David’s Ways of Escape
Introduction. The apostle
Paul told the Corinthians some important promises the Lord has given us
regarding temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). While this promise is given under the New
Covenant I am convinced that it describes principles that have always been true
of God’s relationship to man.
- First, No One Has to
- If all temptation is “common
to man,” and yet...
- God does not allow temptation
“beyond what you are able,” it cannot be that any sin with which man
struggles is unavoidable.
- If (as some teach) our nature
is “utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and
wholly inclined to all evil” (Westminster Confession of Faith, 6.4),
we couldn’t help but sin!
- The Holy Spirit tells us, we
are “able to bear” temptation without sin.
- When Paul tells the Romans “all
have sinned” (Rom. 3:23) he is not describing a condition that
was unavoidable. He describes this as the result of being “under sin”
(Rom. 3:9). This is a condition that has resulted from the fact that all
accountable souls at some point choose to sin by their own freewill (Rom.
- Second, God’s Law Can Be
- Paul’s words tell us as much
about God’s Law as they do about His providence.
- If He does not “allow us
to be tempted” beyond our ability to withstand but...
- “with the temptation” provides
a way to avoid sin, we cannot argue that God’s laws are too difficult for
anyone to be able to obey.
- As burdensome as Mosaic Law
was, in speaking about it Moses told the people through the Holy Spirit “YOU
MAY DO IT” (Deut. 30:11-16).
- Paul applies the wording from
this text to the message of the gospel in his letter to the Romans (see Rom.
- The fact that we do not always
obey does not mean we cannot obey.
- Third, There is Always a
Way of Escape.
- Not only is it possible to
overcome sin, and possible to obey God’s law, but the Holy Spirit
promises that in God’s providence there is always a “way of escape” by
which we can overcome the temptation and avoid giving-in to sin. 2. That
doesn’t mean God will miraculously intervene in our freewill.
- David tells us that “God
tests the hearts and minds” in order to see if man will choose to
obey Him (Ps. 7:9).
- Nor does it mean that we
cannot choose a course of action that makes it harder to avoid sin. The
wise man said, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end
is the way of death” (Prov. 14:12).
- Rather, Paul tells us that in
any temptation the path to turn away from committing sin is always
accessible if we will only look for it and take it!
I. David’s Sin with Bathsheba: Three
Opportunities Missed. When it comes to sin, the problem is not that it
cannot be avoided, the problem is that far too often we choose not to take the “way
of escape.” David’s sin with Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11:1-25 is a clear example
of this. Consider the opportunities he chose not to take.
- First “Way of Escape.”
- The account of David’s sin
begins with the detail that it happened “at the time when kings go out
to battle” (2 Sam. 11:1a). Rather than going out with his troops “David
sent Joab and his servants with him” (2 Sam. 11:1b).
- If David had been where he
should have been, doing what he should have been doing, this sin might
never have happened.
- Sin often catches us when we
neglect responsibilities we ought to fulfill, or when we are not busy
with things that should occupy our time.
- Second “Way of Escape.”
- While idle at home, the Holy
Spirit tells us “from the roof he saw a woman bathing” (2 Sam.
- I didn’t really appreciate
the architectural landscape of this until I was able to go to Jerusalem.
The most ancient portion of Jerusalem, known as the “City of David,” lies
at the foot of the Temple Mount and stretches southward along the Kidron
The area believed to be where David’s palace stood sets high above the
city that spreads out below it on the steep hillside that drops to floor of the
valley. The flat roofs of ancient Israelite homes were commonly used for
storage, cooking, cleaning, rest or sleep in the cool of the evening.
Rahab hid the spies on her roof (cf. Josh. 2:6, 8).
Booths were set up on the roof in the days of the return from exile
For David to see a woman under such conditions wasn’t necessarily
voyeuristic on his part or immodest on her part.
- Even so, he could have looked
away when he saw her engaged in such a private activity.
Instead, he looked enough to determine “the woman was beautiful to
behold” (2 Sam. 11:2b).
We cannot always avoid being exposed to temptation, but we can always
choose to turn away from it.
Job said, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I
look upon a young woman?” (Job 31:1).
- Third “Way of Escape.”
- As a married man, David
should have been content. Instead, he inquired who the woman was (2 Sam.
His sin would not come from ignorance—he was told her name, her father’s
name, and the fact that she was “the wife of Uriah the Hittite” (2 Sam.
For this man after God’s “own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14) that should
have been enough!
The Law of Moses condemned adultery (Exod. 20:14) under punishment of
death (Lev. 20:10).
The king was to uphold the law (Deut. 17:14-20)—not to ignore it.
- When temptation begins to
take hold of one’s heart it is not uncommon to hear words of warning that
could help us avoid sin, if we will only listen—“Words of the wise,
spoken quietly, should be heard rather than the shout of a ruler of
fools” (Ecc. 9:17).
II. After David’s Sin with
Bathsheba: Four More Missed Opportunities. David missed three opportunities
that could have allowed him to escape the temptation to sin.
- Instead, “Immediately he
went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter” (Prov. 7:22).
- The “sweet psalmist of
Israel” (2 Sam. 23:1) committed adultery with another man’s wife (2
Once sin has been committed
there is no “way of escape” that allows us to take it back, but there
are ways to respond to our sin lest we “add sin to sin” (Isa. 30:1).
A. Fourth “Way of Escape.” David’s
son would declare, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever
confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Prov. 28:13).
The remaining opportunities David had to escape further compounding his
sin involved avenues he was given to confess and forsake his sin.
First when he learned from Bathsheba “I am with child” (2 Sam.
11:5), he could have faced his guilt and done right by her, her husband, and
the child. He did not. Guilt is a frightening thing.
This man who was once brave enough to fight Goliath (1 Sam. 17:36) was
afraid to face his own sin!
B. Fifth “Way of Escape.”
1. David hoped he could conceal his sin
by bringing Uriah, her husband back from the war (2 Sam. 11:6-8).
a. He assumed that Uriah would go in to
his wife, and all would assume any child was Uriah’s.
b. Instead, Uriah contentiously refused
to be with his wife while “the ark and Israel and Judah are dwelling in
tents” (2 Sam. 11:9-11).
2. David heard this man’s noble devotion.
He could have allowed this to move him to see the treachery of his own sin.
a. He could have confessed and
repented. He did not.
3. This was a man who once had a
conscience so tender that he felt guilty over cutting the corner of the robe of
King Saul, who was then trying to kill him (1 Sam. 24:4-6)!
a. Sin can sear the conscience and
blind us to our own actions.
C. Sixth “Way of Escape.”
1. Covering sin often forces us to bring
others into our web of deception.
a. Messengers had brought Bathsheba to
David (2 Sam. 11:4)—did they know about David’s sin?
b. Somehow Bathsheba “sent” word
to David (2 Sam. 11:5)—did a servant bring this message? Did this person know
about this sin?
c. David told Joab to return Uriah to
Jerusalem (2 Sam. 11:6), and servants had told David that Uriah didn’t go home
to his wife (2 Sam. 11:10).
i. Did Joab know about David’s sin?
ii. Did these servants wonder why the
king was so curious about Uriah’s love life?
2. How could David care so little about
the influence he had on all these people around him?
3. In a last desperate attempt to cover
sin David actually fed Uriah and “made him drunk” (2 Sam. 11:13).
a. Surely, he must have thought, a
drunken soldier would go home to his wife. Even though he was drunk, Uriah did
4. When we try to hide sin we no longer
care how many people we lead into sin in the process.
a. David could have stopped even at
this point, and taken the “way of escape” to avoid further sin. He did
D. Seventh “Way of Escape.”
1. The next morning David wrote a letter
and sent it to Joab in the hand of Uriah (2 Sam. 11:14).
a. Scripture only records one sentence
of this letter (2 Sam. 11:15), but the exchange that follows probably infers
that there was more to it.
b. Uriah was carrying his own death
2. If Joab didn’t know before this about
David’s sin, it is likely that he was brought into the conspiracy to cover
David’s sin with this letter.
a. David plans the means of Uriah’s
death (2 Sam. 11:15), Joab carries out the plan (2 Sam. 11:16-17), then
deceitfully concocts a method to inform David about the crime under the guise
of a military report (2 Sam. 11:18-24).
b. This allowed David the opportunity
to word a false message of encouragement to his commanding officer (2 Sam.
3. The hand cannot write without the
direction of the mind.
a. What went through David’s mind as he
wrote this letter?
b. He could have thought, concerning
God “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your
presence?” (Psa. 139:7).
c. He could have said to himself, “If
I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall fall on me,’ Even the night shall be light
about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as
the day; The darkness and the light are both alike to You” (Psa. 139:11-12).
i. At some point in his life these words
were penned by this man, but not on that morning.
Conclusion. By missing
each of these opportunities to escape sin David fell into adultery, perjury,
drunkenness, collusion, conspiracy, the incitement of others to sin, and
- David didn’t have to sin, but
he ignored each “way of escape” the Lord provided.
David’s failure must teach us
not to follow the same course. No matter what the temptation the Lord promises “the
way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). Our task is
to look for it and follow it!