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Bible Study Guide for Sunday, July 25, 2021

July 20, 2021
  • 2 Samuel 11:1-15
  • Ephesians 3:14-21
  • John 6:1-21
  • Psalm 14

We begin this week’s reading in Second Samuel and by the end of the second sentence David is already doing the wrong thing.  It is campaign season, and while David is a valiant warrior king in the flower of his manhood he chooses to remain in his palace, seemingly out of lethargy. It’s not a mortal sin, but by the standards of his time it is certainly inappropriate. Next out of boredom he watches a woman bathing. This is not a coincidental viewing, using direct sunlight over the course of the day was a reasonable and economic way to heat bath water in this region. David knows this, he is comporting himself with all the social grace of a fourteen year old boy. Still not a mortal sin but it is not exceptionally impressive behavior.

Next he inquires about this woman and discovers that she is Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. This should be two red flags for David. Firstly and most obviously, she is married.  Furthermore he knows Uriah, he is one of David’s thirty bodyguards, David handpicked him and sees him every day. Sleeping with his wife is not only to break commandment, it is a very personal betrayal.  But he sends for her anyway, and sleeps with her.  Her interest and consent or lack of it is not presented, but at the very least he has with forethought broken a commandment, at worst he has abused his position of power to commit rape.

Bathsheba is pregnant, and David tries to convince Uriah that the child is his and recalls him from the campaign, gets him drunk and tries to send him back to his wife, but Uriah refuses to have comforts greater than his troops back at camp and so sleeps in the gateway. Having failed to conceal his sin in this manner David does the only rational thing, plot and order the murder of his innocent, loyal and trusted body guard in a way that is guaranteed to result in collateral damage.

According to no less of a theologian than my high school health teacher and wrestling coach, Mr. Slighter, at any stage of this David could have turned back. Had he been leading his troops, he wouldn’t have been in Jerusalem being bored. Had he resisted being a voyeur on the roof he would not have been smitten with Bathsheba. He could have simply moved on when he learned she was married. Even after sleeping with her he could have paid some form of damages or bride price.  But sin, especially when compounded with guilt, shame and secrecy takes on a life of its own. Each stage beckons the sinner to the next, while simultaneously further alienating the sinner, making seeking repentance harder and more shameful.  It is true, David could have turned back, but it would have required that he admit to not only acting in a way that was privately and spiritually shameful but publicly tyrannical. So he does everything that he can to conceal these sins from his people and his God.

There is however a very distant silver lining to this tragic and calamitous story. Through this union, God keeps his covenant with David. From David and Bathsheba will come Solomon and distantly, Jesus. God redeems, however distantly, this disastrous affair. To add my own two cents, we often try to divide history into smaller, more digestible chunks of “good” or “bad.”  This is fundamentally impossible. We can only judge historical events from a historically situated time.  To interact with our past we must and inherently do appeal to Good and Evil. But one cannot ever satisfyingly create all the counterfactuals for a purely ethical history, it is too complex, and creation too fractured.  There is only one history, the heroic, the craven, the tragic and triumphant are so intertwined, they cannot be separated. Sometimes it feels like it should all be condemned, but through Christ, eventually it will all be redeemed.  – Ben Watts

  • How do we train our hearts so that we can correct ourselves when making small mistakes?
  • How can we create a trusting environment in the church, to help people seek redemption, while still condemning sin?
  • As Christians how do we reconcile grave historic sins? How do we try to care for a world so marred by the past? how do we balance a hope for future redemption, with present action and compassion for our past?


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