Abuse of Power

The word “power” can be defined as the authority, or influence over others.” In the encounter of David and Bathsheba, we see “power” in action.

As I was reading through this familiar story today in my reading plan, I was impressed by the use of the word “sent.” This word is showing the “power” of an individual with authority over others.

At first, in 2 Sam. 11:3, David does the “sending.”  He, in his kingly authority, “sent” and inquired about Bathsheba after noticing her.  He learned some essential information about her, as summarized by Robert Bergren,

“The messenger reported that the woman was “Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite”; thus, she was the daughter of one of David’s best fighters (cf. 23:34), the granddaughter of his most trusted counselor (cf. 16:23; 23:34), and the wife of one of his inner circle of honored soldiers (cf. 23:39). Since David was properly informed of this latter fact, for him to pursue Bathsheba further was already to commit adultery with her in his heart (cf. Matt 5:28).[1]

This vital information did not stop David from abusing his power.  He then “sent” messengers to “take” Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11:4). To this point, David is the one with the power to “send.” 

Things take a dramatic turn in verse 5 with our first plot twist by identifying another person with power when it says,

“And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, ‘I am pregnant.’”

Here we learn that “David is not the only character who ‘sends’ in this episode, for Bathsheba sends a succinct message (only two words in Hebrew) that changes everything: ‘I am pregnant.” David exercised power in chapter 10 and thus far in chapter 11 by ‘sending.’ But when Bathsheba ‘sends,’ David must deal with a different kind of power. The power of wronged Bathsheba, the power of David’s own sin.”[2]

This familiar account continues through the end of chapter 11 with David abusing his authority to “send” others to help him cover up his sin resulting in the eventual death of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband.  

Just when David thought he had things under control and no one would find out about his sin, the ultimate plot twist is found in 2 Sam. 12:1 which says, 

“And the Lord sent Nathan to David.”

It is now God who sends! This simple statement shows who is ultimately in charge! David did not get away with his abuse of power!

Although this tragic story has far-reaching implications for David and his kingdom (2 Sam. 12:10-12), David owns his sin and confesses it to God. Unfortunately, David forgot that God is ultimately the one to whom he was accountable.  God alone is sovereign.  Any power David had was to be used in harmony with the character of God. He was just a steward of the power God had given him.

Father, you, and you alone are the exalted King.  Any “power” we have (work, family, ministry, etc.) is given from you and should be exercised in harmony with your character and under your leadership.  David abused his position of power, which resulted in grievous sin.  Even with the facts before him, he could not be persuaded from his self-destructive path.  Help us to see the deception and power of sin. Help us to be alert and not turn a blind eye to behavior that can lead us astray or that is inappropriate.  Help us to always remember that you are the One to whom we are accountable, and we are only stewards of all that you have given us.

Following Jesus with you,

Jeff

 

[1] Robert D. Bergen, 1, 2 Samuel, vol. 7, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996), 364.

[2] Bill T. Arnold, 1 & 2 Samuel, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 528.

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