It didn’t matter who he was or what he had done. For ancient writers, there was an understanding that nothing bad was ever recorded about the king. That’s why I believe in the Bible most. Not just because it is inspired but because it is true. The true and uncensored story of God’s people, including the sins of Israel’s most beloved King, David.
What is David’s sin?
2 Samuel 11:1-15 In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel with him; they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking about on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported, “This is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” So David sent messengers to get her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she was purifying herself after her period.) Then she returned to her house. The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.” So David sent word to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab and the people fared, and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house, and wash your feet.” Uriah went out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king. But Uriah slept at the entrance of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. When they told David, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “You have just come from a journey. Why did you not go down to your house?” Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah remain in booths; and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field; shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do such a thing.” Then David said to Uriah, “Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day. On the next day, David invited him to eat and drink in his presence and made him drunk; and in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house. In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, so that he may be struck down and die.”
In his abuse of power, David forgot who he was.
David was greedy, wanting to conquer land, women and control.
He didn’t fight in the war he started.
He didn’t protect the most vulnerable, the menstruating and alone Bathsheba, the king’s primary responsibility.
Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, the famous founder of a church in Denver called the House for all sinners and saints, was on book tour in Asheville. After her remarks, she took questions from the congregation. One woman asked, “Do you find the denomination too restrictive, and regularly consider leaving the Evangelical Lutheran Church of American to do your own thing?” Recounting her years of rampant addiction and unbridled hedonism, Nadia answered, “I’ve never considered ministry outside the ecclesial structure because no one needs to be under the authority of a Bishop more than me.”
What is David’s sin?
In the Garden, the serpent said, “you shall not die… you shall be as gods” (Gen. 3:4-5). And he ate the fruit. Adultery, rape, coercion, cover up, deceit, murder. He became his own higher power.
“We all tend to make ourselves the center of the universe,” says Buechner, “pushing away centrifugally from that center everything that seems to impede its freewheeling… Bits and pieces go flying off until only the core is left. Eventually bits and pieces of the core itself go flying off until in the end nothing at all is left.”
Allegedly, Gandhi, the liberator of India, kept young girls around to tempt his celibacy, Martin Luther King Jr., the architect of civil rights, stumbled over his faithfulness to Coretta. Bill Cosby, the father of America, preferred to keep a script of Quaaludes in the bedroom.
This story from 2 Samuel “tells us more than we want to know about David and more than we can bear to understand about ourselves” (unknown author). That we so often try to save ourselves with sex, power and violence; that our heroes are rarely heroic after close examination; that we should be very cautious about the kings we coronate.
But the Bible never ends with sin. He had no rooftop couch for afternoon naps, instead the cold ground of sleepless nights. He had no royal court to do his bidding, instead a crew of betrayers and deserters. He had no military stallion, instead the broken saddle of an ass. He had no throne of gold, instead a crown of thorns.
He is the Lord of love, the prince of peace, the author of salvation, the only king we bow and believe in, Jesus our Christ.