There is little space given in the Bible to recounting the virtues and wonderful qualities of even the very best men who have ever lived. This silence is not without a purpose and the reason is that all the good qualities men possess are the gift of God. Their good deeds are performed by the grace of God through Christ, and since we owe to God whatever glory or whatever we have or do, we are just instruments in His hand to do His work. In addition to this, it is a perilous thing to praise or exalt men. The reason for this is that if one comes to lose sight of his entire dependence upon God and begins to trust in his own strength, he is absolutely sure of falling.
We need God’s strength because we are contending with foes that are stronger than we are. The Bible says in Ephesians 6:12, 13, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
The Bible is very clear that before this world was created, a leading angel in heaven called Lucifer, rebelled against the government of God and persuaded one third of the angels to follow him in his rebellion. “War broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Revelation 12:7–9. Satan personated a serpent when he spoke to Eve, deceiving her and causing the fall of Adam and Eve and all of their subsequent descendants.
Notice what the Bible says about this in Romans 5:12: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men.” So, death came upon all the descendants of Adam and Eve because of the sin of one person. It is impossible for any of us in our own strength to maintain the conflict. And whatever diverts our minds from God, whatever leads us to self-exaltation or to self-dependence, is assuredly preparing the way for our overthrow. The entire tenor of Bible instruction is to inculcate distrust in human power and to encourage trust in divine power.
It was when David had been flattered, when he had been successful, winning many wars and victories, when he had become one of the most prominent kings on the face of the earth, that he fell. It was the spirit of self-confidence and self-exaltation that caused his fall. The whole story of what happened is recorded in the Bible in 11 Samuel 11. Some people have asked why God records in the Bible the awful things that good men have done. These records are to show man’s weakness and his liability to fall, making the most dreadful mistakes. In fact, the greater man’s position of power and authority, the bigger the sin it is possible to commit.
In II Samuel 11:2–5 it says, “It happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, ‘Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’ Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house. And the woman conceived; so she sent and told David, and said, ‘I am with child.’ ” Now, David was in trouble.
It is interesting that the work of the great tempter of mankind does not begin in an abrupt or crude fashion. The temptations are not, at the onset, sudden or startling but a secret undermining of the strongholds of principle. This undermining begins when a person is apparently unfaithful in small things like controlling his or her thoughts. It begins in a neglect to be true to God and to rely upon Him completely. It begins with a disposition to follow the customs and practices of the world.
Previous to this, David, while being hunted by King Saul, had been protected by the Lord from unnumbered snares and traps. But now, he was trapped on his own. He had become guilty; he was unrepentant; he did not ask help from the Lord, and he did not ask guidance from heaven. He was now desperate to extricate himself from the dangers in which he found himself.
Uriah the Hittite, Bathsheba’s husband, was one of David’s officers in the army. He was one of his most faithful solders, and nobody could foresee the problems that would be the result if this crime should become known. The law of God pronounced then and now that the adulterer is guilty of the death sentence. Had Uriah, the proud-spirited soldier who had been so shamefully wronged known, he could decide to avenge himself by killing the king or by exciting the whole nation to revolt. David made every possible effort to conceal his guilt even having Uriah called home so that he could be with his wife. But Uriah was a faithful soldier and refused to seek any pleasure with his wife while his soldiers were still in battle.
David had betrayed himself into the power of Satan and now danger surrounded him and dishonor, more bitter than death, was before him. This is not the first or last time something like this has happened. Perhaps you know of someone who has committed suicide in order to avoid the shame which they were afraid would come upon them because of an illicit connection. David was now desperate and there appeared to be no way to escape so, hurried on by the tempter, he added one more sin to the one he had already committed. Murder was added to his adultery.
The same tempter who had compassed the destruction of Saul was now attempting to lead David to ruin. And Uriah the Hittite was made the bearer of his own death warrant. David wrote a letter, sealed it and gave it to Uriah the Hittite to give to Joab, the head general. The letter told Joab to put Uriah in the front of the battle where he knew that there were valiant men, then retreat from him so that he would be killed.
Joab should not have obeyed such an order. The Bible is very explicit about these things. We are to obey human law. We are to obey kings and governments. Christians are never to be disobedient or disrespectful to the government. The apostle Paul had this to say: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.” Romans 13:1, 2. Peter brings forth the same principle in I Peter 2:13, 14: “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.”
The Christian is to be subservient to the government and not to rebel against its authority. But there is one time when the Bible teaches that a person is to exercise civil disobedience and not obey the laws of man. This one exception is found in Acts 5:29. We are told what the apostle Peter said when they were commanded that they were not to preach anymore about Jesus. Peter and the other apostles said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). If the laws of men tell us, or require us, to break the law of God, then we cannot obey those laws. We must keep the higher law. But as long as we do not have to disobey the higher law of God, we are to keep the lower laws of men, the lower laws of government.
Joab had already violated his conscience, which had been stained and seared by more than one unjust murder and as a result he listened to the words of David. Uriah the Hittite was killed. It was interesting how the report of Uriah’s death was worded when sent back to David. Joab said in 11 Samuel 11:20, 21, “If it happens that the king’s wrath arises, and he says to you: ‘Why did you approach so near to the city when you fought? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? Who struck Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Was it not a woman who cast a piece of a millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you go near the wall?’—then you shall say, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.’ ” The message was worded so that it looked like an accident. Nobody could blame either Joab or the king for what had been done. They were in a war and it looked like an accident that Uriah the Hittite had been killed. But of course, like so many other things in this world, what looked like an accident wasn’t an accident at all. It was a premeditated murder, a murder ordered by the king.
The Bible says that there is nothing that is hidden from the Lord. Notice what it says in Hebrews 4:12, 13: “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
God knows everything. God knew exactly what happened. He knew what David intended, what Joab had done and why it was that Uriah had died. The Bible says that what David had done was displeasing to the Lord. That’s what we need to think about in our daily life. Is what you are doing or the way you are living, pleasing or displeasing to the Lord? Have you ever thought about the fact that the things people think are covered up and that nobody will ever find out? The Bible says, in Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.”
Nothing can be hid from God. Everything will be revealed. Jesus said, in Matthew 10:26, “Do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.”
Many people excuse their sins by saying, “Well, look what David did.” However, they have usually forgotten to read and find out the consequences of what he did. The consequences brought terrible trouble over David, not only for the rest of his life, but also over the nation of Israel that has lasted from that time on and has never ceased. How could this be? Remember, Jesus said, “There is nothing covered that won’t be revealed.” Everything is going to be brought into judgment. This time the judgment didn’t wait until the end. Judgment was going to come to David within about a year.
David had fallen so far that he could murder one of his most faithful and most valiant soldiers, then take his wife, and hope to enjoy undisturbed the reward of his sin. From the beginning, Satan has portrayed to men the gains to be won by transgression. In this same way he seduced angels. Thus he tempted Adam and Eve to sin and in this way he is leading multitudes today away from obedience to God. The path of transgression is made to appear desirable and better than following in the way of God’s commandments. But the Bible says that “the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 14:12.
As time passed on, David’s sin toward Bathsheba became known and suspicion was excited that maybe he planned the death of Uriah the Hittite. Well, of course, God knew everything that had happened. The Bible says, in II Samuel 11:27, that what David had done was displeasing to the Lord. And so the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to give a stern message to the king.
Ordinarily, especially in those days, it would be impossible for anyone to give a message like this to a king without incurring the death sentence himself. But Nathan faithfully gave the message, clothing it in a parable so the king would end up passing sentence upon himself. Here is the way it went; beginning at II Samuel 12:1–12 it says: “Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: ‘There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.’
“So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, ‘As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.’ Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man!’ Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon.’
“ ‘Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.’ ”
When David heard this message, he said, “I have sinned.” Verse 13. Some people wonder why it is that David was forgiven when he committed a worse crime even than had Saul, yet Saul was not forgiven. The difference is, David repented, and confessed his sin whereas Saul did not. Notice what David said after this in Psalm 51:1–7, 11, 12: “Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight. … Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. … Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.”
David was afraid he had committed the unpardonable sin. He was afraid he could be struck down in judgment, in an unsaved condition, and he repented and pleaded for forgiveness.
Ellen White says, “I present before you the fifty-first psalm, a psalm filled with precious lessons. From it we may learn what course to follow if we have departed from the Lord. To the king of Israel, exalted and honored, the Lord sent a message of reproof by His prophet. David confessed his sin and humbled his heart, declaring God to be just in all His dealings [Psalm 51:1–17 quoted].” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1147.
Chief Guilt Is Sin Against God
“Sin is sin, whether committed by one sitting on a throne, or by one in the humbler walks of life. The day is coming when all who have committed sin will make confession, even though it is too late for them to receive pardon. God waits long for the sinner to repent. He manifests a wonderful forbearance. But He must at last call the transgressor of His law to account.” Ibid.
How is it with you? The Bible says we have all sinned. It is not a question of whether you have sinned or not. We have all sinned. The question is, what are you doing about it? David repented and he confessed his sin. You can read in Psalm 51, the entire chapter, giving the story of his confession. Now David was not excused from earthly punishment. Even though he was forgiven and will be in heaven, he had to suffer the consequence of his sin in this world. There are always consequences with sin. None of us are promised that we can escape those consequences. Sometimes we don’t perceive clearly what they are, but there are always consequences. Here were just some of the consequences that happened to David:
First of all, by transgression his relationship to God changed. God could no longer exercise His power to protect David from the results of the sin that he had done as He had protected him previously from the enmity of Saul. So, events were going to take their natural cause. Not only that, but there was a great change in David himself. He was broken in spirit by the consciousness of his sin. He felt humbled in the eyes of his subjects. His influence was weakened. His subjects and his sons were led to think of sin in an even lighter manner, and to commit sin. His authority over his own household was lessened. His claim to reverence and obedience by his children was weakened. His sense of guilt kept him silent when he should have condemned sin and made him feeble to execute justice. His evil example exerted an influence that was demoralizing to the whole nation and the terrible consequences went on and on. However, he himself, because of his repentance and his confession, was forgiven. This is the Bible promise to people who have fallen in sin, and who would like to be delivered from the guilt and power of sin. The Bible says, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:7.
All have sinned, but the question is, have you repented? Have you confessed your sins? Have you decided to forsake sins and follow the Lord that you might be forgiven?
(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.