“It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
You’ve experienced it before. You finish dinner and you’re stuffed. To the gills. Any more food and you just might pop. And then the table next to you has their dessert delivered. It looks amazing. A huge brownie that you can see from a table over is just the right amount of gooey. A heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream centered perfectly on top of it that it just beginning to melt down the sides because the brownie is obviously fresh from the oven. And over the top of the whole thing a little drizzle of caramel sauce.
The owner of the dessert cuts into it for his first bite and it almost happens in slow motion. It’s clearly too big a bite for his mouth. He opens wide to let it in, but he doesn’t stand a chance. When he closes his mouth around what he can fit a bit of the ice cream doesn’t make it and runs slowly down his chin. And you can’t help yourself. You stare. You stare until he notices and it starts to get awkward.
And even though your whole body is screaming at you not to do it, your desire takes over and you raise your hand for the waitress. She comes over with a half smile and with a raised eyebrow asks what you need. “How much is that?” you ask, pointing at the next table. With a grin now she says, “You ate an awful lot of dinner and that’s a big brownie. Are you sure?” “How much?” you respond. “You can afford it. I’ll bring you one too.”
It’s good like you imagined and even a little more so. The brownie is perfect. The ice cream is homemade. More than a little bit runs down your chin. You are totally satisfied…until you realize you aren’t. You were actually satisfied with just dinner. You didn’t actually want this brownie. The waitress tried to talk you ought of it. Your stomach was pleading in the only way it can. But you desired it. Oh boy did you desire it. So you ignored all of that and ate it anyway…and now you’re starting to pay for it.
When David saw Bathsheba bathing on her rooftop—something that only happened because he wasn’t where he should have been in the first place—he was already satisfied with his life. I mean, come on, he was the king. He already had four wives and a harem of concubines, any of whom could have left him perfectly satisfied. But after that first look, he kept looking. Then he started thinking and imagining. He looked some more. Then he finally hailed a servant and asked about her. He was toast at that point.
Let’s face the truth this illustrates rather clearly together: We don’t have the willpower to resist sin. Overcoming temptation is not something we can manage just by wanting it badly enough. This becomes particularly true when we’re not where we’re supposed to be and we’ve started thinking about the sin. At that point, we’re toast.
And the thing is, the guys who contributed to the Scriptures knew this. There’s this story. There’s James, the brother of Jesus, telling us that temptation doesn’t come from God, but rather from us giving place to an evil desire in our hearts and letting that desire run its course. There’s Paul telling us to flee temptation. He doesn’t say to fight it. He says to flee it. When temptation rears it’s ugly head, we need to run—not walk—in the other direction. If we stay and try to fight we’ll lose. David did. I have before. You have too.
In the face of temptation of any kind, run. Run screaming the other direction. You aren’t going to beat it. If you stay and fight you will lose. And you’ll pay for it. Maybe not now, but eventually the bill will come due. Run before it’s too late. Even if you’ve given in before, run next time. Sin doesn’t have to lead to sin. Break the pattern of sin and return to life.