And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.
A historian once observed that Abraham Lincoln died in time to be great. That is, if he had lived longer, his greatness may well have been tarnished with mistakes. David was not so fortunate. He lived to make his greatest mistake and to commit his greatest sin with Bathsheba.
David was at war with the children of Ammon, east of the Jordan River. He sent Joab his captain to seize the city of Rabbah, what is today Amman, the capital of Jordan. David remained behind at Jerusalem perhaps because he had become self-indulgent and faced a growing inclination toward enjoying the luxurious life of the royal palace. At any rate, remaining behind ultimately led to his downfall. The steps which David took to fall into sin are characteristic steps. They are identical to those taken by Adam and Eve (Genesis 3), by Achan (Joshua 7:21) and by others. Here are those steps.
First, David was strolling in the evening on the roof of his palace when he saw a beautiful woman bathing in an adjacent house. Sin always begins with sight, or some sensual exposure. The sight of sin is not sin itself. Occasionally we cannot help but look upon sin. But the second glance at what we should not see is always sin.
Second, David "sent and inquired after the woman." Had he not given in to his lust for the bathing woman, he would never have sent for information about her. In essence, he desired her and lusted after her when he knew he could not have her. The sight of sin the second time led David to illicit desire.
Third, 2 Samuel 11:4 indicates, "And David sent messengers, and took her." Like Eve in the garden of Eden and Achan at the battle of Jericho, David now actively participated in sin. These steps in the cycle of sin are universal; they cause us to stumble, as they caused David to stumble. In order to break this cycle, we must be aware that one step always leads to the next. David failed to recognize this, and it led to disgrace in the kingdom of Israel.
To have the king commit adultery was bad enough; but sin is never a private matter. It always involves others. Thus the fourth step in David's sin was to involve an innocent party in his sin. In this case the innocent party was Uriah the Hittite, the husband of Bathsheba.
When Bathsheba told David that she was with child and that it was his child, he unsuccessfully attempted to divert the consequences of his sin. He demanded that Uriah be returned to Jerusalem under the guise of wanting to know how the battle was going. He sent Uriah to his house, assuming that after Uriah had spent an evening at home with his wife, everyone would assume that she was pregnant with his child. But Uriah would not enter the house. A disappointed David even attempted to get Uriah drunk so that he would go home, but to no avail. The die was cast; everyone would know that Bathsheba's child was not Uriah's.
In the morning David callously caused Uriah to be the bearer of his own death warrant to Joab (2 Samuel 11:14). According to the king's instructions, Joab placed Uriah in the heat of the battle so that he would be killed. David now added murder to the crime of adultery. This is hardly what we would expect from the man God had chosen to be king of Israel. It is what we have come to expect, however, when one lingers at the door of sin. Lingering at the door of sin is an open invitation to enter that door, and David stayed too long on the top of his roof while viewing the bathing Bathsheba. Had he fled from the presence of temptation, he would not have entered the cycle of sin. You and I must flee temptation and the presence of evil if we would remain true to God. None of us has developed a resistant strain to the bacteria of sin.
Yield not to temptation,
For yielding is sin
Each vict'ry will help you
Some other to win
Fight manfully onward,
Dark passions subdue,
Look ever to Jesus,
He will carry you through.