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In the year 2004, on boxing day, a tsunami hit the west coast of Northern Sumatra, Indonesia. Caused by an undersea megathrust earthquake in the Indian ocean, its effects were felt by the coastal areas of 14 different countries, even as far as India. There was untold damage done to both property and human life; more than two hundred thousand people were killed. This caused deep anguish in the souls of those who saw the heart-rending sights of dead bodies covered in the rubble.
As I reflect on sin and its effects, I find that there are similarities between tsunamis and the nature of sin. The word tsunami is synonymous with destructive force. And the destructive nature of a tsunami is comparable with the destructive force of sin as described in the Bible. Like a tsunami, once sin is born and dwelt upon, it progresses and proceeds to cause untold damage to those around us. What I want to show you in this article is how sin works (the anatomy of sin) by examining David’s sin with Bathsheba.
A helpful place to start when thinking about the anatomy of sin is the words penned by the Apostle James in James 1:13, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death”. There are three critical aspects that can be observed in this text: desire, deception and destruction which I call ‘the 3 D’s’. These three words form the blueprint of the anatomy of sin. When sin is entertained, it makes a savage attack on people and makes them vulnerable in every sense. Let us turn our attention to how these played out in the life of David.
The 3 D’s in the Life of David
King David was a man after God’s own heart. He desired only one thing in his life which was to behold the beauty of the Lord in his sanctuary (Ps. 27:4). But, as we unfold the pages of 2 Samuel 11, we come across a strange David who desires the nakedness of a woman. Here is a story of how a godly man was deceived, enslaved and destroyed by sin. This chapter graphically portrays the anatomy of sin.
One day David gets out of bed and walks onto the rooftop and suddenly sees a woman bathing. Is this just happenstance? The author indicates that this is not so by saying, “then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle” (2 Sam. 11:1). The fact that David was not leading his army in battle shows that there has been a change in his mood and attitude. Something must have happened in the inner chambers of David's heart. The same man who would not dare touch his archenemy, Saul, stared at this woman, Bathsheba. In that moment, David desired her more than he desired to behold God’s glory, but this was not a momentary lapse. Professor Derek Thomas writes, “Adultery does not just happen. The seeds of David’s sin had already been sowed. The desire was there and the only thing that prevented it from fruition was the lack of opportunity, and that is the most frightening thing of all.”
Once David desired Bathsheba in his heart, the actions required to fulfil this desire seem to have happened at an astonishing speed. He called for her and slept with her, and she became pregnant. And then, he seems to have lost interest in her. However, when it became clear that the sin would soon become known, the deception of his own sin gripped his mind, soul and body. He called for her husband, Uriah, who was a loyal soldier, and devised a plan to send Uriah to his house to cover up what he had done. When Uriah would not go to his house, David devised another plan to murder him by putting him in the frontlines of battle. Finally, when David heard the news that Uriah died, he brought Bathsheba back to himself and made her his wife.
One would have expected a happy ending: the king had taken what his heart desired. But the author makes it very clear that David’s actions made God furious. God had exalted a shepherd boy to be the king of Israel. But, David insulted God by turning a blind eye to his precious commandments. And the consequences of his sins would begin to destroy his family and eventually his kingdom. When David repented of his sin and begged for forgiveness, God indeed forgave him and restored the joy of his salvation. But, on the other hand, look at the disastrous consequences of David’s sin which had wide-reaching consequences like a tsunami! First of all, the child conceived in Bathsheba dies. Then, because of David’s moral laxity, Amnon, his own son rapes his own daughter, Tamar. As a result, Absalom, his own son, not only kills Amnon, but also plots a coup against his own father, David. As a result of the coup, David runs for his safety and eventually finds himself dejected and desolate in the wilderness of Jordan. David committed adultery in the privacy of the royal palace, but Absalom raped David’s concubines publicly. David’s sin had totally destroyed his family and also took the kingdom into civil war.
At the end of the day, there is no doubt that David’s actions to gratify the desires of his heart were not worth the consequences that he faced. This should put fear in a believer’s heart to never desire anything apart from God. We would do well to listen to what the Puritan John Owen says in his book, On The Mortification of Sin,
“…Sin always aims at the extreme. If it had its way, every time it rises up to tempt or entice, it would go out to the most extreme sin of that kind. If it could, every unclean thought or glance would become adultery. Every covetous desire would become oppression. If it were allowed its own reign, every thought of unbelief would become atheism. Men may reach a point, where sin is so unrestrained, that it no longer stings their conscience. The most outrageous sin no longer seems scandalous. If every impulse of lust were satisfied, it would reach the height of villainy. Sin is like the grave that is never satisfied.”
Unrestrained desire, aided by our deception can very quickly lead to widespread destruction. May our church communities help one another to live lives that desire God above all else. The key to overcome temptation and sin is not more rules, but instead an inward desire to seek the beauty of God supremely expressed in the cross of His Son Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3:18). The more we are attracted to Jesus, the more sin will lose its attraction and power. May the Holy Spirit help us to be attracted to Jesus Christ more and more. Amen!
2 One of the dictionary meanings of the word ‘Anatomy’: A detailed examination of a subject. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/anatomy