When King David strolled atop his palace roof, he had the best vantage point in Jerusalem to survey his kingdom. One evening he observed a beautiful woman— one who most likely was in an enclosed courtyard, making him a peeping tom. Rather than look away, his “glance becomes the gaze.”
As king, he had the power to send for whomever he desired. In the surrounding context (chapters 10–12), the verb send occurs twenty-three times, and fourteen of the times are in reference to a directive from David. When a king issues an order, it’s to be followed.
David inquired about the woman, but was answered with a question rather than a statement: “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” (2 Samuel 11:3).
This question may have served the purpose of a subtle warning. To put it in the modern vernacular, one might say: “Hey, just so you know, Bathsheba is married to Uriah, one of your best soldiers. Oh, and also, her father is Eliam, another one of your elite warriors. And don’t forget, Eliam’s father Ahithophel is one of your chief advisors.”
The King Abuses His Power
David, though, paid little attention to his acquired information other than to direct his messengers to fetch Bathsheba to his chambers. The king used his power to rape the wife of one of his most trusted men.
Since her husband was away at war, David must have thought he was in the clear until Bathsheba sent word that she was pregnant. To cover up his actions, David hatched a plan to have Uriah killed in battle, leaving him free to marry Bathsheba before anyone else would find out she was already pregnant.
From the outside, it looked as if David had succeeded in covering up his sinful actions. End of story. All was silenced. His subjects could continue to praise their king for his notable deeds with no inkling of what just happened.
The narrator, however, ends the chapter by emphasizing one final statement: “But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord” (2 Samuel 11:27).
The Courage of a Prophet
When those in power abuse their privilege, it does not go unnoticed by the Lord. On the contrary, He raised up the prophet Nathan to speak truth through the creative story of a rich man with numerous sheep and a poor neighbor with one beloved ewe lamb. When David heard the rich man had stolen the little lamb, he became angry at the obvious injustice.
Waiting for this very moment, Nathan declared: “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7).
With his sin exposed, David finally came face to face with the reality of his unjust actions and responded with repentance.
This is the type of courage that injustice requires—those who have a voice speaking up for those who have none.
God issues a clarion call to stand up for the victim with no power, no agency, and no voice.
Watch a captioned version of today's video here: https://vimeo.com/284250895