As the lively, warm afternoon sun of spring gave way to the still, cool dark of night, a beautiful woman stood on her rooftop and prepared to bathe. The water cascaded over her body while King David took a stroll on the roof of the king’s palace some distance away. He caught sight of her, but instead of turning away and protecting his heart from temptation, he fixed his adulterous gaze on her. His desire for her swelled, and after confirming that he knew who she was—including that she was already married—David sent messengers to bring Bathsheba to the palace.
The Bible records no instance of protest on Bathsheba’s part, either to the messengers who brought her to the palace or to the king who clearly intended to have her. After her illicit encounter with the king, Bathsheba washed herself again and returned home. Within a matter of weeks, she realized she was with child and, in a brief message, told David, “I am pregnant” (2 Samuel 11:5). Once David executed his plan to cover up the pregnancy—which included having Bathsheba’s husband killed—she mourned her loss and quickly married the king before she delivered the child.
Bathsheba’s role in the encounter with David has been notoriously difficult to interpret. Most of the questions surrounding this event ask whether or not she was bathing on her roof to tempt David, for she had to know that she was within sight of the palace. However, whether she was a crafty seductress or a naive, newly married girl, Bathsheba’s silence—rather than protest—stands out in the encounter. When the opportunity arose for her to resist, she did not.
And this is the real lesson of Bathsheba’s fall into sin: we are all responsible for what we do. Whether we actively pursue a relationship outside of marriage or if we just let ourselves fall into one, we make choices. Choices were made by David and Bathsheba all along the way toward their adulterous encounter, and the same is true of anyone who falls into sexual sin today. We must be vigilant to protect our sexuality. Rather than simply avoiding sin, we must concern ourselves with pursuing purity. It’s a choice we can’t afford not to make.
John Adair received his master of theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, where he also completed his Ph.D. in Historical Theology. He served for seven years as a writer in the Creative Ministries Department of Insight for Living Ministries. John and his wife, Laura, have three children.
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