get a ticket; that some can flagrantly
disobey and never have to answer for their behavior. That is not true. That
Scripture clearly states that "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he
also reap." You may not see it, but God is not mocked. While God
wasn't finished with David yet, and David had a lifetime of ministering yet
before him, the sins he was committing could not go without their consequences.
That may be where you are today. You may still be
sinning and enjoying it. You may have assumed that because you have seen no
visible signs of discipline that God either hasn't seen what you are doing,
or He is so enamored with the rest of your life, He has chosen to overlook
Be not deceived; God is not mocked. Whatsoever you
sow, you must reap. Separation from God's power and certain inevitable
consequences await you unless you repent; and certain fruits of your rebellion
follow you even after you repent. You either live by the truth or pay
the consequences. David has to pay a high price for his sins; and because he
had been elevated by God to a position of authority in the kingdom, the
consequences would be even greater.
If you are living in rebellion to God's plan for
your life, either through immorality or disobedience to His principles in your
marriage, your job, your finances, your disciplines of life...be not deceived.
God is not mocked. You may avoid the eye of man, but you cannot avoid the
eye of God and God will not nullify His eternal laws for you or me or David
or anyone else.
EVEN THIS, LORD?
The fourth principle to consider is that after
David repented, God took and used even the results of his disobedience
to change his perspective of his God. David's Psalms before his great sins
spoke of God's righteousness in defending the King from his enemies. They spoke
of David's confidence in God, of why God owed David success; of how God's
prospering David was a sign of God's approval of David.
Ah, but after his fall, David's pen and ink were
mixed with the catalyst of tears, and now a heart that was broken because it
had broken the heart of its God spoke softly of God's mercy, quietly of God's
grace; lovingly of God's forgiveness. Mark it down. It was not God's will for
David to commit adultery or murder. God forbid. But once it happened, and once
David repented, God took David's very own mistakes and turned them into
heavenly sandpaper to smooth off the edges of self-centeredness that had formed
in the heart of this successful man.
God will use everything in your life to
change your life, if you'll let Him. You say "Even this, Lord?" and
God answers tenderly, as He did to David, "Yes, my child, even this."
So remember as you work your way through this
1- The absence of warfare and the presence of
success are not times to relax, but to regroup. The battle is only
2- No matter what you have done, God isn't
finished with you yet. He isn't finished changing you, and He isn't
finished using you. If you will repent, God will graciously restore.
3- Even so, there will be consequences attached
to any form of sin. And while some may seem to be slow acting and not
visible, the cancer of that rebellion is eating its way into the fiber of your
soul, and it will leave its mark. Even once you've repented, though God
will instantly forgive you, the consequences may well go on, even for
the rest of your life.
4- But even this, provided you will allow it,
God will use for your good. Romans 8:28 will always be there. And once you
bow before your God in repentance, though the consequences may remain, the
transformation will begin. And you will never see your God in the same light
again. David didn't. Job didn't. You won't either.
So now let's journey through the passage and look
at it in the light of the process, the problem, the poison, the progression,
and the provision, keeping in mind one central thought‑IT DIDN'T HAVE TO
IT DIDN'T HAVE TO HAPPEN!
By the process, we mean the progression of
decisions that David made, both consciously and unconsciously, that led up to
the moment of his sin and on to the ultimate consequences. That process we will
find in II Samuel, chapter 11. By the problem, we mean the unfolding of the
three-fold attack of Satan described so perfectly in I John 2:15,16. By the
Poison, we mean the deliberate lies that Satan whispered in David's ear
inviting him, as he did Eve to ignore the absolutes God had clearly placed
before him, assuming the consequences were not laws of God. By the Progression,
we mean the pattern given to us in James 1:13-16, that describes what it was
that was actually taking place in David's heart. Lastly, by the Provision, we
mean the specific "way of escape" that God has promised to give to us
in I Corinthians 10:13. Next week, Lord willing, I will give you an overview of
how all of those principles fit together into one. But for the most part,
today, we will concern ourselves with the process. For it is in the
process, that we can best see the checkpoints that David ignored, and that we
may be ignoring, as we ever so subtly are allowing ourselves to slide into the
abyss of compromise.
Step one in David's downfall is found in verse one.
There we read,
And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at
the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants
with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and
besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.
It was spring, and after a period of forced
retirement from the battlefields, the thaw in the weather and the increased
availability of food inevitably meant a thaw in the peace process as well. It
was time for the Israelites to return to their battle posts. So we read in
verse one that at the time when KINGS go forth to battle David sent his
men into the fray. Kings led; David sent. There was problem number one.
Apparently David the man of war had become David the man of leisure. And so at
the time when Kings go forth to battle, David sent Joab, his servants, and the
entire Israeli army into the conflict with the Ammonites. Everyone that is,
except the King himself.
As one writer comments, "David was at home in
Jerusalem. He found himself with time on his hands and soon got involved in
moral problems. Beware of having lots of free time available and no
constructive plan as to how to use it." Ezekiel 16:49 paints this picture of
Behold this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom,
fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters.
Idleness. We live in a world that encourages
idleness. A world that teaches that it is only natural to flinch at the hard
work or a consistent call to battle; a world that teaches that the wise man is
the man who finds a way to rest while others work. But an idle mind is
the devil's workshop. The mind in neutral is Satan's invitation to slip it in
reverse. It's easy as you reach a level of success in your business or in your
ministry to feel you have earned the right to a measure of slothfulness;
that you are now above the mundane day to day grind. Not so. David was tasting
of the cup of idleness. When he should have been leading the troops into
battle, he remained back at the palace, where leisure and luxury inevitably
lead to lust.
The problem was according to I John 2, we are to
Love not the world, neither the things that are in
The problem was
No man that warreth entangleth himself in the
affairs of this life that he might please Him who hath called him to be a
That was the problem.
The poison was Satan's lie... "Take thine
ease; eat, drink, and be merry. You've earned a rest from the conflict."
But our loving God always provides a way of escape. And had David taken the way
of escape at this point, the rest of chapter 11 need never have been penned.
His way of escape at this point was clearly recorded in Luke 12. There we read
about two kinds of servants. One who becomes slothful and lazy, taking his
ease, not knowing when the master is coming; the other one stays in a spirit of
preparation and never assumes the battle is for someone else to fight. Jesus
35 Let your loins be girded about, and your lights
42 Who is that faithful and wise steward whom his
lord shall make ruler over his household? Blessed is that servant, whom his
lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he
will make him ruler over all that he hath.
Now I realize there is danger in generalizing. But
you check your daily lifestyle and be sure to remember that somewhere in
between that pressure cooker that allows no time to be alone or to be alone
with God and that life of leisure that allows far too much time to look, to
linger, and to lust, there lies the balance of stewardship of time. Be careful,
that once you have reached the pinnacle of what the world calls success, you do
not compromise the principle of diligence and eat the bread of idleness. David
did, and it cost him dearly.
Step number two down the road to defeat: David
looked. He arose from what was apparently an afternoon nap and went up on the
roof of his house to survey the city. Suddenly, something caught his eye. It
was the kind of story Hollywood loves. There across the way was one of the most
beautiful women David had ever seen, and she was taking a bath. Now there is no
use questioning whether or not Bathsheba was being immodest. Certainly she
could have been more careful. But the burden of responsibility here rests
solely with David. He looked. Not a quick glance, followed by
embarrassment, and a deliberate choice not to take that second look that could
invite disaster. He looked. He looked with an eye to lust. We know that
from the verse that follows. David trained his eye on that which he knew
was potentially deadly and he looked long enough that the seed of lust had time
to germinate. The problem is again clearly defined in I John 2:
Love not the world, for all that is in the world,
including the lust of the eye.
What does John say about it? It is not of the
Father. David looked. Satan's poisonous lies were at work in David's life.
"It never hurts to look!" he'll say. What harm can a movie do? What's
wrong with a few bad scenes? What damage can be done by looking? Answer: the
same damage that comes from lighting only one match to a kerosene soaked pile
of papers. That's all it takes in many hearts to light the fire of lust, and
once it has begun to burn, nothing in this world can extinguish it. That my
friend, is why Satan has so labored to convince this world that pornography is
a relative term. That you can't define it. God will define it for you.
It is anything that excites the lower nature through the deliberate exposure of
the senses to that which is sensual.
David lingered, and David looked, and David liked
what he saw. But once again, David had a way of escape. It is found in Matthew,
chapters 5 and 6. In Matthew 6:22, Jesus tells us
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore
thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
In Matthew 5:28, He clarifies that principle as it
applies to this issue. He says this:
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time,
Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a
woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee; for it
is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy
whole body should be cast into hell.
In a nutshell, what that passage says is that God
has given every one who has ever lived a way of escape from the lust of the
eye. It is this: Look the other way. He is saying take any measure,
no matter how extreme, to avoid allowing the eye to make contact with that
which is almost certain to lead to defilement of the mind. He uses the
seemingly absurd illustration that if necessary, pluck out your eye, rather
than intentionally expose it to contamination. Jesus adds that it is because
the eye is the lens, through which light enters the body. If you allow the eye
to fall victim to lust, the light is filtered through a haze of evil, and the
mind never experiences the sunlight of holiness. Jesus says, better off blind
and pure than to have 20/20 vision focused on that which leads to immorality.
Having looked and having lingered, David lusted. He
turned on the projector in his imagination and pictured himself and Bathsheba
together. He knew virtually nothing about her. Upon inquiring, he learned that
she was Eliam's daughter and the wife of one of his most trusted warriors. All
he knew was that he liked what he saw, and he wanted what he saw. He allowed
his mind to think about what he saw long enough to weaken him until he took the
action of a fool. He deliberately chose to commit adultery. You say, why did
God let that happen? Why did God allow her to be bathing just when he would be
looking? Didn't God understand David had a weakness for women? Let me remind
you, it wasn't God's fault. James 1 reminds us of that. It says this:
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of
God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man. But
every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
There is truth about temptation. God is not the
culprit. Satan is not the culprit, though he conspires again and again to bring
things across your path to make you fall. Every man is tempted...there are no
exceptions...when he falls captive to his own lusts. When he refuses God's way
of escape and chooses instead to linger, to look, and to lust.
In verse four there follows the inevitable
consequences of looking, lusting, and lingering. David sent and inquired
after the woman. You say, "But that will never happen to me. I'll
never go that far." I would imagine nearly every man or woman who has
fallen prey to adultery has thought that thought at some time or another in the
process. It is a lie of Satan.
God continued to place obstacles in his path, but
by now God's word was not even a consideration. One of his servants said to
him, "Isn't this Bathsheba, Eliam's daughter, Uriah's wife?" David
was already found out to be taking another man's wife. Still he "sent
messengers and took her." Oh, the foolishness of a heart that has
succumbed to the cancer of lust. It no longer listens to logic. He should have
known better. James goes on to tell us "When lust hath conceived, it
brings forth sin." David knew that. But he once again deliberately
ignored his way of escape. He had lingered. He had looked. He had lusted. There
was still time to flee this mire of quicksand before it was too late. God's way
of escape is found in Proverbs 6:27-29. There we read:
Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his
clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being
scorched? So is he who sleeps with another man's wife.
David should have stopped and considered the
consequences. Satan was selling him the lie that "What difference does it
make? No one will ever know." God was whispering the truth from Proverbs
Why embrace another man's wife; for a man's ways
are in full view of the Lord, and He examines all his paths.
In the next lesson, we will follow the final four
steps down the road to destruction that David took. If you will, please read
the rest of chapter 11, and try to find the process, the problem, the poison,
the progression and the provision, as they unfold in each of those steps.
But for today, I would have us go back now and
focus on our central thought. It is this: It didn't have to happen. At
every turn, God had given David a way of escape. I Corinthians 10:13 remind us:
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is
common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above
that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that
ye may be able to bear it. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee...
That follows perhaps the sternest warning in all of
the New Testament. The verse before it reads:
Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth take
heed lest he fall.
No one is immune. But the key issue is this: God
has, in every case, given His children a way of escape. David lingered,
but he had a way of escape. He could have recognized the danger of idleness,
and the perils of slothfulness, and joined the troops on the front lines where
he belonged. He had a way of escape. He chose to remain behind in the
lap of luxury, just asking for trouble.
Then David looked. But again, he had a way of
escape. He knew the light of the body was the eye. He could have, upon seeing
Bathsheba, immediately turned away and turned his thoughts toward God, letting
the Word cleanse his mind before the seeds had settled there. He had a way of
escape. He chose to look and look again.
Then David lusted. He let his imagination run wild.
He thought thoughts in the caverns of his mind he would have never have wanted
projected on the screen of the palace. He pretended that no one would know but
him. But the principle of Romans 2:16 was already clearly defined to him. It
speaks of the day...
When God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus
Christ according to the Gospel.
He had a way of escape. He could have pulled the
plug on the projector of his mind and cried out to God to be cleansed. He chose
And finally, David took. Having been drawn away by
his own lusts and enticed, he allowed lust to conceive and bring forth sin. It
didn't have to happen. God had given him a way of escape. He was reminded
by his men of what he was doing. He was reminded surely by his conscience of
what he was doing. He had a way of escape. He could have stopped and considered
the consequences...the broken hearts of his followers; the broken heart of
Uriah; the broken heart of his God; the inevitable reaping that would take
place; the loss of power, the loss of his prestige, the loss of his respect.
All the things that had brought him to this place, he was about to barter away
for a few moments of pleasure with someone he did not even know. God gave him a
way of escape. He chose to take a woman who was not his, even though the
law demanded that those who do so be put to death.
THE TWO-FOLD CONCLUSION
1 - Sin Is a Progressive Disease
The issue here is two-fold. Number 1, sin is a
process. It is a progressive pattern where each compromise leads to a greater
compromise. The only safe thing to do is to develop safeguards that cut it off
at the pass. Had David not lingered, there would have been nothing to see. Had
David not looked, there would have been no lure to lust. Had David not lusted,
there would have been no temptation to take what was not his, and risk losing
everything that was. Sin is a progressive disease, and the real cure is to stop
the process before it reaches the runaway stage. Once you have injected your
bloodstream with the germs, to ask God to heal you is presumption. Why
deliberately drink from a contaminated cup and then pray that the disease will
not touch you? If you know a cup is contaminated, you stop before you pick it
2 - There Is A Way of Escape
The second issue is just as clear. There is no
temptation taken you but such is common to man. We all walk in David's shoes.
We all live in danger of David's sin. Yours may not be the lust of the eye. It
may be the lust of the flesh or the boastful pride of life. It may be
disobedience in other areas of your life. The key is not what your
problem is; the key is knowing that whatever it is God has given you a
way of escape. And whatever it takes, do it. It may be counseling. It
may mean linking up with a prayer partner to whom you can go when the battle is
intense. It may involve fasting or days alone with God until the temptation is
Forget your pride. Forget your reputation. Forget
your self-confidence that cries out, "It'll never happen to me." The
moment you see the progressive consequences of sin beginning in your life, be
it anger or bitterness or greed or lust...regardless of what it is, stop
immediately and cry out to God, and then do anything it takes to flee
from the very appearance of evil. If your problem is drinking, then do whatever
it takes. If your problem is a temper out of control, do whatever it takes.
Take the way of escape, because after the disease of sin begins to run its
course, stopping it involves major surgery, and often times our eyes are too
blinded by then even to see that we're dying.
David was a man after God's own heart, but he had a
weakness. He didn't treat it as though it were as serious as it was. He let it
slide. He believed it could never happen to him. Again and again, God gave him
a way of escape. But he deliberately chose, in seemingly rapid-fire order, to
ignore his escape route, and run headlong into the hands of the enemy instead.
But it didn't have to happen.
To David; to you; or to me...
God gave to him, and he has given to us...
A way of escape...
By His grace, may we take it.
Our God has provided a way of escape
A door through which we can flee
Lest any sin upon entering in
Could take and destroy you or me
Our God knows the depth of our weakness
He knows the deceit of our hearts
So He's given us each a way of escape
To halt the disease 'ere it starts
All He's asked us to do is to take it
To make that deliberate choice
And turning, to flee from the presence of sin
As we heed every word of his voice
We need not look back as David did
And wonder oh, where did I err?
For had David stopped, he, too would have known
That the way of escape was there
For though God has made the provision;
The decision's still ours; we must make it...
Yes, God has provided this way of escape
But the choice still is ours; we must take it
Whatever your battle; whatever the cost
Don't succumb to the enemy's tool
Run as fast as you can; take the way of escape
Or else, just admit...you're a fool!