The following Spring, the time of year when kings go to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to destroy the Ammonites. In the process they laid siege to the city of Rabbah. But David stayed behind in Jerusalem. Late one afternoon David got out of bed after taking a nap and went for a stroll on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. - 2 Samuel 11:1-2
A temptation is an opportunity to go wrong. It is also a chance to do right. A temptation is a potential seduction, but handled correctly it results in an actual strengthening. This can be seen clearly when we compare similar incidents in the lives of Joseph and David. Both of these men were presented with adulterous opportunities. Both knew that adultery was wrong. Joseph accordingly resisted the temptress’s advances and, at great cost to himself, preserved his integrity. David, on the other hand, not only succumbed but caught himself in a spiral of selfish decisions that sucked him into ever-deepening culpability.
David’s fall was not sudden. Apparently, he had been undisciplined for some time. He was not leading his men into battle but was staying home and letting them fight his battles for him. And it does seem odd that he was getting out of bed in the evening. Whatever had happened to the dashing young warrior, the devoted servant of the Lord, the man after God’s own heart? Had he grown careless? Had he become fat and feckless in his advancing middle age?
Perhaps he did not know that Bathsheba would be bathing in full view—and her motivations may well have been impure—so he could not be held responsible for seeing her. But he certainly was responsible for gazing, lusting, sending for her, and engaging in adulterous sex with her. At any point he could—and should—have said no. But the erosion of principle and discipline had already taken place, and the moral failure concluded in disaster.
We can all learn from mistakes, but learning from the mistakes of others is less painful than living with the consequences of our own. David’s fall tells us that failure to reverse spiritual erosion leads to undermining moral principle. Then, when we are subjected to the stress of temptation, failure and collapse quickly result. Strong men know how to stand firm, but even the strongest man becomes a weakling if he ignores basic prudent precautions and begins to play with temptation on the assumption that he can break off at any time.
Moths love candlelight. They are attracted to its seductive glow and flirt with its warm embrace. Closer and closer they are lured until their wings are singed and they crash and burn. Learn the lesson from David or, if you prefer, behold the disaster of the moth. Be prepared to stand against temptation or you, too, may crash and burn.
For Further Study: 2 Samuel 11:1-27
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