In my opinion, the worst thing about temptation is that in that moment, you don’t think about the myriad long-term effects of your sin. It’s all about the moment…the pleasure of the now…
No doubt, that’s what it was like for David as he stood on that balcony, looking down at Bathsheba. Never mind she is the grand-daughter of his most trusted adviser, Ahithophel. Moreover, she’s another man’s wife…worse still married to one of the best of his warriors – listed among the top 30 in his army! What is more, David’s position as king is a trust from God Himself.
Yet in that moment, it seems none of these thoughts present themselves to his mind. And if they do, some easy rationalization quickly responds. The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. That’s why Hollywood’s advice to follow your heart is the worst advice you could ever follow as a Christian! David “followed his heart” and wound up murdering an innocent man to cover-up his sex scandal…
Feeling guilty about the whole Bathsheba drama, it seems David falls into a sort of depression. He’s confessed and repented and God’s forgiven him, but he falls into this slump and can’t seem to get out of it.
When Amnon rapes his half-sister Tamar, it breaks David’s heart to hear of it, but he doesn’t say a thing. The law demanded Amnon’s death for such a crime, but I can imagine David thinking, “how could I execute judgment on Amnon when I myself am an adulterer?” No words of censure are recorded in the Bible…no action on David’s part, to right the wrong done his daughter…he just sits there, on his throne, paralyzed by his own guilt…
After two years, Absalom takes matters into his own hands and avenges his sister’s dishonor. I imagine Absalom musing on his father’s spineless inaction, “how could he let Amnon get away with something so horrible?” But now Absalom is a murderer and goes into exile for three years.
In those three years does David do anything? No. Time heals the pain of Amnon’s death and he wishes Absalom would come home but he does absolutely nothing about it. It’s painful to watch David in this period of his life. He went from this resolute young man who couldn’t sit by and let a giant torment God’s people, to this spineless blob in a state of depressive inaction.
Through Joab’s intervention, Absalom is invited back to the palace. But then David refuses to see him. They’re living in the same palace for two years with no face time! Finally Absalom’s like, “this is ridiculous…” He demands to see the king and they are finally reunited. But by this point Absalom’s lost all respect for his Dad and begins plotting to seize the throne.
It takes the threat of Absalom’s besieging the palace and the potential bloodshed of a civil war to stir David out of his depression. In Ellen White’s words:
“David was suddenly aroused, to see rebellion breaking out close beside his throne. His own son – the son whom he had loved and trusted – had been planning to seize his crown and doubtless to take his life. In his great peril David shook off the depression that had so long rested upon him, and with the spirit of his earlier years he prepared to meet this terrible emergency…” PP731
Seven years had passed from the Amnon incident to the time when Absalom saw the king’s face again. I don’t know how many years from the Bathsheba incident until the Amnon incident, but since they lost one baby and had another one, that’s at least 2yrs. And Absalom begun his plotting after the 7yr period but I don’t know how long it took him to steal the hearts of the men of Israel…maybe a year? maybe less?
So let’s say it was at least 10yrs from the Bathsheba incident to Absalom’s rebellion. Ten years in the slump for David. And his slump so affected his governance that even those who worked under him fell into a sort of lethargy. I mean, that was one of Absalom’s talking points on his campaign trail, “Admin is slow in executing judgment…”
Before it’s all over, Uriah’s murdered, David and Bathsheba’s first born is dead as a judgment from God, Amnon is killed for raping his sister, Ahithophel’s committed suicide, Absalom is killed in battle…and David finally pulls out of the slump.
Was it worth it, David? That immediate pleasure your heart promised you…was it worth it? Was it worth all the lives lost as a direct consequence? Was it worth the loss of your authoritative voice as a father? Was that moment of pleasure worth the years of pain you and your family and everyone within your sphere of influence suffered?
Hollywood won’t tell you about the risk involved in following your deceitful heart. And most times, we don’t get to see the breadth of the domino effect that our guilty pleasures result in. But here’s a Bible example so we don’t have to learn from our own mistakes if we could be wise and learn from those of others.
So I know it’s the last thing you want to do when you’re in the moment of temptation, but, STOP and THINK for a minute. A good piece of advice is to take the time to engage in a different activity before you do that thing you’re tempted to do. That’ll buy you time to think more rationally. And you’ll find that when you’ve had some time to cool off, you may make a better decision