By Raymond Harris
Regarding Scripture: II Samuel 11.1-5
Note to the Reader – I encourage you to invest additional time reading the Books of Samuel in conjunction with this article.
When We Least Expect It
The following seems to be a fairly safe statement to make: most of us are not looking for trouble. Yet, it seems that I am not alone in the dilemma of being one who is not looking for trouble when it grabs me. Just name your most memorable experience of being caught doing wrong. Was it when you were a little pressed for money, and “loose change” just happened to be around? Was it when you could use a tax break and “worked the numbers”? If you told someone you would be home or at a meeting at a certain time and things “just happened” and you could not arrive on time?
Motive Means Everything
While the previous do happen, I still think it is fair to claim that most people are not actively looking for trouble; they just find themselves in it. But finding one’s self in trouble is not necessarily the biggest concern; it also includes the methods one uses in order to escape their troubles. But the latter is not a part of the discussion for this article. The question is: can we help ourselves from finding trouble “when we least expect it”?
The Hebrew writer tells us that Jehovah cannot tell a lie1 and the book of James informs us that our God does not have variableness;2 He is consistent and consistently good in His gifts.3 Knowing these descriptions of our Father’s character, then Samuel’s describing David “as a man after [God’s] own heart”4 means a tremendous amount. Since our Father is good, gracious and steady, these characteristics must have had some place in King David’s life.
The Unexpected Happens
Accepting the previous, it should not be difficult for one to recognize that David must have demonstrated a good life and part of that good life must have been lived as one who does not actively look for problems (temptation and ultimately sin). Yet, we know that David’s life contains multiple examples of good intentions gone wrong. Consider II Samuel 11.1-5 (CJB):
In the spring, at the time when kings go out to war, David sent out [Joab], his servants who were with him and all Isra’el. They ravaged the people of [Ammon] and laid siege to Rabbah. But David stayed in [Jerusalem].
Once, after his afternoon nap, David got up from his bed and went strolling on the roof of the king’s palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing, who was very beautiful. David made inquiries about the woman and was told that she was [Bathsheba] the daughter of Eliam, the wife of [Uriah the Hittite].
David sent messengers to get her, and she came to him, and he went to bed with her (for she had been purified from her uncleanness). Then she returned to her house. The woman conceived; and she sent a message to David, “I am pregnant.”
Many thoughts have been given as to why David was “at the wrong place at the wrong time”. Some refer to the first verse, and rightly so, regarding the time of war. But I still wonder why David was where he was? Why was he there? Was his timing coincidental and thereby making it “by accident” that David saw Bathsheba? From my studies, the scriptures do not seem to answer these questions, so I am forced to speculate. But a Near-Eastern commentary5 regarding Matthew 5.28 seems to add some significant social details. Consider this information:
Men and women seldom meet socially. A woman’s body is a mystery to Near Eastern men. It is on this account that men will try to see a woman secretly. “Looking at a woman” [referring to Matthew 5.28] does not mean to look at her face but to make an attempt to see her body.
Houses in the Near East are built close to each other. Only walls separate them. Women usually bathe in the house or courtyard so there is little chance for privacy. Often when women bathe, men hide themselves on the housetops and other places so that they might see them bathing.
While this information provides insight to David’s situation, one would be unwise to presume that David went to his roof top simply to lust after women who were bathing. Yet, the fact remains, David found Bathsheba, fell for her beauty, desired her, copulated with and impregnated her. I am going to presume that David was not looking for trouble, he just found it.
Finding one’s self in a difficult situation is something that almost everyone experiences. David’s moment with Bathsheba was one of those situations. Could he have prevented his problem? Maybe. Maybe not. Paul encourages Timothy to flee youthful lusts6 and we are told of Joseph fleeing when he was experiencing unwanted and unwarranted sexual advances from Potiphar’s wife.7 But the reality is that while the disciple may aspire to be like Joseph, more times than we care to admit we find ourselves like David. First of all, this does not make us a failure, it just makes us human. The question is: will we repent like David when confronted with the truth?
Things happen “when we least expect it”. Our adversary truly seeks us in our weak moments, when we have let down our defenses, when we think it is safe. This is the opportunity he seeks in order to ensnare us. We need to be on guard defending our purity. We need to do the best we can to make sure our eyes do not become distracted by the “scenery” and our actions remain set apart for Jehovah’s use. May the Lord bless each of us as we seek to do His will.
1. “Jehovah cannot lie.” Hebrews 6.18.
2. “God does not have variableness.” James 1.17.
3. “Good gifts.” James 1.17.
4. “God’s own heart.” I Samuel 13.14.
5. Aramaic Light on the Gospel of Matthew: A Commentary on the Teachings of Jesus from the Aramaic and Unchanged Near Eastern Customs. Rocco A. Errico, George M. Lamsa. p.75 ISBN-13 978-0-9631292-6-0
6. “flee youthful lusts.” II Timothy 2.22.
7. “Joseph fleeing.” Genesis 39.7-12.