You are that man.
As the strongly sourced allegations against Judge Roy Moore have come out today, the thing I have been more upset about have been the multiple defenses I’ve seen using biblical men’s behavior as justification for these clearly immoral actions. Zieglar refers to Zachariah being older than Elizabeth and Joseph being likely older than Mary. And then the quote from Sean Hannity. “King David had five hundred concubines for crying out loud.”
And you know what? You’re right, Sean Hannity. So let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about David, the man after God’s own heart, the polygamist, the rapist. Let’s talk about how the bible addresses it and what it reveals about man’s heart, man’s sin, and what our reactions should be.
King David, son of Jesse of Bethlehem, the root of Jesse, the ancestor of Jesus in lineage and in prophecy, the man after God’s own heart. Chosen by God to be King of his chosen people, the Jews… and a symbol of the true King to come. He wrote a large portion of the psalms. God loved him and blessed him.
He was also a rapist. And a murder. The bible does not hide these details. But it also doesn’t glorify them. It paints David in full color, leaves his ugly and rotten heart lying on the page. Let’s take a look.
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.”
Bathsheba is bathing on the roof after her period ended as Jewish law commanded, and peeping Tom David likes what he sees and commands her to him. No harm no foul, just a bit of fun, until she ends up pregnant. David tries to bring her husband back and get him to have sex with her so he won’t realize the baby isn’t his, but he won’t take a break from the battle they’re in while his fellow soldiers are still on duty. So what does David do?
In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die.”
Yup, straight up murders the dude, in a super sly way he thinks can’t be traced back to him.
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.
David thinks he can just marry the widow he raped and move on. But note that THE THING DAVID HAD DONE DISPLEASED THE LORD. Don’t for a second try to pretend these actions are condoned just because they are recorded. They are recorded because they are true, and part of David’s story. But his story doesn’t end there.
His dear friend Nathan saw all this happen. It was as secret as something on a CW show, that is to say, everyone knew about it even though no one was supposed to, because you’re not as good as talking quietly as you think you are. Nathan tells David this parable about a rich man with a huge flock killing a poor man’s sole and beloved lamb to eat (there’s a lot we could unpack in that parable…) David’s reaction?
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!
Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”
You are the man.
You. Are. The Man.
Aside from being a super sick burn (props, Nathan), don’t miss the importance of this moment. Nathan CALLS DAVID OUT. Risks his life to do it, in fact, because David has already proven he can murder to protect his own skin.
Nathan continues with a message from God to David, speaking of how he will punish David for what he has done, and the message ends with
For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.
Don’t for a second miss the fact that God is CALLING DAVID OUT and holding him accountable. You did this sin in secret, David, but I’m going to make it Known. Also God killed the baby, which sucks for the baby, but this is OT not NT, and Jesus hasn’t born all the consequences of sin yet, so they still have to. God is a God of Love and Grace, but he’s a God of Justice as well, and those thing don’t reconcile until the cross enters the picture.
Let’s jump out of 2 Samuel (chapters 11 and 12 if you want to look it up directly) and to the psalm David wrote next. Selections from Psalm 51, written after Nathan confronted David about Bathsheba.
Have mercy on me, O God,/ according to your steadfast love;/ according to your abundant mercy/ blot out my transgressions./ Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,/ and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,/ and my sin is ever before me./ Against you, you only, have I sinned/ and done what is evil in your sight,/ so that you may be justified in your words/ and blameless in your judgment.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,/ and renew a right spirit within me./ Cast me not away from your presence,/ and take not your Holy Spirit from me./ Restore to me the joy of your salvation,/ and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,/ O God of my salvation,/ and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness./ O Lord, open my lips,/ and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;/ you will not be pleased with a burnt offering./ The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;/ a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
This psalm is often used as an example of what confession and repentance looks likes. David doesn’t shy away from the truth of his sin. He owns it. And he owns that ultimately this sin and all sin is a betrayal to God himself. He admits God is justified in his judgment, and accepts it. And then he asks to be made clean, to be made new, to be drawn close and to be made right. And he recognizes God doesn’t want some symbol of sacrifice — what is required is David’s broken spirit and heart.
David’s heart is black and ugly in this story. I hate it. But also, I love it. Because David doesn’t get away with it. No one tries to justify the behavior, least of all David once he’s finally called out and sees clearly his own sin. The Bible doesn’t hide this as a hidden secret evil of David’s heart they hope no one finds out about because it would ruin his rep. It’s a publicly displayed evil of David’s heart, because David was never the hero, and if you thought he was you’ve been reading the whole bible wrong. And it makes David’s repentance, God’s forgiveness, and ultimate transformation and redemption of the David even more powerful.
It’s ugly, but we’re ugly. Usually when people reflect on this story it’s to remind that God forgives even the gravest of sins when you confess and repent. And that’s a big part. It’s a beautiful part.
But I want to focus on something different for just a second.
David, the man after God’s own heart… raped a woman and killed her husband to try to cover it up. Even the “best” of men… has got a pretty ugly heart. If the men of the bible are what we’re working with, guess what, no man is good, not even one (Romans 3:12).
So, yes. Sexual assault is real. Even in the men who say they follow Jesus.
But the last thing we should do is say “hush now, even David sinned in this way.” We should be proclaiming, “David was not innocent and could not escape earthly consequences for his sexual sins, and neither can you.”
And unless you confess and repent, the same way David did, you don’t actually follow or love Jesus at all.
Let’s all learn from Nathan’s courage, and confidently confront the abusers and assaulters in our circles (Don’t forget that David had to be called out by a close friend, not a stranger. It’s on you to hold your friends accountable).
“You are the man. … Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight?”