When king David got up from his bed to walk around on the roof of the palace on that cool spring morning, I do not believe he expected to see what he saw. According to the narrative, “From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful” (2 Samuel 11:2, NIV). What happened next would affect a number of lives in ways that not even David could have imagined: “And David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, ‘She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.’ Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her . . . Then she went back home” (vv. 3, 4).
I thought of David as I reflected on how relatively easy it is to give in to what one feels. Inherent even in the best of us is the tendency to go after what catches our attention, especially if it does so in ways we find pleasurable. As Eve would probably testify after her experience with the serpent in Eden (Genesis 3:6), if it satisfies a deep longing, it is even more attractive. In moments of stress and anxiety, such distractions can feel liberating. We know we shouldn’t, but we do it anyway. Even the apostle Paul was not immune from crossing the divide. In an amazing act of transparency and vulnerability, he writes to the brethren in Rome, “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. . . . So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am!” (Romans 7:18b, 19, 21-24a). Can you see yourself in Paul?
What a perfect picture of the believer’s struggle! Some battles we win, others we lose. On the day in question, David lost his battle! When we look at his life, it was not his first loss and neither would it be it last. However, on every occasion, he got back up, dusted himself off, sought the grace of God, and kept going. God would not have made grace available to us if we were not going to need it. Instead of thinking we are failures and losers, in the Proverbs we are reminded: “For a just [righteous] man falls seven times, and rises up again” (Proverbs 24:6). Maybe some people are perfect enough to not have fallen, but I know I have had to lay claim to that grace at different times in the past, the present, and certainly will have to do so in the future.
It is comforting to know that our God is a God of compassion and that He knows our humanity (Psalm 103:13-14). That the times we fail we are not tossed aside, but as long as we are willing to get back up, dust ourselves off, and keep going, His arms are never too short to reach in and lift us out of the depths to which we have fallen. Having lifted us out, He then sets our feet upon a rock, steadying our steps and make those steps secure (Psalm 40:2). To the Davids, Pauls, and Eves of the world He still says with arms open wide, “Come unto me.” Having heard his voice, it is up to you and I to get up from the dust, again, dust ourselves off, and take Him up on the offer, again.