Tuesday, May 18, 2010

10 thoughts on sexual sin from 2 Samuel 11-12

1. Idleness and boredom can lead to trouble.

2. Lust can be particular. David had many women with whom he could have legitimately had sex. He wanted Bathsheba.

3. David's sin in 2 Samuel 11 mirrors Eve's sin in the garden.  Both saw the fruit/woman, considered it/her delightful, took it/her, and then ate/had sex. In both cases, God confronts the sinner with their sin and the consequences.  The difference in 2 Samuel is that David repents.  Adam and Eve blame each other.

4. One sin leads to many more.

5. A friend who will unquestioningly help you cover you tracks is a bad friend to have.

6. We all have our weaknesses.  David had two: the habit of using women for his own purposes (cf. Michal in 2 Sam 3) and the inability to bring about justice in his own home and among his friends. These two weaknesses caused major issues.

7. It is interesting that what God speaks to David about is not his sexual ethics but his mercilessness. In the previous 2 chapters, David has been commended for showing the love and compassion (hesed) of God.  God was gracious to him, and he responded in graciousness to others.  It is his un-hesed like behaviour towards Uriah that he is rebuked for in chapter 12.  I am not wanting to trivialise sexual sin (it is not trivial), but it is not the act of having unwed sex that David is punished for.  It is his mercilessness to Uriah (in taking his one wife and having him killed) and lack of gratitude to God for all his blessings.

8. From #7, I wonder if rather than getting all worked up over the sin of lust, we would do better to combat it by working to have the love and compassion of God influence all areas of our lives.  Something like.... "You struggle with lust? Yeah, me too, but I'm not going to act on it because God has showed so much love to me and in response I'm going to show love to x,y, and z. Entertaining lustful thoughts won't help me do that."

9. If life is boring cause you've stayed home when you should have gone off to war (or work), you should busy yourself with thoughts of how you can be merciful to others.  This is what David did in chapters 9 and 10 and it kept him out of trouble. (Kind of.)

10.  God is gracious.  From the beginning, David deserved nothing from God.  God gave him so much and would have given him more if he had asked.  After the Bathsheba/Uriah incident, David deserved nothing but judgement.  (How many commandments did he break in chapter 11?)  But God forgave him as soon as he began to repent!  Bathsheba (who we have to assume is complicit in the whole sordid affair) was given another child - Solomon - who is particularly loved by God, incredibly gifted, and part of the family line of Jesus.  What other God would do that?


  1. That's cool Simone and very spot on. Except maybe the boredom bit. I'm not sure that a king would have time to be bored. It's just as easy to sin when you're incredibly busy.

  2. My only quibble is with point 3. Specifically, Eve blamed the serpent but admits that she was not forced - The serpent deceived me; I ate.

    However, Adam blamed Eve but, more strikingly, blamed God - The woman You put here, gave it to me; I ate. Meanwhile he neglects to admit that he was effectively right by her elbow - the woman gave it to her husband who was with her - and could have said something to Eve when the serpent was beguiling her.

    To me, the fact that Adam blamed God is possibly why the Fall is attributed to Adam, not Eve, in the rest of Scripture. That, and his proximity to Eve without saying, "Hey, stop!" gives the impression that he was secretly wanting to find out whether God was telling the truth but was happy to let Eve be the "wine-taster" whereupon, when he sees that Eve eats and doesn't immediately drop dead, he gives it a go.

  3. Many helpful observations.

    Re: 7 and 8.

    Isn't the sin that he's chastised for primarily taking what's not his? Saw something good he liked, decided he wasn't going to be satisfied with all the good things God HAD given him, so took what wasn't his and God had given to someone else.

    Seems to be the point of the lamb story.

    This could have implications for 8.

    Sure, there'll be more feminist complications reading it this way, but it seems to me the way it's presented.

  4. yeah. you're right. there are quite a lot of references to 'take' - even 'god has taken away your sin.' Wonder if it's the same word there?

  5. Just had a look and they're different words. It looks like it's the 'to pass over' word when God puts away David's sin, not the take word.

  6. @Jon: You don't think that the passage implies that David had significant leisure time?

    At home at the palace when he should have been 'at work' leading the army, he got up out of bed 'in the cool of the afternoon' for a stroll on the roof of the palace. Sounds pretty cruisy...

    I'd agree that boredom isn't necessarily implied, but idleness seems to be as I read it.

  7. @ Kutz - I'm not fussed either way, but I think he was just getting up after his siesta. I don't really read anything that suggests it was wrong of him not to be leading the army himself, or that it was wrong to have a bit of leisure time. I think that's a Protestant work ethic back-reading into the text. Either way, he slept with someone else's wife and then had him murdered to cover the crime, and that can't be good.

  8. I think there's a fair few exegetical details over the whole of 1 & 2 Samuel that would suggest that David should have been out leading his army. Not the least of which would be that it's his job description. That's what a king did, he fought battles to protect his people.

    I don't think it's a case of reading anything back into the times, particularly as the wisdom literature of the time period seemed to be quite concerned with idleness.