The Truth about David and Bathsheba, and why it Matters


About 6 months ago God led me to read the story of David and Bathsheba. He allowed me to read it as if I never had before, showing me the truth of this story in scripture. I believe the truth of this is so very important for christians today. For some reason I couldn’t finish writing this for the longest time and wasn’t sure why. A few days ago I prayed and asked God if this was something He truly wanted me to write about, and if so to help me get it done. That same night I read the article in Christianity today regarding Ravi Zacharias found here, and realized that the truth of David and Bathsheba is critically imperative for Christians in light of what has come out. I address the situation regarding Ravi Zacharias and why the truth of this story is so relevant and important near the end of this post. 

When we make assumptions about scripture we miss what is actually there. God told us exactly what he wanted us to know. Nothing more and nothing less. It is not our job to try to figure out what God chose to leave out. We have to get comfortable accepting that we can’t know everything and we have to start teaching what is there instead of what we think might have been or should have been there, based on our own assumptions and personal biases. Go ahead and share assumptions and opinions at times, this is normal and healthy, but when it comes to God’s Word we can’t teach them as fact. I don’t think we do this with evil intentions (some people do intentionally twist Gods Word to fit an agenda) but normally it’s just our human nature and tendency to assume that gets us to make this crucial error. My job and your job as Christians is to follow and obey Christ Jesus, to know God’s Word, and to declare it to those around us. Sometimes I learn things in scripture and I’m either confused by it or it doesn’t quite fit my own agenda. Guess what? Tough luck. God is who He is and His Word is His Word. We cannot change God’s Word because we either don’t understand or we don’t like what He is saying. 

Try to read the following story as if you are reading it for the first time. Let’s take a look at what is truly there. I will include some of the story below, but I encourage you to go read all of 2 Samuel chapters 11 and 12 right now to get the full context. 

“It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. ( Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.” 2 Samuel 11:1-4

When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she lamented over her husband. And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.” 2 Samuel 11:26-27

“And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.” 2 Samuel‬ ‭12:1-14‬

The sermons I’ve heard on these passages of scripture, taught by different pastors at different churches, have all been taught roughly the same. The basic idea is this: David should have gone to war, Bathsheba shouldn’t have been on the roof and was acting immodestly. She knew David was watching and wanted to lure him in. They chose to commit adultery. Is this Biblical truth?  Actually no. It is not. This is actually a false assumption not built on scripture and harmful to the church for many reasons. 

Nowhere in the Bible is Bathsheba condemned or said to have done wrong. In fact, Nathan the prophet, when he confronts David, compares her to a sacrificed ewe lamb. If you have ever heard a message where a pastor talks about how she shouldn’t have been on the roof and she drew David in with lust, this is not scriptural truth and is not found in scripture. It is a personal assumption taught often as fact. David’s lust and evil desire is what led him to sin. Not one single time is Bathsheba condemned or is it said that she sinned. Not one single time. In fact, Nathan never even mentioned her name. 

I read a commentary recently that said Bathsheba should have known David could see her and she acted immodestly. Guess what? That could be true, but this is NOT what the Bible says. And never once in the BIBLE, which is the authority for teachers of the Bible, is Bathsheba said to have done wrong in this situation. Why do teachers choose to speculate? This is so dangerous to our Christian faith because it carries over into all teaching and leads people astray. We have to stop doing this. This post isn’t about defending Bathsheba, although she likely needs defending. It is about defending the truth of the Bible and pointing out the danger of people teaching their assumptions as Biblical truth. 

David was a powerful man. He saw something he wanted, he sent soldiers, and took it. This is a great danger that I believe we are facing today. Spiritual leaders, like Ravi Zacharias, using their power to indulge their evil desires, causing immense harm. (I will explain why David and Ravi are actually nothing alike later on, so don’t worry.)The church must stop Idolizing powerful spiritual men and women, turning a blind eye to their sin, and blaming their victims. Could Bathsheba have gotten into that room alone with David and mutually agreed to his sexual requests? Maybe. The truth remains that David used his place of power to get what he wanted. This is victimization no matter how you look at it, regardless of what Bathsheba might have done. The truth is, we do not know exactly what happened and how it happened apart from what we were told. This is the information God chose to give us. Anything about what happened there that we weren’t told is literally irrelevant. We have to let God’s word be enough and leave it at that. Why do pastors preach this as adultery and place partial blame on Bathsheba when this isn’t what the Bible says? David surely did not blame her or ever refer to what he had done as adultery. Neither did God. Some will say that nothing was mentioned of her reluctance, and therefore she gladly gave herself to him. Again, this is a lie. The absence of something does not prove something else that is also absent. The danger this poses to the truth is severe. We have to start being honest with ourselves and others. We have got to value truth over what we like or assume when it comes to God.

One question I would encourage anybody reading this who believes the assumptions about Bathsheba is this: Would Nathan’s confrontation looked differently if those assumptions were true? I don’t see how what God spoke to David through Nathan fits at all with the unbiblical narrative often taught. Ask yourself that question and be honest with yourself. Teachers of God’s Word have one job. To please God with what they say. Not to please themselves or people. Sure, teaching your personal assumption might make you feel good or might better appeal to those listening. But what does God think of this?

This is not the story of a godly man being lured away by an adulterous woman, as mentioned in Proverbs ch 7 (those women absolutely exist). Every single person, including godly people, have evil desires within their hearts. If left alone and acted on without repentance these evil desires grow. This is actually the story of a godly man using his place of power and authority to give into sinful urges and take what he wanted. A story of a godly man seeking to cover up his grievous sin unsuccessfully, resulting in more sin. The story of a godly man, who when confronted with his sin, took ownership and repented. A story of a man who loved God, yet severely displeased God, receiving a severe punishment. Severe. Followed by restoration. How do I know David was godly? He repented with true sorrow over what he had done and did not continue in his evil.

What separates a godly man from an ungodly man is not the absence of sin, or sinning only when lured in by others. It is the choice to take responsibility for that sin, own that sin rather than cover it up, not blame others, accept God’s discipline, repent, and choose to no longer continue in that sin. We know that after David repented of this evil he did not continue in this pattern. 1 Kings 15:5 says “because David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.” 1 Kings‬ ‭15:5‬.

David never, according to the truth of scripture, blamed Bathsheba or called his sin adultery, and neither can we. This is a fallacy that could make people believe godly men only sin if they are being lured into it by a woman, thus leading to victims being blamed for the evil sin of another. Not only that, this makes it very easy to confuse an ungodly man with a godly man. This is perhaps the reason why sexual sin is covered. If we lived as Jesus commanded this would not happen. We would hold each other accountable, judge sin, deal with it, expect true repentance, forgive, and see restoration with God. 

Remember that God himself called David a man after His own heart. I think (this is my personal take away) we blame Bathsheba and call this adultery because we need to create a false assumption that godly people (especially leaders) do not sin unless somehow forced into it. Good people sin. Good people take ownership, repent, and purpose to change. Those claiming to follow Jesus should not cover their sin or blame others and get away with it. If this standard is not upheld ungodly men and women will take full advantage of it and cause serious hurt. I personally believe that had David successfully covered this sin and not been held accountable, maybe this would have happened again. And again. And again. As we see today with these same situations. Nathan did not idolize David, but cared more about pleasing God. This is why he was able to boldly confront David as God led him to do. Because David received correction and repented it was clear that he truly was a man after God’s heart. A person can claim to have a heart for God all day long. If that person is unrepentant and does not have sorrow over his or her sin I beg to differ. If sin is ignored and covered how in the world are you supposed to know if someone who acts like a Christian really is one? This is a scary thought.

How many cowardly men and women have chosen to ignore and help cover the wicked and harmful sin of their leaders to protect their reputations, all under the disguise of not wanting to “harm” the church or prevent the power of the “gospel”? This is most assuredly form Satan. Repentance is what leads people to Christ. Do you really think that uncovering sin and doing the right thing could thwart the plan of God? We must stop lying to ourselves and start obeying God. Simple as that.

What are the truths of this story?

*David used his power to get what he wanted.  *David sexually victimized Bathsheba (some say rape, but the Bible does not specifically state how things happened when he took her, nothing is mentioned of her desire or willingness so I would rather not speculate. Regardless, when a man uses his place of power to have sex with a woman it is wrong.).
*Bathsheba is not the focus of this story and hardly any details are given about her.  *David attempted to cover up his actions and his cover up resulted in a man’s death. David’s sin greatly displeased God. *David was confronted with his sin and took responsibility and ownership.  *David did NOT blame Bathsheba for what he had done. *David was severely disciplined for what he had done. *Scripture places no blame on Bathsheba for what David had done. Not once is it said that she had sinned. *Nathan the prophet compared Bathsheba to a sacrificed lamb. This significantly proves the lies of this story as such.  *Scripture does not refer to David’s sin as adultery.  *David repented of his sin and was restored back to God.

What are lies that have been spoken about this story? There is no Biblical backing to any of these.

*Bathsheba knew David could see her bathing and lured him in with her immodesty. *David and Bathsheba committed adultery. *Bathsheba and David were both to blame. *David only sinned because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and Bathsheba provoked him. Truth: These evil desires were within David’s heart. I think if it were not with Bathsheba it would have likely been with someone else. David himself said “How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults.” Psalm 19:12. Accountability, correction, and uncovering sins we are blind to cleanses our hearts of wickedness.

Why might a church or ministry deny and cover up sexual sin? First of all, if we don’t realize that every single one of us has a sinful nature and needs to be held accountable, regardless of our spiritual stature, we might be deceived into thinking our leaders would never do something so terrible. This is a recipe for disaster. Additionally, some might believe that it’s best to cover these things up to prevent the downfall of a ministry. The idea that uncovering the truth and demanding accountability and repentance might destroy a ministry and keep people from receiving Christ is a work of Satan. The first problem with this, all God cares about is obedience. The second problem, God brings forth increase, not us. God desires obedience over sacrifice. Read my blog on that topic here. There are only two options when dealing with spiritual leaders and their sin. Option 1: Confront and bring it to light, hope for a repentant response, care for victims, protect further harm to other potential victims, and accept that the ministry will suffer consequences. Option 2: Cover things up, allow the leader to continue in his or her wickedness, harming countless individuals, (or as some do, quietly send him off to another ministry to harm other people), avoid consequences, while severely displeasing God and losing His favor. How is this even a difficult decision? Is there no fear of God? Is there no reverence to His absolute holiness and righteous majesty? For a follower of Jesus Christ nothing should be worth the cost of disobeying and displeasing God and remaining unrepentant. Maybe this sounds extreme, but this is what it truly is to be a follower of Jesus.

Ravi Zacharias did evil and unimaginable harm to many victims. My heart aches for these individuals who suffered at the hands of a man who claimed to represent Christ. I am so sorry for them and pray for their healing. 

Years before the investigation into Ravi Zacharias was completed and the article I previously mentioned was written, Ravi was confronted by one of his victims. He did not repent. Rather he continued his plans to cover his wicked sin. He denied having ever harmed anybody and sued his victim. Those in ministry with him allowed his place of power to blind them and did not hold him accountable. Not only that, it seems they believed him to be above reproach. There is only one of whom this is true. Jesus Christ. These actions caused even more unimaginable pain and harm to his victims.  I will never speak to the state of Ravi’s salvation, only God can do that. But his actions we know of are not indicative of a repentant or godly man. The truth is, this man used his place of power to cause horrific harm, just as David did, but he was not repentant (that we know of, this could have changed on his death bed), was not held accountable, and was not dealt with in a godly way. Not only that, unlike with David, it appears Ravi’s evil abuse was repeated over and over again for many years. Despite being confronted, his heart was not repentant.

No Christian leader, no matter how distinguished, rich, or powerful he or she happens to be, is worthy of being idolized or of not being held accountable. We are the church, the body of Christ. The way we represent Jesus Christ is so incredibly serious and needs to be of absolute utmost importance. As His body we are all given spiritual gifts, and we all work together for the purpose of glorifying God and doing His will. We have to stop believing the lie that one member of the body is of more importance. We have to stop seeking to place an individual above us as our “king and idol”. Only Jesus should take that place in our lives. If we held to this I believe spiritual leaders would not look like they do today. Famous and powerful. Nathan the prophet was obedient to God and did not allow David’s place of power to intimidate him from doing what honored God. We all must do the same. In the words of my husband “we need more foot soldiers doing the work of the kingdom and loving others, and fewer celebrity pastors and speakers”.

The biggest ministries in the world could crumble tomorrow and guess what? This would not alter any of God’s plans. Satan will manufacture any lie imaginable to keep us from repentance. We must know the truth of God’s Word, including the truth of this story, so we can defend ourselves against the lies of Satan. I hope and pray that this encourages even just one person so step back and decide to make the choice to start getting in God’s Word in search of truth, with the Holy Spirit there to guide, rather than simply taking teachers and pastors at their word. Ravi Zacharias is an example to all of us that even those who appear to be the godliest and who have all the knowledge and training can be full of wickedness and unrepentance.

Had Nathan ignored God and had not confronted David his sin would have been successfully covered! Think about that. David did not know that he was the man Nathan was referring to until Nathan told him. He was blinded to his sin. How many spiritual leaders and individuals today have harmed and abused others and gotten away with it? Or at least think they have, as God will repay in the end. Nathan obeyed God and confronted David in a very bold way. This is what we have to do for each other as the Body of Jesus Christ. Otherwise we will not see repentance. Repentance is what separates the sheep from the wolf! If this is not our standard we might just end up with some dangerous wolves taking up residence, claiming to follow Jesus (as we were warned of and as we have seen). If sin is called out rather than covered up you will see who truly has a repentant heart. Nathan was obedient to God in confronting David and holding him accountable for what he had done out of his own evil desire. David was repentant, proving he truly did have a heart for God.

I pray this post encourages godly men and women who feel they must cover their sin or blame others to do so no longer. Confess, repent, receive forgiveness, and be restored back to the father. This is what David did and this is what we all must do. 

Nathan compared Bathsheba to a sacrificed lamb. A lamb. Think about that for a minute? We have turned this into a story of two people committing adultery. A godly man being seduced by a lustful immodest woman. when it is really a story of a powerful man taking a sacrificial lamb for himself, to do with her what he wished. If you have ever placed blame for sexual harm on a victim I urge you with every fiber of my being that you repent and never do this again. Ever. Stop believing the lie that “he or she would never do that!” Ravi Zacharias clearly proves that untrue. No person EVER has the right, no matter what excuse could ever be given, to sexually harm another. EVER. If we can see this story for what it is maybe as the church of God we will stop blaming victims. We will start a new movement of believing victims and helping them heal, requiring confession and repentance. We will be able to separate the sheep from the wolves. Men and women who have sinned and have truly repented will be forgiven and restored back to God. Victims will be properly loved and cared for. Men and women in power will no longer be encouraged to blame others for and cover their sin. And ungodly men and women will be seen for what they are and dealt with in the right way. To be put outside of the church, no longer able to use their power to harm a lamb again. 

What are the applications to the truth of this story? 

*Even people who have hearts for God and long to please Him have evil and corruption within them. Repentance, or a lack thereof, is what separates us. We need to be very aware of this and on guard. As Christians we should often ask God to reveal hidden sin in our hearts so that we can repent. And we should be looking for repentance in the hearts of those we walk with and serve with in Christ Jesus. *When we sin God will discipline and correct us as He did David. He does this because he loves us. *When we are confronted with our sin we need to take ownership with sorrow and repent. *When we repent God will forgive us and restore us back to Himself.
*Ungodly people sometimes find their way into places of spiritual leadership. We must not idolize or hold anyone above reproach.

Thanks for reading.

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