The graphite tips dulled, the ink wells penned dry, and the cartridges emptied with the discourses on King David’s affair with Bathsheba are no jot and tittle. Volumes mark the explanations, and reading between the lines, to sort out the “whose to blames.” The story is captivating, yet heart-rending as the enigma of a Shepherd King’s romantic tragedy invokes the human dilemma. We all, no matter how “good” defile the sacred (Romans 3:10, 23-26).
A King, a soldier, a woman, and a prophet collide to create an imagery so powerful that the book of Exodus becomes the backdrop, the major and minor prophets continue it’s allegorical theme, and the church is warned of the temptation. Adultery. We pollute what God has called holy. Even as believers, we are prone to leave the God we love. We justify ourselves by position, by emotion, by perspective, by rebellion. We minimize the cost; God cannot.
The language in Nathan the prophet’s address to King David reminds me of the paschal (Passover) lamb language in Exodus 12. It is covenantal language.
A Prophet’s Parable:
2 Samuel 12:1-5 (CSB)
So the Lord sent Nathan to David. When he arrived, he said to him:
There were two men in a certain city, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had very large flocks and herds, 3 but the poor man had nothing except one small ewe lamb that he had bought. He raised her, and she grew up with him and with his children. From his meager food she would eat, from his cup she would drink, and in his arms she would sleep. She was like a daughter to him. 4 Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man could not bring himself to take one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for his guest.
5 David was infuriated with the man and said to Nathan: “As the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die! 6 Because he has done this thing and shown no pity, he must pay four lambs for that lamb.”
A ewe lamb, a female lamb, set apart, cherished and loved by the family for life.
A paschal (Passover) lamb, a male lamb (of the first year), set apart, cherished for four days, before becoming the atonement for the sins of the family.
Both are symbolic of the covenantal promises that God, Himself, would become our Passover lamb and our Bridegroom. Both are set apart. Atonement. Marriage. Humanity needs both; each are sacrificial.
The language that Nathan points to is the sacrificial sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. Here we see David clearly understands the sacrilegious act of selfish gain used against the vulnerable subject doing what was right, tenderly caring for his household. As a Shepherd, David would have intimately understood the egregious offense of stealing such a beloved lamb.
David used his position to steal from Uriah, Uriah’s most sacred vow to the Lord, Bathsheba. David was the one to defile the sacred union of marriage. The Lord does not judge her. The prophet does not judge her. The King does not judge her. So we should not add to the Scriptures a judgment on her.
Uriah was a man of integrity, honor, and willing to loyally serve the King’s command. Uriah laid down his life. What grace was it that God kept Uriah from the earthly lament and sorrow of sin’s betrayal and victimization that sin brought? What pain Uriah would have had to endure should he not have died in battle, but come home to find his bride stolen by the very King he had given his earthly allegiance.
Think on the covenantal love of God toward us. He gave Himself so that His bride, sin could not steal and death would not eternally adulterate. God is wooing us toward holy living, to cherish what is sacred.
There is no more beautiful picture of the joy, the purity, the foundation on which our covenantal promises are secured than the imagery of Christ’s atonement and marriage to His Church. Why commit to marriage? Why is it so symbolic? Why love the Church? There is the order of hierarchal care, a set apart kind of love, straight from the heart of God.
Why must we humbly call one another to repentance? Encourage one another to hold fast though this world and its temptations lure us?
Meditate on the language of the atonement, (Exodus 12:1-6; Matthew 26:18, 26-29; 27:23; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:18-21) on the language of the marriage covenant (Genesis 2:18-25; Ephesians 5) with the 2 Samuel chapters 11:3-4 & 12:7-9.
Why must we respect the boundaries of marriage? (2 Samuel 12:9)
Ephesians 5 (CSB)
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved
the church and gave himself for her
26 to make her holy,
cleansing her with the washing of water by the word.
27 He did this to present the church to himself in splendor,
without spot or wrinkle or anything like that,
but holy and blameless.
28 In the same way,
husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies.
He who loves his wife loves himself.
29 For no one ever hates his own flesh
but provides and cares for it,
just as Christ does for the church,
30 since we are members of his body.
31 For this reason
a man will leave his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two will become one flesh.
32 This mystery is profound,
but I am talking about Christ and the church.
33 To sum up,
each one of you is to love his wife as himself,
and the wife is to respect her husband.
Why we must wrestle with sin and not continually live in it? (2 Samuel 12:5; 2 Samuel 12:13) Sin creates victims, its wages are death (Romans 6:23), BUT Christ’s atonement is secured for us.
1 John 3 (CSB)
See what great love the Father has given us
that we should be called God’s children—and we are!
The reason the world does not know us is that
it didn’t know him.
2 Dear friends,
we are God’s children now,
and what we will be has not yet been revealed.
We know that when he appears, we will be like him
because we will see him as he is.
3 And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself
just as he is pure.
4 Everyone who commits sin practices lawlessness;
and sin is lawlessness. 5
You know that he was revealed so that
he might take away sins, and there is no sin in him.
6 Everyone who remains in him does not sin;
everyone who sins has not seen him or known him.
7 Children, let no one deceive you.
The one who does what is right is righteous,
just as he is righteous.
8 The one who commits sin is of the devil,
for the devil has sinned from the beginning.
The Son of God was revealed for this purpose:
to destroy the devil’s works.
9 Everyone who has been born of God does not sin,
because his seed remains in him; he is not able to sin,
because he has been born of God.
10 This is how God’s children and
the devil’s children become obvious.
Whoever does not do what is right is not of God,
especially the one who does not love his brother or sister.
Love in Action
11 For this is the message you have heard
from the beginning: We should love one another,
12 unlike Cain, who was of the evil one and
murdered his brother. And why did he murder him?
Because his deeds were evil,
and his brother’s were righteous.
13 Do not be surprised, brothers and sisters,
if the world hates you.
14 We know that we have passed from death to life
because we love our brothers and sisters.
The one who does not love remains in death.
15 Everyone who hates his brother or sister is a murderer,
and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
16 This is how we have come to know love:
He laid down his life for us.
We should also lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
17 If anyone has this world’s goods and sees
a fellow believer in need but withholds compassion from him
—how does God’s love reside in him?
18 Little children,
let us not love in word or speech,
but in action and in truth.
19 This is how we will know that we belong to the truth
and will reassure our hearts before him
20 whenever our hearts condemn us;
for God is greater than our hearts,
and he knows all things.
21 Dear friends, if our hearts don’t condemn us,
we have confidence before God
22 and receive whatever we ask from him
because we keep his commands and do what is pleasing in his sight.
23 Now this is his command:
that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ,
and love one another as he commanded us.
24 The one who keeps his commands remains in him, and he in him.
And the way we know that he remains
in us is from the Spirit he has given us.