It breaks my heart. I think it’s supposed to. David is shown over and over to be a good, just man, and here he… he just fails. Hard.
It’s been pointed out that the little verse at the beginning may be significant: at the time when kings went to war, David stayed home.
In the immediately proceeding account, he sends his general out with a small contingency to handle a situation, but when it escalates, David takes all of Israel out to join them. Then, a while later, he sends his general out in his place and stays home. Why? Is he getting too comfortable as king? Too full of himself? Too entitled?
And poor Bathsheba. I’ve heard way too many accounts assuming awful things about her. Implications that she was actively trying to tempt her king. Based on what? That she was visible from his roof? There is no indication that she was doing anything out of the ordinary. He was the one who was somewhere he shouldn’t ought to have been. I saw one account, I forget where now, that suggested that the fact that she was cleansing herself from impurity was an implication that she was already engaging in adultery with someone else, cleansing herself from sex. Folks! It’s far more likely she was cleansing herself from her period.
Why must we malign her? The way we malign Tamar? The way we ignore Deborah, who we can’t malign. You know what? I don’t want to answer that. I have an answer. (Ask if you need to, please.) It angers me. It should anger you.
Regardless, David fell. He fell far, and he fell hard. It’s heartbreaking. But you know what? He repents. He doesn’t fight Nathan. He doesn’t backpedal, try to explain to Nathan how what he did was different than the man in the parable. No. He accepts responsibility, and it weighs heavily on him. I love him for this.
I don’t love him for the crime. I’m angry with him. I’m hurt. But I am able to forgive him. I am able to continue loving him.
I do understand that this may be a lot harder for some. I have never been the victim of a similar crime. My heart goes out to Bathsheba, and I wonder: was she able to truly forgive him? To ever trust him? They had at least one more child together than the one they lost. How did she feel about that? I wonder. And my heart goes out to the women who identify with her. The women who say, “No. I could never forgive that.” I don’t have an answer for them. The Bible says forgive, and though he faced the consequences, David was forgiven, but I cannot condemn the women who struggle with this, who find themselves unable. I will simply pray for their peace.
These are very difficult questions: Can we still call someone who did something so extremely awful a ‘good man.’ Can we separate the violation and murder from the ‘man after God’s own heart’?I want to say yes, in the end, because of his true repentance, but his loss of reputation is merely the lightest of consequences he faced for his actions. The fact that this question will always be tied to his person, his character, is the lightest of his consequences.
He was human. He fell. He fell hard, and he fell far. It’s heartbreaking. It’s conflicting. It should be. These should be hard questions.