I had the privilege for several weeks of working with four Army generals. In discussing the importance of a good reputation, several of them shared why it was vital to avoid any appearance of impropriety. Their conduct was measured not just by standards but also the perception of those standards. Aside from their own moral and spiritual convictions what they were willing to do or not do was tied directly to the people they served. I was encouraged that powerful men modeled integrity with humility.
Psalm 51:12,13—Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit. Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to You.
Why did King David watch a naked woman bathe, get her pregnant, show duplicity, murder her husband and act like nothing ever happened? What made this heroic king dive into a pond of filth? How did he get so fouled up? Let’s examine his life and see if we can discover what caused such horrendous moral failure.
Before Bathsheba, David set himself up for adultery by marrying many wives in direct violation to God’s instruction for kings in Deuteronomy 17:17a. “He must not acquire many wives for himself so that his heart won't go astray.” The more women he took for himself, the easier it came to rationalizing, “I can have anyone I want, I’m the king!” A man single-minded for God does not build female condominiums in his heart.
In 2 Samuel 11:1a we read, “In the spring when kings march out to war, David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel.” Did you catch that? David sent his general to do what he should have done. When the ground is replaced by the featherbed, cause is made for carousing. Further on we read, “From the roof he saw a woman bathing—a very beautiful woman. So David sent someone to inquire about her . . .”Stop! Nothing good ever comes from naked woman investigations. The moment David began his inquiry he set in motion desire that should have been squelched by immediately leaving the roof.
“David sent messengers to get her, and when she came to him, he slept with her.” By sending messengers, David involved others in his crime. I think they knew what “get” meant. Why didn’t any of them warn him that he was breaking God’s law? Either they were moral cowards or they feared a king unafraid of God. And why didn’t Bathsheba refuse his advances? Her man was out in battle! She was more flattered by the attention of her king and the possibilities of a life with him than concerned about faithfulness to her Lord and to her husband. And where were the priests during all this time? And why did every other wife keep silent? Can we see what happens when power is the order of the day?
Lest we think that we could never duplicate David’s crimes let’s take personal inventory, a willing test. Here are questions I ask myself that you might find helpful:
1. How spiritually fit am I? Do I faithfully study the Bible? Is the Holy Spirit able to speak to my life? Do I consistently meet with the Father in prayer?
2. How socially fit am I? Am I accountable to someone who is spiritually mature and willing to check up on my conduct, thought-life, and overall state on a regular basis? Am I engaged in meaningful fellowship where believers have freedom to observe and speak to my life?
3. How emotionally fit am I? Am I feeling sorry for myself? Do I feel entitled to do something I normally would not do because I am prideful? Or am I strong in the Lord?
4. How intellectually fit am I? Am I bored and therefore misusing the free time I have? Is my life absorbed in pursuing activities that have no redeeming value?
Self-evaluation can assist a better understanding of where I may be spiritually weak. But I have to go a step further and recognize that I cannot create a willing spirit to do what God wants me to do. The moment I think my spiritual condition is dependent on me, I am in trouble and pride is lurking. Let’s be honest, because of a sin nature, my character is permanently cracked. Therefore, only God can give me a willing heart. I must have His help. He is able to rebuild, renew and restore!
A careful reading of Psalm 51 reveals the crux of David’s moral failure. The king who willingly abided by God’s will at some point in his reign decided his will was more important. This is why David’s prayer for God to give him a willing spirit after Nathan confronted him for his sin, is so profound. David knew what was wrong. Without a willing spirit, he was done—spiritually dead! The journey away from God’s will rarely consists of one step. It occurs over time and is almost always paved by the stones of lust, compromise, indifference and pride. So, like David, I need God’s help to be God-willing. Fortunately, I have a Father who understands, forgives, heals and provides! And so do you!
The man who gains a moral victory by sheer force of will is the most difficult man to deal with afterwards. The profound thing in man is his will, not sin. Will is the essential element in God’s creation of man; sin is a perverse disposition which entered into man. At the basis, the human will is one with God; it is covered up with all kinds of desires and motives, and when we preach Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit excavates down to the basis of the will and will turns to God every time.—Oswald Chambers in Studies in the Sermon on the Mount.
©2010 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)