Feasting on 2 Samuel 11

“But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD” (2 Samuel 11:27)

Last post I had some criticism of a devotional commentary on 2 Samuel 11.

John Woodhouse has a long, detailed analysis of this chapter and, by the end, we are left in no doubt as to the seriousness of our sin. Here’s his commentary on this closing section:

“The account of what happened with David, Bathsheba, and Uriah concludes with the devastating closing statement “But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD” (2 Samuel 11:27b). Literally the narrator’s closing words echo David’s message to Joab in verse 25. David had said, ‘Do not let this thing be evil in your eyes’ (AT). The account closes with, ‘But the thing that David had done was evil in the eyes of the LORD’ (AT). It may not have been ‘evil’ in the eyes of Joab or of David. But ‘evil’ it was. The Lord himself saw it as such.

David’s efforts at a cover-up may have momentarily seemed successful. But they were ridiculous. We may deceive ourselves about our evil thoughts, words, and deeds. But evil cannot be hidden from God! What consequences will flow from the fact that the Lord had seen all that David did and had seen it as it was – evil?

Before we turn the page and being to see what those consequences were, let us pause and reflect on what we have heard in 2 Samuel 11. What do you make of this story? It is one of the ugliest stories you will find anywhere. It is the story of a callous brute with the conscience of a brick wall! If we had heard the story on the television news, we might have shaken our heads and said, ‘There are some rotten people in this world! Makes you sick, doesn’t it? What is the world coming to?’ We might have comforted ourselves that we are not like this dreadful man and forgotten about it.

But we cannot do that because we have not heard this story on a television news program. We have heard it from the Bible! I will put it simply like this: God has told us this story. Why?

In the first place it is reasonable to understand that this story is here in God’s Word as a demonstration to us of human nature and human sinfulness. David was not the worst man to ever have lived. Quite the contrary. He was, as we have seen, a great man. One of the greatest. And yet even David fell to a level as low as this.

That is a solemn and astounding lesson to us all. No matter how upright and noble a person might be, there is in human nature an inherent rottenness that can always come out, given the circumstances. Do I dare to say in my heart I would never act like David? Then this story might wake me up to reality. There is in the human nature we all share a far greater capacity for evil than we usually think. That is serious! Its full seriousness is only made explicit in the last sentence of the chapter: ‘The thing David did was evil in the eyes of the LORD.’

Let us see that in God’s eyes wrong is wrong, sin is sin. In our day it will do us good to take that in and understand it in the very area dealt with here, sexual morality.”

John then goes on to highlight that it is David, the chosen one, who has sinned. And he underlines the fact that the kingdom of God would be secured not because of David – not because of how good a saint he was. No, “it was because of what a great God God is.” (p 316).

Wise words. The one addition that I would add is that David is the man, indeed the king, who believes in that God. That is what is revealed in 2 Samuel 13-20 and expressed in the Psalm of 2 Samuel 22.

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