In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die.” And as Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew there were valiant men. And the men of the city came out and fought with Joab, and some of the servants of David among the people fell. Uriah the Hittite also died. Then Joab sent and told David all the news about the fighting. And he instructed the messenger, “When you have finished telling all the news about the fighting to the king, then, if the king’s anger rises, and if he says to you, ‘Why did you go so near the city to fight? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? Who killed Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Did not a woman cast an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died at Thebez? Why did you go so near the wall?’ then you shall say, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.’”
So the messenger went and came and told David all that Joab had sent him to tell. The messenger said to David, “The men gained an advantage over us and came out against us in the field, but we drove them back to the entrance of the gate. Then the archers shot at your servants from the wall. Some of the king’s servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.” David said to the messenger, “Thus shall you say to Joab, ‘Do not let this matter displease you, for the sword devours now one and now another. Strengthen your attack against the city and overthrow it.’ And encourage him.”
When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she lamented over her husband. And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord. – 2 Samuel 11:14-27 ESV
The apostle James wrote this clear and convicting description of sin:
Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. – James 1:14-15 NLT
This entire affair surrounding David’s life and recorded for posterity in chapter 11 of 2 Samuel, is a tragic illustration of the James’ words. David had desires. He had a strong attraction for the opposite sex that he seemed to have a difficult time managing. It had already led to his growing collection of wives. And when he had spied Bathsheba bathing on her rooftop, his desire kicked into high gear. The sight of her was not enough. He had to have her. His desires enticed him and lured him into committing an even greater sin than his original lusting after Bathsheba. The Greek word James used is exelkō and it refers to a hunter or fisherman drawing his prey out of hiding by tempting them with something they desire. David took the bait. His desires gave birth to sinful actions. He committed adultery with Bathsheba. But it didn’t stop there. His sin grew. Her pregnancy resulted in David having to attempt to cover his sin by committing additional sins. He lied. He manipulated. He called Uriah, her husband, back from the front in order to entice him into have sexual relations with his wife, so that David’s sin might be covered up. And when that didn’t work, David’s sin gave birth to death. He concocted the plan for Uriah to be killed in battle, and he sent the Uriah back to the front unknowingly carrying his own death warrant in his hands.
This story is meant to shock us, but it should not surprise us. It shocks us because it involves David, the man after God’s own heart. But just because David held a special place in God’s heart does not mean that David was immune to sin. He was human. He had flaws and weaknesses. And David’s sins, just like ours, were potentially deadly. In this case, David’s growing number of sins finally led to literal death, and not his own. It was Uriah who would die. And along with him, a number of other innocent soldiers who were exposed unnecessarily to the same deadly circumstances as Uriah. David’s sin gave birth to death. The Greek word James used is apokyeō and it means to beget, to bring forth from the womb, to produce or generate. Like the unexpected pregnancy of Bathsheba, there would come a time when David’s sins would inevitably deliver. There would be a byproduct to his sins.
It is interesting to note, that in the garden, God had warned Adam about the consequences of disobedience to His commands.
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” – Genesis 2:16-17 ESV
And the day came when Eve, Adam’s wife, would listen to the enticing words of Satan, and choose to disobey God and eat of the forbidden fruit.
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. – Genesis 3:6 ESV
And the apostle Paul reminds us that Adam’s sin, by eating the forbidden fruit along with his wife, resulted in death.
When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. – Romans 3:12 NLT
For the first time, death because an inevitable and unavoidable reality for mankind. Adam and Eve would know the pain of physical death. But it also brought into being the even more hideous reality of spiritual death – eternal separation from God – the fate of all those who do not accept God’s gracious offer of salvation through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ.
But Adam and Eve would live long after their sin. Yet it would not be long before their sin gave birth to death – the death of their own son, Abel, at the hands of his own brother, Cain. Sin always brings forth death. It may be physical in nature, but it will always be spiritual. Sin separates us from God. It causes suffering for others. It damages and destroys. It grows and spreads like a cancer, infecting our lives and contaminating those around us. Uriah was an innocent victim of David’s selfish sin. The men who died at his side were also the undeserving victims of David’s sin. And the only thing David had to say for what he had done was, “Well, tell Joab not to be discouraged. The sword devours this one today and that one tomorrow! Fight harder next time, and conquer the city!” (2 Samuel 11:25 NLT). No remorse. No repentance. No regret.
And David was not yet done. He still had the pregnancy of Bathsheba to cover up. So, barely giving her time to mourn the loss of her husband, David sent for Bathsheba and married her. Doing so would provide a perfectly good explanation for her soon-to-be-obvious pregnancy. But while David may have thought his act of subterfuge had gone unnoticed, God knew. And God would discipline David for his sin. The apostle Paul tells us that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23 ESV). Ultimately, he is referring to the spiritual death that follows our physical death. There is an eternal separation from God that will be the lot of all those who have sinned, unless they have placed their faith in the redemptive work of Christ. Paul goes on to say that “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” As Christians, we will sin in this life. But we will never have to face eternal separation from God in the next life. Because Jesus has provided us with eternal life and the guarantee of our status as sons and daughters of God, and heirs of his Kingdom. But sin will still have ramifications in this life. Sin will still produce death. David’s sin, as long as it remained unconfessed and unforgiven, would continue to produce death. It would kill David’s fellowship with God. It would destroy David’s peace and contentment. And it would result in yet another death – one that would come close to home and leave David devastated. Sin is deadly. And while, as Christians, we may rest in the knowledge that spiritual death is no longer a threat to us, we must never underestimate the deadly effects of sin while we live on this earth. Our sins have consequences.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.