The Drunk Who Was More Righteous than One Sober
In Second Samuel 11, King David was on the rooftop of his palace one evening while the army was at war with the Ammonites. He saw a beautiful woman named Bathsheba as she was bathing. Lusting after her, he brought her into his bedroom and committed adultery with her. In an effort to cover up his sin after learning that she was carrying his child, he brings home her husband—a righteous man named Uriah—and encourages him to go home to his wife. Nevertheless, he sleeps on the steps of the king’s house out of respect for his fellow soldiers. Two evenings later, David invites Uriah to a feast and actually gets Uriah drunk (11:13), but he still did not go down to his house. What a thought—Uriah was more righteous drunk than David was sober! Let us learn a few lessons from this familiar story.
First, note the danger of lust. This sin goes back to the Garden of Eden (cf. Gen. 3:6), because it implies evil desire. Other synonyms include “covet” or “covetousness” (cf. Ex. 20:17). Jesus warns, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’: But I say unto you, ‘That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart’” (Matt. 5:27-28). Paul warned the young preacher named Timothy, “Flee also youthful lusts” (2 Tim. 2:22; cf. 1 Pet. 2:11). We are to model the righteousness of the grace of God after Titus 2:12: “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” Lust is a basic component of all sin (James 1:14-15; cf. 1 John 2:16-17). Many a man and woman have fallen to the snare of lust.
Second, note the seriousness of sin. We can see how serious sin is by examining the extent David went to commit and consequently, to cover up his sin. In the first place, he enquired about this woman after viewing her, instead of extinguishing any evil thoughts (11:3). The reference in the next verse to her purification from uncleanness implies that he thought and planned this out and waited until the time that he could sleep with her (11:4). Then, in an effort to conceal his sin, he brings Uriah home from the battle with a gift of food for him and his wife (11:8). When this did not work, he tried to get Uriah drunk two evenings later (11:12-13). When this did not work, he gave orders to his captain, Joab, to put Uriah at the front of the battle lines and pull back so he would die (11:14-17). When we see the extent David went to cover up his sin, this shows how serious a matter it is!
Third, note the beauty of forgiveness. Upon realizing the ugliness of his sin (2 Sam. 12), we see him write a beautiful confession (Ps. 51). Consider a portion:
For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar. (51:16-17, 19)
Thus, forgiveness is always dependant upon penitence and confession.
Can we not imagine what reaction David must have had when he saw Uriah in heaven? I can only imagine the conversation that must have taken place. At one point in their lives, a drunken Uriah was more righteous than sober David was! May we profit from these lessons, knowing that “…whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4).