Recently, in my daily Bible reading, I read the account of David’s sin with Bathsheba. Every pastor and Christian should read this account often as a reminder of the danger of sexual sin and the consequences of yielding to its temptation.
I would like to share in this article some observations on this passage and its relationship to the life of a pastor. First, it appears that David’s fall into sin did not begin with the glance downward from his roof that fateful evening. David should have been out in the field doing battle with the enemies of the Lord. Instead, for whatever reason, he stayed behind in Jerusalem.
His calling involved fighting on the front, not resting in the rear. Likewise, our calling as Village Missionaries involves fighting the good fight of faith.
We take our ease in the spiritual battle at our peril. We must fully embrace the paradox of striving always to enter the rest of God’s grace. God’s Word should permeate our thinking through daily Bible reading and preparation for sermons. Sin must be dealt with promptly and thoroughly. Integrity cannot be sacrificed in the smallest matter, for no slippage in integrity is ever little in the eyes of God.
Fear of the serious sin David committed should cause us to fear allowing any foothold for sin to occur. I also observe that David did not sin because his “needs” weren’t being met. David had a multitude of wives and concubines to satisfy his sexual desires. If he wanted another wife, he could easily have found one. Perhaps the multitude of wives, in violation of the Lord’s command not to multiply wives, led to an insatiable desire for more. Perhaps David was like a greyhound in a race—always chasing the rabbit and never catching it. David would never find satisfaction in the direction he was going.
I think some pastors fall into sexual sin in an effort to meet such needs. Perhaps one feels their sexual needs are not being met in the marriage. Perhaps we have unspoken needs of excitement or escape, so we try to find that excitement and escape on the Internet. David’s experience reminds us that we chase an empty dream that promises much more than it can ever deliver.
Why lose so much (our ministry, our marriage) over something we will never gain?
Third, no one is exempt from sexual sin. How could David, so near to God and rich in his walk with God, fall into such sin? How could David not only commit adultery but also commit murder? David could fall into such sin and we can—any one of us—from the Village Missionary out on the field on down to the Executive Director. I ran across this quote as I briefly reviewed Keil and Delitzsch in preparation for this article:
“We may see from this how deep a soul may fall when it turns away from God, and from the guidance of His grace. This David, who in the days of his persecution would not even resort to means that were really plausible in order to defend himself, was now not ashamed to resort to the greatest crimes in order to cover his sin. O God! How great is our strength when we lay firm hold of Thee! And how weak we become as soon as we turn away from Thee! The greatest saints would be ready for the worst of deeds, if Thou shouldst but leave them for a single moment without Thy protection. Whoever reflects upon this, will give up all thought of self-security and spiritual pride.”—Berleburg Bible.
Our total depravity renders us capable of anything if we sufficiently quench the Holy Spirit. Knowing this about myself means that I erect barricades to guard me from me. I have Covenant Eyes installed on my computer so that Carole and my accountability partner receive a report of every Internet site I visit. I trust that you have Covenant Eyes or something similar installed on your computer.
You are not a bit stronger than I am to resist the temptation to visit a porn site. I have an accountability partner that I talk to regularly. When I was a pastor, I did not counsel with or visit women alone. Now, when I travel away from home I make sure that I stay with someone. The Board has even cautioned me about traveling alone en route. It is difficult often to avoid this, but I make sure that I call Carole regularly throughout the trip.
Do I do this because I am spiritually strong? No, I do it because I am weak. Nowadays, because of the nature of the times, most federal buildings have barricades erected to prevent a bomber from getting too close and wrecking havoc. Pastors, because of the nature of the times, need to erect spiritual barricades to prevent spiritual havoc! Most of all, I try to cultivate my relationship with Carole.
For the husband, this involves loving our wife as Christ loved the church. I must sacrificially and wholeheartedly put Carole’s needs first and seek to meet those needs. Years ago, another Village Missionary illustrated this for me. Several men gathered after an evening meeting at staff conference. Somehow, the discussion turned to shopping and I expressed my loathing of shopping. I told the group that I had heard a speaker at a pastor’s conference say that he was sure that shopping was one of the principle activities of hell, and I agreed with him completely. Jake Roberts brought me up short when he said, “My bride loves to shop, and if she loves to shop I will go with her.”
It didn’t help my case when Alan Sparks and Larry Shetenhelm agreed with Jake! I realized then that I had a lot to learn about loving my wife with Christ’s love. I still have a lot to learn but the relationship I have with Carole is a priority. Finally, the last observation I make is one that I often review carefully. I think often of the devastation that David’s sin caused. I list the devastating results of his sin. Worst of all, David caused the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme God’s good name. Then, David’s sin affected and in many ways ruined his entire family. David’s sin ushered in turmoil and death throughout his family.
Finally, Israel itself experienced civil war. Many died because of one man’s sin. I remind myself that if David had anticipated the consequences he might not have given Bathsheba a second glance. I rehearse those consequences in my mind. Then I rehearse the consequences that I would experience. If I chose to sin sexually, I too would cause the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme. When I was a pastor, I would picture the disgrace to the cause of Christ in the community this would cause. I would picture how disappointed those believers I had led to Christ would feel, and I imagined what harm my actions would cause to their walk with the Lord. Now, as Director, the effects would be mission wide and I remind myself of that.
I picture the loss of my ministry and the disqualification from the pulpit ministry. Finally, I imagine what it would be like to lose Carole and to disappoint my children. Nothing would ever be worth these consequences! Yet, knowing my depravity and the deceptiveness of sin, I plead with God by His pure grace to keep me from such sin.
May His grace keep you from such sin as well! I realize that someone reading this may be complacent about falling into sexual sin (it can’t happen to me!) or perhaps you have fallen in some way. Please set up those barricades before it is too late! If you have fallen, confess and repent. If you need help, we will do whatever we can as a Mission to help you. David experienced several way points along his descent where he could have left the downward path.
Let us all learn from David and Bathsheba!