I once preached about David and Bathsheba on a dare. It was during the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal. The dare was that I had to preach about the President’s problem at the 11 o’clock worship service where there would be families with young children. The parishioner that challenged me knew that I was the lone democrat in a congregation of republican wolves. I chose the Bathsheba story then, and I think it is worth considering again.
The context of David’s scandal is set with the phrase, “In the spring, when Kings go off to war…” The story, as well as today’s application, begins with the understanding that there are certain things that people in power do. People in authority often feel themselves to be above the rules. This, and not David’s lust for Bathsheba, is the heart of the story.
It is very hard to be a peace maker. One has to respect all people and have a heart for justice. David had this mindset as a youth, but the further he shifted away from the shepherd’s worldview, the more he became corrupted by political expediency. 2nd Samuel 11, is the story of a fallen man. Even if he had never had sex with Bathsheba, he would still be a despicable anti-hero. His sin was to sit in his palace and do what everyone else in his position was doing.
We know that in the next chapter, David finds forgiveness and grace. It is not cheap or easy. An honest man and an innocent child die. When we tell David’s story, we must linger over the way a shift in perspective can either save or damn us. How we see the world is important. The story adds credence to the claim of Liberation Theology (and the current Pope) that the gospel cannot be understood, without seeing the world as the poor and the powerless see it.
Every person, no matter what their role in life, needs to be aware of the temptation that power offers us. David was led astray, not by his view of a woman bathing, but by his advisors that told him to be a king like other kings. What do our coworkers and friends tell us? How have we fallen into the comfortable, accepted wisdom of those who think that some people are more valuable than others?