“Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” ~ Sir Walter Scott, 1808
I thought of this quote when reading the story of David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). One unconfessed lie always leads to a worse lie, and one unconfessed sin always leads to a worse sin.
David’s deception truly led to a “tangled web” of deceptions and sins.
The deception started, as it often does, with self-deception: David saw no harm in looking at a woman bathing, and he gave in to lust.
Then David indulged his lust. Knowing she was married, he sent for Bathsheba and committed adultery with her.
When Bathsheba informed David she was pregnant, the deception went further and deeper. He ordered others to murder Bathsheba’s husband.
Oh, what a tangled web did David weave…
He could have looked away.
He could have stopped when he found out Bathsheba was married.
He could have repented when he saw the honorable self-denial of Uriah.(1)
At every step, God gave David a “way out” of his temptation, but David refused to take it (1 Corinthians 10:13).(2)
Let’s learn from David’s failure.(3)
(1) 2 Samuel 11:10-11: “David was told, ‘Uriah did not go home.’ So he asked Uriah, ‘Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?’ Uriah said to David, ‘The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!'”
Uriah refused to sleep with his wife out of respect for his suffering troops. He would not indulge himself while those under his command were denied their wives and families. What a contrast! David had not only enjoyed himself while his troops were suffering. He enjoyed himself with the wife of one of his most loyal soldiers. And now he was hoping that Uriah would sleep with Bathsheba and think the baby was his. But Uriah refused, even when David got him drunk (2 Samuel 11:12-13). You know that God was trying to get David’s attention through Uriah’s honorable behavior.
(2) Throughout this entire situation, God was giving David a “way out,” but David refused to take it: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
(3) If David failed so miserably, why was he fully restored and why did God speak of David as a godly man after this incident? For the answer to that important question, see Short List Repentance.