His Mercy Endureth Forever Part One
A well-known entertainer in Hollywood gave his life to the Lord many years ago. But money, fame, and corruption began to do their work; and he slowly slid away from God. As the story goes, his wife finally confronted him and told him, “You had better get right with the Lord because your sin will drag you down; and when it does, you’ll take our whole family with you.” Sin has a way of doing that. It is like a cancer that can destroy the highest and the mightiest, the best and the brightest. And more often than not, its consequences metastasize throughout an entire family. Such was the case with David and Bath-sheba. Theirs is a story of tragedy laced with the triumph that a merciful, loving God so graciously extends to sinners who sincerely repent.
“And it came to pass, after the year was ended, at the time when kings go forth to battle [in spring], that … David tarried still at Jerusalem” (2 Sam. 11:1). Perhaps he could not sleep that evening, because the Bible says, he II arose from his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house” (11:2).
From there, he saw a beautiful woman bathing herself. 11 And David sent messengers, and took her …. And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child” (11:4-5).
Thus the Bible introduces ,1ath-sheba, a quiet, submissive woman whose name has been associated throughout the centuries with David’s vilest sins of adultery and premeditated murder. The sordid episode opened a sad and tragic chapter in the life of an otherwise godly king and destroyed what might have been a peaceful royal family.
Some commentators have painted a morally unflattering picture of Bath-sheba, blaming her, in essence, for David’s infidelity and his desire to seek a liaison with another man’s wife contrary to all that he knew to be right. The fact is, however, Bath-sheba likely was in her house, doing nothing unusual or provocative. According to Charles Ryrie, whose comments appear in The Ryrie Study Bible,
Oriental homes had an enclosed courtyard that was considered part of the house. Bath-sheba, bathing herself by lamplight, was not immodest for she was in her house. However, the interior of the courtyard could be seen from the roof of David’s house, situated as it was on the higher elevation of Mt. Zion.1
The Bible does not even say that Bath-sheba knew why David called for her that night. Yet, as a loyal subject, she had no alternative but to go. Scripture paints her as a quiet, submissive woman who possessed neither the wisdom, astuteness, boldness, or selfassurance of David’s wife Abigail, who is called “a woman of good understanding” (1 Sam. 25:3). More than twenty years earlier, when married to the selfish fool Nabal, Abigail had prevented David from slaying her entire household because of his anger at Nabal (1 Sam. 25:23-35).
Had Bath-sheba been like Abigail, she may have talked David out of what he had in mind. But she was not, and she did as she was told. When she learned later that she was carrying David’s child, she sent word to the king.
In a devious attempt to conceal his sin and deceive Bath-sheba’s husband into thinking the baby was his, David summoned Uriah from the battlefield, expecting him to go home to his wife. But Uriah was a man of integrity. “The ark, and Israel, and Judah abide in tents; and my lord, Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields. Shall I, then, go into mine house … ? I will not do this thing,” he said (11:11).
So David tried again. This time he got Uriah drunk. Still Uriah spent the night in the king’s house, among the servants. Then, in a move of uncharacteristic, cold-blooded cruelty, David wrote a letter to Joab, the commander of his army, and gave it to Uriah to carry back to the front. In the very letter Uriah carried, it was written, “Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die” (11:15). Thus Uriah was killed. David married Bath-sheba, and she bore David’s son. “But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD” (11:27).
So God applied the rod of correction: First, the child would die; second, the sword would never depart from David’s house (12: 10-1 4). Broken in heart and spirit, David profoundly repented, prayed, and fasted for seven days in hopes that God would spare the child. But He did not. The die was cast; the metastasizing had begun.
Within the space of nine months, Bath-sheba had lost a husband and an infant son. Her life was changed forever. For all we know, the infant was her first child. The Bible does not mention any children she bore to Uriah. Neither does Scripture attribute blame to her. God blamed David, and it was David He punished. But Bath-sheba, no doubt, suffered as greatly as he.
Earlier in his life, David had written, “Put thou my tears into thy bottle. Are they not in thy book?” (Ps. 56:8). Scripture attributes no words to Bath-sheba regarding the tragedies she suffered; but her tears most assuredly flowed freely into God’s bottle.
- Charles Ryrie, The Ryrie Study Bible, New King James Version, Moody Press, Chicago, 1985, p. 481 n. 11:2.